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Startup ecosystem takes root in Pune

Pune has emerged as a prominent startup hub in the country, according to a large number of leading entrepreneurs, who were present at TiECon Pune 2018, the largest annual gathering of entrepreneurs in the city.

pune Updated: Apr 22, 2018 15:08 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
tiecon,pune,TiECon pune 2018
Sujata Tilak, Monish Darda and Ajay Kiraskar at TiECon on Saturday.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Ten years ago the startup scene in Pune was next to dead, but today, the city is abuzz with startup activity with new launches, early stage investing, acquisitions, mentoring and more. Pune has emerged as a prominent startup hub in the country, according to a large number of leading entrepreneurs, who were present at TiECon Pune 2018, the largest annual gathering of entrepreneurs in the city.

Ajit Patil, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Vertex Software, pointed out that budding entrepreneurs had difficulty in getting a mentor, funds or assistance in the past. Today, however, the city has its own startup ecosystem.

Entity Data, a large Information Technology (IT) company from Japan is collaborating with the Pune chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE Pune), to connect with startups. TiE is a global support group for startups founded in 1992 in the Silicon Valley.

Very recently, the city got its first fund house, Alacrity. According to Gireendra Kasmalkar, who heads it, this Canadian based fund has allocated USD 10 million for Pune.

“ We chose Pune because we believe that Pune has the talent but no easy access to funds for entrepreneurs,” he said.

Pune startups have seen some huge traction in the funding space. Praxify started by Abhijit Gupta was bought over by Athena health for USD 65 million. Dhruva, a B to B storage startup, started with three employees and has now grown to about 500. There are about 15 such startups which have received funding in the range of USD 50 to 100 Million,” said Amit Paranjape, an entrepreneur.

“Our online group has grown to 20,000 members now, which means that there are 20,000 people interested in the topic of entrepreneurship,” said Paranjape.

Likewise, TiE Pune has 2,000 paid members and through its ‘nurture programme’ has helped 800 startups in the past six years with their business problems.

Vaibhav Domkundwar, an angel investor and entrepreneur, pointed out that Pune today has many organisations like TiE, Venture Centre, DeAsra and others who are ready with all the support a new business needs “whether it is mentoring, funding, pitching, anything.”

Another factor that has helped build this growing community is the presence of great educational institutes.

In an interview to Hindustan Times, FC Kohli former MD and CEO Tata Consultancy Services, said, “It is institutes like COEP (College of Engineering Pune) which will help in building the nation. From the very beginning to now they have stressed on mathematics as a compulsory subject for all the four years of engineering. Mathematics is one subject that helps you to think. Think of solutions all through your life.”

In addition to nurturing young engineers, COEP also has an incubation centre that helps its students with the business of entrepreneurship. This adds to the startup community.

Despite the fact that Pune has always been treated like a step child, it has managed to put up quite a good show. A growing economy, better mentoring services, networking facilities and increasing funding capacity have helped in creating the startup ecosystem.

While the city is witnessing a growth in the launch of self-owned businesses, Vishwas Mahajan, TiE global member, said that this is complemented by research going on at institutes such as COEP, IISER, and Venture Centre.

“What I have noticed is that these innovators are good at finding solutions to the problems we face but that often fail when it comes to presenting their case, be it to investors or the public at large. At TiE, we are working on how we can help innovators pitch their business ideas to VCs. What is needed is that all organisations should come together and coordinate their efforts at helping startups,” he said.

First Published: Apr 22, 2018 14:18 IST