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Technology Is Giving Wings To India’s Startups & Small Businesses

Cloud has significantly changed the way we save and share data and communicate remotely. Various file-sharing applications have enabled safe and seamless access of information across locations.

By Ratna Mehta
We are today witnessing increased opportunities for small businesses to go global. With a deep understanding of the target market and a resilient business model, technology arms them with the ammunition required to conquer the world.

The Great Roaring Engine of Change

Over the last two decades, technology has played a vital role in driving change, has broken barriers and helped companies spread their wings to compete in the global marketplace.

Technology-driven innovation and growth are even more relevant for startups and small businesses. It helps to expedite their journey by improving efficiency and boosting productivity, driving cost rationalization and most importantly, supercharging the remote work environment.

The many enablers of technology

Communication is key, whether with the teams, clients or business partners. In the traditional environment, it was rightly said that ‘personal meeting is better than a call, which is better than a mail’ and thus the importance of physical presence in business meetings to drives desired outcomes. However, technology innovation is changing this enabled by the 4G revolution, which is driving increased internet penetration. Further, business communication apps like Zoom, Google Meet, Teams and Webex are simplifying online communication by enabling features like screen sharing, file sharing, in-conference chat, etc. This saves time, energy and earns carbon credits.

Cloud has significantly changed the way we save and share data and communicate remotely. Various file-sharing applications have enabled safe and seamless access of information across locations.

Today, customer acquisition in any geography is possible by digital marketing advancement – SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Also, networking platforms like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter have made it possible for small businesses to build their networks and reach out to a larger audience.

Government support has provided the much-needed booster dose to startups and small businesses. The “Start-Up India, Stand-Up India” slogan popularized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi 5-years back, through the Start-Up India programme, is defining the startup ecosystem through funding support, policy support and bilateral govt collaborations with countries like Russia, South Korea, Portugal, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Israel, and Singapore.

Some of the tech giants are working with startups to help them go global. Microsoft has launched an initiative “Highway to a Hundred Unicorns”, where it provides mentorship and guidance to startups from tier-2 cities to empower them to go global.

Indian’s startups have a head-start

Apart from the enabling ecosystem of technology and regulations, the Indian startups and small businesses have an inherent edge in global operations:

  1. The diversity of Indian markets arms them with the ability to understand and compete in fundamentally different markets. As they say “India is like Europe – each state is a country in itself”.
  2. India has global giants and MNCs operating in almost every segment, and thus Indian companies have the ability to match up and compete with them.

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Tons of India startups touching the global skies

Ola, the Bangalore based ride-hailing company, entered Australia in 2018 after a 7-year local stint. Today it has operations across New Zealand, UK, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and US, with international business contributing about a third of its consolidated revenue. Most of the international expansion is enabled by investment in technology, call centers and people.

OYO, started in 2013 in Gurgaon, has grown rapidly to become India’s largest hotel chain and the world’s third largest, with over half a million rooms over 18,000 properties in 500 cities across 10 countries such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Great Britain and the U.A.E. They have been successful in implementing an operationally intensive business model globally, through the use of technology – they use apps for almost everything. For instance, their franchise on-boarding app, calculates the hotel’s projected occupancy rates, revenues based on market data, renovation cost and time. Other apps for hotel maintenance, kitchen orders, cleaning, as well as check-ins and check-outs help to drive efficiency, transparency and scale.

Collaborations in overseas markets have been another pedestal for growth for Indian small businesses. Some of these startups have managed to scale globally through the access and connects provided by their global investors. For example, Japanese investor Softbank aided OYO’s global dreams by onboarding strategic investors like China Lodging Company, a multi-brand hotel operator. Recently, OYO has tied up with Meituan Hotels, a hotel e-commerce platform.

Further, there are a bunch of small Indian businesses going global, looking for new growth areas and markets which are more matured for their products. Tonbo Imaging, a Bangalore based developer of imaging and sensing systems, targets global businesses from the army to imaging and automobiles; and has won a US$100 million order from the Peruvian army for night vision sight for guns. Qure AI, which uses artificial intelligence for radiology, has a presence in over 20 countries and has impacted over 600,000 lives.

Source: BW Business World

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