India’s startup space is now talk of the world with startups now have easier access to capital, mentors, and there is lesser taboo associated with starting a new venture. This has brought lot of challenges too – lot of crowding in ‘upcoming sectors’, founders unable to grow their ventures beyond a certain point, administrative red tape etc. Only a small percentage of startups are able to sustain themselves and grow and expand.
The recent #startupindia program by Modi govt is a great initiative and it should have been started longtime back as mentioned by our hon’ble President. The active engagement of PM Modi with key CEOs has given a fillip to the startup ecosystem. At the startup event in California, he said, “When I shifted to Delhi last year, I thought of my government as a startup. So, I also saw some of the bumps you face on the road. I understand your challenges, but also the wonderful feeling of creating something new.” There are lots of ideas put forth in this program and some of them key points are
Startup India Key Points
1. One-day incorporation via a mobile app
2. The exemption of startups from labour inspections for the first 3 years
3. 3 year tax holiday for startups
4. Faster exits for startups
5. Capital gains exemption on startups
6. Credit Guarantee Fund for loans to startups
7. Fund of Funds that invests in startups
Currently starting a company is not that rosy and there are lots of administrative challenges associated. The key issues are
Angel Tax: This was introduced in the Finance Act, 2012, mandated that if an unlisted company raise capital from any individual against an issue of shares in excess of the fair market value, then it will have to pay 33 per cent tax under Sec 56 (2) of the Income Tax Act. The government has made no attempt to recognize the fact that angel money by private investors is a big part of the ecosystem and the current tax regime is a big disincentive. This has meant startups are now shifting base to countries like Singapore.
Administrative Bottlenecks: Unfriendly regulations and policy paralysis have led many startups in India to set up ventures in other developing countries. Currently, most of the startups fail to compete with the large firms as public procurement rules are tailored towards larger firms, mostly PSUs and MNCs.
Harshad Lahoti, Founder of Ah Ventures, says, “In India, a same level of compliance is required for a private company valued at Rs 20 lakh or Rs 20,000 crore and the New Companies Act has made matters worse. Delayed justice due to over-burdened judiciary is also a huge deterrence for investors, both domestic and international.”
Lack of infrastructure: Good roads, lower polluted environment, high speed Internet, corruption free business environment are very crucial to draw the interest of overseas startups in India.
However, due to rapidly-rising population, Inadequate infrastructure, A politician-realtor nexus and rising pollution. most of the metro cities in India are lacking the basic charm to attract talents. Bangalore is called silicon valley of India and recently Capgemini threatened to leave city.
These are the points, Modi govt should concentrate to make India a startup destination of the world.
- Favorable infrastructure with less traffic, less pollution, high speed broadband
- To create a favorable environment for small-ticket co-investments which can help early-stage entrepreneurs raise between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 2 crore.
- To encourage the vast diaspora of innovative, educated, and smart Indians to move back to India and start up.
Encourage the US tech majors to set up operations/support startups in India.
- Cost of capital needs to be brought down through disruptive technologies like P2P lending marketplaces. FinTech innovations like P2P lending and crowdfunding need an impetus and clarity from the government.
- Law like US’ JOBS Act should be enacted in India to open alternative avenues of raising capital for SMEs and startups.
- Persuade the US tech majors to play a bigger role in Digital India without diluting net neutrality.
Get universities and research Institutes to set up hubs in India.
- Allow moratoriums for student loans for those pursuing entrepreneurship.
- Consider matching investments for seed investments by central funding agencies.
- Legal centres to help startups in understanding the legal framework surrounding various businesses in India.
- Simplify regulations for companies for first three years of operations including incorporation, annual filings and closure.