Indian Startups are Worth Betting On: Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin

Saverin believes that much of the growth in India will come from enterprise tech companies. These are tech companies providing

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Eduardo Saverin, Facebook

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin recently lauded the Indian start-up potential, saying that although the Indian start-up market is a few years behind China's, it is a market still worth betting on.

He said this during a panel discussion at Forbes Global CEO Conference last month held in Singapore. Saverin added his investment company B Capital is deploying "a lot of dollars" into India and is thinking about the long-term success of new companies there.

Saverin believes that much of the growth in India will come from enterprise tech companies. These are tech companies providing services to businesses. He said that his company has put money into an electronic health records company and a contract management company.

"I think India is a huge market with just tremendous potential," CNCB reported him saying in response to a question on why India's start-up ecosystem has not generated better returns. "And I think as the market continues to mature, and as you get into a better macroeconomic environment, it is a market to bet on, combined with Southeast Asia."

India itself has a very vibrant start-up scene. India is the 3rd largest ecosystem for startups globally with over 77,000 startups. Besides India, Singapore remains another exciting destination for investors.

Last week EnterpriseSG (Enterprise Singapore) reported that venture funding in Singapore expanded by an impressive 54 per cent in the first six months of this year to reach SGD8.18 billion (USD5.71 billion) compared to the same period last year.

Funding stood at SGD14.7 billion (USD10.26 billion) for the full year of 2021 and grew 45 per cent per annum between 2017 and 2021. The government agency said that Singapore's innovation and startup ecosystem has continued to experience strong growth over the past five years, remaining vibrant and resilient amid the pandemic.

EnterpriseSG is a government agency within Singapore's Trade and Industry Ministry which supports Singapore SMEs (small and mid-size enterprises) by helping them upgrade their capabilities, innovate, transform and develop internationally. It also supports the growth of Singapore as a hub for global trading and start-ups and builds trust in Singapore's products and services through quality and standards.

Singapore has established itself as a startup hub, attracting regional entrepreneurial talent and companies to its shores. Indian companies are no exception.

They are attracted by its favourable tax rates, strong infrastructure, stable government, simple business rules and legal environment. The country's advanced technology ecosystem and innovation-driven policies are seeing a growing number of Indian startups make Singapore their gateway into the larger ASEAN market.

Many venture capital firms have also set up a base in Singapore allowing startups to have ample access to financing, making the city-state an ideal location in Southeast Asia to raise funds.

Since the year 2000, more than 8,000 Indian companies have established an entity in Singapore. India-based companies can incorporate in Singapore through a relatively simple and inexpensive process. This is because Singapore allows 100 per cent foreign ownership, meaning an Indian citizen or an India-based business can fully own a Singapore company.

Examples of established Indian companies that have chosen to incorporate in Singapore include Flipkart, Mercator, and Tata Consultancy Services. Among the better-known startups which have made an impression in the local market with at least one co-founder who is originally from India are Circle.

Life, a mobile virtual network operator, RedDoorz, an accommodation platform for budget hotels, and LeenaAI, an artificial intelligence-driven human resource solutions company.

EnterpriseSG is keen to continue to promote Singapore as the foremost startup and innovation hub for Southeast Asia. It said that it will continue to deepen its support for innovative startups and SMEs. This includes catalysing more financing opportunities, providing the right platforms and infrastructure to drive development of innovative solutions, building the pipeline of local and global talent, and deepening global connections.

Startup SG was an initiative which was launched in 2017 to support startups, by helping to galvanise funding, increase access to mentor and partnership networks, as well as connect startups with overseas markets to scale abroad.

As part of Startup SG Equity, more than SGD51 million (USD35.6 million) was co-invested across 58 startups, catalysing over SGD400 million (USD279 million) in private investments in 2021.

The success of these initiatives has given entrepreneurship a boost as the number of innovative startups reached close to 480 as of June 2022, growing by 47 per cent per annum since the initiative started in 2017. Of these, 104 startups have raised publicly disclosed rounds amounting to over SGD350 million. On average, they secured pre-seed funding more than 1.5 times faster than their Southeast Asian counterparts between 2017 and 2022.

"Driving innovation and nurturing startups is, and will continue to be one of our key priorities over the next decade. The pandemic has spotlighted the vital role that startups played in developing solutions to disrupt and rejuvenate industries despite trying circumstances. This resilience and entrepreneurial mindset is what we need to form the bedrock of our innovation economy. EnterpriseSG is committed to deepening our support for startups, including by expanding our network of local and foreign partners, so that we can continue to catalyse the formation of innovative startups and support their growth in Singapore and beyond," said Edwin Chow, Assistant CEO (Innovation and Enterprise), EnterpriseSG.

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