Ask A VC: Can India Ever Produce Cutting Edge Technology?

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In light of the massive $16 billion Flipkart sale to Walmart, everyone is excited about the startup culture in India. Specifically, the technology world seems to be booming – beyond Flipkart are unicorns like Ola and Byju’s. But all of these companies use their tech as an enabler, rather than a differentiator. Will India ever produce a cutting-edge technology startup to match their Western counterparts?

We talk to Suresh Shanmugham, a managing partner at Saama Capital, to understand the situation. Shanmugham, who has worked as an investor in both India and America, is a self-professed tech enthusiast, and he is looking forward to the day when the subcontinent provides the world with a cutting-edge startup.

In a wide-ranging interview covering everything from startup culture and infrastructure differences between India and USA, Shanmugham also touches upon the main issue of the day. He says that India currently excels in areas like SaaS – unsurprising considering the rise of companies like Infosys and TCS – but struggles at truly developing cutting-edge technology.

While Shanmugham himself is a little skeptical about the rise of such companies in India, he does admit that the country has the potential to quickly change this ecosystem. With a young population, a large societal approval for software engineering, a multitude of tech environments and a growing startup culture, the environment is ripe for change.

More surprisingly, Shanmugham also believes that India’s startups are equivalently poised to revolutionise non-tech industries. For example, Saama Capital has invested in Raw Pressery, who hope to break the model of the FMCG retail and B2B market. Raw Pressery recently raised Rs. 65 crore.

You can listen to a podcast of the interview here.

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