When Narendra Modi Launched The Startup India Action Plan On Jan 16, 2016, benefits from tax exemptions, funding, mentorship and fast tracking of documentation was promised to entrepreneurs and investors who attended in their numbers.
What seemed to be a Factory of ideas built on a rock only turned out to be a castle built on sand, empty promises were gone with the wind.
Two years on, and the situation still looks bleak and only a few have benefited from the initiative. entrepreneurs beaming on the front of the nations newspapers and headlines was all they had to show for been selected.
The benefits of the initiative still alludes the average entrepreneurs from Chennai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi, and the romance seemed to die after registering on the site.
“Five out of 100 startups are aware of the initiative, while the average kids on the block with ideas running in their veins don't have a clue on what is going on talk about "Blissfull Ignorance".
A recent survey by community-based social networking site LocalCircles reflects a similar sentiment.
“The kind of motivation I got (from the Startup India launch event)…that’s the only thing I’ve received,” Nav Agarwal, co-founder of Clip App, a nine-month-old digital media app, said.
Arun Prakash the founder of Guvi, an online technical learning platform says there’s been no movement in the programme ever since he registered.
“We were invited to the launch of (the) Startup India programme and that’s about it,” said Siva Devireddy, founder of e-commerce marketplace GoCoop, which, too, figures on the Startup India Hub website.
Madhukar Sinha, co-founder of early-stage investment firm India Quotient, said the complex process of documentation and processing has created a fence between entrepreneurs and Start up India and they would prefer to just sit on the fence and watch.
Moreover empty promises of tax exemptions or incubation support have not yet come to fruition, experts believe.
" A mere 10% of the Rs10,000 crore of the Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS) has been disbursed so far, out of which some “75 startups have received funding to the tune of Rs. 337.02 crore,” CR Chaudhary, minister of state for commerce and industry, stated in a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha on Dec. 18, 2017.
On Jan. 16, the department of industrial promotion and policy (DIPP) said it intends to plow more money into the FFS, bringing the total investment amount up to Rs2,200 crore ($346 million).
Overall, the initiative has been of help to few in terms of funding.
However, to some it has been a Home run and they see the benefits of publicity and networking as intangible.
“We get to connect with the right person in the department (DIPP), and also they help you in promoting your product,” said Manoj Meena, the founder of Atomberg Technology, a startup that makes energy-efficient ceiling fans.
The company requires several certifications from government agencies, and being affilated to the network has fast-tracked the application process, he said. Atomberg also enjoys the right hand of fellowship to government schemes through the help of an advisor assigned from the Initiative.
“There’s been much more handholding,” Kumar of LoanTap said.
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Being a Startup India member gives you credibility. “I see a distinct difference in the way funds are now behaving with us than (how) they used to behave earlier,” Kumar said.
There has been a Glitch in the Government plans which needs to be addresses introduction of more female entrepreneurs in the initiative is still in the embrayonic stage.
“We don’t know if tech-based startups qualify (for the benefits) or if it is only for hardware startups,” Agarwal of Clip App said. There should be an open door policy that embraces all startups in India. Support should be given to struggling entrepreneurs.
“A lot of incubation has to happen. A lot of people initially have fantastic ideas but they drop the idea because of a lack of even very small amounts of capital. If one gets the smallest of support through incubation centres, that would help,” Vipin Pathak, founder of healthcare startup Care24, registered under Startup India, said.
One aspect that entrepreneurs seek clarity on is taxation. During the launch, Modi had promised
Tax exemptions on investments above fair market value, one of the incentives promised by Modi has not come to fruition as only a handful of startups have managed to benefit from the initiative.
“Everybody knows it is a thorny issue and every startup has the same problem because every investment is above fair market value,” Kumar of LoanTap said. “So even if the government did nothing, and sorted this issue out, it would be amazing. This particular issue the government should have taken much more seriously than they have.”
Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and Startups in the country that will drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. The Government through this initiative aims to empower Startups to grow through innovation and design. (www.startupindia.gov.in)
Image Source: Quartz India