The B2B startup growth is accelerating at an unparalleled rate. B2B startups in India have more than tripled between 2014 to 2018, from 900 to 3200*.One of the reasons for this rise is the ability of the enterprise startups to solve problems faster, better and cheaper.This can be attributed to their nimbleness and lack of baggage.

With an exponential growth in data generation and consumption, and advent of new technologies, continuous and relentless innovation is table stakes. As the world becomes increasingly digital, rewiring old operating models, experimenting to make products/solutions smarter and rethinking the go-to-market strategybecomes top of mind for startups and enterprises alike. For example, Domino’s today, is not merely a pizza company, but a technology company which is selling pizzas. From automated phone orders using AI assistants to testing driverless cars with Ford, the rate of change has been much faster.

It is evident that evolving constantly to leverage technological advancements is the way for startups to continually deliver value to customers and the ecosystem.

Made in India for the world

Industry 4.0 is a technology revolution which along with India’s upward digital economic trajectory and new opportunities,is encouraging reverse brain drain, in the form of Indian entrepreneurs returning from overseas. These startup founders have accumulated expertise and exposure and have access to global networks. As a result, we’re seeing a tectonic shift in the Indian startup scene, in the way B2B startups are now leveraging the engineering talent pool available here and successfully building products in India for the globe.Indian B2B unicorns like Freshworks, Icertis and Udaan are helping bolster the Indian startup image on the globe, which in turn helps other startups in the country gain a foothold in the global market.

Add to that a growing presence of Global Innovation Centers in India, which is fueling the evolution of the B2B startup landscape in India. These GICs that are fairly autonomous in their decision-making are becoming the innovation centers for corporations across the globe.They are increasingly contributing to the startup space by building startup engagement programs. Corporate accelerator programs such as the NetApp Excellerator, Microsoft for startups, Google Launchpad,Intel’s Maker Labs and Plug-In, Shell’s E4 program arising from such an effort are paving the way for a sturdy foundation for enterprise tech startups. Innovation is a measure of both external as well as internal shifts in modus operandi and B2B startups are making inroads in external innovation by exploring adjacencies and partnering with corporate accelerators.

NetApp Excellerator is the company’s flagship global startup accelerator program to be launched out of the Global Center of Excellence in Bangalore.This is a step in the right direction for us to foster innovation in the ecosystem and find adjacencies with startups to partner and help them scale globally.

There is a maturity, both at the demand side which is the global innovation centers and the supply side i.e. startups, therefore making the B2B startups fare well.

Another shot in the arm for enterprise startups is the huge rise infunding opportunities. Investment in B2B startups touched $3.7 billion in 2018, a steep rise of 364% from 2014, according to a study conducted jointly by NetApp and Zinnov. Availability and access to funding opportunities enables growth stage startups to leapfrog to hyper growth.

AI – the game changer in the startup space

AI is one of the big driving forces behind digital transformation. With Artificial Intelligence in the picture, the way businesses operate is changing rapidly across the globe. The strong Indian talent pool that is skilled in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning is bringing solutions, through their startups, to real problems faced by enterprises. We’re seeing several AI startups emerge in India and the globe. In our current cohort, Senseforth.ai is using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to build a chatbot marketplace. This helps enterprises saveimmensely on cost and time-to-resolution. CloudSEK, another cohort 5 participant working in the space of cybersecurity deploys Deep Learning models to detect and report security threats from across surface web, dark web,and deep web to clients much before it becomes a reality. Also, a part of this cohort is Curl Analytics, a startup with expertise in Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain & Robotics. One of their enterprise products, Paras, uses ML, Deep Learning and time series forecasting to solve challenging problems in the space of data science. It is evident that India has rapidly jumped onto the AI bandwagon and is poised to grow exponentially in leveraging cutting-edge tech.

Founders find support

Startups are an important part of our economy and the Indian government is also contributing in promoting innovation by formulating policies to encourage entrepreneurship. There is an abundance of opportunities for Indian startups as the government brings in policy reforms to improveease of business, provide financial support and networking opportunities.

A welcome move by the government came in recently with the exemptionof ‘angel tax’, the income tax payable on capital raised by unlisted companies via issue of shares where the share price is seen in excess of the fair market value of the shares sold. This will help startups sustain themselves.

Additionally, the global Indian diaspora and presence of Indian-origin leaders at the helm ofleading technology companies like Microsoft, Google and NetApp have encouraged strategic shifts in the global business outlook, invariably helping bring focus to the immense talent and knowledge pool that India holds.

Digital transformation led by the rapid pace of cloud computing and adoption of deep technologieshas provided B2B startups with an opportunity to gain a strong foothold in India as well as target global enterprises. The mentorship from corporate accelerators and incubators, along with a rising interest from the VCs and investors has given new impetus to the startup ecosystem in India.If we want to move India from an 8 billion startup economy to 80 billion, startups must begin exporting their products and this support can enable them in pursuing this goal.

We havethe talent and the mindset to conquer the world and there is a palpable optimism that the ecosystem will continue to give the startups wings to fly.

Madhurima Agarwal, Leader of NetApp Excellerator Program

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