Homeward bound to back start-ups

Entrepreneurs who had migrated abroad in search of business opportunities are now tying up with city youths to launch their start-ups here.

By Abhranila Das in Calcutta
  • Published 21.03.16

Calcutta, March 20: Entrepreneurs who had migrated abroad in search of business opportunities are now tying up with city youths to launch their start-ups here.

Abhishek Rungta, founder of Indus Net Technologies, and Indus Khaitan, a serial entrepreneur and technologist from Oracle, have set up a joint venture called Zapasya. It is a start-up studio, where one or more teams work with multiple ideas. The first product created by Zapasya is Talenjaro, which is a mobile app that provides chat-based career counselling to college students.

"Back in 1998, I worked on an email communication start-up with a few others. The product we had aggregated personal and company email into a single user-interface. We had around 50,000 users outside of India but could not figure out what to do next, how to make it big and how to acquire customers.

"Being a computer science engineer, it made sense to move to Silicon Valley and figure out what entrepreneurship was about and what makes a successful start-up and left the country the following year," Indus Khaitan said.

In 2010, he had founded a mobile security start-up, Bitzer Mobile, with two friends. It was acquired by Oracle in December 2013.

On the reason behind starting a new business here, Khaitan said, "Abhishek and I share the same first principles of running a business, that is, starting small, thinking about revenue early on, and having a grand plan."

"The start-up ecosystem in Calcutta is at a nascent stage and the booming middle class is driving consumption and efficiency. The ingredients of a successful start-up ecosystem is access to capital, consumers and laws, which do not hinder new businesses. Here, consumers are plenty and more capital is becoming available as local and foreign financiers see the potential," he added.

Futurite is another start-up that seeks to bring science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to school students in India. It is a joint venture between Maloy Burman, founder of Premier Genie that runs STEM education programmes in Dubai, and Anindya Kar, co-founder of MyPrivateTutor - an online platform that helps students find tutors.

"I have always been passionate about education and wanted to build a company that would focus on STEM. However, three years ago, business opportunities in the country was low," Burman said.

"I think India is still very young in the STEM space and schools here have only now started to embrace this."

According to him, although Calcutta's ecosystem is young, it has a fantastic market and the availability of talented human resources can drive growth here.

According to Nasscom, there are over 400 start-ups in Bengal and the number is growing at about 50 per cent year on year.