It Is Time For Indian Startups To Go Global

Developed economies, including Canada, the US, the UK, Singapore, Turkey, and New Zealand are recognizing how startups and founders can drive economic growth by helping to build innovation economies

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India's rapidly growing startup ecosystem has led to the emergence of startups across the country. Last May, India welcomed its 108th unicorn and moved to 19th place on the Global Startup Ecosystem Index Report. Startups are introducing new innovation models and disruptive technologies that are making lives easier and generating immense audience appeal. They are getting a lot of attention and they have huge global growth potential. Many countries are laying the groundwork to foster entrepreneurship and this has encouraged Indian entrepreneurs to expand their footprint beyond India. The scope of India's startup potential is undoubtedly huge and presents a great opportunity for international expansion.


In fact, high flying Indian unicorns such as Polygon, Amagi and Hasura, among others, in the SaaS, fintech, agritech, edtech and B2B commerce space have gained global traction by expanding internationally. Over 30 per cent of India's 84 unicorns are scaling globally, and expect that their main impact will be in international markets. Developed economies, including Canada, the US, the UK, Singapore, Turkey, and New Zealand are recognizing how startups and founders can drive economic growth by helping to build innovation economies.

Key themes for growth: India's emergence as a true startup economy

India has a long-standing relationship with global economies. Indian startups have demonstrated excellence in job creation, funding, technology and value. Their leadership in the information technology, education, agriculture, fintech and advanced manufacturing sectors presents a real and growing opportunity for collaboration and growth. Success begets success and hosting global startups can help ensure early access to tools and technologies, investors, mentors, a suite of resources and business services, and capital markets. Indian entrepreneurs driving the great tech wave can take advantage of these benefits to create a robust international brand recognition, stimulate sales, and expand their global reach. Having a global foothold gives Indian startups access to the technology ecosystem, enhances trust amongst global customers, and creates a pathway for Initial Public Offering aspirations that can significantly enhance shareholder value.

Why go global?

Over 20 per cent of Indian startups have expanded to global markets, mainly in consumer services. New startups are now targeting the North American market, the UAE, the UK and others, to do business and recruit high-powered talent. Expanding to countries that have a stable political climate, favourable socio-economic and immigration policies, easy tax and regulatory requirements, and high mobile and broadband penetration, is now within reach for Indian startups and can give them access to a global customer base.

Incorporating startups overseas facilitates the process of listing overseas and gives them access to foreign capital. A case in point would be the Indian IT services that expanded in the late '80s and early '90s to global markets and continue to thrive today. India is collaborating with other countries to foster innovation ecosystems to help entrepreneurs solve real-world problems and benefit their respective populations. Canada is strategically located next to one of the most lucrative markets – the US – and has free trade agreements in place with many markets of interest to Indian Entrepreneurs such as Europe and South America. Indian Entrepreneurs can be closer to their North American customers, collaborate with peers and subject matter experts, and establish expansion programs by using Canada as a 'nearshore' springboard.

Programs offered to scale in the North American market

Scaling a business or startup globally requires planning and research – and that is where the support of a good business accelerator can help drive overseas business expansion. Many countries – including Canada, UK, Dubai, and the Netherlands – offer Start-up visa programs (SUV).

The Canadian government offers some avenues to entrepreneurs who want to scale their businesses globally and gain permanent residency simultaneously. The Start-Up Visa program grants permanent residence to immigrant entrepreneurs while assisting them to become established in Canada. This program acts as a catalyst to attract talent from around the world and is gaining widespread traction among entrepreneurs across industries and countries. For instance, we helped an Indian enterprise Doormonk to set up in Canada in 2018 and close a seed funding round in May 2019, raising $100,000. Today they are bootstrapped, profitable, and targeting $2 million in revenue.

Canada also offers the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) which is attracting talent from around the globe and gaining traction among entrepreneurs who want to incorporate their businesses in Canada.

The government of Ontario recently announced the Entrepreneur Success Initiative (ESI) to help people apply to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Entrepreneur Stream (OINP-ES). The ESI benefits global entrepreneurs who wish to receive support in identifying business opportunities to buy or start a business in Ontario, Canada by giving them access to free legal services to file an expression of interest and an application, and introducing them to community and business networks in Ontario. This OINP:ES is a pathway to permanent residency and caters to High Net-worth Individuals (HNIs). It offers access to Canada's supportive business culture that includes non-bureaucratic processes, simple access to finance for entrepreneurs, and good infrastructure.