Is Ahmedabad ready to invest in its start-ups?

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In recent days, as a rising number of Indian start-ups successfully compete with traditional businesses, investing in start-ups is getting an increasing focus. The year 2015 has, so far, been seen as a watershed year for Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem because of the sheer number of start-up acquisitions.

In the current year, 41 start-ups have already been bought compared to the cumulative 43 of 2014. According to NASSCOM Startup Landscape Report 2014, in 2013 around 300 start-ups in India raised funds from Venture Capitalists of which only eight were from Gujarat, however. Thus, Gujarat is missing from the scene.

IIM Ahmedabad's technology business incubator, Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Ahmedabad and the Viridian Group have joined hands to bring forward investment-ready start-ups for Amdavadis looking to diversify their portfolio. On June 25, these start-ups will pitch to the panel of investors at CIIE-IIMA.

TiE Ahmedabad President, Neha Sheth says, "Ahmedabad's start-up ecosystem requires a platform which TiE & CIIE are jointly providing. Such start-up showcase initiatives will create a lot of value and synergy for the start-ups as well as the investors looking for good start-ups".

Neil Patel made the journey from Stanford to his ancestral land Ahmedabad, looking at the thriving start-up space. He says, "Ahmedabad is an incredible city with a touch of modern and contemporary. It has several top-class development organizations, several of which we began working with. It has a growing start-up scene, wherein there are several incubators along with high-quality academic institutions, venture capital initiatives and the Gujarati entrepreneurial DNA. It's exciting to be a part of this ecosystem."

Ahmedabad has been identified as one of the five upcoming start-up hub by NASSCOM Startup Landscape Report 2014. Khushalee Vakil, Senior Manager, CIIE, says, "CIIE has always had a Pan India focus but with the kind of start-up activity Gujarat has seen in the last 2-3 years, we feel that our start-ups have come of age and deserve dedicated focus. We have launched a Gujarat-focused accelerator in collaboration with SAP, for which applications open next month. There is no reason why the next Flipkart shouldn't come from Gujarat".

This is seen as a welcome move by many of Ahmedabad's young entrepreneurs. Ritam, founder of the Ahmedabad-based location start-up wWhere, which recently raised Rs 1.2 crore from international investors, sees a lot of potential for local investment activity. "I think local investors play a very important role in creating an ecosystem in a region. For a startup, it is very important that their early investors have an understanding of their day-to-day operations. This can only happen when a local investor champions a local startup. Also, a local investor understands the local market, bringing both credibility and connections- which are highly valuable to nascent ventures."

Investing in start-ups requires a forward-thinking mindset and some investors in the city have made that leap of faith. Darshan Jani, Angel Investor and Founding Partner at Amditree, sums it up and says, "It feels great to be a part of this ecosystem, and to be able to create opportunities for startups".