Unlocking the Potential of Mumbai's Startup Ecosystem The third largest home for startups in the country, Mumbai has many hidden gems

By Aastha Singal

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Mumbai - the city of dreams. Thousands from small and big towns move to this urban hub, with big hopes to create an identity for themselves. The city doesn't have a dearth of individuals hustling to prove their potential. With the technology disrupting every space, the lively city lying at the mouth of the Ulhas River on the western coast has become an enabler for many startupreneurs.

Often regarded as the financial capital of India, Mumbai is the third largest home for startups in the country. With the entertainment industry settled in its heart, the Maratha land houses many influential corporate leaders, angels and significant personalities with financial backing strong enough to support the upcoming flurry of startups struggling to find a footing for their ground-breaking ideas.

Marriage of Tech & Finance

Mumbai has emerged as a fintech hub and along with Bengaluru, houses nearly 42 per cent of the startups in the space. "Mumbai is also a leading hub of B2B startups in the country, showing its potential for tech-based startups. This shows how the city is being able to overcome the initial dearth of technology talent and grow its base of tech startups across industries," states Anju Kanodia, Business Head, Wakency.

While the cities up north have built their scope because of the underlying IT industry background, Mumbai's extensive infrastructure doesn't allow such organizations to position their HQs there. It will take Mumbai some time to develop that ethos, believe Vikram Poddar, CEO, BoredRoom Comedy and Corporate Standup Comedian. "However, the marriage of tech and finance might help Mumbai to leverage its financial industry pole position."

Kanodia states, there are a plethora of business models in Fintech. All the way from the many payments players, consumer finance plays to those looking to disrupt insurance and banking. The entire finance vertical is open to disruption as companies are taking on large established firms that enjoyed the status-quo for a long time. The likes of Cred.in and Simpl are building differentiated products that have found a nice niche.

The Power of Entertainment

One of the world's largest entertainment industries, Bollywood is centred in Mumbai. "From the Bollywood studios to big comedy collectives, to content powerhouses of OTT players, Mumbai has a lot to offer. Catering to the various OTT platforms alone can result in significant new jobs and revenue streams," Poddar shared.

The penetration of cheap data and increased smartphone sales, content is being consumed like never before. "A whole value chain around creating it (content) is creating new jobs as well, most of which are based in Mumbai. With the right mindset and outlook, this can be capitalized to create new businesses," he added.

A business to succeed needs a great team, good timing, a validated product and access to money to grow and get traction. "If the entertainment industry is able to create a platform where the best talent is connected and made available to the startup ecosystem – amazing growth can be seen," states Narayan Mahadevan, Co-Founder, BridgeLabz.

What's Lacking?

Mumbai has a perception of being an expensive city and when it comes to real estate it is definitely on the higher side. "I believe that with every industry being disrupted by Tech and a large employable young population available – The government should support start-ups which are creating tech employability," Mahadevan said.

He further added, "The enterprises which are supporting experiential, hands-on code learning with live industry mentorship which helps in ensuring the tech talent pool is created and the ecosystem talent gap is reduced." There will never be a shortage of ideas. Getting everything to fit together is the tricky part.

As long as the various stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem are there for the long run, Mumbai has the potential to turn into a leading hub for start-ups in general. A large part of the city's challenge in reaching this milestone is the short supply of relevant talent. While other aspects have been addressed, one question remains - Is Maharashtra government doing enough to foster Mumbai's startup scope?

Aastha Singal

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Features Writer

A business journalist looking to find happiness in the world of startups, investments, MSMEs and more. Officially started her career as a news reporter for News World India, Aastha had short stints with NDTV and NewsX. A true optimist seeking to make a difference, she is a comic junkie who'd rather watch a typical Bollywood masala than a Hollywood blockbuster. 

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