Department of Science & Technology and Technology Startups – The Mismatch

It’s frustrating. Forget about media moms & dads, even the central agency – Department of Science & Technology – is clueless about how to manage Tech Entrepreneurship in India. In July, last year we covered how DST is thinking and working on door-to-door basis to bring the NCR-Delhi based startups together.

During my discussions with MSME then, I’d indicated that implementing a representative platform for tech entrepreneurship by limiting oneself within the physical boundary of Delhi/NCR or any other part of India is simply lame if not self-defeating for the least.

And look after seven months of physical door-to-door labor, one-to-one calls, hundreds of emails (I am aware of some, who have marked this spam too) we’ve have gotten only this far: Quoting MSME … “FMC has been able to list around 250 start-ups in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) domain based out of NCR region and has been able to communicate personally with around 80 of them so far”.

Seriously? Is a list with 80-250 range of startups gonna represent not less than a few thousands of technology startups from NCR itself? Is anyone in DST even aware about the actual number services & product oriented Technology Startups in NCR and in India?

Wait, a minute. Can Department of Science & Technology make out the difference between a technology product startup and a technology services startup in the first place? Looking at the quality of the DST website it seems safe to assume that international terms like social media, web 2.0, crowd-sourcing, gov 2.0, cloud computing etc. are going to fly overhead the leadership of Science & Tech in our country. Anyday.

And email from MSME goes further to say that a “… prominent issue ( among others) expressed by start-up entrepreneurs is need of a sounding board and  regular guidance (Not GYAN Sessions) specific to their business challenges.” To address this prominent issue MSME is organizing a few workshops in partnership with SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) and IBM and other industry experts – i.e. the traditional GYAN way. Well let me stop the cribbing at this point.

Consider this:  Startups are venture by people who broke off from the expert-driven Indian industry with one’s own dream & drive. What was lacking was money, networking, experience & definitive numbers to validate one’s business plan. And what was required (essentials) from the Government/Society was the availability of a startup promotion forum – which tracks, allocates and supports entrepreneurs with resources like money & policies. No money is fa*t.

It is damn important to lower barriers and subsidize sustenance costs for a high-risk-taking individual. And to encourage junta thereby to venture out and create value that would inspire the coming generations. Youth of a country. And the last thing that a serious tech startup would wanna do is spend 16 * 16 hours on funda workshops & training for time is an extremely valuable & short resource.

Besides, look at a typical technopreneur: That individual is highly skilled & is completely aware about the global technology issues. And to a good probability, such a person would be much more informed than the experts of juggernaut industries of our country (though I know a few quality exceptions too). A technopreneur prefers reading international tech news on blogs like TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and national Tech news on Pluggd.in etc. and prefers internet over any offline masala news daily.

Now will such an individual like to spend time to attend funda session without a business interest – i.e. money or networking?

The concept that creating a local representative body on behalf of the NCR based technology startups, that would interact with statutory agencies and help alleviate them over the common issues faced by startups, is flawed at the root level. Only an inclusive model with proper online fora supported by both money & encouraging policies will lead the tech eco-system into streamlined existence. And benchmarking oneself (DST) to past record of creating a textile industry at Ludhiana surely does not apply the same way into the realm of Internet. Get over it, please.

I want to write more on how DST can assist the eco-system so that Technology startups (both services & products) get a boost, but that’s up next.

So much for MSME, DST, FMC & NITEE which are the names of same team vying to do something good for technology startup ecosystem. But the effort lacks the steam of the eco-system, and the monetary emphasis from the Manmohan Singh Government. Check out how the leadership (partly Indian) in Singapore has managed it.

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