When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the headquarters of the largest social networking website in the world this weekend, the head of state may encounter some questions about what he’s doing to support promising tech companies on his own home turf.
Modi is slated to partake in a townhall question-and-answer session alongside Mark Zuckerberg Sunday at Facebook’s headquarters. He's also visiting Google and Tesla during his visit to Silicon Valley this weekend.
Modi used a meeting with Fortune 500 CEOs in New York Thursday to push his “Make in India” initiative aimed at turning the country into a global leader in manufacturing. While he might be encouraging investment by major U.S. companies, American investors seeking to invest in Indian startups say bureaucracy hampers their efforts.
People concerned with India’s startup community say the prime minister could do more to foster entrepreneurship in the country.
Here are a few things entrepreneurs and investors with ties in India want Modi to know as he visits the leading startup hub region of the United States.
Entrepreneurs in India need more visibility.
Ajay Royan, co-founder of San Francisco-based VC firm Mithril Capital Management LLC told the Wall Street Journal that India should create more programs to promote the country’s startups and increase their visibility to foreign investors and potential collaborators. “Basic idea: no talent left behind,” he said, referring to a wealth of engineers in the country.
India could foster a more business-friendly environment.
In Silicon Valley, Indians figure prominently among foreign-born entrepreneurs. A 2012 Kauffman Foundation study showed Indians made up a third of immigrant founders of the roughly 2,000 engineering and technology companies surveyed.
“Silicon Valley illustrates the stark difference between what Indians can accomplish outside India versus inside,” enterprise messaging app startup Teamchat CEO Beerud Sheth told Quartz. He said India could streamline regulations to better foster entrepreneurship domestically. InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari said he hoped Modi might “imbibe the culture that stirs the spirit of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley.”
India’s IPO rules are too complicated.
Matthew Howard, managing partner at Palo Alto-based Norwest Venture Partners, told the Journal he would like to see rules for initial public offerings in India simplified. Also in need of simplification is the country’s tax system, said Howard. He says it remains unclear how the country will implement new regulations slated to go into effect in 2017, that will allow Indian tax authorities to scrutinize transactions that appear aimed at helping companies avoid taxes.
At least some of the prayers of Indian startups could soon be answered, possibly during Modi’s trip to the U.S., according to Indian daily newspaper The Economic Times. Modi is expected to announce policy changes aimed at making it easier to establish and invest in startups in the country.