Rajesh Joshi, CEO of Atal Incubation Centre at Goa Institute of Management (GIM) at Sankhalim is a leading figure in the world of mentoring Start Ups. In an exclusive interview to www.goanewshub.com, Joshi claimed that Since the pandemic, Goa has seen more inflow of people moving to & working from Goa.
1. How do you foresee prospects of Goa being Startup hub? Is it possible?
REPLY: Goa has grown organically to be a Startup Destination. Already 200+ startups are incorporated/operating from Goa. These Goa Startups are founded in varied sectors. Goan Diaspora have invested and are supporting ventures in Goa. There are 70+ Vibrant IT/ITeS companies in Goa. 15+ Incubators, Co-Working Spaces & Startup Studios are here. Few Indian Startups’ have moved their operations to Goa And entrepreneurs from all over, have Started their Ventures in Goa. All Goa Academic institutions have an active Entrepreneurship or Innovation Cell. Regular hackathons, competitions, challenges are held to cultivate innovation culture and promote entrepreneurship.
Goa has seen regular influx of Digital Nomads & Creative class. They came to Goa, to “Start” work on their new idea. Since the pandemic, Goa has seen more inflow of people moving to & working from Goa. This is a boost for Goa as a place for “Working” not just “Holidaying”. Workation is better than Vacation in Goa is the new Mantra for Goa.
So in my opinion Goa has the foundation to become a Top Startup Hub. The time is to take note of these organic ground movements and build on them. The issue seems to be that respective Startup Ecosystem stakeholders are working in Silos and no attempt to join them and make a cohesive force. With this very objective, AIC-GIM will be organising a 2 day “Goa Innovation & Entrepreneurship Summit in April. This Summit will be the start of showcasing and promoting Goa as an Innovation & Startup Hub.
2. What factors that go in favour of Goa being start up hub?
REPLY: To become a “Hub” of any sorts the place requires Connectivity, Conducive Living & Market Environment and Local Competency & Culture.
Connectivity: Goa is well connected to Metros, Cities in India and Internationally. With Mopa airport & the planned improvement of highway, railway and port infrastructure Goa will be very well connected. Internet & Telecom infrastructure is already improving.
Conducive Environment to Create & Market: Goa is an ideal place for Innovators, Entrepreneurs to be living as the quality of life is better compared to Metros, Tier 1 cities. Goa is THE safest places for Women. The Startups are solving problems and innovating for all India “India 1, 2, 3” market. India 1,2,3 market means respectively the Urban, Semi-Urban, Semi Rural & Rural class. This class is available within few kilometres in Goa. Hence ideal environment for any Startup to test their products with the requisite market segment. This further makes Goa an ideal Startup Destination.
Local Competencies: Technology, Talent & Tolerant Culture were the main drivers for Silicon Valley, London, Bengaluru & other to emerge as IT Hubs. We in Goa have the same attributes now. The tolerant culture of Goa was an important attribute that enabled Goa to be a Global Tourist Destination. Now, Goa can LEAPFROG from a Tourist Destination to a Startup Destination as well.
3. What are the missing elements in Goa to be a Startup Hub?
REPLY: We need to bring in all the Startup Ecosystem Stakeholder together so that we become better together. All Hubs have boomed once the disparate groups came together and worked collectively along with the Local Administration & Government.
Very few Goa Startups have expanded across India & Globally. Not many have grown to become the Flag bearer of Goa Startup Ecosystem. A Goan Startup did win at the National Startup Awards 2020. We need more Goa Startups to be recognised and growing. I am hopeful that few Startups will become Multi-Million Dollar ventures, expand nationally, internationally and will get recognition.
Goa lacks a vibrant Local investor network which collectively Invests in Goa Startups. To evangelise this we have launched an eight week INVESTATHON. We are also giving shape to GAIN, Goa Angel Investor Network. With this we aim to raise about Rs 5 crores in next 12 months and fund 10+ Goan Startups. GAIN will not just give monetary gains to Investors but GAIN will act as a catalyst to promote Startup Investment as an Asset Class for HNIs, Industrialists in Goa.
AIC-GIM will work actively on how to eliminate these elements with all stakeholders.
4. What kind of start ups that can anticipate coming up from Goa?
REPLY: Presently the Startup in Goa are across diverse sectors and varied industry. This shows Breadth of entrepreneurial talent here in Goa. From urban to rural, from agriculture to industry, from ocean to forest, from locals to tourists, Goa has all the market segments which need new products, services & solutions. With Vocal for Local and Swayampurna Goa, I anticipate some Startups to mushroom in the space of making Goa self-reliant and I can see these Startups then growing pan India and world.
At the same time, Goa’s attractiveness as a Workation & Startup Hub, should attract Indian Entrepreneurs and Global Startups to move base here which can provide local employment and contribute to the Goa economy.
Post pandemic, Goa can attract the CREATIVE class or DREAMERS(Designers, Researchers, Engineers, Academicians, Marketers, Entertainers, Recyclers, Startups) to work and set up in Goa. From a DREAM tourist destination, Goa can become a destination for DREAMERS.
5. Is there enough education about Start Ups amongst Goan youth?
REPLY: 14 months back, when we did a small survey the preferred career options for Goan youth was as follows Go out of Goa for job, Get a government/private job and Join Family business. Today, the youth are more aware of an alternative career option in Startup. This is no limited to starting their own Startup but also Working in a Startup. Goan youth are very keen to work in Startups for exposure.
This is also reason why we launched our “i MAGIC” program to uncover entrepreneurial talent in Goa and give selected Goan Youth an opportunity to be an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) at AIC-GIM Incubation Centre and be part of Startup Ventures.
6. Tell us about AIC at GIM
REPLY: AIC-GIM has been set up by Goa Institute of Management under the flagship initiative of Atal Innovations Mission (AIM) by NITI Aayog. We provide Incubation services to Startup. Our Incubation services include: State of the art office spaces, Access to talent, capital and market, Industry linkage, We provide requisite entrepreneurship skill development , resources and access to knowledge with our partners. In last 2 years of our existence we have directly supported 30+ and indirectly aided 50+ entrepreneurs and startups.
7. Does it help being at topmost B School?
REPLY: GIM is one of the most respected & top B School in India. GIM Board comprises of experienced business persons and professionals. GIM Faculty is top notch and has wealth of knowledge in requisite business aspects. More than 800+ Students are at GIM and this talent pool is great breeding ground for entrepreneurs and startups to come from. GIM Alumni are top professionals across diverse industries and are employed all over the world. Some of GIM Alumni are successful founders of Startups in and out of Goa.
With such a solid foundation and access to this treasure of people, we at AIC GIM are equipped to facilitate more entrepreneurs and build successful startup ventures out of AIC GIM. Our recently launched “RIVER” program is a conscious attempt to benefit from this enriching GIM stakeholders.
8. What are your future plans?
REPLY: Apart from the programs and entrepreneurship summit mentioned above, We will further support Social Impact Startup. We have plans to launch AIC-GIM satellite centres in 2 more location in Goa. We want to integrate India Startup ecosystem with Goa and vice versa so to that end we want to have 1 AIC-GIM satellite centre outside Goa. We aim to facilitate and support 100+ Entrepreneurs, Startups in next 1-1.5 years.
AIC-GIM mission is to be an enabler for Startups and Startup Ecosystem stakeholders including Government, Industry, Students, Investors, Service Providers. We envisaged a Startup Festival last year and were to do in April 2020 but due to pandemic we had to cancel. We will look to do the 1st Goa Startup Festival this year and end the year 2021 with the “Goa Startup Fest” in December 2021. I believe that will also be the time Goa will be recognised as a Startup Hub.