India start-ups seek assurance on funding needs

Tax exemptions for start-ups and tax incentives for start-up employees would be measures that could help.

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Start-ups in India are hoping to benefit from the union budget on Monday amid the recent focus on the sector demonstrated by the government.

“The current government has placed immense faith and hope in Indian start-ups and digital ventures,” says Ankita Tandon, the chief operating officer of CouponDunia, a discount coupon start-up based in Mumbai.

The announcement of a US$1.5 billion start-up fund as part of Startup India, the prime minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to support the sector, “is definitely a boost, though we would like to see how these funds are channelised towards us, and would want a clear and quick way to access them, with minimal government or bureaucratic intervention”, she adds.

Tax exemptions for start-ups and tax incentives for start-up employees would be measures that could help, according to Ms Tandon.

“Advancement in communication technology and penetration of the internet into tier two and tier three cities will bring in the next wave of digital consumers, and possibly, entrepreneurs, so we would be on the lookout for the budget to concentrate on these infrastructural roadblocks.”

Deepit Purkayastha, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Inshorts, explains that for more start-ups to succeed in India, it is not only about having entrepreneurs, but also a skilled and employable workforce. He hopes to see evidence of this in the union budget.

“While it is encouraging to see the movement under the Startup India programme, to me it would yield results only when the Skill India programme starts working in tandem with it,” says Mr Purkayastha.

“To support this, the government needs to make investments towards imparting contemporary skills in colleges and universities via professional certifications both in technical and non-technical streams. The government also needs to demonstrate some out-of-the-box thinking and involve the participation of private players and trade associations.”

He also wants the government to make angel investments tax-exempt and create “a relaxed regime” for start-ups to launch initial public offerings.

Others would like the government to announce plans to allow growth in the digital payment space.

“One should remember that the rapid consumption of services offered by start-ups is dependent to a very significant level on the convenience and security proposition offered by the digital payment services,” says Kumar Karpe, the chief executive of TechProcess Payment Services, an e-payment platform in India. “Today, for the first time, we can say that digital money has pipped its counterpart cash and we hope that union budget has a positive outlook towards facilitating this further.”

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