From liberalisation in the 90s to having the world's cheapest mobile data, remarkable infrastructure developments, self-reliant milk and food production to becoming a global technology superpower '” the past two and a half decades did something magical; it made the world suddenly sit up and look at India.
Through each of these milestones, SAP has been a consistent partner for India Inc by leveraging companies across sectors. Infact, a vast majority of India's GDP today touches a SAP system!
As a cloud-first business transformation partner, SAP is agile, scalable, and a natural partner for India's startups. Through their legacy of serving over 450,000 customers globally and over 13,000 in India, they bring industry expertise and insights to today's digital natives. As SAP completes 25 years in India, the journey to take Indian startups to the world has just begun. Read on!
Raising investments is just the beginning of a new cycle of executing effectively on the strategy. Most founders are faced with the challenge of executing for rapid scale while maintaining visibility and control. The challenge of scaling rapidly, throws up several more:
1. Talent Acquisition & Management: The rapid expansion of the start up ecosystem has already created a massive demand for manpower with new age digital skills in the areas of product design & development, Analytics & Data Sciences, Digital Marketing etc. The looming shortage of talent will probably be one of the biggest challenges for digital native companies. While acquiring the right talent will be difficult, maintaining and retaining the talent pool in the face of competition will be a bigger challenge. Human Experience Design will become a key differentiator for employers.
2. Investing in Operations. Building a product is different from running a company. As start-ups expand at velocity, the amount of operational data expands exponentially, hence the need for real time visibility into business intelligence & insights will come to the forefront. Limited investment in digital operations becomes the biggest bottleneck for fast growing companies so it is imperative for them to invest in a solid digital core that not only offers them the cross function operational visibility that they need today but also the agility, resilience and ability to innovate they may need tomorrow.
3. Rapid Growth: The ability to create a market for their products and drive visitors, prospects and customers at a very fast pace, defines success for startups. For many start-ups, especially in the B2B SaaS space, growth needs to be driven across geographies. This is a complex challenge that involves every aspect of the business from establishing product-market fit in diverse markets, demand creation, talent management & operational excellence. A modern digital core, such as SAP offers a great platform to manage operations so that digital natives can focus on the core task of market expansion
To address these challenges, SAP recently launched Project Nakshatra - to help startups grow, guide them to build products at scale and prepare them to go global.
The two pillars of Project Nakshatra as stated by Kulmeet Bawa, President and MD, SAP Indian Subcontinent are:
Technology enabler of choice for hyper growth startups: SAP's solutions include a full-stack business transformation suite which accelerates the movement to cloud by taking both guesswork and piecemeal license purchases out of enterprise planning. It revolves around key areas of business they identified after analysing customer trends and in-house analysis of SAP products. SAP and the partner ecosystem handholds the startup and founders in their journey and provide the much-needed guidance to transform their landscape of enterprise technologies. To this end, SAP offers tailor-made services for enterprises and their specific goals with '˜Rise with SAP'.
Co-innovation partner for B2B SaaS startups: India's B2B SaaS industry is the greatest transformational opportunity for India in the next decade (probably bigger than ITES) with the potential to add $1 trillion to the economy and create more than 500,000 highly skilled jobs. The success of the B2B SaaS business lies in finding and creating markets globally esp US & Europe. This is where the SAP Startup Joint Go-to-Market Program comes in - where SAP's deep expertise across industries and geographies comes into play with access to our 450,000 customers globally.
The overall program is designed to cater to the agile environments of startups by allowing them to transform their businesses digitally, without disrupting their workflows.
Journey from soonicorn to unicorn
India has slowly become a lucrative playground for startup entrepreneurs who are experiencing an unprecedented funding spree, nudging them closer to the unicorn club. But after raising multiple rounds of investments, most entrepreneurs look at having scalable systems, with enhancing levers of growth. Once a startup has identified where to expand, they still need to figure out how to create a robust tech platform to manage the scale and adapt to the changing consumer demands across geographies. While product-market fit is the key challenge, a digital core also becomes an absolute must - for one to be able to innovate and grow at scale. Preparing for growth cannot come as a knee-jerk reaction, it has to be planned.
The way forward
India has emerged as the third largest startup ecosystem in the world after the US and China and the pace of growth is only accelerating. In recent years, the government has taken several measures to support startups, including broadening the definition of startups, simplifying regulations, providing income tax exemptions and setting up a Rs 10,000 crore Fund of Funds for startups operated by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). An earlier NASSCOM report had stated that India will have 50 unicorns before 2021 ends. Currently, the country has 41.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for embarking on a transformation journey'”but if the journey is tailored to an enterprise's specific goals and context, it can deliver tremendous impact.
As we see more unicorns and more digital native IPOs, the quest for growth will be coupled with the strive to make a positive change in the country and the key levers here would be sustainability and nation building. Preparing for growth cannot come as a knee jerk reaction and needs careful planning. While one may be a digital native by birth, adopting a digital core as your startup's heart and soul should come as second nature!
If you're looking to hit hypergrowth, innovate at scale and nurture global ambitions already, check out Project Nakshatra by SAP. To know more about the program, listen to the complete Fireside chat between Kulmeet and Shraddha