New Nasscom faces challenge as platform for startups

Restructure of the Indian IT industry body will see mixed results as it aims to be an advocate for local software startups and entrepreneurs.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

The reorganization of Indian industry body, National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), will see mixed results for local startups and entrepreneurs that develop software products, according to the founder of another industry group. 

Sharad Sharma
Sharad Sharma

The restructuring, announced earlier this week, was aimed at boosting the government's aim to create an environment which is easier to start and grow product-focused companies, said Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSpirt (Indian Software and Product Industry Roundtable), who is also a Nasscom exco member.
However, Sharma questioned whether Nasscom, which will establish councils to focus on new software verticals, would be able to cater to the diverse group of entrepreneurs and startups that aspire to emulate the success of Google, Facebook, and Apple.

"Everyone talks about the need for federalism, but you must have separate kitchens to serve inner-needs of the community. That's really where the challenge will lie."

The disparity is similar to eating at an establishment which kitchen serves all types of cuisine, as opposed to specialized restaurants that strive to be the best at a single style of cooking, he told ZDNet Asia in an interview.
"The community wants authenticity," said Sharma. "Everyone talks about the need for federalism, but you must have separate kitchens to serve inner-needs of the community. That's really where the challenge will lie: to move from a central kitchen model to a distributed model."

The outcome will not be clear until the new leadership is in place, which is due to happen next year.

He also noted that Nasscom could use its "heft and muscle" to influence the government to remove the onerous red-tape that limits the creation of startup companies in India, which is a key component on iSpirt's agenda.

Nasscom, however, would struggle to provide relevant support in other two key areas: provide better education on how to create startup companies, for example via "playbooks"; and create a level playing field where local companies compete with their global counterparts in India.
"These other two areas are most suited to a think-tank, not a trade body," Sharma explained.
Nasscom on Monday declared its intentions to triple the value of the national US$100 billion ICT industry by 2020. The new growth could be achieved if it expanded the four core verticals--IT services, global in-house centers, business process management, and research and development--to include Internet and mobile, e-commerce, and software products.

India's technology future was recently thrown under a spotlight when the iSpirt broke away from Nasscom to champion issues related to Web and mobile app developers. While India owes its technology fortunes to outsourcing, Nasscom--which mandate is set by members comprising multi-billion dollar IT services companies--is under pressure to address the growing needs, and success, of startups and entrepreneurs that develop software products.

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