Author Archive for Sanjoy

Building the Green Entrepreneurial Ecosystem city by Indian city

“The nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. “ This is what President Obama said in his recent State of the Union address. Building the clean energy economy is not easy. Entrepreneurs have to start building businesses, investors will have to understanding them and professionals will have to get excited about the opportunities.

Transitioning to a cleantech economy means creating an entirely new entrepreneurial ecosystem. TiE Bangalore, CIIE and New Ventures India collaborated in hosting the Cleantech Mentoring Workshop in Bangalore, India’s original entrepreneurial city.

The workshop focused on helping entrepreneurs starting greentech companies connect with seasoned entrepreneurs who have invested in and built (mainly IT and consumer) companies and professionals who are getting excited about opportunities in start ups in this sector.

The first take away of the workshop was this: Innovative ideas in the greentech sector are around. The organizers had been careful in screening businesses that showed substantial traction and even then there were 17 companies who presented their business ideas to an audience of seasoned mentors and experienced professionals. The key sectors covered were renewable energy (solar thermal & PV biomass), energy efficiency, recycling, organic farming, water, micro hydro and green building materials.

Most gratifying, however, was the participation of professionals willing to help out greentech entrepreneurs. I counted more than 20 of them who came up to stage and introduced themselves. Given that it was Bangalore, there were several “start up” consultants who provided services around finance, accounts, IP and marketing and who had lots of experience in working with start ups. There was also one person who provided power point presentation training. But there was also participation from folks working in Wipro, IBM and Infosys who had come to understand how their companies and they themselves could plug into an emerging business. And then there were folks from India’s premier institutions – ISB and IIMs – who had come there just to volunteer their services to anybody who needed them.

And of course there were the investors and mentors Bangalore is so famous for. There was Mohanjit Jolly, Pavan Krishnamurthy and Anand Daniel, who has just joined the community. But there were others equally passionate about start ups: Murlidhar of Merittrac, Sathya of Collbrant, Nandini Vaidyanathan of Start ups, Rajeev Goswami of Shore Consulting, Pavan Soni of Wipro and “Kimi” Krishnaraj, who was already involved in mentoring one of the companies that presented.

Click here for more details

It looks like there is a momentum to build green businesses in Bangalore. But we have to do this city by Indian city. If you are a green business owner or an aspiring green professional please do send an email to and you can participate in one of the New Ventures India workshops.

The Largest gathering of Cleantech companies in India

TiE Hyderabad organized the ‘Largest Gathering of Cleantech Companies in India’. The conference was held in partnership with Nexus, SONG and New Ventures India. The event was a focused “no-frills” networking event of investors and entrepreneurs. The day was divided into 4 sections: Smart Grid, Energy Efficiency, Recycling and Renewable Energy. Companies operating in each area presented their business story in a small presentation to the audience and investors also talked about their investing interests.

Acumen Fund, Applied Materials, Atlas Advisory, Breathe Ventures, GEF, IDG, IFC(W), Lightspeed, Mumbai Angels, Nereus Capital, Siemens Venture Capital, SIDBI and YES Bank were the investors who attended apart, of course, from Nexus and SONG. That’s 15 investors all seriously interested in cleantech in India.

The morning sessions on Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency merged into each other as is the nature of business in this end of the Cleantech spectrum. Satyam, CEO of NeoSilica, who also played a key role in organizing the conference in his role as the TiE SIG head, presented the overall picture. The remote data collection and control idea was found in:
• Connect M, a IDG and Sasken company, develops applications that collect data remotely targeted at a broad set of businesses but also to utilities
• Autoboxx provides remote monitoring with respect to energy usage in air conditioned areas.
• Neureol which provides remote monitoring of infrastructure in telecom towers and power utilities.

The smart metering idea found resonance in:
• PowerMax Global which develops communication products that enable smart metering.
• Analogics which focuses on efficient metering and communication solutions.

The energy efficient theme was found in:
• Kakatiya Energy Systems develops lighting controls for energy efficient lighting.
• Unidyne which manufactures energy efficient air conditioning systems.
• NEST which manufacturers efficient solar lanterns.

The recycling section had the following highlights:
• E waste recycling by Ekoreco which has been one of the pioneers in this field and Greenscape. Inspite of the lack of mandatory regulation there is a market for several players in this field.
• Plastic waste to oil up-cycling by Samki Teck

The transportation sector was held up India’s pioneer in the area of electric bikes: Eko Vehicles.

The renewable energy section had several flavors. First among them was Biomass Gasification. The two presenters in this were Ankur Scientific, one of the technology pioneers in India and AllGreen Energy, which is using the technology for rural electrification.

The Biofuels section was led by Nandan, India’s leader in jethropa R&D and Indian Bio- Diesel Corporation, Baramati which is building local communities that will manufacture bio-diesel.

The hydro section had SCG India as the lone participant who is trying to develop micro hydro sites in Himachal Pradesh.

The solar section had representation from Nuetech Solar, the 4th largest player in the solar thermal area, Sharada with a broad range of products in solar and SuRe which is innovating in the solar PV area.

A presentation that was not enterprise or investor related was that of Ashok Das, representing World Bank InfoDev which explored the possibility of setting up a Innovation Center to foster and support the cleantech ecosystem.

We also had an interesting presentation from Higgs Advertising – building cleantech markets is a critical challenge.

The closing presentation of the day was made by Razvan Maximiuc of the Cleantech Group, who made the really sobering point that the pace of Cleantech in India did not match up either to the size of the opportunity or the requirements from a climate change standpoint.

Incidentally, that was probably the only time “Copenhagen” was mentioned in the conference. The challenges to cleantech entrepreneurship are closer to home.

TiE ISB Connect 2009 is on October 22-23 in Hyderabad

TiE-ISB Connect ’09 will be held on October 22nd and 23rd, 2009 at Hotel Marriott Hyderabad. Organized by the TiE, Hyderabad Chapter and the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (WCED), ISB. This year TiE-ISB Connect will focus on looking beyond the current challenges and focus on the real issues that face entrepreneurs as they establish and grow companies.

The conference is uniquely organized around a series of events that focus on stages of growth. If you are a starting entrepreneur you must consider attending JumpStrat your Enterprise, the Company Showcase and Panels on Seed Funding. If you are already well on your entrepreneurial journey we have something for you too: a focussed Discussion on Follow on Financing. For company executives we have discussions on growth stage funding.

In line with our changing times, TiE ISB also looks at business opportunities for the Next 800 million and to reinforce the theme of looking beyond the current crisis will have an exhilarating discussion on India Poised as opposed to India Paused.

Please visit to know more and register

Support for Green Businesses

New Ventures India inviting business plans from green entrepreneurs for its 2009 cycle

Eco-entrepreneurs should hurry and submit their business plan to the following email addresses: or vamshi.

Upon short-listing, twenty potential green companies will receive special mentoring from a team of experts. They will then be showcasing their business proposal and pitching their case for investment before Angel Investors, Private Equity Investors, Institutional Investors, Venture Capitalists, Bankers at the 4th edition of Investor Forum to be held on 29-30 October 2009 in Mumbai.

As date, New Ventures India facilitated investments to the tune of INR 80 Crore (20 million USD) investments into 9 different companies and is on the promising trail to facilitate investments to other potential green enterprises.

New Ventures India (NVI) is a joint initiative between CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, Hyderabad and World Resources Institute, Washington and is supported by British High Commission under the Strategic Program Fund, US Department of State under Asia-Pacific Partnership & USAID.

The Indian Education Market: Manipal K-12 (Company Profile)

The Indian educational market can prove interesting for private businesses, even in these times . India has a large population (more than 500 million) in the age group 0-24, the government spending on education is spent (nearly 97%) on meeting operational expenses and not for capital expenditure and for the average Indian, education for the kids, forms the second largest household expenditure item. Two equity research reports one by CLSA and the UDFC SSKI makes the case well. The CLSA report is very comprehensive and is the source of the often quoted assertion of the Indian education market to be USD 40bn.

Manipal K-12 profiled in my blog is a new player in this industry. It competes with Educomp, NIIT and Everonn among others. The key element of the business model is to offer specialized hardware and multimedia-based learning content to schools that would make teaching more effective in the classroom.

The scope of growth in this market is large over the next few years. As you will read in my post, the market penetration of all the players is a small fraction of the immediately addressable market (that is the private schools for the more privileged members of the society).

However, content for the K-12 educational market is likely to be an extremely competitive market. The United States for instance has several players in this business: Plato Learning, Renaissance Learning, Scientific Learning, and Discovery Education. Plato’s revenues has actually decreased from USD USD 142 million in 2004 to USD 68 million in 2008. The revenue of Renaissance has remained static in the USD 110 million range and that of Scientific Learning in the USD 40 million range over the last few years.

Why should be the Indian market be different? There are two reasons why it could be so. First, most Indian players have a subscription model which leads to recurring revenue. Second, the scope of expansion in the underserved public school rural market is immense. To take the advantage of this market, however, costs of content will have to come down sharply. Development using standards based learning objects and delivery using scalable Internet/satellite/television based delivery is probably the answer. Equally private players will need to partner with public organizations (state and local governments) and NGOs.

Manipal K-12 is also trying to develop its own brand of schools, like I suppose are all other players. Globally, this model has been a disaster. Edison Schools, went public at the beginning of the century, to set up a chain of private schools. Edison’s stock was publicly traded for four years and the company reported only one profitable quarter! I checked the website recently and it said the company was “growing and improving”.

Again, why should India be different? For the same reasons, corporate hospitals in India, have taken root: the Indian public sector has effectively vacated this space. Having said that, reaching scale building schools is a tricky, not least because Indian parents judge schools by how students perform at the Board level.

The Indian K-12 education market might provide far more opportunities for the private sector than the developed markets have. I do hope so for the sake of our country.

I would love to know your views on this market and find out if you are building any businesses in this space.


A learning event for entrepreneurs

Jumpstart your Enterprise is going to be held on November 5, 2008 at the ISB Campus as a part of the TIE ISB Connect 08.

This is a serious day long learning session for “experienced professionals, starting entrepreneurs”. It is a day to step back and learn…an investment in your entrepreneurial career.

Click on this link to learn more…

See you in Hyderabad…

Career Management

I have tried to develop a social networking cum saas type of application idea for managing careers – check it out

Fun non-technology opportunities?

We have had a lot of discussion on this site on technology ventures and rightly so, given the talent pool in India. However, I think that with our changing social structure there will be interesting opportunities in the recreational services space. For instance, in areas like Health & Fitness, Tourism and so on. Think of the following:

– Will there be an entrepreneur who will set up India’s version of Lifetime Fitness or Ballys?
– Will there emerge new businesses managing sports stadiums, music and sports events and so on?
– What about innovative domestic tourism options such as specialized tours, coast-to-coast cruises?
– Will there be private equity investments in chains that take over and standardize the existing stand-alone hotels in Indian cities?
– Will there be a spate of restaurant chains post investments in the Mainland China business?

In each of these categories, there are reasonably large listed companies on the NYSE and the London Stock Exchange. I expect that over the next 5-10 years there will be several Indian companies that will emerge in these categories.

Their business models will probably be not as disruptively innovative as the next generation Web 2.0 product. But I am sure they will be fun and provide the much needed respite to technology entrepreneurs and workers.

I have written about a few such ideas on and would like to learn more from folks who are thinking about these opportunities.

SaaS opportunities

Here are some thoughts on the subject to spark off discussion:

The SaaS (Software as a Service) model is an interesting development in the enterprise software segment. My predictions are that:

We could see investment in SaaS companies in the India-US corridor with a lot of development and support located out of India.

I also think the SaaS model offers an opportunity for Indian IT companies to enter the software product space. Indian IT companies have hitherto acquired niche consultimg companies. They may acquire enterprise software product compoanies and morph them to a more managed services organizations.

Some more detailed thoughts are here

I would love to connect with folks who are thinking of these opportunities.