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Interview: Anuraj Gambhir, Strategic Business Advisor & Innovation Evangelist at Avantage Global and Speaker at Convergence 005

'Startups are amongst the top contributor to the economic development and long term prosperity of future nations. They are the creators of new employment and shaping the jobs of the future. Key skills such as Data Science which we know are going to be fundamental need Startups to challenge the traditional models.  Every industry out there is getting disrupted, they are at different stages of their evolution and it is Startups who have fuelled the new world order.  We are seeing many facets of innovation which are being locally developed in APAC and then taken to the rest of the world for mass adaption.Anuraj Gambhir, Strategic Business Advisor & Innovation Evangelist at Avantage Global, and Speaker at Convergence 005.


Anuraj Gambhir

In an exclusive interview with Startup Terminal; Anuraj Gambhir, Strategic Business Advisor & Innovation Evangelist at Avantage Global explains more about present startup ecosystem in Asia-Pacific region and the changing dynamics



Excerpts: 

ST:  What are the major trends in startup ecosystem in the emerging economies of Asia-Pacific region?

Anuraj Gambhir: Some of the key trends include an increased confidence, entrepreneurs from even more diverse walks of life with participation from wider age groups (a lot more folks aspiring to move on with professional careers and corporates stints). 

More investors entering the ecosystem specially angels and superangels being added to the list. So there are a lot more resources available out there from investment funds, tax incentives, government grants, corporate accelerators, incubators and hackathons which are promoting the startup movement. In several markets the maturity from having a cool startup (for namesake) has evolved to the deeper reasoning of the startup coming to being. 

ST:  Where do you think APAC region stands among global startup ecosystem? How important is this region?

Anuraj Gambhir: APAC is flourishing with the startup movement. From my recent trips to India, Singapore and China visiting various startup hubs it was evident how diverse ecosystems are being curated. 



The region is v. important from a Social & Impact Innovation perspective where we have seen several examples of reverse innovation and polycentric hubs of large western corporates being established that are closely working with local/regional startup communities. I have been involved with setting up some Innovation/Thinking Labs earlier and the value one can generate with customer intimacy and opportunities to co-create are immense. Designing for the base of the pyramid to solve the larger problems has led to a deeper play in Social Entrepreneurship. There are several learnings from the likes of the ‘Jugaad' phenomena and the gigantic size of the potential BRIICA (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China & Africa) emerging markets has specially having an early glimpse from this eye opener book by Jagdish Sheth called CHINDIA rising and then a more recent one which a friend in China, Duncan Clark wrote: Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built. Australia is considered a great test bed and launching pad for Asia to bring quality solutions, I tell a lot of my startups here to adapt GLocal strategy (think Global and acting Local) from day 1 and build for not just the thousands or millions but the billions. 

ST:  What is the importance of promoting innovative startups to grow the regions’ economy?

Anuraj Gambhir: Startups are amongst the top contributor to the economic development and long term prosperity of future nations. They are the creators of new employment and shaping the jobs of the future. Key skills such as Data Science which we know are going to be fundamental need Startups to challenge the traditional models.  Every industry out there is getting disrupted, they are at different stages of their evolution and it is Startups who have fuelled the new world order.  We are seeing many facets of innovation which are being locally developed in APAC and then taken to the rest of the world for mass adaption. 

ST:  What are the key emerging technologies that are driving the consumer revolution globally?

Anuraj Gambhir: Taking on key themes and some broad areas  – IoT/ Smart Mobility, Connected Devices, Wearable tech, AR/VR-MR, Big Data Analytics/ Visualisation, AI & ML are evidently present amongst areas startups are addressing (these happen to be the areas I focus on). This applied to verticals/industries ranging from Health/Wellness, Education/Learning, Fin-tech, Smart Home/Transportation (Smart Cities), etc are bringing about new paradigms where leapfrogs are rapidly taking integration, deployment and mass acceptance of these emerging technologies to a new dimension. We are seeing these technologies as the underlying foundation for highly compelling localised and hyper-contextual use-cases that are generating tremendous value to end users. An example we clearly see is the democratisation of platforms and commoditisation of several hardware elements that have led to v. low cost Connected Home building blocks such as Google Home.



ST:  What are the major challenges ahead for entrepreneurs across this region?

Anuraj Gambhir: I think challenges will include breaking away from traditional business structures (tearing of some walled gardens as I call it) and legacy systems that are in place. There are also some mindset issues around risk taking and attitudinal/cultural barriers that need to be overcome which I think are transforming rapidly in some cases. The world has been getting flatter by the day and learnings from Si Valley and other leading startup hubs has proliferated rapidly. Instead of threats or weaknesses I think the region poses far more advantages and strengths that need to be leveraged as opportunities to leapfrog. 

ST:  What according to you are the five major things that investors look for before investing in startups?

Anuraj Gambhir: These are some of the major ones: 
  • People / Team – Capability/Skill-sets
  • Passion / Conviction  - some of the key traits I talk of below
  • Unfair Advantage / USP-ESP of solution; key differentiation against competitor; key value proposition
  • Market Size / Addressable base – is there a substantial target; relevance, how deep are the segments
  • Traction – how rapidly is the acceptance by B2B, B2C; willingness to pay; margin and revenue

ST:  Would you like to give some tips for dynamic entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts?

Anuraj Gambhir: Purpose, People and Passion are three key Ps of what make a startup in the first place. These ingredients are the basic essentials and should never be compromised. I think starting with the strong WHY (the Purpose of being) and then working on the remainder of the 5Ws (Who, What, Where When, Why) and the H (How) are key to have clarity on. 

I have 13 traits of innovation (from my presentation - part of what I teach at some B-schools on entrepreneurship, innovation & strategy) that constitute key elements what a startup leader ought to have:


We must remember that startup is a temporary organisation (as per its dictionary definition) that is searching of the right models to scale up. The initial journey involves a lot of inspiration (the ideation/gestation phase) whilst perspiration is what takes on the execution phase. I strongly recommend taking the plunge as it will be an experience of a Lifetime!!


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