India is now the fourth largest start-up hub in the world, with a wide range of startups in mobile media, Internet of Things, analytics, ed-tech, food-tech and more. Social entrepreneurs and NGOs are also active on the mobile front, backed by a range of venture capitalists, government grants and impact investors. “India is fast becoming a nation of creators as well as consumers,” says Hindol Sengupta in his new book, ‘Recasting India.’ The combination of mobiles and analytics offers huge potential for India. We are now entering the era of data-powered farming, via large scale open data sets on weather and yields, IoT, drones and smart tractors. Wireless digital tools will be as important as traditional farming tools in the agricultural sector.
On the healthcare front, wearables and apps offer new ways for patients and health-conscious citizens to track their own healthcare indicators and move towards healthier lifestyles. These include Indian startups like HealthifyMe and Practo. Mobile is transforming Indian e-commerce by storm, with some e-tailers moving away from mobile-enabled or mobile-first to mobile-only front-ends.
As India moves into the renewable energy sector, IoT will be important in areas like monitoring massive wind turbine installations which are often in remote areas. Drones will also be important in the oil and electricity grid areas for inspection of installations and supply lines over long distances.
IdeaForge’s Netra drones have already been credited with saving 190 lives during the Uttarakhand floods. Their drones have also been used for crowd management in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
A wide range of mobile startups have been showcasing and pitching at events of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). These include SnapShopr (visual search of products via smartphone app), Hungry Bells (local food delivery), Safe Yatra (safety alerts during travel), Yellow Messenger (mobile CRM), Beat Station (music events and venues), TBOX (smart SMS solutions), Briibe.me (flash sale alerts), SwimIndia (for those who want to excel in swimming) and FreeHit (cricket trivia).
A number of incubators in India have emerged to launch mobile startups. For example, IIIT Hyderabad has incubated MartMobi (e-commerce platform for stores) and AasaanPay (digital payments). Tata Elxsi has incubated Big V Telecom (telephony solutions), Sismatik Solutions (mobile solutions for hospitality sector) and Street Smart (app for local shopping deals). Many startups are emerging in the IoT, Big Data and analytics sectors, which tap wireless sensors and smartphones for data inputs.
With proper functional value and business models, the Internet of Things will deliver the Economy of Things, according to Rob van den Dam, Global Telecommunications Industry Leader, IBM. The trends of digitalisation and mobility are happening faster than we can imagine them, according to Andrew Milroy, SVP ICT of Frost and Sullivan.
“India is the world’s largest experiment in digitalisation,” says B. Santhanam, former director of Saint-Gobain India.
At the same time, the rise of mobile apps like Uber and products like driverless vehicles and drones will throw up new challenges for regulators in India and other countries. Welcome to the Brave New Wireless World!
by Madanmohan Rao, Author