“Collaboration over competition is our focus”

As told to MEENAL BALE

In the last couple of years, the Information Technology sector has witnessed a rising pattern of growth. Goa is not much behind; with its own set of efforts to contribute to the overall IT ecosystem. In conversation with Mangirish Salelkar, President of the newly formed Goa Technology Association, founded in April 2017. GTA aims to be a representative body of the technology companies in Goa

What was the main purpose of forming the Goa Technology Association?

Back in 2010, when I was a couple of years old in the business, I understood that there are many IT entrepreneurs in Goa struggling to find a common platform to meet and discuss. There were various meets held trying to get everybody together and discuss various IT related issues, but the discussions barely got converted into actions. There even came an assumption that the IT industry in the state was dormant.

Thus, a great need was felt to find a common platform where IT and Tech companies had a common voice that would voice their pain points, share their views and suggestions for the effective functioning of the industry. The Goa Technology Association purely aims at uniting IT business owners – entrepreneurs as well as intrapreneurs (business heads of various IT organizations); to be the interface between the Government and other entities such as The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI), other such business oriented forums and the industry.

How does GTA function?

An ad-hoc committee of five members was formulated to get things streamlined, right from the registrations, memberships to the fees and democratic MC elections were held. We have well known industry names on board – Milind Prabhu (Vice-President), Cicero Silva (Treasurer), Caslino Periera (Dy. Secretary), Gajanan Nagarsekar (Growth Coordinator), Sujeet Shetty (Secretary), and Milind Anvekar (Membership Coordinator). Our advisory board consists of stalwarts like Manguirish Pai Raikar, Nitin Kunkolienker, Girish Bharne, Sandeep Verenkar and Jervis Pereira.

NASSCOM has been looking out to build connections in Goa and we aim to bridge the gap. Currently, we have a collective database of over 60 IT companies that will help us establish a firm IT eco-system. The STPI division has given us full support and NASSCOM will be sharing timely updates of the various IT business delegations’ tours. There will be seminars and events hosted in association with multiple partners and GTA members have been promised the benefit of access to the various trade fairs happening outside Goa, along with sponsorships for events and stall space at exhibitions, as well. 

What will be the chief focus of GTA?

To build a strong member base in the first couple of years. Also, to work in line with GITP to see that we are also able to rope in the IT talent from outside Goa, into Goa. GTA intends to play a balancing act wherein startups, as well as the existing seasoned IT companies, will benefit. We expect industry experts to help mentor the start-ups.

A crucial initiative will be establishing associate memberships with educational institutes, promoting fresher’s employment. We have put up requests to the Government to provide subsidies to companies that employ freshers that will encourage employment for young talent and ensure that the companies approach colleges with a long-term perspective, rather than students seeking out companies for restricted internships.

Where does GTA currently operate from?

We operate from the office premises of Gajanan Nagarsekar as our registered office. We haven’t yet begun with the memberships, but our target is to reach 100 in the first year itself. The membership drive will begin now and the procedures to enrol are like any other organization. You fill in a detailed form and await the approval from the membership committee. Eventually, in the next six months, we intend to hire staff to handle the administration and secretarial work.

Who can be a member and what are the immediate events in the pipeline?

IT companies, IT-driven companies, IOT companies, tech manufacturing companies, Electronic System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM), Agritech, Biotech, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO); any Goa-based IT companies can be a member. Currently, we already have three BPOs lined up on our member list.

In the pipeline, we would be facilitating a workshop in association with NASSCOM on whether the introduction of GST has affected IT Exports, somewhere around August. Next, on the list, we intend to sign MOUs with GCCI, STPI, CII and the others.

What are the major challenges that you envision in your tenure?

There has already been a long gap in instituting this eco-system, and I have a time span of the next two years of my tenure to bring it on par. Making the Government, as well as other forums, see that we have a strong base at GTA and it is an extremely viable platform to gain IT related suggestions, is going to be a major challenge. Currently, the existing talent resource pool in Goa is not industry ready. A major focus on the agenda will be to create awareness with immediate effect and help prepare this pool of resources in a way, that it will ultimately benefit all.

Being the first president, my personal challenge will be to ensure that whoever takes up this responsibility next, has an ease of operation. As a new organization, we not only need to build a trust factor, but also, live up to certain expectations. Our collective aim would be to create a friendly and healthy business oriented eco-system that shares workloads, has more joint ventures, grows in quality and creates more job opportunities.

We do not intend to make Goa the next Bengaluru or Hyderabad. But we definitely envision Goa as a startup destination and will work in tandem with the Government, to put it on the IT map of the world. We even have an appointed growth coordinator within the membership committee who will keep a tab that all members within GTA are benefitting, as well. After all, the organization has been formed keeping individual growth in mind.

How do you envision GTA in the future?

Our focus is ‘collaboration over competition.’ As companies grow, there will be huge scope for job opportunities. The ‘IT anywhere clause’ in the IT Policy will play a huge role in helping a lot of companies to function or operate from any location. In future, once we achieve a stable footing, we also look forward to collaborating with IT associations from other states and establishing a bond to formulate business synergies.

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