“We are ensuring that startups are supported at every stage”

D.S. Prashant, CEO of the Startup Promotion Cell (SPC), highlights the role of the organisation in aiding startups and acting as a bridge with the Government

What is the Goa Startup Promotion Cell all about?
The Department of Information Technology, Electronics and Communications is the nodal department mandated by the State Government to cater to the promotion, growth, and development of startups in the State.
Given the demanding and diverse nature of the role to be played towards startups, the Department established a Cell within it, to cater to these roles independently, but under its foresight and supervision. As responsibilities and focus towards startups grew, the Department engaged a team with a full-time CEO from the industry to achieve the objectives.

What is the range of startups incubated at the Startup Promotion Cell and what sectors are they working in?
The Startup and IT Promotion Cell is not an incubator, but it works closely with incubators to ensure the success and growth of startups. The Cell plays the role of a facilitator and creates an environment for the development of a vibrant startup ecossytem. The top sectors where startups work in are; IT services, healthcare, travel and tourism, food and hospitality, and professional and commercial services.

The Goa Startup Digest that was released recently gives an overview of the startup landscape in Goa. What role should the State play in encouraging people to set up startups?
The need for a comprehensive overview of the startup landscape in Goa has been long overdue. We have had people from the startup ecosystem who come to Goa and say that there are no good startups in Goa, a myth which we wanted to defeat.

The perception is generally drawn as ecosystem players’ work in silos and this data was not showcased at large. Of course, there is a lot to do, but steps have been taken in the right direction.
The state is already playing a multi-faceted role and is ensuring that every segment is covered in its promotion and outreach. Today we are reaching out to educational institutions; apart from mere awareness programmes we are bringing them closer to entrepreneurship by providing them not only with lectures, but continuous mentorship, skill development programmes and networking platforms. We are also ensuring that startups are supported at every stage and we could forge meaningful connections for their development and growth.

The SPC has 223 startups registered with it and serves as a portal for startups interested in claiming incentives. What does the SPC do to aid startups?

The Government of Goa has notified the Goa Startup Policy, 2021 through which schemes for starting up and staying afloat, till a certain level of maturity kicks, are being accorded. There are over 120 applications for incentives that have been sanctioned.

Besides monetary aid, the Cell organises programmes for harnessing and improving the skills of the startups, supports them in participation at national and international workshops and events, works with industries to find potential opportunities and partnerships for startups, and guides them in their development journey.

Goa is one of the four states to implement a startup policy. What are the aims and objectives of the policy so as to ensure that it is easy for startups to come up in Goa?
Goa wants to position itself as one of the prominent places in Asia for startups. It has all the right ingredients for startups and working professionals to blossom. The Government is also taking necessary measures to augment infrastructure requirements.

The current policy is one of the most liberal in the country and it is not restrictive to Goans per se but ensures that Goa is benefitted through startups moving here.

The Government is today focussing on digital nomads and there is big push towards bolstering this agenda. We are also working with the creative communities in Goa, with the larger goal of positioning Goa as the creative capital of the country. For all this clear roadmap and policies will be rolled out soon.

As part of the SPC what support do you receive from the government to harness the startup culture in the State?
SPC works as a part of the Government system. We sometimes play the role of a bridge between startups and the Government. The Government has been very supportive towards all initiatives that are planned and for any support that is needed towards success of a startup.

What exchange do you envisage for successful and mature startups towards young and struggling ones?
Mentorship and exchange of learning is key and crucial. The matured startups have already walked the steps before and are lighting the tunnel for those who are yet to begin their journey. The ones that are yet to take off will be welcoming. This is what is the primary ask. Firstly, the mature startups become the inspiration for the next set of potential startups. It is also heartening to see the eagerness shown by mature startups to mentor and guide new startups through initiatives like the Founders Club.

What are the principal challenges faced by startups today?
Access to markets and access to funds continues to remain the biggest challenges for startups. There are multiple challenges which a startup faces based on different reasons including the experience of its founder, access to resources, sector of business, etc. but broadly we can bucket it into these two segments.
The IT Minister, recognising Goa as a preferred workplace for young professionals, has spearheaded the Global Opportunities Aggregator (G.O.A.). Elaborate on the same

The Department of Information Technology, Electronics, and Communication in Goa has mooted a novel concept of being an opportunities aggregator by harnessing on the natural ingredients that can foster innovation and creative development.

Goa, known for its thriving tourism industry, has seen a rise in startup ventures being created in the State especially from those who prefer making Goa as a workplace due to its natural beauty, excellent infrastructure and all round connectivity and enabling government policies.

The focus of the Government has moved from building hard infrastructure to building human capital and capitalising on human capital.

Through the G.O.A. (Global Opportunities Aggregator) initiative, an inter and intra operability platform will be developed that would enable effective remote working collaboration, protection of Intellectual Property, mentorship and a universal access card for availing facilities in Goa such as; medical facilities, transport, internet, co-living, etc.
This initiative will showcase Goa’s unique geographical and historical assets while promoting and harnessing local talent.

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