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INNOVATING INDIA Special Edition, Featuring Interviews with: Amitabh Kant CEO, Niti Aayog -

R. Chandrasekhar President, Nasscom -

Rana Kapoor

MD & CEO, YES BANK & Chairman, YES Global Institute -

Bhavish Aggarwal Founder & CEO, Ola Cabs -

Amanpreet Bajaj Country Manager India, Airbnb -

ISSUE 11 AUG 2017

Preeti Sinha

Senior President & Glocal Convenor, YES Global Institute & YES Bank -

Sandeep Murthy

Partner, Lightbox Ventures -

FOUNDER James O’Flynn DESIGNER Aidan Creed Published by SoMoGo Publishing/ Global Innovation Magazine is published every quarter /Copyright SoMoGo Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be stored or transmitted or reproduced in any form or by any means, including photocopying, scanning, or otherwise without the written permission of SoMoGo Publishing Ltd. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers. Acceptance of advertisements does not imply official endorsement of the products or services described. While care has been taken to ensure accuracy of content no responsibility can be taken for errors and/or emissions. Readers should take advice and caution before acting upon any issue raised in the magazine. The publisher reserves the right to accept or to reject advertising and editorial material supplied. The publisher assumes no responsibility for the safe return of unsolicited photography, art or writing.





001 | Founders voice James O’Flynn – Founder of Global Innovation Magazine Welcome to our Indian Focused Edition 003 | Catapulting India to be the Leading Start-Up Nation Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog 007 | Radical Transformation through ICT Mr. R. Chandrasekhar, President, NASSCOM 009 | Design Thinking for Business Innovation Mr. Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO, YES BANK and Chairman, YES Global Institute 013 | Innovating the Future of Travel Mr. Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO, Ola 017 | Disrupting Travel & Leisure Industry Mr. Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager, India, Airbnb 021 |

Innovative Financial Models for Development Ms. Preeti Sinha, Senior President & Glocal Convenor, YES BANK and YES Global Institute

025 | Catalyzing Capital in Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Mr. Sandeep Murthy, Partner, Lightbox Ventures



WELCOME TO OUR INDIAN FOCUSED EDITION India has always been a key enabler to Global Innovation Magazine’s endeavours, and as time has passed this same relationship has flourished into a special, strategic alliance. India and its fondness for innovation was the very seed from which our magazine grew, as our first issue showcased Mr. Sam Pitroda on the front cover. The first ever email we received in appreciation of the work, came from an Indian reader and to this day the most engaged readership globally, comes from India. Just take a look at our Facebook page if proof were needed! In lieu of this, I am incredibly proud to be able to introduce a special edition of Global Innovation Magazine, one that simply focuses upon Indian Innovation. The idea for this issue aroused from the fact that India today represents the 3rd largest entrepreneurial ecosystem, driven by an extremely young, diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial landscape. India has the potential to emerge as the ‘Leading Start-up Nation’ in the firth coming years. Looking at India as an innovation hub, it has been our intention for some time to explore the array of technologies being derived out of India. So here it is, our Indian focused edition, that showcases some of the innovative ventures being undertaken by organizations like YES Global Institute! The interviews that we conducted are aimed at spreading the possibilities of just what can be achieved in the world of innovation. We truly hope that you enjoy reading them! More than this, we hope that somewhere across India, an innovator takes the spark forward and creates a new world of possibilities, that will inherently affect India, and further afield in years to come. Thanks as always to our India readers. Best James O’Flynn Founder






Mr. Kant, you have been a key driver for several policy

will grow up to be India’s multinationals of tomorrow. I’m very

initiatives including ‘Make in India’, ‘StartUp India’,

confident that it’ll be these young women and men who help India

‘Incredible India’, FDI Policy and Promotion, which has seen India rise to the 39th spot in Global competitive ranking

take leadership in not just startups, but innovation and improvement in quality of life generally!

from the 55th. How would you like to describe your current role at NITI Aayog, its impact on innovation and vision to transform India?

In the Atal Innovation Mission, we are trying to help the entire pipeline of innovation and entrepreneurship. In the Atal Tinkering Labs in more than a thousand schools nation-wide, we hope to

NITI Aayog is the think tank of the government. In its present role,

encourage and enable millions of students to make new things

many initiatives have been taken to bring States into the focus

with their hands, deploying the latest new technologies for rapid

for achieving the national objectives and targets. NITI Aayog is

prototyping, such as 3D printing, electronics and micro-processors,

implementing Atal Innovation Mission, which is the Govt of India’s

vinyl cutters, etc. The Atal Incubation Centres program will support

effort to strengthen the country’s Innovation-driven Ecosystem. My

entrepreneurs at more than 100 centres around the country, creating

role is to establish this Mission as the heart of India’s innovation

the soft infrastructure and ecosystem where young entrepreneurs

efforts, so it can expand and create the platform where India’s

can mould and shape their business models and products. With AIM

innovators can connect and thrive together. I am helping create a

Social Impact Challenges, we aim to spur innovations for socially

culture of promoting innovation in India, within and outside the

relevant areas. These programs are targeted to support innovation

government. Innovation will come from all our youngsters, within the

and entrepreneurship across the entire value chain.

government and outside, and the system needs to give them the space to experiment new things, which in turn requires a new mindset. All

What are the major challenges/pitfalls India needs to

of us need to work on creating this mindset.

overcome to become as successful as Israel?

For a country that is even smaller than the state of Kerala,

Israel’s system of bringing technologies to market has seen

Israel has enough chutzpa to run with the title of ‘Startup

committed participation from VC funds and investors, supported

Nation’. India currently stands 3rd in the Global StartUp

and guided by its government’s programs. India’s angel and VC

Ecosystem. Do you see India taking up the mantle of start-

investment ecosystem is rapidly growing, but is yet to gain the

up nation in the coming years?

maturity that Israel’s has, in terms of being able to bring new tech to market. In the last few years, the mindset of being risk-averse

India definitely has the potential of being the world’s leading Startup

is starting to change, but this is just the beginning. As you may

Nation. We have a well-educated, energetic, and self-driven young

know, the government has already sanctioned a fund of Rs 10,000

demography that wants to do their part in changing the world. We

crore to participate in Indian Venture Capital Funds. This Fund

have excellent science and technology, and increasingly we are

of Funds is managed by SIDBI on a purely commercial basis, and

starting to see a solid ecosystem that can convert that science and

has the mandate to seed an ecosystem where Indian entrepreneurs

tech to products to serve expanding or new markets.

get support on market terms from investors to scale up their

Presently, India is credited to be the third in terms of no of startup.

highest impact in the long term, apart from our work to create new

In the last few years, young engineering and management graduates

incubators, etc.

technologies and business models. I feel this initiative will have the

have started thinking in terms of applying their new education and knowledge in either starting or working for a startup, rather than

As a culture, we have strengths that we now need to harness to create

joining an existing large corporate. It is these startups of today that

products for the entire world.


We will need better connections between our labs and markets, through investors. We believe India, with support from the government, is on the way to achieving this in the next couple of years. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam remained passionate and committed to what he called Vision 2020 – transforming India with a focussed manifesto for change. Do you see India achieving that in the near future? What is your vision for India in the next 5 years, and what role do you think innovation would play in accomplishing that? Former President Kalam and our Prime Minister have given a clarion call for a New India, a transformed India. This India will have sustainable public service delivery and equal opportunity for every citizen to achieve their individual potential. In order for every citizen of India to have a safe, healthy and comfortable living, innovation will be needed in how we use our natural resources, such as water, energy, soil, etc. Agriculture will need to see more innovation, so we can maintain our leadership in this space around the world. As an example of the ‘pull’ factor for innovation, the Atal Innovation Mission is going to organize a couple of programs such as Grand Challenges and the Social Impact challenges, seeking innovations for specific problems. We want to create a culture where innovators look to solve India’s problems, and those solutions can be scaled up to other countries also. Grand Challenges-type of programs focus the attention of the community of innovators/researchers on specific issues, and can play a catalytic role in coming up with more innovation over time. This is a kick-start to innovation in the sociallyrelevant areas. As our markets deepen and innovation becomes ubiquitous, we will see new technologies, products and business models being developed focused on the Indian consumer, rather than force-fitting of technologies developed for other countries. If I was able to foresee the innovation, I would be the one doing it or at least benefiting from investments in innovative startups! But since I can’t foresee them, I can tell you that we are trying to get the best ecosystem ready for India to be able to harness that ecosystem. 2016 was marked with the sentiment of anti-globalization dominated by Donald Trump’s win, Brexit and popularity of right-wing parties across Europe. Do you see the effects of


these transcending to India and hampering your vision

sources. All of these innovations are addressing real challenges, and that

for India?

really excites me about my current responsibilities.

One strength of innovators and entrepreneurs is to accept the working

Considering Entrepreneurship is a very demanding and less-

conditions the way it is, and work with them to make the world a better

stable career choice, what do you think is the factor driving

place, design a better product or create a new model. Whatever be the

India’s youth to become entrepreneurs?

world’s specific situation or context, Indian entrepreneurs are working to make the world a better place. I believe that every ‘crisis’, if you see

The opportunity to create something new, a technology, a business, a

it as one, also has the seeds of its solution. With a positive mindset and

legacy, to solve a problem or create a market is the main driver why

enthusiasm to solve problems and build bridges, growth and development

anyone chooses the difficult path of entrepreneurship. India is seeing this

can be continued.

energy being channelled into entrepreneurship and I think this is a great development. I see that the new generation has far less aversion to risk

As part of Atal Innovation Mission to promote culture of

than I used to see in my generation. They are not afraid to take chances

innovation & entrepreneurship, you must have come across the

to try a new business or a new technology. Some of this is because career

whole gamut of disruptive life defining technologies. Which is

paths have become less linear, so you can try your hand at a new business

the most important piece of innovation that has connected with

model and then seek a job later, or other such changes. This lower risk

you the most in past few years?

situation is great for supporting entrepreneurship. We want India to build its own destiny, without resorting the paths beaten by other countries.

I see new innovative technologies day in and day out. Whether it be young students finding ways to manage urban waste, or young entrepreneurs

Up till recently, India did not have a Bankruptcy Bill to

finding new solutions for digital payments through feature phones, I see

encourage innovations, with the development of such a

impressive innovation often. NITI’s Atal Innovation Mission identified 20

bill has there been a significant increase in the innovative

new social impact-related technologies and innovations in partnership for

entrepreneurial spirit? Are Indian’s now more will to accept

the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas. Indian innovators are finding new business

failure than before?

models in areas as difficult as sanitation, coastal transport, cotton-picking, etc. It was fascinating to see the new technologies and the energy in the

Fail early, Fail Fast has to be the motto of every startup ecosystem. If

innovators. I believe the biggest impact will come from technologies in

failing businesses will exist for too long, they will take up resources that

the social entrepreneurship space, areas where services can be improved,

can be used by another startup. Legally, a failed business needs to go

or where resources can be used more efficiently.

through bankruptcy quickly, so that the resources can be deployed elsewhere.

I come across innovations across the spectrum. Recently, I came across a young Indian guy, an MIT and Stanford graduate, who is designing

I think the entrepreneurship story spurred on by the PM’s Startup India

a potential backbone for India’s Internet of Things, and is planning to

movement is increasing the spirit, and legal and policy changes such as

launch a satellite as part of the system. When it comes to bringing high

the Bankruptcy Bill will make it easier to use this energy for more efficient

technology in service of the nation, someone was recently telling me


about a team of innovators who are trying to bring down the cost of MRI machines by a factor of 10, by focusing on improving the magnets that are

NITI Aayog is working across sectors to introduce structural

required to create the magnetic field. It is these kinds of core innovations

reforms. What kind of reforms can we expect to see in the next

that are required to serve India’s new emerging middle class and aspiring

two-three years to foster innovation & entrepreneurship?

middle classes, without laying the kind of burden on the environment that often we see in other countries’ development models. Let me give you

Our roadmap for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship has been

another example on the other end of the spectrum, I came across a young

laid out in our public documents, including the Tarun Khanna Expert

girl in Assam who created a small system to bring in her mother’s laundry

Committee report. Our reforms for improving the ease of doing business

sensing rain, so that she and her mother don’t have to rush out every

are underway, as well as creating incubators where young entrepreneurs

time it rains, which is quite frequently. I have seen students connecting

and startups can get the right assistance. Now, it is less about policy and

farmers to markets, and for creating widgets for monitoring new energy

more about implementation, which I’m really excited about.



MR. R. CHANDRASEKHAR PRESIDENT NASSCOM being the flag bearer of the Indian IT sector, how

Technology disruptions are reshaping enterprises and providers are

do you see your various programs and initiatives catalyzing

focusing on building technology led platforms that can redefine how their

entrepreneurship and innovation in India? How do you

services are delivered. Technology today has moved from being just a

see NASSCOM 10,000 StartUps initiative changing the

support function to becoming a crucial driver behind important business

entrepreneurial landscape in India and what vision do you

decisions. The use of technologies, especially newer technologies such as

have for the program in the coming years?

AI, Big Data, IoT is on the rise not only in companies from the IT industry,

Startups are leveraging technology to solve problems that have

enable innovation, enhance productivity and profitability. While we have

been plaguing the country for decades. Rapid growth of Indian

seen technology being adopted across financial and banking, healthcare,

startups has created significant growth opportunities for every

education, governance and infrastructure domains, it is also being heavily

stakeholder within the ecosystem. Further, start-ups are providing

adopted in the manufacturing industry.

but also across sectors as these technologies help eliminate inefficiencies,

an exciting work culture along with attractive financial benefits to attract new and retain existing talent. When we started with the

However it is important to note that implementation of technology does

NASSCOM 10,000 Start-up initiative, entrepreneurship in India

not eliminate jobs. While some jobs may be made redundant due to the

was dispersed. It lacked a proper organization which brings together

adoption of technology, it also leads to an additional requirement for

key stakeholders of the ecosystem including start-up incubators,

subject experts and skilled professionals who are needed to work with the

accelerators, angel investors, venture capitalists, start-up support

new technology.

groups, mentors, and technology corporations. Our vision is to foster entrepreneurship, build entrepreneurial capabilities at scale

Ground Breaking Innovations are often associated with

and strengthen early stage support for tech start-ups in the country.

StartUps. Do you think Innovation is applicable only to

As we move forward in our fifth phase, we are continuing to script

StartUps or Corporates can also innovate?

success for this initiative of ours. Large businesses at times get weighed down by the complex existing Since the launch in April 2013, we’ve done about 800 events in 25

processes, and are at time too rigidly structured to create and execute

cities of the country which were attended by a whopping 30,000

new ideas. Compared to them, on the other hand, start-ups start afresh,

attendees and received 17,800 applicants, 2934 start-ups shortlists.

so they have more opportunities to ideate and innovate. The autonomy

In 2016 alone, the program received over 4000 applications of which

and freedom that entrepreneurs have access to, in start-ups are far less

658 startups were shortlisted, 130 women leaders were inducted and

freely available to the leaders of large corporates. However in the fast

300 influencers were involved in mentorship. To further accelerate

moving world, it has become imperative for large firms to innovate

digital transformation at the startup level, we have launched various

internally as well, or risk fading away while others race ahead into the

initiatives, that serve as centralized hubs for India’s tech ecosystem

future. Innovation cannot and should not be restricted to any particular

city by city providing information and resources to help turn ideas

type of business.

into businesses, deliver valuable tools for tech startups, and connect citizen entrepreneurs to opportunities in the tech ecosystem.

The Israeli government grants nearly 80% funds to early-stage startups. How do you believe this model can be incorporated

At NASSCOM which sectors do you believe would make

into the Indian startup space?

radical transformation through the use of ICT to increase

access, enhance efficiency and enable innovation

We believe that one of the reasons for Israel gaining the reputation of a

considering technology is eliminating certain kinds of jobs

startup nation is the active encouragement of government and private

and certain skills are no longer required.

enterprises. Similarly, the Indian startup ecosystem is receiving strong


support from the government. Moreover, NASSCOM along with the entire

equally critical recommendations related to harnessing domestic

industry is working towards a common goal of boosting the start-up

investors and removal of angel tax had not been accepted post the budget

ecosystem in India. The Indian government has been doing its bit through

announcement this year. To catalyse entrepreneurship, NASSCOM

the Start-up India initiative and a multitude of policies on funding &

recommends the removal of angel tax suggesting to share premium in

taxation to help accelerate the growth of India’s startup ecosystem. With

excess of fair market value treated as income. We also wish to encourage

many states now coming up with their own startup policies and the

start-ups through a salient recommendation of proprietary domestic

countrywide momentum created, we believe we’ll be at par with the Israeli

capital to set up an LLP as an investment vehicle for the object of

startup ecosystem soon.


Further, the government has launched India Aspiration Fund (IAF), to

Addressing the second point of the question, with ‘Digital India’ focusing

boost startup ecosystem, launched IAF with initial corpus of INR 2,000

on expanding digital infrastructure and improving the delivery of

Cr to finance and promote MSME4 sector; Created a MUDRA Bank for

government services; the technological transformation is empowering

Small Business Loans, with an initial corpus of INR 20,000 Cr & credit

citizens through improved access. Industries such as banking, insurance,

guarantee corpus of INR 3,000 Cr to provide loan facilities to small

healthcare, retail and manufacturing are directly being impacted by

businesses. Additionally, with the SETU Program, the government has

it which brings an opportunity for business leaders to debate on this

established a techno-financial incubation program to support startups

change of business landscape. As Indian technology firms rapidly adapt

and set aside INR 1,000 Cr in the Union Budget.

to an increasingly digital world, the portfolio of services being offered by them is expanding. Technology will go a long way in ensuring a

What policy initiative do you envision to catalyze

sustainable model for the government to ensure growth and impart

entrepreneurship and role of Technology for the development

services to all citizens.

of the nation? When it comes to policy initiatives, the government has been proactive in its support for start-ups and entrepreneurship, however, the tax related benefits announced in the ‘Start-up India’ action plan have not been easily accessible due to requirement of companies to be certified as innovative and their individual ratification by the Government. NASSCOM has previously suggested that as startups are already being evaluated for potential, capability of their business idea by independent investors firms, angels, VCs and incubators for investment and incubation support respectively; such entities should not have the additional need for ratification. While the government has further extended support by allowing for several recommendations from NASSCOM on strengthening the start-up ecosystem, some




MR. RANA KAPOOR MD & CEO CHAIRMAN Setup just 13 years ago, YES BANK is now the 4th largest

looking for new ways to compete in the marketplace. One approach which

private sector bank in India and an inspiring entrepreneurial

has taken the corporate world by storm is Design Thinking.

story of the nation, would you like to take us through your entrepreneurial journey?

The Design Thinking we are talking about is not visualization of aesthetics, but Design Thinking for Business Innovation - how businesses

My dream began in 1979, when I interned at Citibank in New York. I would

should think, innovate, operate and devise effective means of gaining a

constantly think about the work I was doing and how I could do it in my

competitive advantage in their industry.

own venture. As I progressed in my career, starting as a corporate banker in Bank of America, then as an investment banker in ANZ Grindlays and

I believe that Design Innovation Creativity-led Entrepreneurship

later as an entrepreneur with Rabo India Finance, I strongly believed

(D.I.C.E) truly characterizes the rise of the ‘entrepreneurial economy’

that I would eventually get to build a bank of my own. When the right

in India, and has more to offer the modern organization as a means to

opportunity presented itself in 2003, I evangelized this dream along with a

cultivate creativity and innovation. The core principles of Design-led

group of like minded people, thus evolving a common platform for sharing

innovation, being ‘Human centered’ (putting people first, not technology),

a dream and making it a collective proposition -- and YES BANK was born.

and ‘solution focused – not problem focused’ dramatically improve the success rate of innovation, once applied to the overall strategy. Further,

In entrepreneurship, you have to believe in God, and then dream. Dreams,

for innovation to flourish, organizations must create an environment that

if converted to reality, become entrepreneurship. There is a step further:

fosters creativity, and elevate open-minded, passionate and adaptable

you have to visualize as a leader, strategize and then actualize. Thirdly,

leaders who are not averse to taking risks.

you have to have a very high EQ at your enterprise, whether it is a small, medium or even a large business. This will make you realize that you can

Modern organizations have a sharp focus on design management to

transform and build fantastic organizations.

encourage creativity and professional entrepreneurship. In fact many Fortune 500 companies and even Governments of more developed nations

We opened our first branch in Mumbai in August 2004 and a year later hit

now have C-level leaders focused on design & innovation. I feel the day is

the capital markets with an IPO that raised over Rs 300 Crores (approx.

not far when we will see large global corporations run by designers or even

USD50 million). Today, YES BANK has a pan-India presence with over

boardrooms full of designers.

1,000 branches across all 29 states and 7 Union Territories and a balance sheet of over Rs 2.15 lakh Crores (approx. USD35 billion). The ride has

Digital and Technological advancements are transcending

certainly not been smooth all the way; and came with a lot of speed bumps.

impact in a gamut of sectors. How big do you think Digital can

But the key is to have a lot of perseverance and significant risk appetite,

be a distinguishing factor and is India ready to leapfrog in

while continuously striving towards actualizing your dream.

this space?

In today’s world where disruption & exponential change is the

The world today faces the most radical restructuring of global economy

new normal, what do you believe are the main ethos on which

and businesses since the Industrial Revolution, and companies need to

organizations of the future must be built?

reorient or even disrupt themselves to survive. The plethora of technology-

driven and innovation-led disruption is changing the pecking order in

In today’s new-age innovation centric dynamic ecosystem, it is imperative

multiple industries, as businesses confront unsettling levels of turbulence

to build a company that is agile enough to change and adapt with the times.

and volatility.

The objective should be to bring the future into the present. In the past, organizations were designed for efficiency and effectiveness; which led to

I strongly believe that Digital advancement should be looked at as an

creation of complicated silos. However, successful companies are always

opportunity to create new solutions and optimize current offerings.


I think this is the tipping point of creative disruption – because

In core traditional sectors, we may have been a follower (as a consequence

disruptions need to be explained in terms of being a very positive factor.

of being a greenfield bank), but in sunrise sectors we are distinguishing ourselves as a leader, and as a differentiator by 2020 we are aiming to be

I personally feel that the three Ds for disruption (Demographics,

the number one bank in the country on mind share.

Deregulation, and Digitization) are totally aligned in Indian scenario. India’s demographic dividend is ripe and ready to be leveraged, even

What do you feel are the barriers to innovation in FinTech

as the pace of reforms and deregulation has picked up significantly

space in India and how can they be overcome? And what is YES

over the past three years. Thirdly, the Government’s initiatives on

FinTech accelerator contribution towards removing

Digitization have been unprecedented and have given rise to a thriving

these shackles?

fintech ecosystem.

The financial sector is witnessing a wave of ‘new age innovators’ who are

All these factors are optimally aligned for what I would like to believe is

redefining the contours of business operations. They are bringing about a

going to be a very entrepreneurial economy, a very enterprising economy

paradigm shift by introducing new innovation oriented models and also

which is almost around the corner.

creating economic wealth and have emerged as the new engines of growth.

One of the key distinguishing features of YES Bank is its strong

In India, the fintech market is estimated at ~USD 8 billion and expected

focus on Innovation & Entrepreneurship. What is YES BANK

to grow 1.7X by 2020. To emerge as one of the leading financial

doing with the Startup community, and how is it catapulting

innovation hubs globally, we need to remove the barriers to innovation.

the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India?

I believe that one of the biggest barriers today is the lack of regulatory

clarity and awareness. The financial industry needs a cohesive framework

At YES BANK, we pride ourselves on being is a contemporary and new age

to overcome barriers to innovation.

bank; and we are treating the startup community as an engine of growth. The introduction of a ‘regulatory sandbox’ at the global level is being What has changed very dramatically in India is segmentation and

hailed as a step in the right direction to drive innovation for fintechs.

industry specialization. You have to be a specialist today. I personally

Regulatory sandbox is a ‘safe space’ in which businesses can test

believe that the future of Indian banking depends on the willingness

innovative products, services, business and operational models without

and ability to foster new business and inventions, and in effect, become

immediately facing all the normal regulatory consequences. In India,

transformational agents of change.

along the lines of regulatory sandbox there is an ardent need to create an enabling ecosystem to foster competition and innovation in

To catapult the Indian Startup scenario, we have launched YES:Head-

financial services.

Startup; a full service banking proposition for tech or tech-enabled Startups, complemented by a first-of-its-kind privilege program.

YES FINTECH, in collaboration with T-Hub, has been setup exactly to catalyze and scale innovation by overcoming the mentioned barriers.

At YES BANK, we believe that this phase of entrepreneurship in India

The accelerator takes forward YES BANK’s A.R.T model – Alliances,

can be furthered using the F.I.V.E. approach, which involves support

Relationships Technology to provide innovating banking solutions to our

at key life-stages of enterprises - Funding, Incubation, Vesting and

customers and provides start-ups a collaborative platform and framework

Expansion. The ‘F.I.V.E.’ approach involves financial institutions at

for creating sustainable and market ready products. We are really excited

the fulcrum, delivering catalytic change by harnessing the power of

about initiative and believe that the program will provide an ideal

entrepreneurship. The launch of YES:Head-STARTUP has reinforced our

springboard for startups to graduate from innovative products to scalable

unstinted commitment to nurturing and promoting entrepreneurship and

businesses with access to YES BANK’s digital banking infrastructure as

innovation in India.

well as our robust customer network

In addition to providing comprehensive Banking services, we have also

India has transformed from one of the ‘Fragile Five’ among the

partnered with marquee service providers in the startup space including

BRIC economies in 2013 to ‘Global Macro Hot Spot’ currently.

Indian Angel Network (IAN), T-Hub, Registrationwala, Awfis, ISDI and

What do you believe have been the key policy initiative to

VC Circle, to provide bespoke privileges.

achieve this milestone?


The Narendra Modi Govt. has entered its fourth year and has catapulted

Nashik, Nagpur and Solapur teaming up with innovation districts to spur

India on the path of becoming an entrepreneurial and enterprising

startup business growth.

economy, underscoring the spirit of cooperative federalism. Three years ago, India was staring at the risk of a sovereign ratings downgrade.

An innovation district is a relatively contemporary spatial paradigm that

However, today India has transformed into a ‘Global Macro Hot Spot’

essentially weaves educational institutions, business accelerators, and

through culmination of several decisive policy decisions taken by GoI over

incubators to foster innovation, entrepreneurs and startups. These spatial

the last three years.

development trends have been seen in Silicon Valley in US, and have

A facet of these policy initiatives has been the whole new ‘IDEA’ of India

Parel Innovation District (LPID) is a step forward in this direction and

now been adopted in various progressive cities worldwide. The Lower (International Collaboration, Domestic reforms with outcome orientation,

has immense latent potential to bolster innovation and human resource

Ease of doing business, Active consensus building). Through identifying

development. The Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) in LPID

and initiating key International Collaborations, the nation is leveraging

is truly championing this cause with effective and demonstrated outcomes.

diplomatic channels for enhancing trade and commercial linkages. Several domestic macro structural reforms such as GST (Goods and Services Tax),

Overall, I firmly believe that India - now riding on the pillars of positive

Make in India, Skill India would pave way for catalyzing India’s potential

policy impetus from the Government in the entrepreneurial space,

GDP growth by at least 2.5% in the medium term.

energetic and young demography, state of the art technological facilities and a conducive ecosystem - certainly has the potential to emerge as a

Further, a gamut of policy reforms like FDI liberalization and digitization

Global Innovation Hub.

have throttled India towards achieving objectives of ‘Ease of Doing Business’. Active Consensus Building on the above mentioned critical policies that have brought about substantial transformation of India’s positioning at Global level highlight the importance of political unison, and concept of ‘Team India’ in a meaningful manner. With India now armed with the four tectonic changes in form of IDEA, the next phase of metamorphosis to a USD 20 trillion economy would take less than half the time. Congratulations on being felicitated for commitment to the development of the State of Maharashtra by the Government of Maharashtra. What is your vision for Mumbai and its role in India’s overall development and do you see India emerging as a global innovation hub? It is a great honour, and I feel humbled to have received this prestigious recognition by the Government of Maharashtra. Maharashtra has been my Karmabhoomi (Hindi for ‘the land where one works) for over three and a half decades, and this recognition encourages me to strive further and reinforces YES BANK’s commitment towards working for India’s socioeconomic transformation. I strongly believe that Mumbai has the inherent versatility to imbibe global thinking and best practices to continue to contribute immensely towards India’s socio-economic development. I envision this incredible city as Smart Economic Capital Region (SECR), with a conglomeration of smart clusters including Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivili, Navi-Mumbai, Pune,




MR. BHAVISH AGGARWAL CO-FOUNDER AND CEO You started a very promising professional career with

Ola collaborated with YES Bank to set up Mobile ATMs in over

Microsoft, where you managed to file two patents and also got

30 locations across 10 cities. Do you think innovation like

three papers published in the international journals. What was

these would be key differentiator in Ola’s success going ahead?

your main motivation to enter into the entrepreneurial space and start Ola Cabs?

Definitely! Such activities are a result of our understanding of the market

My stint at Microsoft was a great experience, and has contributed a great

We are supportive of the government’s mission to digitalize transactions

and having the local intelligence to respond to them in an agile fashion. deal to my learning. However, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and

and ensure transparency. In order to ease some of the inconvenience

create something that drives real change. Ankit and I started with Olatrip.

caused due to the sudden demonetization of currency notes, we

com, with the intention of selling holiday trips online, but eventually,

partnered with banks across several cities to install mobile ATMs in cabs,

moved to intra-city trips realising the massive need for organised

so that customers and driver partners could conveniently withdraw cash.

personal transportation, which was almost non-existent back then. We built the market ground-up and organised it at scale using technology.

We have several such locally-relevant initiatives that have succeeded

The Indian market is very different from the west. It’s not homogeneous;

in responding at the right time to local issues. When rains flooded

there’s no uniform middle class, or supply equality, hence, we ​​segmented

the streets of Chennai, we responded with Ola Boats. They not only

the market and built​the right use cases for the right demographic.

transported people from one place to another but also, played a role in

India’s per capita car ownership is just about 3%, as against that of

rescue operations and evacuations in the city. Ola’s Progressive Web

the US which is as high as 70%. We cannot reach the kind of car

App, an innovation of a much larger scale provides accessibility to

ownership that the west has, with the existing infrastructure. Instead,

Ola’s services in areas with poor Internet connectivity. The super light

we should work on the existing infrastructure and build shared mobility

version of the app enables the use of our platform across hundreds of

infrastructure to ensure every Indian has access to mobility.

new cities in rural India and addresses a significant market opportunity of customers and driver partners. Innovations such as these and many

On an average, over 300 million rides take place in India on a daily basis,

others are built ground up keeping India’s unique needs in mind.

we want to be a part of all of these trips, and add value to each of them, and every trip that every Indian takes!

What are the new innovation based themes Ola is working on and what has been your key differentiator in ensuring

Do you think the current innovation ecosystem in India

the current market share? Ola has recently partnered with

presents an untapped opportunity or is it a bubble waiting

Apple Music to introduce an in-car experience component,

to burst?

and would also be rolling out Electric Vehicles in major cities. What are the next set of innovations we can expect from OLA

As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India presents

in the next two years?

tremendous opportunities to innovate. Within the transportation sector itself, rapid urbanization, smart cities, and lack of organized transport

Several localized innovations have helped us to improve customer and

across tier 2 and 3 towns of India presents a huge opportunity to provide

driver partner experience, grow faster across categories and across

streamlined Internet-based, on-demand mobility services. These coupled

geographies. In a short span of time, Ola has expanded its presence

with increased smartphone and Internet penetration and only 3% private

to 110 cities with a fleet of 600,000 vehicles. We don’t shy away from

car ownership in India, the scope to provide personal transportation

experimenting, our growth is the result of some bold and some well-

services becomes much wider. Take for example the financial technology

thought steps.

sector, digital payment platforms have changed the way Indians transact today, including bringing a large section of the population online by

We have scaled everything ground up, learning from the unique insights

providing them with simple solutions for day-to-day transactions.

we have from different parts of the country and building localised



solutions. Market share is important and we have consistently been the

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning backed business models

Industry leaders. More importantly, we believe in creating lasting value

are making huge waves in markets globally. From predicting fashion

for customers and driver partners. This approach has helped to stay

and food preferences of individuals, to identifying climate and disease

ahead of competition and focus on innovation at all times.

patterns to alter practices, such technologies are changing the world. The Internet of Things powering various types of services makes it

Our growth story is further strengthened by strategic partnerships

possible to get deep insight into consumer behaviour. Identifying

that have created synergies into the expanse of the ecosystem. We

problems and building innovative solutions through the smart data

have partnered with leading car manufacturers, financiers to bring the

gathered has changed the face of healthcare, transportation, education,

best of options available to our driver partners with minimum hassles

and several other sectors. Examples include, wearables, smart homes,

through various options like discounted car buying, leasing, etc. We

connected cars, and smart cities. Creating favourable machine learning

also have tie ups with leading platforms such as BookMyShow, Zomato,

models to ensure that the solutions are delivered seamlessly has had a

and Practo amongst others. Customers can book cabs straight from

significant impact on our day-to-day lives.

these apps, alongside their event; be it a movie, a visit to the restaurant or an appointment with the doctor, making their mobility seamless and

In the overall entrepreneurial space, what would be one

convenient. Our tie ups with Qualcomm, Apple Music, Mahindra, and

change that you wish to see in the coming years that would

other partners for Ola Play has helped enhance the product to provide

allow to create an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs?

the customer with a unique backseat experience that they can control. This is the world’s first connected car platform for ridesharing. Ola

The government has been very supportive of the startup ecosystem

is also integrated into Google and Siri on iOS, giving customers an

in India with initiatives such as Startup India, Standup India, and

assisted experience of booking their cabs.

Make in India. It encouraged the youth across the country to become entrepreneurs, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the

The next level of growth will be propelled by technology and innovation

growth of the economy.

like never before. We intend to go deeper into tier 2 and 3 cities where

Bringing together

there is a genuine need for transportation. We are also, extremely

other key players of

confident and excited about scaling Ola Play, the world’s first connected

the ecosystem such

car platform that has changed the ridesharing experience in India.

as academia, R&D, incubators, and venture

How do you think driverless car technology would change the

capitalists will ensure

transportation sector?

a favourable and

Globally, there is a huge market for driverless car technology. In India,

for growth of

inclusive ecosystem it will take some more time before it becomes a full-fledged reality,

startups. Supporting

given the kind of variables on ground. However, we have already laid

entrepreneurs and

the foundation for the world’s first connected car platform - Ola Play,

startups with tax

that has changed the way we view ridesharing. The technology puts the

incentives and

control of the ridesharing experience in the backseat of the car. The

favourable exit policies

coming months will see Play become a smarter and intelligent platform

is also certain to

for customers and driver partners alike. It is also important for India

encourage the growth

to focus on sustainable mobility, given the existential issues around

of entrepreneurism in

pollution and congestion that we are facing. It is for this reason that

the country.

we have accelerated our shared mobility offerings as well as piloted the world’s first multimodal electric vehicle project in India. According to you, what are some of the peak innovations that we have witnessed globally in the recent times?




MR. AMANPREET BAJAJ COUNTRY MANAGER, INDIA Airbnb has been a major disruptor in the Travel & Leisure

made travel both, easy and magical. When someone visits a new city or

industry and has emerged as a big competitor for the Hotel

country, Airbnb offers an opportunity for them to discover it in a unique

Industry landscape. What are Key-Takeaways the young

way, encouraging them to live like a local, even if it’s just for one night.

aspiring entrepreneurs can garner from the Airbnb story? Airbnb has initiated a new initiative ‘Trips’, where there are Airbnb was founded only 8 years ago by three young Americans who

100’s of experiences designed and led by local experts. Do you

really only wanted to solve their own problem. Their rent had been

think innovation tweaks like these would be key differentiator

increased and they just couldn’t afford their apartment anymore. Faced

in Airbnb’s success going ahead?

with such a dilemma they got creative very fast. They filled up a couple

of air mattresses, built a basic website and rented out air beds to visitors

Airbnb Trips is an aspect of the platform which adds to the ability to

who were visiting San Francisco for a design conference, where all hotels

explore a new place in a unique way. Launched in November 2016, Airbnb

were booked. And so, was born and with it, three

Trips is a community-driven platform that gives travellers an unparalleled


access to local communities and their varied interests.

It’s easy to forget that only eight short years ago, Airbnb was nothing

Currently, the platform sees over 800 active Experiences available,

more than an idea. Having the humble roots of a startup ourselves, it is

with travellers from over 73 different countries. While travellers get to

a privilege to be able to share what we have learned on our journey so far,

experience a seldom-seen side of the city with the help of local experts,

with the Indian entrepreneurial community.

hosts on the other hand, find that it is an easy way to earn a little extra

One key take away from Airbnb is that we put our community first, and

and meeting people from all across the globe.

that’s how we have grown. The best piece of advice the founders of Airbnb

ever got was that it is better to have 100 people who love you, than a

Airbnb gives people a fresh outlook towards travel - it breaks away from a

million who kind of like you. Instead of focusing on growing quickly, we

commoditized approach, thus changing the way people travel in three key

are focused on building a product that our hosts and guests love. If they

ways: where they stay, what they do and who they meet.

income by sharing their passions and interests, traditions and activities

love it, they tell other people about it, and it grows from there. Where one stays while travelling is an indispensable element of their Another insight is that when it comes to home sharing, what we are doing

complete travel experience. Whether it is a spare room, an entire

is not making something but empowering someone. Sharing economies

apartment, a villa, a treehouse or a boat, Airbnb offers inroads to the most

equip individuals and groups to monetize underused assets by offering

unique and diverse selection of accommodation. Travellers can also use

them as a service to customers in need. It is also a way for customers to

Guidebooks for recommendations from hosts on the best way to immerse

find services for a particular requirement without having to invest in one’s

oneself in the local culture.  

own assets. There is an existing set of community resources and assets,

and the possibility of creating and leveraging entrepreneurs around the

We see Airbnb as a platform which offers a complete travel experience,

globe. The insight to leverage those resources can lead to scale being

and with the kind of experiences we have launched as part of Airbnb

achieved a lot faster, making greater impact on people, around the world.

trips, we expect that Airbnb will become the place where travelers seek inspiration, as opposed to using it as a logistical solution.

At Airbnb, we believe that people should be able to feel like they can belong anywhere. Airbnb has enabled travellers to reimagine the way

What are the new innovations Airbnb is working on to

they travel by building a trusted community for people to list, discover

differentiate themselves from other similar competitors? Is

and book unique properties and experiences at different locations, across

there any new technologies you are looking to bring on board

the world. With the launch of Trips, our community-driven platform has

to enhance customer experience and customer preferences?


Airbnb is a people powered platform that connects guests with hosts,

tourism by creating positive travel practices. To drive awareness about the

community is at the heart of what we do. The beauty of the brand is that

platform, we organised sessions and workshops for the local community to

we have been a global platform right from the start, with a network of

sensitize them on our global hosting standards for potential hosts.

guests and hosts that spans across the globe. We also signed an MoU with the Department of Tourism, Government Our tools for guests and hosts to get to know each other before a

of Andhra Pradesh in January 2017 to help promote Andhra Pradesh’s

reservation, including detailed profiles, authentic reviews,

rich art, cultural and craft heritage to a global audience. Through this

verifications, and our messaging platform, help us in maintaining a

partnership Airbnb is helping rural artisans engaged in creating the

transparent community.

flagship craft works of Andhra Pradesh to list their accommodations and experiences on the Airbnb platform for domestic and international

With experience being a key focus area, Airbnb’s star rating system

travelers visiting Andhra Pradesh.

helps strengthen our chain of guests and hosts - a potential guest books their stay and sets the right expectation to plan their trip. After the stay,

Recently, we signed a MoU with the Department of Tourism and Culture,

it is mandatory for both parties to review each other on the platform,

Government of Maharashtra. Through the partnership, the Department

making it a transparent system for all. We also have ‘Superhosts’ on

of Tourism and Airbnb will collaborate to boost tourism and create

the platform, who constitute the best-reviewed hosts and properties

positive travel experiences for both domestic and international visitors

and provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary

in Maharashtra. We also announced a first-of-its-kind revenue sharing

experiences for their guests.

agreement with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), whereby Airbnb will share a portion of its booking revenue in

We’ve built a number of trust and safety tools that apply to our users

Maharashtra with the MTDC. The MTDC will support the partnership by

worldwide, including in India. This includes Verified ID, 24/7 customer

identifying high-quality homestays and helping hosts to list on Airbnb.

service and safety support, and tools such as our internal messaging tool and a social network feature.

With the evolution of the new age traveller and the growth in numbers of

the upwardly mobile population, the travel industry in India is expanding

What sets us apart is that we focus on the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of travel, more

and so is the related technology. We see our biggest growth in India

than ‘what’ or ‘where.’ Airbnb is bringing together a global community

through its host community. Experiences of hosts that narrate a positive

of people who want to discover more about the world, and travel holds

change in their lives inspires us to innovate and deliver better experiences

the key to bringing this community closer together.

to people around the world. Our focus is for more people to discover the

value in travelling differently, and to maximize this value from our vast

The next wave of growth in India could be affiliated with the

network of home sharing and experiences.

affordable housing sector, how do you think Airbnb could

adapt and innovate to become a market leader within this

As there is a strong focus on inclusive and sustainable

sector? How would you differentiate yourselves from someone

development, what are the key innovations in India that are

like Chototel or OYO to capture the increased market size?

revolutionizing this space?

We refrain from commenting on other players in the industry, but

Airbnb is built such that it brings together people who wish to share their

the help of our strong network of people, we have built a community-

homes and local expertise as a service, with travelers seeking to transform

powered platform like no other. Since the launch of the brand in 2008,

the way they travel. Airbnb has touched the lives of hosts in various ways.

Airbnb has grown immensely with over three million listings available to

We have single mothers who use the platform as a primary source of

book across over 191 countries. The approach has remained consistent

income and elderly couples or ‘empty nesters’ who fill up the empty spaces

– making a concerted effort to observe and become involved in the local dynamics of a market.

in their homes, by opening up their homes to guests, from all over the world. These stories inspire more people to become hosts and list their homes on Airbnb, and the positive word of mouth is sparking further

In India, we have begun to forge partnerships with business and

growth for our network in the country.

community stakeholders to empower the home sharing sector. We

partnered with the Gujarat government to enhance the experience of the

Through strategic partnerships in India, Airbnb has also given a global

tourist, both domestic and international, visiting the state and boosting the

platform to the artisans from the state of Andhra Pradesh engaged in craft


works, after we signed an MoU with the state government. On the other hand, rural women who are associated with SEWA have listed their homes on Airbnb. This helps them to bring domestic and international travels to homes in otherwise undiscovered locations, and to supplement their income by utilizing unused space. With this collaboration, we hope to be able to boost tourism for the country, which is sought as one of the most vibrant, and hospitable destinations by travelers, across the globe. Under Honb’l Prime Minister Mr. Modi’s regime, there has been a strong focus on catapulting entrepreneurs in India. As one of the leaders, what policy changes you envision for India to become the leader in entrepreneurial space? Home sharing is being accepted by countries around the world, as people embrace a new and unique way of exploring the world, and it is exciting that India is among the regions that are spearheading this transformation. With the government’s focus on programs like Digital India and the emergence of a number of technology ventures, the startup wave in the country is steadily rising, and spreading an entrepreneurial spirit amongst youth. For countless families, home sharing is an economic lifeline. It enables people, around the world, to turn one of their greatest assets into a resource to make ends meet. In a country like India where technology is unlocking new and exciting opportunities, it is encouraging to see that the Indian Government has a positive approach towards enabling locals to be part of the sharing economy. I recently had the opportunity to meet Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, along with Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder Brian Chesky and we have committed to creating 50,000 host entrepreneurs in the next two years (of which 15000 will be women), undertaking their skill development and building a conducive homestay ecosystem in India’s less developed, but high potential destinations.




YES Global Institute has been the pioneering private sector

What innovations do you feel hold the key towards catalyzing

think tank dedicated to the socio economic development of

private sector capital towards development?

India with a strong focus on Innovation. How do you see your various initiatives building an inclusive ecosystem for

Social Investment Opportunities and Tools! To enable India’s next wave


of development there has to be an upsurge in Social Investments. Social

YES Global Institute, the practicing think-tank, has been established as

social investments are aligned with the core businesses of a corporation, it

a division of YES BANK to focus on channelizing private sector capital

can act as an innovation hub.

investments aim to achieve social and financial returns. Additionally, if

towards India’s development. The Institute houses all the knowledge verticals within YES BANK and it is our belief that India’s equitable

Through investing in such opportunities a corporation learns about new

economic growth will be derived from adopting a robust partnership

markets, grows an existing market, fosters innovation and generates

amongst the public sector governance along with the private sector

sustainable financial returns.

innovation and entrepreneurship. Additionally, through leveraging the strong backbone of the public sector, the private sector investment

Firstly, the most common approach is the use of funds that combine

frameworks and the deployment of National innovative financing

regular financial performance with stated social impact goals; these

instruments, India will be able to achieve an equitable ecosystem that

are termed as Social Funds. Such Funds can enable small-scale public

promotes entrepreneurship.

investments targeted at meeting the needs of poor and vulnerable communities, through contributing social capital and development at the

YES Global Institute’s approach on taking these themes forward is to

grassroots level, which can then be repeated by the public sector.

connect capital and resources to growth and developmental projects. This is done via its research, analysis, convenings of Glocal leaders, and finally

Secondly, Social impact bonds (SIBs) are instruments whose pay-off

through launching market-based solutions for engaging private sector

is dependent on the achievement of a specific social outcome. Such

capital in India’s evolution.

instruments can enable governments to fund programmes without

Currently, the Institute is on-boarding numerous platforms and

funding and finally for investors, they represent an opportunity to

initiatives to propel entrepreneurs as the next wave of equitable growth

generate returns and also achieve CSR goals.

incurring the risk of failure. For non-profits, they represent potential

for India. We have been developing several innovative financing instruments to enable entrepreneurs to further develop and scale.

Thirdly, in developing countries, like India, financial services firms

Moreover, we have recently created a concept note for Social Impact

support the unbanked and provide MicroFinance. With an emerging

Bonds, which could aid in the long-term goal of the Government of

middle class in India, such opportunities could drive economic growth

issuing public sector bonds.

and thereby enable economic development.

The Institute is also creating a YES Social Entrepreneurs Platform

It is imperative that India ideate tools to permit social investment

(YSE), where we are connecting Glocal Impact Investors with Social

opportunities and thereby enable innovation and development!

Entrepreneurs in the hopes of developing a sustainable ecosystem. This platform would serve as a global movement for entrepreneurs using

Impact Investing has emerged as the new buzzword globally to

business as a force for good.

catalyze investments in Social Entrepreneurship. According to you, what are the key steps that need to be taken to build and

At the Institute, we believe Innovation holds the key to leapfrogging India

scale the Impact Investing Market in India? What role do you

into its next stage of development.

feel YES Global Institute can play in this?


In recent years, Impact Investing has become a prominent financial tool

Technology plays a vital role in terms of effectiveness, efficiency,

at the global stage to channelize private capital and measurable positive

accountability and most importantly conceptualizing new solutions to

social and environmental benefits in addition to financial returns. There

the age-old problems. We have seen technology transcend leaps and

are certain policy changes required to make impact investing a success in

bounds in shaping the current Indian developmental landscape and it

India, and we can learn from the successful global initiatives to accentuate

is our belief at YES Global Institute that technology holds one of the

its development. This current trust deficit that is lingering throughout the

key cornerstones for India’s development.

Indian markets creates a roadblock for investments into social enterprises due to a lacking transparency. At the Institute we are trying to highlight

Blockchain is the fundamental ‘Building block’ technology

Impact Investing and how not only can you generate social returns,

incorporated by crypto currencies such as Bitcoins. Its transmutation

but financial returns as well. We have conducted several convening’s

from a tracking database for Bitcoin transactions to a turbulent

surrounding Impact Investing and are currently developing our platform

force of change in the financial industry occurred within a decade.

that will enable Impact Investors to invest in Social Enterprises.

Inclusion of block chain technology is a catalytic game changer as it has potential to streamline services by making them faster,

To scale Impact Investing in India you really have to on-board the high

cheaper and more transparent, thereby enabling social and equitable

net-worth family offices, as once you have the leading players out there

development. YES Global Institute has began to explore such

investing for social and financial returns, thereby creating a ripple effect

solutions with agri-players like M-DAIRY, with the hopes of making

for the rest of the market. Currently, YES Global Institute is in the process

all transactions transparent, and making each member of the value

of conceptualizing a three city tour, where we would bring together these

chain accountable for their own transactions.

high net-worth families and highlight their pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Impact Investing.

Another technogical breakthrough would have to be the new age

Globally, market-based approaches to social and developmental

the conceptualization of DevelopmentCoins or ‘DevCoins’, which is a

challenges are on the rise and private sector solutions to shortcomings in

prominent solution addressing the quandary of rewarding the efforts

the provision of basic services such as education, health, energy, water

of social impact players working around the globe. Currently, there

ideology in this field with an acute focus in pursuing social impact is

and sanitation are in focus. While in most countries regulators have

are a multitude of investors in the global marketplace increasingly

not yet come up with a clear definition for the term ‘social enterprise’ or

display interest in sustainable investments and openness to new

‘social entrepreneurship’, different stakeholders are dealing with this new

investment strategies. YES Global Institute is finding ways to channel

niche segment of enterprises.

the force of private capital to address these issues isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

While Impact Investing is the need of the hour, leveraging the role of technology as an enabler for growth should not be ignored.

Lastly, in this era of new-age disruptive technologies, Artificial

‘Crowdfunding’ allows people to pledge capital to almost anything from

Intelligence (AI) is transforming the landscape for the entire human

business ventures and new advances in tech to real estate and even

race. AI is redefining the way traditional businesses are run, it is

charity. At the end of the day, both streams share similar outcomes of

also catalyzing meteoric leaps in productivity, and unfolding as a

social good, and we at the Institute believe it is imperative we use any

new ‘factor of production’ to reignite economic growth. In India

methodology to promote India’s social development.

YES Global Institute is working on how AI represents an enormous opportunity for policymakers to capitalize on these technological

Inclusive Growth is an important tool to counter this economic disparity

advancements, thereby enabling them to make better informed

and achieve long-term economic dividends for all, thus making it time to

decisions on some of the toughest socio-economic challenges.

overcome India’s core societal challenges using innovative frameworks like ‘Impact Investing’ to unleash the true entrepreneurial spirit.

We at the Institute believe that policymakers should further work

Over the past few years emerging technologies such as Big

Blockchain, DevCoins etc. could drive innovation for development.

Data, AI, Blockchain have changed the contours of the business

Through integrating these technologies with some of India’s impactful

towards identifying the public sector domains in which AI, Big Data,

community. What role do you think these technologies and

initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, Startup India and

Innovation can play in the Social Development arena?

JAM trinity through creating central and state level innovation


clusters, which then can go a long way in making India the world’s

To realize this vision, a just-as-ambitious plan for financing and

most powerful ‘Digitalized Economy’ and in realizing the dream of

implementation is needed. The magnitude of the SDG financing

‘Smart Sustainable India’.

challenge far exceeds the capacity of any one organization and demands a strong partnership among governments, the private sector,

You personify a very Global Mindset having worked at

and development organizations.

African Development Bank, and World Economic Forum. What do you think India needs to do in order to realize Sustainable Development Goals? The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more ambitious than the Millennium Development Goals, through their coverage of a broad spectrum of interconnected issues, from economic growth to social issues to global public goods. The implementation of SDGs needs every country to judiciously prioritise, and adapt the goals and targets in accordance with local challenges, capacities and resources available. India has, over the past years, directed its development pathway to meet its priorities of employment, economic growth, food, water and energy security, disaster resilience and poverty alleviation. India has also aimed to restore its natural capital and adopt transparent and robust governance along democratic lines. However, emerging challenges of climate change impacts, increasing inequities, and lagging human development indices are well recognised by both the citizens as well as the government. The post 2015 UN Sustainable Development Agenda framework provides an opportunity to renew and integrate efforts in order to meet, to a significant degree, national and global aspirations in a defined time frame. India’s asset is its diversity of institutions and expertise available to deal with issues related to achieving all SDG Goals. While the current plans and approaches need an overhaul to effectively deal with achieving all the goals and targets of all SDG’s, it is also important to take the responsibility and ownership of achieving the same to States, local bodies and the civil society including the corporate sector. NITI Aayog (the government think-tank of India) with this mandate and ability to oversee action to deal with SDGs needs to have a special focus on enhancing synergies and cooperation amongst agencies and institutions as well as ensure that finances that are deployed on issues related to SDGs are relevant, appropriate and impactful. While India can pride itself as a society with historical consciousness to deal with sustainable development, it cannot bask in the past glory when the indications are that the society is fast moving towards unsustainable production and consumption patterns with local people at the receiving end of the vagaries of economic, social and environmental wrong-doings.




MR. SANDEEP MURTHY PARTNER Lightbox has been a major investor in the Global Consumer-

failed, and failed big young, I can safely say I wasted a lot of time in

Tech industry, making the right decisions with several

that world of anguish... that being said, after a few months of that, I

investments to position yourself as a market leader. What are

finally did reflect on things and did take away learnings that have been

the key aspects you look for when investing in these startups.


Unbridled passion matched with a deep understanding of the consumer

In our fast paced world, the speed at which you can move through the

that allows them to see a gap that few others see. I look for founders

cycles makes all of the difference. I am all for failing and learning, but

that observe the world differently and have an optimistic craziness

the key is to get over the failure, learn from it and move forward - FAST.

that makes them want to risk everything based on an insight to create something very different and very ambitious.

As of late Lightbox has raised $54 mn, expanding your existing fund of 8-10 portfolio companies. Do you believe it is

What are the key learning’s you would like to share

imperative to be hands on with your portfolio companies, as

with upcoming startups, who are embarking on this

opposed to spreading yourself too thin?

entrepreneurial journey considering that survival rate is low. We are not money managers. It’s not about writing a big cheque. We Focus on making your product difficult to replicate. This is “magic”

often say we’re building, not betting. It best describes our concentrated

that is not easy for someone else to copy or spend their way into.

approach to investing. We love dreaming big and then committing

Sometimes that magic is so powerful that even your business model can

wholeheartedly to make that version of the world a reality. While all of

come later... those cases are almost always evidenced with metrics of

that fluffy stuff sounds great, the reality is that we love to get our hands

amazing organic growth.

dirty and deal with difficult day-to-day situations. Sometimes, we get so involved in the operations of our portfolio companies that we are in a

Know what you don’t know. This is a big part of ensuring that you are

role reporting to the CEO and we’re absolutely up for that. We’re in this

focusing your energy in the right place.

to build great businesses and have no issues about which seat we need to sit in to make that happen.

Take the long view. You’re building this for the next 30, 50 or 100 years. Things will blow up everyday. There will be a crisis everyday.

One of the companies we recently invested in has great product instinct,

But don’t let that define your way of working and living. You can’t

but the team is just learning how to run a business. So the real priority

control everything all the time. Be prepared, imagine the outcomes but

to back the investment is to get operating expertise in there. We’ve

understand that things won’t always go the way you planned.

put financial systems in place. That’s building. Identifying the needs, helping to hire, creating priorities.  If you do that right upfront, it sets

Look at failure differently. Learn quickly and move on. The entire

the DNA right.

ethos of entrepreneurship is experiment, fail, learn, repeat. Failure is inevitable when you stick yourself out there. The thing though is how

But then we’ve also had times that we have sat down in our company’s

you deal with it. We all know that failure is the best learning experience

office for a week to figure out what is not working. Helping the team

and all that kind of stuff, but the reality is when you have failed, the

understand how to optimize their marketing spend. Or what their gross

last thing you are thinking about is learning. The opportunity to learn

margin should be and what they are spending.

is fantastic, but at that point the only thing you can think about is “how the hell did I let this happen, I can’t believe how I didn’t see this

We get that the adventure can be lonely and want to be the first call our

coming, I should have done this or that” and the worst of all “maybe all

founders or the teams make when they’re in trouble. It’s only because

those people who said I was crazy for trying this were right”. Having

we know their businesses inside out that we can understand the


challenges as opportunities and can actually be helpful. That depth of

work out how to provide a game changing experience at a good price,

engagement is only possible with a handful of teams.

you’ve got a formula you can take anywhere in the world.

The next step for Lightbox is to invest in vertically integrated

What new innovations do you think are going to change the

businesses, do you believe these businesses to provide the

world we live in? Considering these innovations how would

next wave of growth in India? Do you believe that vertically

lightbox position its investments strategy for future?

integrated Indian Consumer-Tech organizations will catapult India as an innovation hub globally?

Our portfolio companies keep our fingers on the pulse! Integrating tech

That’s actually been the theme for the last few investments we’ve made.

cheaper, faster or better. Melorra’s jewellery catalogue for instance is

India is at a very unique point in its growth story. As the fastest

made entirely from 3D renderings which changes the entire business

innovation deep into their business model often makes their product

growing big economy in the world, there are multiple changes in

to a zero inventory model. I am amazed and learning a lot from how

parallel at play here. A highly fragmented offline retail industry,

Embibe is using AI to change the learning experience. The other day,

rapidly increasing Internet penetration, rising per capita incomes and

Jaydeep (CEO at Faasos) was talking about integrating blockchain into

new consumer aspirations.

the Faasos app. Tech innovations are par for the startup course.

I joke that India is inefficiency at scale but I am only half joking. We

But perhaps more interesting are business model innovations that

are 94% fragmented and do not seem to be getting organized offline

leverage tech especially in industries that haven’t changed in a long

in a hurry. Distribution in India looks very different than it does in

time or that are particularly inefficient. This was an investment strategy

most markets. This is primarily due to rapid urbanization, absurdly

that we’ve backed into. I remember distinctly prior to our investment

high real estate prices and difficult infrastructure that doesn’t let malls

in Furlenco how we began to see the logic in applying a Netflix style

address the growing wants of the country. A by product of this extreme

recurring revenue model to a space like furniture that is unaffordable

fragmentation is that we have fewer large-scale brands. The largest

to most people in India. Then we saw how a Warby Parker approach to

food brand in the country is Dominos — demonstrating the massive

food allowed Faasos to make great food brands on the internet. It’s not a

fragmentation that exists in the Indian food market. Today, according

rule but to a large extent, this shapes our investment focus.

to our records, Behrouz is the biggest biryani brand by sales across India. Less than two years and without a single restaurant! That’s the magnitude of the opportunity.

Through technological advancements there has been increased focus on inclusion and sustainable development; do you think there are any new technologies that could transform

Brands built directly on tech enabled platforms are creating the

the entire Indian ecosystem, enabling India to reach an

first organized channel of real scale. That access to large groups of

equitable ecosystem?

consumers permits them to be among the first companies in India to create truly national scale consumer brands. A nice example is Melorra,

That’s got to be the hope. The tech story has always been an access story.

the jewelry brand in our portfolio, which has seen a disproportionately large number of customers from the North East and Kashmir.

With 1.12BN people signed up for Aadhar, we’re beginning to see the foundation for what’s to come and how we’re leapfrogging. We’re

The opportunity in India is so much larger than just creating online

talking about perhaps owning the most advanced social security system

distribution pipes. It’s to own the entire chain from manufacturer to

in the world.

consumer under one brand. This is not just taking full responsibility for the product, but also taking the product experience

On the back of a tech patform, marketplaces allow the small guy to

to the next level.

dream big by creating tools that make them trustworthy and build

Vertically integrated businesses have the ability to change the

amazon and shopclues as well as droom.

their reputations with new audiences. We’re seeing evidence of this in fundamental cost structure (for example, by using internet based business models like subscription) to make things more affordable to

The best thing about technology today is that is has changed the power

more people. If you can make it here, you make it anywhere. If you can

dynamic between consumer and company. The Indian consumer has


a voice and can vote with their rupees. No longer does poor quality win as the consumer plays a bigger role in determining which kinds of businesses win, which companies and technologies we want to stand up for, how we want society to evolve and progress. The current regime has focused on catapulting entrepreneurs throughout India. As a leading entrepreneur, do you envision any policy changes that will enable India to become the leader in Entrepreneurial space? Entrepreneurship, as investors think about it, is about driving tangible gains in productivity that have a measurable impact on GDP. This, in turn, improves people’s lives, which is ultimately the goal of both government and entrepreneurs. A McKinsey study called attention to a concept called the Empowerment Line, which focuses on access to eight basic human needs that contribute to a minimum acceptable standard of living: food, energy, housing, drinking water, sanitation, health care, education and social security. There are 680 million Indians living below this line and it will require $69 billion (4% of GDP) to elevate them above this line. While we consider subsidies and government spending to improve people’s lives, technology and entrepreneurship can have a multiplier effect in improving productivity and facilitating required incremental GDP growth. Entrepreneurship is all about creating amazing, impactful businesses. However, as every entrepreneur knows, success only comes after numerous attempts and countless failures. We need a system that makes it easy for an entrepreneur to experiment, fail and learn. As the new government executes its “make in India” policy, it would be beneficial if it could take into account how to enable failure. With the cost of technology declining, and the pace of innovation increasing and spreading globally at a more rapid rate, the process of setting up a company—and more importantly, shutting it down —needs to be easy. Entrepreneurs need to focus their initial capital and energy on their product and market fit. Easy access to capital for early-stage ideas can go a long way towards enabling entrepreneurs and investors to take quick, inexpensive risks that may deliver huge gains. These risks need to be taken knowing that the administrative costs of failure will not be significant. Reassessing the angel tax, the idea of convertible notes, bridge financing and director’s liabilities in these early-stage opportunities can have significant impact.


Global Innovation Magazine August 2017  
Global Innovation Magazine August 2017  

Innovating India: a special edition.