The 10X Challenge are We Ready?

Just back from NPC 2019. A staggering success, it was indeed! More of that later.

The grand pursuit (read vision) is about growing ten times in software products, by 2025. Eight to eighty (8 billion USD t0 80) is what we have set sights at. A tad audacious, but if you were in the room, you’d have sensed the high-octane energy. We certainly have the right ideas, growth drivers and an incredibly expanding ecosystem which adopts a collaborative way of working, more than ever before.

The hosts, MR Rangaswami (Sand Hill Group), Atul Batra (Chairman NASSCOM Product Council) & Debjani Ghosh (the NASSCOM Prez) addressed a packed house at the inaugural.

The NPC is more than a decade old. When it all started, there were about 1800 tech startups in India and today the number is 9000+. It’s growing in diversity as well and this year, in particular, we had attendees from all across – the US, South Africa, Middle East, Europe and SE Asia. We did manage to rope in the whole lot – entrepreneurs, IT services players, startups in all stages of growth (early to matured), investors (seed funders, PEs, VCs), academicians and government. Last year, NASSCOM had sounded the clarion call to grow more products in India and it was most encouraging to see stakeholders respond as they thronged to the venue this year. One would associate deep tech with patient capital but the fact that 18% of tech startups are leveraging these technologies, is a, sure enough, sign that we are cruising on the fast lane.

MR touched upon two important aspects. One, startups have to be in a high state of preparedness all the time; and, two, the time is ripe to share learnings from failures as well. Our obsession with chasing success stories often subsume this part. Failures have this ungainly habit of popping up uninvited and we need to arrest it through shared learnings.  We already have close to 24 Unicorns, and given the way things are, in the next 5 – 6 years, we should be able to see a 3X growth. That’s why it’s so important we share what went wrong to minimize wastage.

10x is not merely a number. It’s a mindset. The digital space makes it possible for this paradigm to turn into reality. The question is – can we replicate the kind of success we saw in IT services in software products? Of course, it’s not as easily answered because the DNAs are so very different. As Debjani Ghosh said, “We have to rewire the old playbook and come up with a newer version which addresses the vastly changed landscape and emerging opportunities.” Not only do we need to THINK DIFFERENTLY but also, ACT accordingly. To be sure, it’s already happening – even large IT services are growing a product delivery arm, often leveraging the inorganic growth path. To add, the government has also come out with a software products development policy for India and it’s good to see the positive factors stacking up.

India already has products which continue to grow exponentially – Flipkart, Ola, Jio and UPI are amongst the prominent examples. Eight to eighty is challenging; it’s difficult, yes, but certainly not impossible. The nation is not short on latent needs and we need many more ideators to come up with simple solutions to expand outreach and deepen engagement levels with the government. The levers required are talent, 10x mindset and a connected ecosystem with diverse participants. But most importantly, can we get there fast enough?

The NASSCOM Product Council is at it and playing a crucial role of a catalyst. Perhaps, in the 2025 edition of NPC, we’ll all be celebrating the 80 billion USD success story of Indian software products. A sterling one that’ll be!

The belief has already set in.

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