From being a tourist hotspot, the coastal State is all set to script a new role of becoming one of Asia’s hottest start-up destinations
Breathtaking sea visuals, picturesque beaches and lip smacking food — when we think of Goa, what comes to our mind is a tourist-haven, inviting travellers with open arms. However, in recent years, the State has silently but steadily been working to create another parallel brand image for itself — that of being a start-up hub. And the efforts are paying rich dividends. Last December, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion named Goa as “one of the emerging destinations for start-ups” in the country. The ranking was based on a number of factors like start-up policies, seeding innovation, incubation hubs, regulatory changes, scaling innovation, communication champions and procurement leaders, among others.
Just a few months ago, on April 28, 2018, Goa launched its exclusive start-up policy and portal and commemorated the date as ‘Goa start-up day’. Former Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu had said that the start-up policy was established with the aim to promote Goa as one of the top start-up destinations in the country and that funds were being generated with the aim of offering financial incentives for start-ups to promote innovation and upskilling. Goa’s Minister for Revenue, Information Technology and Labour and Employment, Rohan Khaunte, said that the Government is focussing on creating and fostering a start-up culture where the youth become job-givers and not job seekers.
What are the factors that make Goa an attractive startup destination?
- Ease of doing business: The willingness of the Government officials to listen to budding entrepreneurs has prompted many start-ups to make a beeline to the State. It is easy to get a licence and set up a business in Goa. Further, a healthy influx of tourists means that brands, that are starting out, have a very good opportunity to get a lot of traction.
- Road connectivity: This is the most crucial aspect. Goa is strategically located and is accessible via road, rail, sea and airports, which makes it easier for entrepreneurs to setup bases here. A new highway has made sure that villages in this coastal State are safer to live in and do business from. Even roads that connect villages that are far apart are better than what one would find in most Indian cities.
- Cost of living: Apart from the stellar connectivity Goa has to the neighbouring States, the lifestyle here is far better and cheaper than any other State. The quality of schools and the education system here is another reason why it has started attracting some major talent.
The department of Information Technology is waiting for an approval from a committee — comprising the Chief Minister, IT Minister, Chief Secretary, IT Secretary, Industries Secretary and four nominated expert from the industry — to disburse one crore rupees to start-ups in a phased manner. It is also seeking support from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for providing the necessary incubation support for local start-ups. This is in line with the Central Government’s ‘Start-up India’ initiative of 2015. Recently, the IT Ministry certified 53 start-ups of which over 90 per cent were of Goan origin and around nine per cent had offices in other States, but started a new office in Goa. The State has already disbursed Rs 33 lakh in the form of incentives and the number is expected to go up to Rs 1 crore in a short span of time.
On June 28, the IT department’s Start-up Promotion Cell (SPC) organised an event with CII, Goa, to connect emerging start-ups with established entrepreneurs and to find innovative solutions. The corporate start-up connect series was launched with the aim to provide mentoring to budding entrepreneurs, who have a potentially game-changing idea but need mentoring to turn it into a lucrative and sustainable business opportunity. The CII offers mentoring and co-working spaces for start-ups and helps them get the industry connect. They also help small businesses that would perish without the help of incubation support. Additionally, the Goa Government is planning to kick-start a capital grant scheme, where local industrialists, who are willing to set up co-working spaces, will get incentives from the Government. With the Government throwing considerable amount of resources towards upgrading the State’s infrastructure, Goa is all set to break the myth that the coastal sussegad-loving State is a place where you go to unwind and kickback as it emerges in tune with the entrepreneurial demands of the hungry and vibrant start-up ecosystem in India.
(The writer is director and creative strategist of an advertising and consulting agency)