Episode 199 / December 12, 2022

The Reality of Web3 that only few know & finding the right Co-Founder ft Santosh Panda, Co-Founder, Foundership

49 min

Episode 199 / December 12, 2022

The Reality of Web3 that only few know & finding the right Co-Founder ft Santosh Panda, Co-Founder, Foundership

49 min
Listen on

Where was the Indian Startup Ecosystem back in 2010-12, where is it now in 2022 and where is it headed 5 years down the line, in terms of –

Digital Infrastructure

Tech Talent

Innovative mindset amongst founders

Investments from VCs and Angel Investors and more. In this episode, we will talk about all of it, with our guest, Santosh Panda, Co-founder, Foundership where he is Incubating & Accelerating Top Founders & Builders Launch Defining Web3 Startup of tomorrow.

Tune in to hear Santosh share his insights on the importance of finding a Co-founder, the opportunities of the Indian Startup Ecosystem in the years to come, the past, present & future of Web3, and much more.

Notes –

00:00 – Bhai tu Co-founder banega?

01:55 – Meeting with Santosh for the first time

06:40 – Being compassionate

09:05 – Convincing someone to become your Co-founder

16:22 – Being within the Startup Ecosystem since 2008

19:57 – Zoho Sponsored – Prashant Ganti on how is Zoho Payroll solving problems beyond payroll.

23:35 – Thoughts about the current Indian Startup Ecosystem

31:00 – How would 2025-2030 be like for Indian Startups?

34:47 – Tech Innovation in India for last mile connectivity

37:09 – The essence of having a Digital Infrastructure in India

41:18 – What is there for India in Web3?


Read the full transcript here:

Santosh 0:00

I’m not designed for a corporate job, by the way, I figured that out early on. All my jobs, either in full time or part time, have been startups. I wouldn’t be surprised if we produce billion dollar revenue generating companies equally, not just in terms of valuations. But in terms of impact, because the digital footprint is so high and so large, what we were always wondering is that India doesn’t have a market to sell. It’s a market to sell now. So if you now see, every sector that has been opening manufacturing, or agriculture or services or the semiconductor and everything else is coming out with the amount of new ideas that can come back, we never had that opportunity at all.


So I would say by 2025, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have multi billion dollar revenue making companies coming from India. India is leading in lots of new tech infrastructure innovations. And truly, not in the web three world but truly decentralizing the power that should be there in the Indian economy. Today, a vegetable producer or a reseller sitting in any part of India has firsthand information that they never had in the past. That is the first level of things. Can you integrate them? Can you then build the physical infrastructure such as roads and foster connectivity and then move goods faster? Then we are talking.


Siddhartha 1:28

So just as I came out of the meeting with you. I called my old friends in college called Raunak Dhud. Do you want to be a co-founder? Because he knew tech better than me. They look for people they know, with complementary skills. So I called another friend Arpit Tripathi. Do you want to be a co-founder?


Today’s podcast, I would like to start with a story. I landed in Bangalore in 2014, I joined a conference called PyCon. To give a background, I came full time into my startup in 2012. And then I was looking for co founders. And then in 2014, I happened to come to Bangalore for our conference called PyCon. And I was completely mesmerized by the city and in 2014, after spending three days at PyCon I returned home and told my parents, let me go to Bangalore again for a month. And see what I can do in the Tech City. Because I was a first time founder with zero connections. As you can imagine, as raw as it is to be, I read out to like five to 10 people, only Santosh panda responded to me. And this was back then. LinkedIn is also very new. So I wrote to Santosh that hey, I’m building a platform called AddoDoc which is a SaaS solution for doctors. I have built mock ups. And now I want to take guidance on how to make it a product, make it a business. So Santosh called me at his office in Koramangala. Back then, he was building Explara. And I came to the office and at that time, some emergency happened. And Santosh had to say, let’s meet another time.


So I went back disappointed. See, this is how Bangalore’s but Santosh immediately called me back, that lets meet the day after tomorrow at Cafe Coffee Day so I can give you one to one and a half hours. I came to cafe coffee day thinking that nothing could change my life, this conversation. But moving into a conversation I showed Santosh the mockups, which had been built for my product. And there was no tech behind it. It was just plain mockups built on Photoshop. And Santosh asked me, Are you building it alone? I said, Yes. And then his second question was, can you find co-founders? I said, I don’t know. And then he said, one thing that changed my entire life, that if you can’t find co-founders, you might shut down the startup that you are building. And it shook me to the core that what Santosh was telling me was that if I’m not able to convince one or two people to join me as co-founders in the journey, how will I be able to convince customers, investors or anybody else? And that’s how my and Santosh’s story starts.


Santosh 4:17

Fantastic. So happy to see you today. And I always remember that vividly. That where we sat down, I don’t know why not every meeting we can remember. But I think that at the HSR Cafe coffee day, I saw a very young passionate founder coming in and because when I started Explara I had similar difficulties. So the reason I asked that question is because I could see someone standing in front of me almost like me coming back, if I would have started at that point of time, so I didn’t want you to go through a year of pain. And just chasing a passion alone . So I think I remember that vividly. And always, whenever I remember about you, or whenever I read about it, it always flashbacks that memory time and again saying, having seen somebody that day and how you have been progressing and kind of discovering yourself. I think that’s commendable. It’s not about just that piece of advice. But I think what you did after that, with your passion, is commendable.


Siddhartha 5:27

Thank you, Santosh. If you hadn’t given that hydrating advice, what happens is most people don’t give time to unknown founders, or first time founders, you were exceptional in that, at that time, there was no startup ecosystem in 2014. So that time, I think you had just raised funding over raising funding for it was even a challenging time for you yourself, giving out time when you already had a team to take care of an unknown founder. And secondly, most people are very nice to meet, you don’t want to hurt anybody from the first meeting. That in India, we have a culture of being nice.


Santosh 6:01

Absolutely. I think, even today, even very recently, we all have been part of the ecosystem. I think that’s a fact. The fact is that, I think one of the biggest sorts of things that as a founder, we should be advising or at least giving guidance to another person who is trying to find the space is to help them in the right direction. And not being nice, we can always be nice by saying, Yeah, you can reach from here to Delhi, you can reach, but how, when? So thank you for the appreciation, I really loved that honesty, and not being nice, just for the sake of it.


Siddhartha 6:40

If you think of being right to somebody for a long term, like in Buddhism, it’s called being compassionate. So I wish and being compassionate is I wish happiness for you. And that was a true compassion that you showed to me that you wish happiness for me and you wanted to save me from the pain that you yourself went through. And compassion is not necessarily being nice. It’s being, to do what’s for the other person. And it’s not about also giving advice which brings pleasure, which saves from pain. Sometimes the pain is a necessary thing, which the other person needs is the medicine.


Santosh 7:18

True and we all know it now that you have been in the industry, choosing a lot of founders to bag them and all and this doesn’t come natural to all. But I think fundamentally, as an entrepreneur, I think we are gifted to a large extent, just to ensure that people discover the path, but you give them a bit of guidance. And being frank and transparent about it, I think, people will figure it out, there are so many opportunities across the world, they’ll figure it out, the only wrong thing that will happen is being a nice and kind of like, then they’re realizing that, hey, what, this was not even required, this conversation so important for all of us to being frank and to the core of the point and literally also understanding what the person is all about. You have such a good Serafina clarity, your mock up, everything was there. And I was very happy that somebody came to this meeting with such clarity and dedication, you hardly see.


And again, today, situations are very different in India, because a lot more success is there. So people are a lot more prepared. But back in 2012 to 2014, a lot of the founders didn’t know, didn’t have clarity. So I was very happy when you came in with a mock up with clarity. So I felt, this guy is going to fly. But I think he shouldn’t miss that point. It shouldn’t just get carried away by what he has done or what he’s capable of, and just not go blind into that world. And if he has a strong co-founder, he will be able to thrive. So that was my sort of quick understanding by meeting you and an answer or giving their guidance there.


Siddhartha 9:05

So just as I came out of the meeting with you. I called my old friends in college called Raunak Dhud. Do you want to be a co-founder? Because he knew tech better than me. They look for people they know, with complementary skills. So I called another friend Arpit Tripathi. Do you want to be a co-founder? So that happened, and he said I have large family responsibilities and am not able to take that plunge.


Nansi 9:54

Hi, everyone. Before we begin, I would like to share that this podcast is brought to you by Prime Venture partners, an early stage VC fund led by Amit Somani, Shripati Acharya and Sanjay Swami. Prime is often the first institutional investor in category defining tech startups in FinTech, SaaS healthcare and education, such as Markit Quizzes, Planet Spark, Bolt and Glip to know more about Prime visit


Siddhartha 10:25

And I remember from conversation with you, you said, get somebody full time, not part time in your venture, as you are also full time.


Santosh 10:33

Yeah, a lot of founders make that mistake, by saying, Oh, I’m good at it just for the namesake, or just in a very, sort of small way of thinking to say, Why do I need a full time job? I have to give a lot of my stake. So they get into that lobe of not thinking of bigger outcomes and bigger responsibilities by just finding a stop gap solution. And that happens even now. When all the time it could have happened to you too. This is pre-pharmeasy era. The entire health tech boom was about to come. And the market was wide open, you knew what you wanted to do. And at that time, and if you would have just gone somebody saying, oh, yeah, you come in and just, , we’ll figure it out. I don’t think it would have a good impact. So yeah, so we shouldn’t be having a part time sort of thing. Even if it evolves. A lot of times, a lot of good founders don’t get cofounders immediately. But I think all of us should aim to say, at some point of time, if this is going to go really well. You’re taking full responsibility, there is no part time, there’s no sort of ad hoc kind of solutions. That doesn’t work. We’ve seen it . None of the startups, would ever scale with that mindset,


Siddhartha 11:50

It became the mission of my life to find co-founders who are better than me. So what I did is , I started going to more conferences, one of the more technical conferences called Blrdroid, which is for Android developers, I pitched the mockups, another thing that changed my mind at that meeting . And that I truly appreciate it. I had prepared web based mock ups. And you told me , the era of the web is gone. Build for mobile. So immediately after that meeting, I started building mobile base mock ups, and then at Blrdroid meetings. That’s how I ended up at Blrdroid, because I knew that I wanted to build for mobile, I built mobile based mock ups, and I presented them there. So there was one other gentleman called Satyadeep Karnati, who was also presenting his solution. He was working in Oracle, and we instantly hit it off. While others were talking, we were just discussing what we could do. And it came to a point that we started meeting for coffee over a period of time. And that, as I said, I proposed that, will you be my co-founder, and he asked for a few days. And then after a few days, because he had another opportunity. There was a startup called Book pad, which was later acquired by Yahoo.


So he was offered the position of being the first engineer there, not a co-founder; there were already three co-founders from IIT Guwahati, his alma mater. So they were batchmates and seniors. So he talked with his best friend Saurav NRS. Saurav told him that they both used to hack together in college, and then after College Saurav worked in Microsoft, Satyadeep worked in Oracle. And they used to develop projects at night, various Android apps. He discussed with Saurav, what should I do? Saurav said, become a co-founder, you could become the first engineer at many places, because you’re good at engineering. And then after some time, I discussed with Satyadeep that would Saurav be interested to come as a co-founder, also, because it will make the team much better. The three of us, and I pitched to Saurav and Saurav also joined after, I think few, like six to seven months, both came full time.


Santosh 13:55

So you didn’t just hear, that also makes you different. Because it’s one thing, as they say, , especially in business building, what insights we get and how much we apply, and there is a huge difference. There’s a difference of minus 10 to plus 10. So I think I’m so happy to hear I didn’t know that Blrdroid sort of a story. So happy that, you just didn’t assume that. Just let me find a co-founder and get going. But you went beyond, and even got Saurav convinced. And you’re not worried about, hey, what am I going to do? Am I going to be losing out another 33% of the stake that I’m building, which is nothing on day one or on day 10. So I think, again, a good kind of signal and that you were prepared to learn and you were experimenting with your ideas and very open to the New World and keeping that pace. And as you now make a lot of bets in terms of people who just don’t take what we tell them. Because that’s obvious. You tell them to do that. Yeah, there’s a clarity there. But what do you do beyond that? I think the best entrepreneurs are always like that. You bring them something, and you will give them some directions, but they are going to explode after that. Because that’s how they are different.


So it’s also important for a lot of us to not just go into that Mahler outcome of something that I heard already, just an insight that I came across, but go beyond that. And very important in the co-founder stage, a lot of good ideas don’t come out on just that point. And because you limited yourself. And on the other day, I was talking to somebody and was saying, Yeah, I can get it done. I said, why should you be getting it done? you wanted to do that. Find a co-founder, what you are good at, please do that. Please amplify that to 10x. Find somebody else, where you think I need to have that clarity. For example, I was talking to the founder who said I needed somebody in the UX. So I want to learn UX. I said, Okay, good. Learn UX from your customers’ insight point of view. But not to build an expert is saying, Oh, I will become a UX expert. And then I will also become a communication expert. And then I’m going to build a product. Nothing is waiting. So good to hear that you kind of like went in that sort of an exploration mode to find co founders and go ahead.


Siddhartha 16:21

Thanks, Santosh. So what I want to learn from you is , you have been one of the few years of the startup ecosystem in India today. And I think you built Explara over 10 to 12 years, it was one of the first SaaS companies along with web engagement that got started in 2010 to 2012 era, what made you stick to startup ecosystem, and now you’re back again in like a full time giving mode with foundership, where you are helping incubate web three companies.


Santosh 16:52

I think the credit goes to Bangalore and I think Bangalore also in some way, I would say positively corrupted my mind or positively influenced by mind rather than corrupted. I think way back when I started my career here in Bangalore, and I got an opportunity to work with a lot of new edge startups way back in 2003-4-5. And those times, or even oddly, I felt while I was part of a lot of engineering teams, I felt that there is some inclination to sort of starting up. So starting up was always in my mind, I think that was evident. So back in London, when I was to live between 2003-11. I started up there again, I realized that the co-founder, and I couldn’t agree that this thing’s going to take time. And that didn’t go through, we’re still friends.


But then when I started exploring early on, yes, it had a lot of difficulties. because way back in those days, 2009-10-11. Nobody even knew what angel investment is. The angelist doesn’t exist at that point of time. In fact, a novel book called Angel, was only in a PDF form. People were buying for $10. If you look at that timings, I felt that hey, look, this is something that I’ve initiated. I also get a lot of inspiration from people who have been doing it before that. Well, a lot of good folks who tried at that point of time, and I was following even advent net, which was a host earlier, company named, way back in 2005, before they rebranded so it was very clear that technology companies are going to take off, and the market segment is small. And India also had a challenge, because our local investors were not ready to see whether we can succeed in the global light while we can do in manufacturing, and all this but tech companies, product companies, if you say IT services company, people say yeah, possibly doable, but product companies, we have not built anything, now that we talk about.


So I think that sort of drove me to say, Let’s build, it’s always easy to sort of give up and say I will go for the next challenge. I always take a pointer to say is the market growing? Have you got a space in the market? Do you understand this market? Well, do customers like what you’re doing? Those three, four parameters are what I use. Everything else surrounding it is not in your control, such as market boom, market goes down, you get found, you don’t get found, all those are not in your scope of things, because that is based upon many other market conditions that you cannot control. So an aim to see that I can take your product to global and in an aspiration that is what I do is what I like to do. I can do anything beyond that. Could be a limitation. I’m not designed for a corporate job, by the way. So I figured out that early on all my jobs, either in full time or part time, have been startups way back. First company was Sonata software, which in fact, grew from maybe 200 companies to 800 companies when I was there at that time. Beyond that it has always been a startup.


Siddhartha 19:57

Dear listeners, before we dive further into the podcast I would like to welcome Prashant Kunti, Head of Product Management at Zoho payroll and Zoho book. Prashant Zoho products are an interconnected ecosystem that addresses problems across all functions of a business. How is Zoho payroll solving problems beyond payroll?


Prashant 20:18

Thanks, Siddhartha. That’s a very good question and comes to the heart of Zoho. So from the very beginning we have decided we are not going to be a single product company. So we also believe that the systems have to be deeply integrated, that data should not be present within one system. Data has to flow across multiple systems and payroll by its very virtue straddles both HR and finance, two extremely critical departments that are important for the functioning of the organization. So we provide bi directional data synchronization between our HR suite of products, as well as the finance suite from the upstream when employee giants, its details automatically flow to the payroll system. And when the payroll processing is done, it automatically flows to the accounting system. So it helps with end to end automation, et cetera, the HR department, it helps the finance department. And furthermore, the scoring part will flow into the analytics also. So this complete end to end bidirectional data synchronization. And this helps with everything. So basically, businesses spend less time on any of the administrative tasks and can do more value add.


Siddhartha 21:35

Thank you for sharing, dear listeners, you will find more about Zoho payroll in the show notes. Now, let’s further continue with the podcast.


Santosh 21:43

To come back to your questions. I think a lot of those factors that are inbuilt drove me to be with Explora and continue to get an appreciation and be around, one. Now coming back with foundership is also the same thing when I took a break from Explora to say let the Team Drive. Let Ashok and Team Drive. So 2020 was more of an experiment year, what should I do? And then when I opened my calendar saying, Hey, if you’re in the second tier, third tier city, and just create a simple concept called grittiest, if you are in second tier, third tier city, most of the times you don’t get attention, what Bangalore and Delhi is in Mumbai, of the world could get. I got 176 people coming and booking, taking all the calendar. And people came from Asansol to Sambalpur in Odisha too, I don’t know where not. So that got me to really feel that, hey, you know what? Yes, I’ve been hearing that. I’ve been in the ecosystem for long, but I could now see data, which says I’m still relevant.


And I think this ecosystem still needs a space to operate. I think that was the backbone of why founders who came in web three came a little later. But sort of, the outlook to be with founders, and continue to believe that emerging companies are going to be built. And this is a lifetime opportunity. For people who are already in the ecosystem. I think they should never leave the ecosystem. That’s my first informed fundamental sort of thing. If you have been in the startup ecosystem, you don’t leave this early, because some now, whatsoever, in fact, if any of you have left it, please come back. You don’t have to leave because we’re going to go to it $11-12 trillion, sort of economy and over and dominating global. So I think all those factors have been sort of part and parcel, not just passion, but a very calculated understanding about what this is going to become.


Siddhartha 23:35

Let’s go back , when you started in 2010-2012, kind of a timeframe. Unicorn was hardly a word that you hear about. It was, how do you start up? And if you get some customers, how are you able to raise some angel round of funding? That’s all and if you’re extremely lucky, like one out of 10,000 or 20,000 startups, a VC might invest in you for a Series A, that there was a maximum possible achievable for a startup. And now in these last 10 years, from 2012 till 2022, India has seen more than 100 Unicorns. A wealth creation for a few years, I would say, but startups, the dream has yet to be fulfilled.


Like for a nation like us. europeo startup nation, whatever happens to it, the Intel’s of the world, Apples of the world, Facebook’s of the world, Amazon of the world got created there and created trillions of dollars of wealth for those. VCs got created there because these companies created such kind of wealth and capitalism that could come back into the ecosystem. And India, everybody’s bullish about Yeah, but we have truly to see that kind of potential getting allowed in as we are sitting in the session in October 2022. Why do you say that you shouldn’t go out of the ecosystem now?


Santosh 24:51

Yeah. So I think, if we look at the real sort of mind sift that happened that happened, only between towards the between, 2014-15-16, that is where it sort of started coming, sort of in a big force back to economy, because of some of the startups who had already been around four five years, they started showing results back in, global markets, products started getting appreciating a lot of maturity came into the ecosystem to say, Oh, we have quality people too. A lot of appreciation came from the rest of the world that yeah, there is a talent here. If you look, go back to the 2000s, we were only known by IT services, we were not known by the product that we created, nobody was using, I still remember looking at Polm Nadani’s product, sort of news and happy about it, that somebody’s product was there in Washington.


So I think if you look at that, that was the first decade of creating the sort of, I would say infrastructure, in fact, if that infrastructure in terms of helping people to think about it, helping people to realize about it, even if it’s a smaller outcome, but people could see that. And then the second thing happens out, there are the social boundaries that we all had that were broken apart. The families, and the parents had no issues at all, to say, Oh, you want to start up. What is this you’re doing? I think that was very, very much in the initial one. So that social boundary is broken, we’ve seen young folks coming out and doing amazing outcomes. So age is not a barrier. Because in the world that we lived, it was always stated that, hey, you can only do this after 40 years, after 50 years. I think that also didn’t do a good job of what a nation could have done. When you just know about the US. Young folks have come in and built all those trillion dollar companies.


Here in India, we were not the country that was being driven by manufacturing or family houses, having a certain sort of pedigree, and that got broken over the last several decades. Now, everything that we talk about macro outlook, people outlook, Social Outlook, the tech capabilities, we are no longer being seen as or they are just copying ideas. A lot of good ideas didn’t happen anywhere else, it happened in India. So nobody today could say, Oh, you guys don’t innovate. UPI didn’t happen anywhere else. It happened in India. So I think this one is required for the country to come to a level where you now go to take up everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if just now George makes $2 billion. I wouldn’t be surprised if we produce billion dollar revenue generating companies equally, not just in terms of valuations. But in terms of impact, because the digital footprint is so high and so large. What we were always wondering is that India doesn’t have a market to sell.


Now, when I say hey, don’t go out of the startup ecosystem, because I think, literally the startup ecosystem today can offer you everything that you would not get in a corporation such as a fantastic sort of pay package, no doubt about it. Yes, you will still have some sort of market ups and downs. But that happens everywhere. jobs going everywhere down. I don’t think that’s a factor to even do it. Third thing is that the global market is interconnected now. So you’re no longer sitting in Bangalore saying, Oh, I don’t know what is happening in the rest of the world , what’s happening in the rest of the world. And the rest of the world is saying, any sort of count to say whether this product has come from India or not India, Indian products are equally welcome.


So, if you now see every sector that has been opening manufacturing, or agriculture or services or the, semicon semiconductor and everything else is coming out the amount of new ideas that can come back, we never had that opportunity at all, no generation had that opportunity that’s going to come in front of all even in the healthcare sector, healthcare sector struggled. Today, the entire world is saying, Indians are apart, they’re different. We’ve taken care of it. So if we take all that factor into account, I don’t think any other space any other country can provide this today. And if we go back and talk to a lot of our ex-colleagues and friends who are now living in back in London or back in the US, I’m sure they will not get this kind of opportunity, unless they relocate or join hands with an Indian and are sitting in India, this market is wide open, its outcomes are much larger.


We are also creating frameworks that nobody else is creating in the world, whether UPI or ONDC. We are truly creating digital infrastructures that nobody else is creating. So I am bullish about that. We will be the landlocked that we are in in terms of where the market is being all answered by opening that infrastructure part, and truly be a pioneer in that and saying okay, here’s a new way that to do ONDC and imagine hundreds and 1000s of startups are going to come out of that. Yes, some of them will scale, some of them will have lifestyles, but that’s going to generate humongous revenues. And this, what we see on UPI is going to go back to other countries, I’m sure South African countries or some European countries, some APAC is going to inherit and say, Hey, this work in India, let’s just copy the framework. And hence, we could market access to those countries too so if we look at what’s in terms of the economy Outlook to say, hey, it’s India is going to become a $12 trillion, or let’s say $10 trillion. Where is that market going to come from? It’s going to come from here, the money is rotating faster than ever.


I think that was one of the factors that didn’t help Indians. Always the money in the bank. Now the money is in the digital form. So people have that set up in a quick to say, Oh, I like it. Imagine getting that 10 rupees to get out of the pocket in one click. I think one click is much easier to do. So we are in a better place now. So people should look at the first startup rather than any corporate search today.


Siddhartha 31:00

And what do you imagine from 2025 to 2030 to be like?


Santosh 31:04

I think we would not just be limiting tech from the product range that we have seen? Yes, we produced a lot of great CRMs and great sort of tech enabled software and took that but I think now software is going to go mainstream to various industries that was always kept as saying maybe we don’t know how to do it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have trillions of offer coming out from the space research. And similarly, agriculture and manufacturing was always a separate sort of thing. Maybe the tech is going to step into that. So you will see a much larger demand and acceptance of new tech products coming out for those industries. So each of those verticals are going to contribute to the growth that we were depending upon the rest of the world. We were always depending on the rest of the world to say, Where do I sell, I’m not denying that you shouldn’t be selling, you should be selling. In fact, you should be thriving in the rest of the world, build here, sell everywhere and continue to sell here too. Which is why many companies are already doing it. The markets are much more like, you have seen how SaaS tools continue to be sold in India versus 10 years back 10 years back, people were not paying $24 a month for an envelope today. There’s no question about it. People are paying money for that. Because this is part and parcel of my business, I need it.


Siddhartha 32:28

This is a business infra for the office, I need an office to operate. So do I need SaaS to separate.


Santosh 32:35

And we are seeing the same thing on web three, yes web three has a lot of other angles. But one of the strong elements that’s coming out is that the entire world is depending upon Indian developers to do something about it, because that large ecosystem doesn’t exist anywhere. And today, when I tapped my friends in Valley, San Francisco, I’ll tell you, Bangalore is at least 50 times to 75 times ahead and the rest in terms of understanding the spec, the frameworks, and the other things that are happening around the protocols. And so we are much ahead in terms of the demand curve of tech skills. And we are opening up the industries where we will require technology as a strong component to build fast, productivity and outcomes and then sell various products to the world.


So industry verticals, industry segments are opening up, where would you be a strong one second. Third, overall, if you look at the number of startups that have been started out, there’s not no way it’s reducing whether it’s a recession or not. So the social framework that I talked about has broken that out. So people are not going to keep saying, Hey, this is not interesting anymore, I will not try that it is broken. So I would say by 2025. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have multi billion dollar revenue making companies coming from India searching India leading in a lot of new tech infrastructure innovations. And truly not in the web three world but truly decentralizing the power that should be there in the Indian economy.


And this is really a one reflection of that, we’ll see what happens and I’m sure he’s going to go to iteration but I’m surely looking forward to similar initiatives, where the power is distributed, decentralized into this some extent to say a lot, many players can, get into this space on all sides. And then truly, when you have new innovation coming out, the market is wide open. It’s not going to be controlled by four or five top companies as such. And when that happens, you will have a lot more outcomes than a search. So that’s sort of my Outlook there.


Siddhartha 34:47

And I have one interesting point to share that the last 10 years has changed the entire ecosystem and the landscape for India and tech. 10 years ago, we were just a services nation. So, today we are truly a productive nation. Investors, global politicians, and geographies are looking up to India. So earlier 10 years ago, everybody ignored the developing countries. Today, we are not one of the developing countries. We are like the third or the fourth largest in GDP, and highest in the number of tech talent that we produce. And people are looking up to some of the best tech companies that are coming out of India, whether it be Zoho, whether it be Freshworks, or the consumer apps like swiggy, Urban clap, Urban company, Dunzo that you mentioned, these kinds of innovations are very India centric.


Santosh 35:38

Very much. And one of the biggest advantages that is coming out is that, because India is using technology now, you’re talking about a biggest challenge that’s not going to be welcome . Now we’re going to talk about performance. Now we’re gonna talk about usability, accessibility. Those are the areas that are going to open up the last mile, in terms of 100 million people, and whether the last 100 million people have access or not, in terms of remote cities and villages, having mobile past access, the demand for newer things you want to come. So a lot of the innovation that we see today, the rest of the world we’re taking granted, we are much much ahead. In terms of people today, living in any other global city would struggle to get something in 10 minutes, we are now taking it for granted. That is something is going to be in my home in 10 minutes.


Imagine that going to other sorts of industries. Not just grocery delivery, but other industries that will impact I’m sure, even one segment where we are very landlocked is the creator segment. India is definitely a land of opportunity for a lot of creators, Whether it’s your content, whether it is intellectual participation and those types of things. I’m sure that’s going to open up in a bigger format. So those are not touched yet. And we reached a stage of building a first level of proof and saying, Yes, we can deliver, and we are truly thinking of very original problems to go after.


Siddhartha 37:08

Though our income at the grassroot level is not as high as the developed countries. But if we see infra, even the grassroot level, in villages, people have access to smartphones, people have access to the internet, the Internet has become really cheap, cheaper than electricity. Yes, communication has become really fast, even a person sitting in a remote village can access the best education fitting on the mobile. And third thing is that logistics have built out beautifully in India. So even if I’m sitting in the northeast of the most southern part of the country, or even in places like Kashmir, those people have access to e-commerce to get the products to the logistical network that India has built. I think a lot of things have come together.


Santosh 37:57

100 percent. I think, for a country like India, as large as we were just debating about a gentleman who was here yesterday, from the US. And we were just debating everything in such a large country like India, we could not be doing anything other than what we have done right now. digital infrastructure is yes, physical infrastructure required. But it continued with that large and big and with sort of last mile connectivity issues and all that you cannot address these things without having a digital infrastructure. That for me, itself is a great opening of the doors. Yes, the poorest of the poorest don’t derive as much benefit as somebody living in the first or second tier derives, but at least they are on the same page. Today, a vegetable producer or reseller sitting in any part of the India has the first hand information that they never had in the last anytime, now that is the first level of things can you integrate them can you then build the physical infrastructure such as roads and fasters connectivity and then and move goods faster, then we are talking and then the goods sort of cycling.


I always believe India has a lot more money, it just started and has not come out. It has been locked in many small bits and pieces, digital infrastructure is the first level to unlock it. Physical infrastructure used to bring back and move that across and move really move the goods. But digital infrastructures first connect them, reach out to them. And then do it. And I think, we have seen, I’m sure we would have seen the ITC each of all long, long back, it says did lots of amazing things on the earlier days. Very, very early. They went to a lot of remote places and created those kinds of frameworks. I’m sure today with the digital infrastructure many many large scale even corporations or sort of solution providers can do amazing new ideas. And you were right when you say that I can open up a mobile and be in any part of the city.


And so my creativity in whatever form it is, whether it’s your mathematics teacher, or whether it’s yoga teacher. You don’t have to worry about, hey, where am I? I’m not getting access to the people, no thanks to COVID ourselves with whatever issue happens. But people in remote cities are now teaching, how do you do better in a sort of yoga, let’s say, and you can do that. And you can still make 10s and 1000s of rupees. And that’s that’s an amazing thing that’s happening just on infrastructure, digital infrastructure,


Siddhartha 40:33

It’s high time that we’ll start seeing it translate to improving the income levels of the promotive people who have yet to see the benefit of the changing Indiana.


Santosh 40:44

Yes, yes, definitely. And I think there are a lot of other things would come in such as insurance for those folks, small sort of bite sized incidents for folks in the low range folks across India, and some sort of incidents, healthcare benefits, those are again, going to rotate in big time across India, in what way they can come to mainstream, better life, a little bit of better life. And I think we know infrastructure, always going to be a demand digital investor is the best way to bring that benefit to them right away.


Siddhartha 41:18

And Santosh web three is rising, you are part of the web three movement, you are incubating the three startups with foundership. Is there some substance to it? Or is it like, because what the FTX episode has done like the bubble blew up very large on the global equity analysts, again, brought the crypto ecosystem. A few steps back. What is there for India in Web three?


Santosh 41:40

Yeah, so I think web three, as such, is a sort of mix of many things that’s happening . There are moments of what finance can be in a global framework. Now, finance is all again, landlocked in terms of country by country with a lot of sort of barriers. So finance is one where crypto is one of the examples CBDCs is coming out and from another side. Blockchain is coming out from another side to say a lot of things that have been sort of over the years or over the next 100 years going to be created. It’s still going on in the edge world issue of that, hey, who verified it, who will date it? How much of it’s truth?


Again, blockchain can play that out in terms of people getting denied access. Not just from a country point of view, but from country to country point of view, can there be something decentralized not everything, but something. So when we look at web three, there are so many new ideas coming in. So many good new sorts of frameworks are being thought through, in fact, the same way a digital infrastructure framework has been thought through, they’re very unique. In fact, web three would not have come earlier. And when we reached a stage, web three made sense. But fundamentally, one of the downsides of web three is that very early governments have not stepped in, no regulations are there, they are definitely worldwide. People are sort of taking bets on things that have no ground. It almost sounds like a Ponzi scheme. And it’s a Ponzi scheme to a large, large extent because there is no strong foundation to say why this crypto coin is 10 rupee, or $100.


So I think, in my mind, what’s happening with the parlors with a lot of CBDCs coming in, maybe at some point of time, some form of that is going to come to web three. But over the years, if you look at newer way of ideas being generated, for example, let’s say if you are doing a podcast right now, right there, as a creator, today, you do not want to upload those podcasts, either they are there in your local servers, or they are there by virtue of somebody’s platform, and you don’t own something, they continue to make money out of that, can you turn this to an NFT? To say this is the creation, you want to mix and match? You can mix and match and I give you this permission is called NFT. That’s nothing but ownership, you can say hey, you only own that for the next three years. After that come and talk to me.


Can you do that in the real world today you cannot have to do a lot of contracts. You have to do a lot of pen and paper on a specific country’s things today. With NFT you can create smart contracts or some rule engines, and as simple as rolling, just to define this kind of micro tokenized form of asset creation. That way, web three is fantastic, sent by the ecosystem. So a lot of good ideas are coming out where we are inviting founders in the very early ideas stage saying that, hey, if you have a web three idea, or you’re just building it out, as a founder, we’re building the ecosystem. I felt that hey, there is no point for you to go in a wrong direction. Please come to the three week incubation camp. You will have coaches helping you to find the direction beyond that. If the coaches like you, you like what we did, you’re most welcome to the six month acceleration camp, where we don’t charge you money, but we take a small equity that we distribute among the coaches.


Now with that we are able to attract 250 startups applied in the last five months and we selected 15 startups in two batches. There also we’re asking those strong fundamental questions saying, Hey, can you make money? Because integrating the web through web three or web two or as next evolutions? fundamentals are right, you cannot build a business just on investors money, you cannot even build a business on token money. How is it going to be a useful thing that somebody is going to use and say, I’ll pay you now you have created some mechanisms to create a smaller economy of around your set of let’s say, community, or customers, or early believers do it, you have doubts, to create a knowledge set of believers to say see them Santosh and Nansi and many other ones are supporting you for the first 100 people to take it, give them an NFT as a proof, and then go and build it tomorrow, you can go and raise an equity round those new ideas are very welcome.


Today we cannot create a company nowhere by having more than 200 shareholders, why have we seen in the world that large scale communities, in fact, large scale local communities have been killed by 10s and 1000s of people. But in a very trustworthy way, tossed away. But can you do that in a doorway? Yes. Is it still a fully proven framework, not yet. Still getting developed. But I would say having some sort of clarity by the governments, for the retail users to ensure that they are not participating in somewhere where they’re losing money could be a very welcome situation, because that will help building a good confidence among the retail users when they hear a new application coming in which they should not fear that, hey, this is a yet another crypto, because not everything is a crypto, in fact, tokenize asset is the way to go forward.


So I think what happened with FTX is a very, very bad thing in the web three ecosystem, because this is definitely going to affect more also millions of people retails, and which is not at all, in a sort of encouraging, because these are the people who were there, your early adopters, they’re the people who are looking out for a new idea to come where they could utilize it. As a blogger, I can do something and see whether I’m getting paid in a token, or my token has some value, or my token has a proof of identity or my token is a proof of participation. Now all those fundamentals are going to be questioned here. But having said that, we’ve seen the internet when we didn’t want it 2000 to 2022. Now, with the many forms that have come in, and what is going to literally work for customers is going to retain, no matter whatever innovation comes in the world, they will all just fade away if the customer doesn’t use it.


So I think we are going back to that clarity way for one. And I hope with India leading G20, we would have lot more clarity coming out what is accepted by the country or what is accepted by a lot of large scale countries, if that clarity comes in, I think there are a lot of good ideas coming in within the work three to the end, just to add a one example see, Reddit itself has converted the NFT as a collectible, and they are showing that yes, there is a way that you can make innovation NFT it’s like a little tech thing. It’s like telling, hey, I connect to my SSL, nobody connects to SSL, they connect to your site, they connect to my HTTPS. So I think if better solutions are going to come where they make this language a lot more relatable, such as collectibles or make rather than mint, I would see that this is going to slowly chip into the existing framework. Without sounding that there is something web three here.


Siddhartha 48:42

Thank you so much Santosh for playing a large part in my life as an entrepreneur, for playing the sport in the lives of so many entrepreneurs that you have influenced and guided in the last 10 years. The ecosystem is indebted to you.


Santosh 48:58

Thank you so much. I think that’s all the passion was to come in. And as they say, each of us are designed in a way and we get driven. So I’m happy to hear that appreciation. And I continue to believe that with the founders’ effort too, there may be hundreds of a sort of folks blooming in terms of building out their own ideas to the wall and making an impactful outcome from that. Thank you.


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