The big irony about India is it has produced tens of thousands of software engineers, but hardly any successful software or web services companies. The reasons are many – its successful services firms like TCS and Infosys invest heavily in recruiting and training armies and while they talk about non-linear growth (not tied to staff headcount growth) they do not invest much in building intellectual capital or in cloud capex. They offer young professionals a safe career path and a chance to explore the world. In contrast, the angel/VC ecosystem in India is nowhere near as robust as that in Silicon Valley to encourage software entrepreneurs. So, in some ways you could argue NASSCOM, the India trade body has a redundant S – it has always been much more about services than software.
And that is coming to a boil as this story in LiveMint suggests:
“If Nasscom has to stay relevant, it must collapse its “large-format”, five-star conferencing programmes, used successfully over the years with bigger member firms, and listen better to a small, but growing community of software product entrepreneurs who are dreaming to create India’s Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
These software product firms are led by a mix of veteran and newer maverick CEOs such as Sridhar Vembu of online office software maker Zoho Corp., who just don’t relate with anything Nasscom. Vembu spends time shuttling between his Silicon Valley office and Zoho’s development centre in Chennai all year. Unlike the software services business that’s used to multi-million dollar projects and large payrolls, software products require deeper engagements with fewer customers. And instead of broad-based industry lobbying, these firms need discussions around intellectual property apart from establishing links with potential customers in India and overseas.
So it was no surprise when last week that some 30 software product firms, including homegrown accounting software maker Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd along with several product veterans such as former head of Yahoo Inc.’s R&D facility Sharad Sharma and InMobi founder Naveen Tewari, formed a separate forum called the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table, or iSpirt.”