According to Tracxn’s most recent research, startup funding in India decreased by 80% year over year (YoY) in Q3 2022. The funding has also decreased noticeably quarter over quarter (QoQ), putting an end to the long-debated “Funding Winter” debate. However, as warning sirens sound in preparation for a potential recession, new difficulties face the startup ecosystem.

Sruthi Kannan, Head at Cisco LaunchPad, was interviewed by BW Businessworld’s Rohit Chintapali on the sidelines of Cisco Startup Summit 2022. During the conversation, Kannan discussed the startup ecosystem’s present situation in India, Cisco Launchpad’s strategy to working with entrepreneurs, and her thoughts on the Indian government’s support for the ecosystem.


Many firms are simplifying and going back to the fundamentals as a result of the impending recession and the current funding winter. What is the state of the startup ecosystem?

Pivoting is an obvious path in startup lingo. Newer business sectors, business models, technologies, and use cases are frequently the focus of startups. Being a part of the startup ecosystem means you must be able to pivot. This is particularly relevant now that we are experiencing a funding winter and a possible recession. Value addition is the core tenet on which Cisco bases its collaboration with startups. We examine how technology might serve as an enabler in this regard.

Obviously, the ecosystem’s term has changed from unicorns to cockroaches, and we are considering how we might develop resilience alongside companies. Our attention is still on creating value for use cases that are meant to have an impact.

How has Cisco’s stance on how to collaborate with startups altered as the recession approaches?

These moments aid us in focusing our vision and laying out very organised paths. When we are on a favourable trajectory, it helps. Therefore, we are releasing the Cisco Startup Playbook today at the Cisco Startup Summit. We are laying out a clear path for working with startups through the exploration and discovery phases before moving on to the developing and scaling phases through it. When you have a clear path for involvement, you are less likely to get sidetracked by the numerous distractions. It aids in tightening internal relationships and accelerating joint collaboration with startups.
When you are working with and supporting startups, how involved are you? How can you assist them?

Giving them an overview is the first step in our interaction with the startup. We walk them through some of the possibilities and opportunities that Cisco has in its field; it’s more of an evangelising of sorts. Once they are persuaded or if there is some synergy, we start working closely with the entrepreneurs, dig deeply into what they are offering, identify areas of shared interest, and then begin growing together. The Cisco Launchpad is a bustling co-innovation hub where we support companies with mentorship and make our technological platforms available.

For Cisco, where does the Indian startup scene stand in relation to other nations?

One of the top five startup innovation ecosystems in the world, India has improved significantly since last year. As a result, the number of startups in the country has risen to over 75,000 as we see rapid growth. The bulk of them also use technology. And this is on par with other nations who are currently stepping up their startup efforts. I think the boom is extremely high from India’s standpoint and I think the growth will be quite strong in the upcoming years.

How have your interactions with the Indian government’s startup ecosystem been? How are they doing, in your opinion?

With “Startup India,” we have a terrific partnership. They have been a real innovator in this area, disseminating startup-related ideas and enablement all throughout the nation. Additionally, we have moved forward and signed an MoU with MeitY’s Startup Hub to collaborate with incubators across the nation. Now, I notice a change that affects all ministries rather than just one or the other. Working with startups is becoming more popular, as we can see.

We just took part in the “India Water Pitch-Pilot-Scale Start-up Conclave,” where they are trying to work with entrepreneurs to completely change the water market. This is spreading out rather than remaining concentrated in a few places, as we can see.

I also had the privilege of being the only industry representative on Startup India Seed Fund Scheme’s executive advisory group (SISFS). Through this, we are dispersing funds for incubators around the nation, which in turn is igniting entrepreneurs no matter where they are.

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