Another company that I met last year, Forus Health, just started shipping its pre-screening tool for the early detection of cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retina, refraction and cornea problems that are common in the developing world. Their device, which can be operated by minimally trained technicians in rural India, is portable and sells for a small fraction of the cost of Western alternatives. It promises to save the sight of tens of millions of people.
Several Indian companies have also reached the mainstream. Zoho offers an alternative to Microsoft Office and Google Docs. Its enterprise products boast 15,000 global customers and its Web products have 5 million users, according to the company. It generates more than $100 million in revenue every year. Three-year old Tringme provides a VoIP telephony platform that is used by 11 million users worldwide and the Web sites of corporations like IBM and AOL. One of the most popular charting tools on the Web is Fusion Charts. It has 375,000 developers in 110 countries using its tools to build their graphics.
Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University and Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. His other academic appointments include Harvard, Duke and Emory Universities as well as the University of California Berkeley.
Washington D.C.'s Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, speaks with the Washington Post's Emi Kolawole about the search for innovation and the special mandate of cities on the part of citizens. (Source: The Washington Post)
NASSCOM Product Forum chair, Sharad Sharma, forecasts that India will have at least a $1 billion tech IPO per year for the next 3 years and many more over the next decade. On the top of his list are India’s Amazon.com Flipkart, global ad network InMobi, Zoho, and India’s Groupon-equivalent SnapDeal.
Indeed, on my trip, I saw a number of companies that had great potential. The most exciting of these was an infectious-disease diagnostic tool by a company called Bigtec. It is building a “lab on a chip” that can precisely diagnose diseases like H1N1, typhoid, dengue, and Tuberculosis in less than 30 minutes. Their device is portable (less than 1 kilogram), battery operated, and requires minimal training—so it can be used in rural settings. The point-of-care device Bigtec is developing will cost $2,000 vs. about $30,000 for alternative products, and tests will cost $4-to-$10 rather than the $100 or more that we pay in the U.S.
But something is missing in India: The angel investors, venture capitalists, and, most critically, experienced mentors. This problem will fix itself as more companies achieve success and seasoned entrepreneurs decide to give back to the next generation. When that happens, Silicon Valley better watch out. It is in for some very real competition.
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