We hear a lot about “startup ecosystems” or how organizations can encourage and foster a “culture of innovation.” But what about entire emerging markets serving as a petri dish for innovation in certain industries that the Western tech boom has so far passed by, including construction?
To that end, we were interested in remarks at the recent IIT Bombay’s E-Summit 2018, where a number of speakers were bullish on the future of technology and innovation in a number of Indian market sectors, including construction. The E-Summit is held annually and is a significant event in the startup ecosystem across the Indian subcontinent, attracting both foreign and domestic corporate, individual, and venture capital attendees.
This year’s iteration included speakers from WeWork, Snapdeal, Microsoft, and Ernst & Young, who stressed that the Indian government can help the country produce the world’s next Apples, Amazons, and Googles if it helps nurture startups with funding and other support, allowing the country’s population to in effect act as incubator for ideas and technologies that can in turn scale across the world.
Venkatesh Shukla of Monta Vista Capital and the head of TiE Silicon Valley observed that “[d]espite the hype on technology startups, they only contribute 10% to U.S. GDP and 5% to employment. Food, agriculture, and construction are completely unaffected by these [Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple] technology giants. Inclusion of these sectors will enable tech startups to scale up to the next level, and this is a great time to be an entrepreneur [in India].”
The proof seems to be in the proverbial pudding already, as Indian construction tech startups like FalconBrick (SaaS for streamlining construction project delivery) and Rootefy (an e-commerce solution for construction materials and equipment) are raising venture funds and getting to market.
Analysis from AEC Labs:
The 1 billion+ people in India and other emerging global markets confront growth issues that the industrialized West, in most cases, simply takes for granted. From mobile banking and credit cards to clean drinking water and safely constructing housing and infrastructure for urbanizing populations, the kinds of problems that tech startups can address in these locations are wildly different in 2018 than those that legacy US tech companies (like Amazon and Apple) were trying to solve for as they began to scale. Startups that recognize those problems in India and in other developing markets will enjoy a huge advantage in deploying them across the rest of the world.
From this perspective it really is a great time to be a construction tech entrepreneur in India, especially when you consider that, by 2030, the country will be the world’s third-largest real estate and construction market, to the tune of $1 trillion annually. Contributing over 15 percent of the country’s GDP, it will also be India’s largest employer by 2022, with over 75 million people working in the sector. So the future of the built environment and the construction tech startups that help shape it may very well be shaped in cities like Mumbai, New Dehli, and others across the subcontinent.