Why Goa is an Ideal Location For The Emerging Start-ups?

The start-up concept was completely new for Goa and people wondered why someone would start a tech company in Goa. But the popularity of Brown Tape encouraged many small and big start-ups from Mumbai and Bangalore to move their base to Goa. Why did this transformation take place and is Goa really an ideal place for start-ups?   
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Goa is well known for its tourism and hospitality which is the major industry in the state. One of the first start-ups, Brown Tape founded by Piyush Goel and Gurpreet Singh, began its journey in Goa in  2012. The company came into the news as this ‘start-up’ concept was completely new for Goa and people wondered why someone would start a tech company in Goa. But the popularity of Brown Tape encouraged many small and big start-ups from Mumbai and Bangalore to move their base to Goa. Why did this transformation take place and is Goa really an ideal place for start-ups?   

Brown Tape started its operations in Goa when there was a huge lack of infrastructure such as power supply and internet. With constant fluctuations in electricity supplies, UPS inverters and generators had a booking market and internet providers were next to non-existent. Mobiles had a 2G network which was expensive and broadband was a distant dream. Working under such conditions, especially for a tech company, was very difficult but still, they decided to operate from Goa the major reason behind this was the working environment and availability of manpower at very reasonable costs compared to the metros such as Mumbai and Bangalore.

Slowly, Goa started transforming into a start-up hub with many following the footsteps of Brown Tape, but the real revolution started during the pandemic. The virus left the entire country under lockdown, but Goa continued to attract many start-ups and companies sent their employees to work from home in Goa. The concept was business with pleasure. The IG team spoke to a couple of well-known personalities connected with the start-up ecosystem in Goa and here is what they have to say about Goa as the ideal place for emerging start-ups.

THEJUS JOSEPH – COO at Forum for Innovation Incubation Research and Entrepreneur

The backbone of any start-up ecosystem is talent. Attracting talents to work in a particular geographical location is a challenge as well as an opportunity for Goa.

One classic example is a small country called Burmuda. $28 Mn USD is the revenue that got injected into the Burmuda economy through ‘Work from Burmuda’ (WFB) over the last two years.

Proofs like this globally boost the initiatives for Goa to attract digital nomads, remote working talents etc. which is important if we want to build an inclusive ecosystem for emerging start-ups.

Goa’s start-up ecosystem is ideal to build products from zero to one. One day one you are building a product for the Indian/Global market and Goa is a small market to tap into unless you are focusing on Tourism Tech innovations. Tourism Tech is relevant in Goa because of the proximity to travel, hospitality and supportive Govt. Department’s decision makers. And we are seeing a lot of inbound requests at FiiRE when it comes to Tourism Tech start-ups. Currently, we are interacting with 30+ start-ups in Tourism Tech innovations.

MILIND ANVEKAR – President of Goa Technology Association

Location advantages a start-up would consider being trade access, market proximity, business communities, talent sources and lower costs. While Goa offers excellent options to optimize the work-life balance, a lot of work needs to be done on the other parameters to be the most preferred destination for start-ups.  Today, Gujarat is on top of the list of states in start-up ranking while Meghalaya is best among smaller states.

“Work from Goa” will help attract people to move to Goa for the short term or even the long term. However, for start-ups to consider Goa as the most preferred destination, there is clearly a lot of work to accomplish with regard to the office space or coworking space availability, consistent internet connectivity, better local transport options, and skilled manpower. The Government policy support should be consistent and timely to be able to attract start-ups to Goa. While it is important to attract start-ups to Goa, it is equally important to support local start-ups to excel and scale their business.   

If the state can strategically focus on promoting and attracting start-ups in a specific business domain like entertainment, events, and travel we will increase the chances of Goa being the preferred destination over the next five years.

GAURAV KENKRE – Chairman Goa Branch of WIRC of ICAI

Goa has many things going for it. Firstly, most of the population is very comfortable with English. Secondly, Goans by default prefer white-collar desk jobs rather than menial jobs. Goa also offers a cosmopolitan culture without having the obvious negatives of a metropolitan, i.e. there is no traffic congestion, the air is very clean and pollution is nearly non-existent, there is no abject poverty and the culture of Goa is welcoming and receptive to people. Goa can also boast of being a safe place to live with a low crime rate

Start-ups have a high percentage of employees who are young. Start-ups typically need a place to sit, and a strong and reliable internet connection to go about their work. If Goa can provide these two things, either through private enterprise or through Government intervention, then I don’t see why start-ups would not migrate to Goa. With the upcoming Mopa airport, Goa’s connectivity with other places will also improve. So, the odd physical meeting of start-ups can also be done smoothly.

The pandemic has advanced all of us by at least 10 years in communication technology. Virtual meetings which would not have been seen as the norm, say 5 years ago, are now the obvious choice. In such a world, it no longer matters where the work is being done, and Goa can capitalise on this. If we observe, we can see that many national start-ups have already partly or wholly shifted operations to Goa. It is up to us to get the rest of them here.

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