Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative, leading Indian technology startups have said that there is a need to focus and promote the building of software products in the country, demand for which, according to them, could touch around $500 billion over the next five years.
Speaking at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) here, Naveen Tewari, founder of mobile advertising network InMobi said, if India is not able to create home-grown software products, the import bill for the same could be one of the highest for the country in five years time.
"It's a market opportunity that will be there, whether we have to import it or whether we create it, is a decision we need to take," said Tewari who is also a founder member of Indian software product industry thinktank, iSpirt.
On Thursday, Modi launched a campaign called 'Make in India' to promote domestic manufacturing. Addressing several Indian and foreign industrialists, Modi called investors to choose India as a manufacturing destination.
While Modi did not offer any financial incentives to industrialists, but promised effective and easy governance along with a stable regime, Indian software product companies believe it is not financial sops that they need for making India a 'software product nation'.
One of the most important measures for creating software capabilities in the country would be to involve Indians who moved overseas in the last few decades due to lack of opportunities, and reverse the 'brain drain' that the country has seen, Sachin Bansal, co-founder and CEO of e-commerce major Flipkart said.
He added that this could be one of the themes that Modi could touch upon during his on-going trip to the US.
"As an e-commerce company, we depend a lot on talent to come back to India; these are the people who have done it before in the US," Bansal said. "I think PM's visit itself should motivate a lot of people. It should motivate a lot of Indians to come back to India, and we are constantly looking to achieve that."
While India has been in the forefront as an offshore destination in terms of offering information technology (IT) services to global clients over the last several years, it is considered as a laggard in terms of developing software products. However, there has been an increase in activity in this space over the last couple of years which has caught the eyes of global players. Several global companies are now eying participation in the software product ecosystem in the country.
According to a report by professional services firm Ernst & Young, globally there were mergers and acquisitions (M&A) worth $66.6 billion in the software products space during January-March 2014. However, as per Indian software product industry thinktank iSpirt, there were only 159 M&A software product deals in happened in India during the same period with a combined value of just $1.78 billion.