2021 could be one of the greatest years for the startups as economies would have a better recovery than anticipated and organisations would go for digital transformation, said John Chambers, Chairman Emeritus, Cisco, at the Star Talks session at Prarambh, the Startup India International Summit.

“I think it might be one of the greatest years for startups ever. I think we are going to recover from the pandemic better than people anticipate there’s huge cash infusion from the central banks and the governments. The stock market in the US is at an all-time high and it usually is a very good indicator of where the jobs and the economy will be in 16 to 18 months later,” said Chambers.

He added that “startups survived the downturn better than expected”.

“I think you will see this global economy respond better in the second half of the year…So, the countries who have their act together on startups have a very bright future. But remember to disrupt, or you are going to get disrupted,” said the former executive chairman of Cisco.

He urged the startups to dream big as the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on startups is seen to be lesser than the global financial crisis in 2008.

“The challenge for the Indian companies at the present time is to dream bigger. The startups did not get hit this time like they did in 2001 and 2008. And in 2001 50% of high among tech venture startups disappeared. In 2008, it was 30%, I thought this year would be right in the middle. I was very wrong, less than 10% of the venture capital-backed high tech companies were out of business so now’s the time to put the pedal down carefully again and begin to dream,” said Chambers.

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Chambers, who is also the founder and chief executive officer, JC2 Ventures, which helps disruptive startups build and scale, said the ongoing crisis would create opportunities for startups. “…these cycles, which on the one hand sounds like a challenge, are actually opportunities. Every company in the world, regardless of the size, will become a digital technology company. That innovation will largely come out of the startups. You all have companies like Jio from Reliance that are unbelievably creative, but they work with startups in a very large way,” he said.

Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Enterprise, who was part of the session, talked about the need for “light-touch regulation” for startups to grow.

Munjal said the government should only play the role of a facilitator. “You (government) may put all the building blocks in place and then back off that is necessary to allow a truly entrepreneurial ecosystem to flourish. The government must not be an interfering system. It has to be only a facilitating and a light-touch regulation,” he said.



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