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Top unicorn founders form group to push Mumbai tech ecosystem

Over 30 prominent startup founders based out of Mumbai have come together to form an organisation to build a ‘brand Mumbai’ for startups, in an effort to promote and nurture startup and entrepreneurship culture in the country’s financial capital.

The organisation, which is expected to be named TEAM (Tech Entrepreneurs Association of Mumbai), would be chaired by Harsh Jain, co-founder of Dream 11, and Aakrit Vaish, co-founder of Haptik, at least five people familiar with the matter told Moneycontrol on condition of anonymity.

Members of the organisation will contribute funds to TEAM, a non-profit organisation, and will engage in activities such as lobbying the state government on policies that would foster entrepreneurship in the city. TEAM would include founders from Mumbai-based startups, such as Pharmeasy, Upgrad, Upstox, Good Glamm Group, Zepto, Pepperfry, Clevertap, Loginext, Rebel Foods, and Purplle, among others.

“Right now things are in the initial stages of formation. We have got a good group together and the next steps are going to be to form the charter, elect the board, etc. and then go from there,” said Vaish.

The organization’s goal would be to establish ‘brand Mumbai’ as a startup hub and a place where founders will want to base their businesses, the people said requesting anonymity.

“The good tech talent from Mumbai is going to other places which are marketed well. The ultimate pinnacle is Bengaluru. That is what we want to change considering so many unicorns are in Mumbai. It is the financial capital of the country, but it needs to be marketed well,” one of the people quoted above said.

“The focus is to work together, engage with the ecosystem as well as the government to let brand Mumbai shine as a favourable place for startups and tech,” the person added.

Mumbai is home to around 18 of India’s 108 unicorns, the third highest behind Bengaluru and Delhi/NCR (National Capital Region), but has never been recognised as a startup hub, mostly because of its high cost of living.

“Cost of living or high cost in my opinion is a perception issue. It might have been the case a few years back, but as the ecosystem has matured and as the compensations (to employees) have gone up, we will see a shift in that perception,” said a second person quoted above.

Bengaluru has always been known as a startup hub, as the country’s first three unicorns, InMobi, Flipkart, and Mu Sigma, have their headquarters in Bengaluru.

For the longest time, Bengaluru was also known as India’s startup capital, but according to the Economic Survey of 2022, Delhi/NCR surpassed it earlier this year, with more than 5,000 recognised startups established in Delhi/NCR between April 2019 and December 2021, compared to 4,514 in Bengaluru.

The Economic Survey did not include Mumbai on its list of top startup cities, despite the fact that Maharashtra had the highest number of recognised startups as of December 2021.

“Mumbai has always had many successful companies but branding has been a bit of a problem. Somebody has to talk about it more actively, within the tech talent circles, and this needs to be more socialised,” said the second person quoted above.

“Harsh has worked closely with a lot of bodies and associations and corporates over here because all these companies are eager to create ways in which there is better visibility and marketing for Mumbai-based companies,” the person added. Moneycontrol

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