India will soon launch a dedicated TV channel for startup entrepreneurs

Watch and learn.
Watch and learn.
Image: REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa
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Internet savvy Indian entrepreneurs may soon have a reason to move back to the idiot box.

The Narendra Modi government plans to launch a television channel focused on nurturing and supporting startup activity in the country, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during her union budget speech today (July 5).

The channel, which will be set up under the purview of state-run broadcaster Doordarshan, will be designed and managed by startups themselves, she said. The channel will promote new businesses and enable matchmaking with venture capitalists. Aside from funding, the channel will also provide resources for tax planning.

In the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, this could be a great way to raise awareness about entrepreneurship among youth in smaller towns and cities, experts say.

“We have seen established companies being given the limelight for the last several decades but with this lot of SMEs and startups can come to mainstream and be seen as thought leaders,” Santosh Panda, founder of ticketing startup Explara, told Quartz. “Once the government sets the ball rolling, it will influence private TV channels to do something similar and bring startups into the mainstream.”

Out in the west, the US has a plethora of TV and internet shows focused on startups and entrepreneurship. One of the most popular shows in the category is ABC’s iconic Shark Tank. Other examples include the Billion Dollar Buyer where companies meet billionaire hospitality mogul Tilman Fertitta, chairman, CEO, and sole shareholder of Landry’s, Inc., and Apple Music’s Planet of the Apps.

In India, entrepreneurs had their first brush with TV in July 2017 with MTV’s youth-based reality show, MTV Dropout. But, as the name suggested, the show focussed only on college dropouts.

The show was all about dramatics and even became mired in controversy when a female participant levelled false sexual misconduct allegations against the winner.

Hopefully, the government’s channel will mean more serious business.