Nothing wrong if Indian startups imitate the Amazons and Ubers of the world, says Google India head

Online games.
Online games.
Image: Reuters/Amit Dave
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Many Indian unicorns are inspired by successful businesses in other parts of the world. That’s led to widespread criticism that players in the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem aren’t innovative enough.

But one of the country’s top tech executives, Rajan Anandan, believes there’s nothing wrong in imitating successful business ideas. “These companies understood the needs of the people,” Anandan, Google’s vice-president for South East Asia and India, told Quartz.

“The way to build a great business is not to look at another country. It is to deeply understand the consumer, the business, understand their needs and build business for them,” added Anandan, also one of India’s most active angel investors.

Most of India’s big e-commerce companies have been heavily inspired by Amazon. Critics believe most such clones will die a slow death and US-based Amazon or the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba would ultimately capture the entire market. But Anandan believes there is room for many more online retailers in the country.

“This is very, very early in the game. There is massive space for so many e-commerce companies,” he said. ”There will be horizontal platforms that sell branded products, (like) Amazon, Flipkart, (and) Snapdeal. There will be horizontal platforms that sell unbranded products, like Shopclues. Then there will be vertical companies (in categories) like furniture, baby products, etc.”

The demand for online retail in India, with its 1.3 billion people, is so big that it needs multiple players, according to him. “E-commerce has barely started in India,” Anandan said.