Tuesday, January 19, 2020 saw the launch of the Amazon Global Selling Propel initiative focused on enabling Indian start-ups and brands to expand globally. Launched in partnership with Startup India, the initiative is specifically designed to offer dedicated support to emerging consumers startups to build global brands.

The launch was followed by a power-packed panel discussion with Mary Ghobrial, Director Marketplace Expansion Amazon Middle East, Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital, and Kanwaljit Singh, Founder and Managing Partner, Fireside Ventures, along with startup founders Bala Sarda of Vahdam India and Disha Katharani of Imagimake. The panelists spoke about the tremendous growth of India’s startup ecosystem, the opportunities that lie ahead, and deconstructed the significance of this initiative for Indian startups.

At the launch, Amit Agarwal, Global Senior Vice President and Country Head Amazon India, stressed on the important role that exports will play in reviving the Indian economy and how a program such as this will help boost exports. He said, “Amazon Global Selling Propel is designed to provide dedicated support to emerging startups, helping them reach customers around the world. The combined efforts of Amazon and Startup India will empower startups to succeed in global business environments.”

India’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem

Deepak Bagla, MD and CEO, Invest India commented on the unprecedented pace of growth of startups in India and the scale of the current transition. Commenting that India is one of the youngest startup nations in the world, Mr. Bagla said that India is at number three in the world in terms of number of unicorns, number two in the number of startups, and number one when it comes to adding new startups.

He also spoke about the breadth and depth of the startup ecosystem in India. New startups in India are now emerging from districts such Raipur, Lucknow, Ernakulum, Datia in Madhya Pradesh, Ferozepur in Punjab, etc. Also, these emerging startups are delving into sectors such as nanotech, pet care, safety, computer vision, non-renewable energy, art, chemical, architecture, etc. There is also greater diversity with a large number of women-led startups emerging.

The Amazon Global Selling Propel opportunity

Speaking about the evolution of startups in India, Rajan Anandan spoke about the growth of ecommerce and the opportunity created by Amazon’s global selling program. Indian digital first consumer brands that have been focused on India now have an opportunity to go global, he said. He gave the example of educational game maker Skillmatics, which grew from a three crore revenue runrate to touch 100 crores in just 18 months, thanks to the Amazon Global Selling Program.

Kanwaljit Singh of Fireside Ventures spoke about the extreme positivity around India and Indian exports such as Ayurveda, spices, commodities as well as mainstream products in global markets. “Amazon is giving a headstart and a level playing field to these companies. Brand building on international platforms takes money, time, learning, and unlearning,” he said. “Amazon Global Selling Propel will give startups the initial boost. It will propel them to build in India and take to the world.”

Bala Sarda and Disha Katharani spoke about the importance of mentorship, which is an important component of Amazon Global Selling Propel. “Mentors are crucial to the entrepreneurial journey. Entrepreneurs often tend to have blinders on. So, having the right strategic advice is key to how well a startup performs,” said Sarda.

Good mentors ensure that entrepreneurs are asking the right questions and help them look at things from different perspectives, Katharani added.

Mary Ghobrial, Director, Marketplace Expansion at Amazon Middle East talked about the number of challenges that entrepreneurs face when they are expanding globally. These include understanding of the market, product readiness, compliance to local guidelines, logistics, pricing, marketing, etc. Ghobrial spoke about how Amazon can help convert these barriers into opportunities.

“Working with five million sellers, globally we know the challenges faced by sellers. We’re here to make Indian brands successful globally,” she said.

More details on Amazon Global Selling Propel are available here.