Ankita Anand is a 2015 batch IAS Officer of the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram & Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre and currently holds the position of Director, Department of Information & Technology, Government of Goa and is also the CEO of the Goa Start-up Promotion Cell (SPC). Ankita, in conversation with GOA CHRONICLE shared her vision and her experiences as the CEO of Goa Startup Promotional Cell (SPC).
GOA CHRONICLE: As CEO of the Startup Promotion Cell, what is your view of the future of Goa as a startup destination?
ANKITA ANAND: Goa has a perfect ambiance of being a startup hub. The serene location, the weather, and the people make a perfect ambiance for the growth of start-ups. Goa has the potential to become a global hub for incubatees and startups. It has the perfect work-life environment that fosters creativity and nurtures innovative ideas. Innovation is the key driver of economic and social progress. My aim is to ensure that in my tenure as the CEO of the Startup Promotion Cell is to foster a spirit of innovation and ideation to encourage the emergence of startups from Goa and also encourage startups from different cities in India and Internationally to incubate in Goa.
GOA CHRONICLE: Goa needs to create a startup ecosystem. What are your views?
ANKITA ANAND: I believe startups up need an ecosystem created in order to foster a culture of ideation and innovation; we need to encourage thinking from school and college level. We need to integrate all stakeholders and at all levels to boost the startup ecosystem in Goa. The government is a facilitator in creating a startup ecosystem but the ecosystem cannot be a brainchild of the government alone, it requires the experience, success stories of the business leaders in Goa, and mentors to work with the government to work to a plan on creating a robust startup ecosystem in the state. Goa has a vibrant young population with ideas on innovation across various sectors. My hope is that as the CEO of SPC, I am able to contribute towards those ideas shaping up to a successful business enterprise and provide the startups with all assistance provided by the government through its startup schemes both from the state and Centre.
GOA CHRONICLE: Is Goa working on a startup policy to encourage startups in the state?
ANKITA ANAND: We currently have 100 registered startups in Goa. We are working on a startup policy for the state. We have put the draft out for stakeholders in the startup business space to share their views, suggestions, and to chart a course for the creation of a startup ecosystem in the state. We currently have 14 different startup schemes for companies certified as startup businesses to avail of in order to take forward their startup initiatives. It is my earnest advice to startup businesses in the state to connect with our department so that you get an idea on how to avail of the government schemes and get the necessary advice and support from our department so that your startup idea can turn into a reality and is not hindered to progress especially if the government has some schemes to give you the boost to keep your startup moving forward.
GOA CHRONICLE: Is it difficult to avail of the Goa government schemes for startups?
ANKITA ANAND: Availing of any government scheme in any state in the country is a process. Processes take time, in general, and one has to go through an approval process. But that is no reason for those looking at availing a scheme for applying. They need to be realistic and pragmatic of the fact that the government in its role acts as a facilitator and wants to help the startups by following all duly established processes and guidelines. Sometimes I have experienced no responses from startup companies wanting to avail of particular schemes for weeks, and then they turn to wonder why the government has failed to assist them in the startups. A relationship is a two-way street, as the CEO of the Startup Promotion Cell, it is my duty to assist startups and make available the schemes for their growth by following due processes. The government has established the 14-schemes for the benefit of the startups, they must avail of it.
GOA CHRONICLE: Do you think the startups in Goa have confidence in the Startup Promotion Cell?
ANKITA ANAND: The Startup Promotion Cell has been created with a focus to promote, encourage, and assist startups by creating a startup ecosystem in Goa. Confidence will come if you interact with SPC and come to us for guidance or assistance. We are a small but effective team. We have on several occasions reached out to the startups in Goa to provide them with the facilitation they need to take forward their ideas and their innovationS. And if we cannot personally reach out, we are always available to startups, all the startup business founders or team need to do is get in touch with us. We have worked with different startups to get through the startup certification process. We are trying to integrate those startups who have registered directly with the Department of Promotion for Industry and Internal trade (DPIIT) with the Goa Startup ecosystem. We have activated the SPC social media handle so that it would facilitate the process of reaching out to those aspiring to have a startup of their own and are in need of support and guidance. We also encourage certified startups from Goa to participate in national level competitions organized by the Government of India. When startups compete in hackathons across the nation, it will give them more ideas to better the product and business model. It also helps Goa showcase the potential and talent of its startups, especially the innovation and ideas of its youth.
GOACHRONICLE: Is it difficult to be the go-between the government and the startups in the state?
ANKITA ANAND: The Startup Promotion Cell is focused on creating a startup ecosystem in Goa. We are the bridge between the government and the startups. We need to work on taking all stakeholders together. An ecosystem can only be created when all stakeholders have one vision and work on a startup policy which is an execution of that vision. As an IAS Officer, this is my deputation, but I would like to set up a seamless system of processes between government and startups so that startups surge ahead with their ideas and innovation with the government standing behind them and supporting them. So for the start, we were instrumental in ensuring startup schemes related approval need not get a ministerial-level approval but could be cleared by a secretary-level approval. I am trying to integrate all government departments in the state to boost the startup ecosystem. For example, if a startup has an innovative agritech-related idea, then we ensure representatives of the Goa Agriculture Department meet with the startup in order to find synergies. Or for that matter, if the startup idea is in the tourism space, we ensure the startup connects with the tourism department or ministry to take its idea forward or get the much-need advice or support.
GOACHRONICLE.COM: What’s your message to the startups and the innovative youth in Goa?
ANKITA ANAND: Let yourself loose. Goa is a place of creativity and innovation. We need the next best global startup to emerge from Goa and the Startup Promotion Cell of the government of Goa is there to give you the much-needed support to make this a reality. Believe in yourself as we believe that you have the talent and knowledge to create disruptions in the startup space and change paradigms. And to the people outside of Goa, if you want an ecosystem that nurtures innovation and creativity, then incubate your idea in Goa.