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BW Businessworld

Finding Ways To Encourage Entrepreneurs

Shabir Momin, managing director and chief technology officer of Zenga Group, explains why crowd-funding is the next big thing in the startup ecosystem as well as how his creation Desired Wings

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Shabir Momin, managing director and chief technology officer of Zenga Group, explains to BW Businessworld’s Abhinav Mohapatra why crowd-funding is the next big thing in the startup ecosystem as well as how his creation Desired Wings, which is helping entrepreneurs reach out to the masses, is trying to fill a huge demand and supply gap in the startup industry today.

Excerpts:

What is the new investment trend in the startup ecosystem and how do you fit into the picture?
India today is one of the leading startup growth story; an astounding 72 per cent of startup founders in India are under the age of 35. India, in fact, ranks third on the global list of top five startup communities. Consumer services, e-commerce and aggregators account for more than half of India’s startups, and this showcases a major push toward technology to increase revenue through online sales and customer retention.

But this growth story needs a strong ecosystem of high net-worth individuals and seed investors, who can help startups during their early stages. There is a huge demand and supply gap here. Desired Wings was created to fill this gap. Startups can showcase their product or the concept, and if their target audience finds value in their offering, they can fund / back them.

What led you to develop your model of crowd-funding in India?
While many crowd-funding platforms are available to consumers in India, we wanted to create a platform with three objectives. We wanted to democratise the concept and allow everyone to create crowd-funding campaigns for the world, showcase credible projects, and allow large organisations to engage and support. We also came up with zones which allow willing organisations to crowd-fund campaigns either through media engagement/pre-committed funding amount/ or just nominate/support projects through their CSR.

Can business corporations too adopt crowd-funding? How does it work for them as a business-generating model?
We believe crowd-funding can help large organisations with market validation and demand forecasting. Organisations can also use it to encourage innovation within the firm. For example, groups of employees within large corporates can actually raise money and use it for research or to develop something that could be beneficiary for the company and society.

Which startups have taken to crowd-funding under your banner?

We launched our platform with YouWeCan, a cancer foundation by Yuvraj Singh, crowd-funding for education of 100 young cancer survivors. We have Jagwinder Singh, a para-cyclist aspirant, who wants to bring glory by winning international tournaments for India; iOTA, where three students of SRCC are trying to empower disabled artists.

In the next few years, what would crowd-funding mean to entrepreneurs in the country?
It will encourage entrepreneurs from humble backgrounds to dream big. People will start thinking crowd-funding right at the inception stage to know the product market fit. We also hope that it will help startups fund large gestation periods.


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