A start-up’s view of the WEF
By Shayak Mazumder, CEO Eunimart
By Shayak Mazumder
Agility Ventures is an investor, board member and advisor for Eunimart, an India-based e-commerce startup. Eunimart CEO Shayak Mazumder attended a World Economic Forum event at the invitation of Agility Ventures.
I recently attended a World Economic Forum (WEF) event in Tianjin, China, as part of the Agility delegation. To say that it was a great opportunity for a fledgling startup like Eunimart would be an understatement. This is exactly the kind of opportunity that can help catapult a startup from a second-tier city like Hyderabad in India to a world stage, helping us get access to global investors and bigger business partners, and overall acting as a catalyst for rapid growth.
I have been a part of several startup ecosystems. What new technology companies typically need is to get a co-founder/idea to mentorship, investment and validation. Remember, traditional businesses operate with existing business models and bring forth incremental change, but startups bring about a paradigm change in the way we operate. That’s why investing in startups is a practical way to stay ahead of the curve and is beneficial for all members in the ecosystem. The WEF event brought together the people and elements needed for companies like ours to accelerate formation of their ecosystems.
International collaboration for greater synergy
It was during my MBA at INSEAD that I first truly understood the value of collaboration and bringing globally diversified thought processes to bear on problems that have a global scale. This not only creates unique solutions and more sustainable results, but, most importantly, provides a global market to validate ideas. At the WEF, the first startup I met was from Namibia and the second from Argentina. I ended the event with partnership plans in several countries.
Mentorship from industry experts and thought leaders
I have never met so many thought leaders in one space. While I work to help SMEs sell their products globally in a scalable manner through our platform, the sheer variety of topics, technologies and expertise at the WEF is unprecedented. I reveled in this unique opportunity to open my mind to new ideas and technologies and in the three-day period grew more in my understanding of tech than I had in the last one year.
Policymakers and technologies need to collaborate
There is nothing more important than policymakers and governments remaining abreast of what changes technology can bring. While early stage startups seldom look to collaborate with policymakers, simply due to the small scale of their operations, they fail to grasp the massive impact that policy and regulation have on their business models. Policymakers, on the other hand, tend to automatically connect new tech with existing business models rather than imagining new business models enabled by innovation. WEF provided us with an opportunity to hobnob with various government agencies. We were able to educate them about how existing problems could be solved through new technologies.
Bringing the various ecosystems together
More than anything else, WEF brings several ecosystems together. There are governments, corporations and other institutions, all trying to promote startups and doing great work. So you see Startup India, for example, promoting 30K startups in India! At WEF, what’s impressive is the sheer volume of opportunity — where Startup India looks to collaborate with Startup Bahrain and incubators in Pakistan end up joining hands with Malaysian ecosystem enablers.
The awe that I felt a first was mixed with a sudden dose of reality. It was like someone doused me in cold water and left me exposed and shivering. The volume of people and ideas was humbling. Once I got used to the enormity of the event, I was overwhelmed by the number of amazing people I met – and the sense that I should be trying to meet more. How in a setting like that can you figure out who is most important to you and would create that extra value for you? The only strategy is to be open and to start conversations with as many people as you can, explore their ideas and discuss your ideas with them. I met several potential business partners and investors. What impressed me was how open and like-minded everyone was. In what can be a gloomy world, the event left me with optimism. It was a breath of fresh air.
Our host nation, China did not disappoint, whether it was police officers who dropped their duties to give me a lift or hotel receptions where only payment options were through QR codes. China’s aspirations to be a global leader came through clearly. It all added up to a WEF with a potent mix of amazing talent and opportunities to use new connections and ideas to our benefit. I’m a believer. I would love to go back as often as I get the opportunity. My thanks to Agility.
Eunimart is India’s leading cross-border, e-commerce company, using AI technology to enable small merchants sell globally. Eunimart provides end-to-end cross border solutions for e-commerce, connecting SMEs to multiple international market places, including Amazon Global, eBay global, Lazada, Linio, Bonanza, Souq, Wadi, and Wish. Agility Ventures works with Eunimart to help facilitate entry into new markets, and offers Eunimart access to the Agility logistics/customer networks for use of their services. Agility Ventures, which has a seat on the Eunimart board, advises the company on performance and on securing additional investment.