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A group of early stage SaaS (software-as-a-service) startups have come up with a plan to extend a working capital lifeline to those who face imminent closure
A group of early stage SaaS (software-as-a-service) startups have come up with a plan to extend a working capital lifeline to those who face imminent closure

Indian startups band together to stand up to Big Tech

  • In November, the Competition Commission of India had written to startup founders, collating their view on Google abusing its dominant position in the operating system market

BENGALURU: Founders of Indian startups have come together to form an indigenous startup association, Atamnirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF), as a representative body for domestic technology firms to ensure growth and development of the country's digital economy.

The association will put forth the views of these startups and new-age tech firms as it looks to advise the government and sector regulators with legal and policy framework, and design new solutions.

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ADIF, which is expected to create a knowledge hub and a repository of best practices for building digital products and services, will open chapters in 25 cities in the coming months and expand membership in Tier-2 and 3 cities to promote industry-wide participation.

The entity is registered as a non-profit company under Section 8 of Companies Act, 2013.

Members of ADIF include startup founders such as Murugavel Janakiraman (Matrimony.com), Snehil Khanor (TrulyMadly), Dr Ritesh Mallik, (Innov8 Coworking), Sairee Chahal (SHEROES), Amit Sinha (Unnati) and Ajay Data, managing director of Data Group of Industries. Venture capitalists including Anand Lunia of India Quotient, and Shailesh Vikram Singh, managing partner at Massive Fund, are also among ADIF's members.

"Our aim is to represent Indian technology companies to help them in building a sustainable and conducive business environment. We believe it's high time for all Indian technology companies to come together to safeguard the larger interests of the sector and work towards creating a level-playing field," said Data, secretary general, ADIF.

The association comes at a time when Indian startups have been discontent and actively lobbying against Google’s new Play Billing policy, which has made it mandatory for Indian developers using Google Play to pay 30% commission for every in-app purchase. This sparked a debate in India’s technology ecosystem, with several founders accusing Google of abusing its market dominance.

Messaging giant WhatsApp has also been facing the ire of Indian users after its recent update of terms of service, which includes sharing data with parent Facebook. This led to several Indian users boycotting the platform to join instant messaging apps such as Telegram and Signal.

In November, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had written to startup founders, collating their views on Google abusing its dominant position in the operating system (OS) market. This came after close to 15 startup founders held virtual meetings with the CCI.

Mint had earlier reported that more than 120 startups plan to form an indigenous app developers’ association to put forth their views against global technology giants.

“We have formed a democratic organisation which will decide its agenda based on what the members vote for, and will represent any and all issues faced by Indian digital ecosystem comprising developers and users," the founders said in a written response.

Some of the working principles of the non-profit include - playing a pivotal role in designing legal and policy framework, and assisting in the creation of forward-looking regulatory processes for ease of doing business in the country. The association also aims to listen and understand the challenges of the startup ecosystem and bring forth their view points in a democratic manner to policymakers and regulators.

Last September, US-based Epic Games whose app was removed from App Store and Play Store on alleged policy violations, joined forces with Spotify and Match Group’s Tinder along with other US-based prominent tech companies to fight against Apple and Google’s in-app purchase policy through the formation of advocacy,‘Coalition of App Fairness’.

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