Surat Emerges as a Thriving Hub for SaaS Startups in India
Surat, known as India’s diamond city, is now making its mark in the world of Software as a Service (SaaS) startups, following in the footsteps of Chennai. With over 2,530 startups, Surat houses 164 SaaS-based companies, offering a range of services such as financial management, export-import management, and cloud-based solutions. These startups have collectively secured an impressive $224 million in funding to date.
Surat’s SaaS Startup Landscape:
- Surat boasts over 2,530 startups, with 164 of them being SaaS-based companies.
- SaaS startups in Surat cater not only to global enterprises but also to local traditional industries.
- Prominent SaaS startups in Surat include Dhiwise, Trezix, Ezee, VideoSDK, and Wishbook, serving markets from Gujarat and Chennai to the UK and the US.
- Many of these startups employ 150-200 people, with a significant number of graduates from the local National Institute of Technology contributing to the talent pool.
Inspired by Chennai:
- The success of SaaS giants Zoho and Freshworks in Chennai encouraged entrepreneurs to start their own ventures.
- Chennai, with more than 1,132 SaaS startups, earned the title of “SaaS capital of India.”
- Surat-based entrepreneurs, inspired by the Chennai ecosystem, began attending SaaS community events and sharing their experiences with others.
- Surat’s SaaSBOOMi chapter, led by Vishal Virani of Dhiwise, has gained momentum with increasing participation.
The Gujarati Advantage:
- Surat’s SaaS startups exhibit a unique business mindset, focusing on profitability and cost efficiency.
- The availability of local talent and the relatively low cost of living and operations contribute to the success of startups in Surat.
- The affordability of skilled software programmers in Surat, compared to cities like Bengaluru, makes it an attractive destination for businesses.
- Industry associations, such as TiE, have played a vital role in promoting and supporting startups in Surat.
Tapping into Local Industries:
- Unlike their Chennai counterparts, SaaS startups in Surat serve traditional local industries, such as textiles and diamonds.
- Surat-based SaaS products address the digitalization and modernization needs of these industries.
- Startups like VideoSDK, TreZix, and Ezee offer specialized solutions for the textile and diamond sectors, further propelling Surat’s growth as a SaaS hub.
A Strong Talent Pool:
- Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (SVNIT) in Surat has played a crucial role in nurturing local talent for the city’s startups.
- Surat’s engineering colleges, along with the return of skilled professionals from cities like Mumbai and Pune, contribute to the availability of competent software engineers.
Challenges and Future Prospects:
- Surat’s SaaS startups face visibility challenges and struggle to secure funding, despite the growing interest in SaaS ventures.
- However, investors like Accel, India Quotient, Together Fund, and Upekkha are recognizing the potential of startups from smaller cities.
- Lack of awareness about government initiatives and programs remains a hurdle for startups in Surat.
- While engineering talent is abundant, the availability of management-level talent poses a challenge.
- Surat has made significant progress, but it still has a journey ahead to match the established SaaS ecosystem in Chennai.