AI and SaaS to define the growth path for startup ecosystem: Microsoft India


India’s startup ecosystem has the potential to innovate, excel and grow at a global scale by adopting technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Software as a Service (SaaS) models in their operations. At the recently concluded India Internet Day, Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India spoke about the Indian startup ecosystem – opportunities, challenges and the road ahead; in a fireside chat with Rajan Anandan, President, TiE which revolved around how emerging technologies such as SaaS and AI are the necessary enablers for the ecosystem.

Highlighting the role of emerging technologies in the growth of startup ecosystem, Maheshwari stated that to further scale up, companies must constantly work towards bringing together people, data and processes to gain competitive advantage. Listing out opportunities that Indian market presents, the dialogue exchanged views on the importance of having a trusted partner who can match the tech intensity of a startup and give them freedom to innovate with confidence.

Underlying opportunities:

  • Diversity in workforce and increasing digital presence to benefit the ecosystem
  • Besides funding, young startups can benefit from the experience and knowledge of Angel Investors
  • India’s true value is in the bottom of the pyramid of small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
  • AI’s role in driving growth: AI is real now – In the past 2-3 years, AI has become a big thing where ABC – Analytics, Big Data and Cloud have come together. The first wave is already happening in healthcare and fintech domains.


  • Taxes and biases impacting the ecosystem
  • Lack of a conducive policy environment

Road Ahead:

  • Corporates are significantly investing in SMBs due to their potential
  • Growth of startups is not in the consumer models but is in the SaaS models
  • US, China and India are the 3 countries that have advance talent for the startup ecosystem

With SaaS holding the largest segment of the cloud market and its revenue expected to hit $85.1 billion worldwide in 2019, growing at 17.8 per cent compared to 2019 according to Gartner, Indian SaaS landscape is expected to evolve much faster. Therefore, enterprises today must look at creating a robust product at an affordable price-point and must continuously take customer feedback to make it better.

Tech partners on the other hand must handhold the startups and help them – Prepare – as per market conditions to align with customer needs, Market – driving awareness for your solutions to Sell – last phase, selling to end-user in association with the team, their solutions.

Indian market offers immense opportunities as sectors including healthcare, fintech, e-commerce, logistics can benefit immensely if AI is used in a right manner. With the entire country moving towards a becoming a digital economy, the e-governance and citizen services are also implementing emerging technologies to help benefit the society.

Microsoft has been working with various state and central governments as well as companies across sectors to help leverage new technologies for the benefit of all. We are enabling startups to evolve through initiatives such as ScaleUp and M12. Several startups are already reaping benefits in the country, as the initiative helps provide cutting edge technology to startups and GTM strategies within Microsoft channels and outside.


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