From helping Indian NGOs scale up to setting up India’s largest skills development centre in Hubbali, Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is a prominent name in the Indian, as well as the global entrepreneurial ecosystem.
An enthusiastic champion of Indian tech innovation and the country’s startup ecosystem, Gururaj is perhaps best known for founding the Deshpande Foundation, Sycamore Networks, and the Sparta Group. He was also former President Barack Obama’s main man at the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the US.
Through his multi-generational investment company Sparta, Gururaj is perpetually on the hunt for the next generation of entrepreneurs that solve today’s problems, creatively — the biggest of which is undoubtedly COVID-19 in recent times.
When the pandemic struck India, it caused massive business disruptions, and crippled the country’s “backbone” — the SMEs and MSMEs.
But it also afforded India the opportunity to look in its own backyard to find homegrown innovations that could help solve some of the most pressing problems caused by not just the pandemic, but also business disruptions and changing consumption habits — that’s the stuff Gururaj’s investment dreams are made of.
The pandemic has proved to be an important event in India’s startup journey because it revealed that, beyond Tier-I cities and metros, India contains in its lower-tier cities an overflowing well of dynamic entrepreneurs, commanding creative problem-solving skills and independent thinking to run businesses, especially in an emerging technology market.
These so-far hidden centres of innovation are only now joining the mainstream startup ecosystem, and their potential for India is endless.
At TechSparks 2020, hear directly from the Indian-American venture capitalist on how India can build an ecosystem that fosters innovation in tech-led industries — especially in sectors such as telecom, agriculture, education, and healthcare; what the country needs to do in order to become a world leader in fields such as artificial intelligence and automation; and how upcoming entrepreneurs should tap the latest developments in tech to create products that solve specific, local problems.
Gururaj’s virtual session at India’s flagship startup event TechSparks 2020 celebrates the best homegrown innovators and disruptors — and this session, featuring India’s most astute techie, is one you don’t want to miss.
Catch Gururaj Deshpande’s conversation with YourStory’s Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma only at TechSparks 2020, India’s largest startup-tech conference, coming to your homes in an all-virtual experience on 26-30 Oct 2020.
Edited by Aparajita Saxena and Saheli Sen Gupta
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