Blog Post

Why I’m so bullish on a rapidly-digitizing India

Blog Post

Simha Sadasiva

CEO & Co-Founder
Ushur
in

Travel is a consistent part of any tech CEOs job, and while spending so many days each year on the road can certainly get tiresome, I always find myself energized by my visits to India. Not only is it my home country, and one in which Ushur holds a long-established presence, it is also a place of burgeoning entrepreneurial energy and aspirational progress. 

The India I knew as a child and young man has changed drastically. I grew up in Bangalore, an area that was, at the time, well behind the infrastructural curve of bustling metropolitan cities like Delhi, Bombay and Chennai. Today, once-developing areas like Bangalore have leapfrogged ahead, going from decades behind to leading a nationwide dash into the digital era. A number of key reforms opened the path for this upward trajectory, and chief among them was taking the entire banking industry digital with what is known as a Universal Payment Interface, or UPI. 

Nearly overnight, India transitioned from a heavily cash-based economy to a digital economy, a shift that has inarguably made India a more equitable and profitable place. Now, instead of transacting in cash, everyone has a digital endpoint to make and accept payments. This has lowered the barrier of entry for small business owners, and given ordinary citizens an additional layer of security around their money that protects them from the realities of life in a still developing nation, like theft or corrupt policing. Simultaneously, it has drastically cut down on a significant amount of black market money and tax evasion. This enabled the introduction of a uniform taxation, which has in turn led to vastly improved revenue streams for government agencies and a jump in the standard of living for much of the population. India has become a prime case study for the ways that digital progress can directly influence rapid social change.

...the buzz, the excitement, the inherent knowledge that incredible things are being created...
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These reforms, and others like them, have coincided with a technological revolution that has set India up to be a powerhouse global economy over the next decade. In my home city of Bangalore, where it once took my family five years on a waiting list just to get a landline connected, the startup scene is blossoming. Coffee shops and cafes are full of builders and founders, huddled around laptops or sharing their ideas excitedly over a latte. Seed investors and VCs are seemingly everywhere, eagerly awaiting their next opportunities. It reminds me so much of Silicon Valley in the late 90s and early 2000s — the buzz, the excitement, the inherent knowledge that incredible things are being created right here and now. In many ways, Bangalore embodies the sea change that India is experiencing as a whole. To see the place I grew up evolve so dramatically is a source of tremendous pride and inspiration. 

On this most recent trip, I spent six days spread across three cities. Two of those were spent with our incredible team members in Bangalore. Their youthful vibrancy and incredible intelligence never ceases to astound me. The roles we have in India are highly intellectual and demanding, from R&D and support to critical back office functions like legal. India has become an incredible buying center as well, which has demanded an increased sales presence in-country. We also have major investors in India, who joined our Series B round and doubled down on our Series C. India is not somewhere we simply have a token presence, it is a strategic hub, a core enabler of Ushur’s ability to deliver a differentiated and revolutionary experience for our customers. 

...it is a strategic hub, a core enabler of Ushur’s ability to deliver a differentiated and revolutionary experience for our customers. 
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At a macro level, India’s economic future looks brighter than it ever has before. On a personal level, I found myself refreshed and rejuvenated by the experience when by all logic I should have been shaking off jet lag. I spent some time focused solely on my own wellness and health, taking advantage of the advanced medical technologies available in Chennai. I visited Mumbai for the first time in my life, and experienced the awe-inspiring power of India’s financial capital up close. I even made a point to fly Air India, and was treated to my first ever non-stop flight between SFO and Bangalore. The service was incredible, and knocking out all my travel in a single day instead of a 25-hour, layover-ridden journey was no small pleasure. It was a trip of inspiration, of appreciation and rediscovery. 

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our entire team in India for your time and hospitality. Your hard work, brilliant ideas and welcoming attitudes make each trip a gift, and I await the next one with great anticipation.

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