Whether you accept it or not, Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th President of the US. And there is no escape route now. If his pre-polls rhetoric is any indication, the world has to be prepared for the worst for the next four (or eight?) years.
While the world is weighing the potential repercussions of a Trump presidency, Indian startups operating in the US have mixed feelings. But experts say they need not worry much. India’s leading VCs and entrepreneurs believe that the startup industry is actually going to gain from a Trump presidency, albeit with some minor hiccups.
“My understanding of the US is that it’s such an open and forward-looking country on these (startup) matters, that one individual, however powerful, can’t turn the clock back,” said Samir Kumar, Managing Director at Inventus Capital Partners.
Asif Ali, Associate Vice President at Snapdeal, who has lived in the US in the past, also feels the same. “Republicans tend to be pro-business and in fact, they will probably bring initiatives that help startups. But there might be visa issues for bringing immigrants for jobs from offshore offices. I expect easier entry for entrepreneurs, but issues in bringing in team members from offshore offices or hiring impact due to curbs on H1B visas.”
“But I definitely think we are headed for a bit more closed economy and that might reduce opportunities,” he added quickly.
Nitin Sharma, Principal at Lightbox Ventures, sees great opportunities for some industries in the Trump era. But it is too early to predict the consequences.
“Most people in the US and Indian ecosystems are still processing this, partly because of a lack of clarity and predictability with regards to what exactly the new economic agenda and trade policies will be,” he said.
“From a tech industry perspective, companies catering to defense contracts, cybersecurity, etc., should benefit, and the protectionist rhetoric suggests that these gains might only go to US-based companies. There could also be some negative effect on large companies and startups in IT services and the BPO/KPO space. But, it’s still early to draw firm conclusions.
“As far as as Indian SaaS product companies catering to the US enterprise and SMB markets, I believe that this segment has matured with the likes of great companies like Freshdesk, Zoho, FusionCharts, etc. and it should be business as usual. They have scaled the ability to grow via product-led marketing and take on incumbents like Salesforce without the need to build expensive field operations in the US,” Sharma added.
“Trump is anti-immigration. So H-1B visas might get scarce,” according to Jayadevan PK, Co-founder and Managing Editor of Factor Daily. “That might have an impact on Indian companies sending workers abroad. That’s much more of a concern for large services companies than startups.”
Trump has, however, plans to lower corporate tax. That might make it more attractive for Indian founders to set up in the US, Jayadevan added.
That said, Trump wants to keep students of Indian origin who graduate from US universities in the US longer. That means we might miss out on some of the brightest minds, Jayadevan feels.
“While there is a lot of concern about the victory of Trump and potential policies he would introduce, I feel he is a pragmatic business leader with America’s interest as priority. In fact, the current stock market in the US reflects the same view,” said Ravi Trivedi and Founder & CEO of PushEngage, and Founder of early-satge fund Srijan Capital.
“Hence, I believe Trump win will have negligible impact on Indian startups with branch office or headquarters in the US. Most of these are product companies, which help in creating jobs in America, and are beneficial for local community. Even if there is tightening of some of the immigration laws around H-1B, I don’t believe such businesses would get impacted in a big way,” he added.
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