My guest today is Vedica Kant. Vedica is a historian of South Asia and the Middle East, and she is the author of India and the First World War. Vedica is also the co-creator of the excellent newsletter Keeping Up With India about the Indian Tech ecosystem. Currently, she is a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.
We start the conversation talking about why Vedica started her newsletter about India, then we talk about the specificities of the Indian tech ecosystem. We cover her series on Reliance and Jio and Vedica explains why Reliance has become so powerful lately. We also discuss what are the most promising sectors right now in India.
My favorite part of the conversation was when Vedica explains why it's so important to read fiction
Please, enjoy my conversation with Vedica Kant!
💬 Topics we discuss
- Why Vedica started the newsletter Keeping Up With India
- Reliance and Jio
- Why business and politics always mix in India
- The 4 Internets
- We are Westerners consistently getting wrong about India
- India — China geopolitics
- Indian immigrants in the US
- Can Neobanks succeed in India?
- Indian Tech Ecosystem: what is Vedica most excited about lately?
- What are underrated sectors of the Indian Tech ecosystem
- What are the main problems preventing India from becoming a developed country right now?
- How to get to know more India, from an outsider's perspective
- How will the current state of India influence the country's future?
- Why Vedica believes reading fiction is essential
- The fiction books Vedica recommends
📚 Books recommended by Vedica
📝 My Favorite Articles From Vedica
How Jio Became the Darling of Silicon Valley
Few international companies have generated the kind of fundraising frenzy that Jio Platforms has over the past few months. The telecom operator, which is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company, launched its services less than four years ago in 2016. It already boasts close to 400 million subscribers.
It has been hard to get away from Reliance for the last few months. To quickly recap the company's wholly owned digital services subsidiary, Jio Platforms, has raised nearly $16B in four months. That's an insane amount of money, especially in the middle of Covid.
From Oil to Jio
My co-conspirator Anmol and I bantered on WhatsApp while we watched the Reliance AGM early in the morning on the 15th: " You know if you read the Jio logo backwards, it reads oil." I made the connection only in half-jest. Mukesh Ambani specifically called out the link when Jio was launched in 2016, "For Reliance...
🏗 Infrastructure APIs in India
As an engineer, companies building Infrastructure APIs are my favorite category of startups. But before I delve into Infrastructure APIs, I will define some terms for those of us who aren't technical: API: An API (Application Programmable Interface) is "bunch of code that takes an input and gives you an output".
WhatsApp x Jio: The Super Platform
Earlier this week, Facebook came out with a huge announcement, that it was investing $5.7 billion into Jio Platforms Limited for a 10% stake in the company. Jio Platforms Limited is the parent company of the popular telecom service in India, Reliance Jio, which has amassed over 380 million users since its launch in September 2016.
India Runs On WhatsApp
America might run on Dunkin, but India runs on WhatsApp. Period. I don't think there has been any other application or platform that has had as large an impact in the Indian Internet Economy as WhatsApp has. And while Jio launching in 2016 provided the catalyst of bringing Indians online, WhatsApp has conquered a majority of that user base.
Can Neobanks Succeed in India?
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic truly hit start-up deal activity, the US banking start-up Chime closed its Series E round of funding. The $700M deal led by DST Global valued the company at a whopping $6B post-money. Chime is one of a handful of American and European neobanks - digital only banks - that is aiming to change the way retail banking happens.
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