StartupGoa.org | A story about Goa's community platform for startups
Goa is better known for its relaxed life, but you'd be surprised to learn that it is fast emerging as a hotspot for tech & product startups and the little community driven platform, StartupGoa.org has witnessed its growth from the early days.
Meet StartupGoa.org, a grassroots initiative to sprout tech companies from Goan soil that connects founders, tech talent and investors in Goa through a free job board, a newsletter with 17,000+ readers, tech meetups & plain old beer.
The vision for Startup Goa was clear: to build bridges between those that want to build, and those that can help them do so, in Goa. Back in the early days of tech in Goa, meetups were not much of a thing and tech was limited to offshoring companies and a few web design agencies.
With its immense potential and a very high quality of living, Goa boasted everything a place would need to become a hub for startup activity for inspired entrepreneurs. However, with an IT policy that never really, um, started up, our local entrepreneurs found mentorship, talent for hire and funding to be lacking. (Goa now does has an IT policy thanks to the dynamism of Ameya Abhyankar!).
“The seed of the idea for Startup Goa came through a conversation with my high-school classmate, Caslino Pereira", says Luke Sequeira.
"It was very difficult to find mentorship, to find frameworks or to find anything for that matter. We were reading about all these incredible things happening in the metros and in silicon valley, but we didn't really know where to start. There was nothing really out there to build a company, so you were doing it all by yourself, figuring it out. And for a bunch of curious twenty-year olds, it was an exciting time. The problem was, we didn't know the rest of the bunch..”
Startup Goa formed (or better, emerged out of the nothingness) in late 2011, as a simple blog. Since there was no platform where the startup community could connect at that time, the idea was to create a free platform that would allow founders to list themselves and find each other in Goa. The founding team began by reaching out to companies, finding individuals who were making developments in the tech world and slowly mapped out a network that was buzzing with creativity. Thanks to the crafty hands of Aprup Shet, the team also stumbled upon a data base of nearly 60 companies that were classified as IT companies and were able to find a few fellow players in the tech world.
"We often joked that Goa is the best 'coworking space' in India. Low cost of operating, low cognitive load and low barriers to connecting to the local community."
Going from community blog to meetup hosts was a transitional time for StartupGoa and in some ways, for the community of expats (they weren't called digital nomads back then) and a few local entrepreneurs, some of whom had returned from tours of duty in the metros or overseas. The first meetup was organised at a little restaurant run by Ralph Gouveia in Porvorim. The founders say they expected about 5 people to show up, and were pleasantly surprised to see nearly 20 eager nerds.
Growing from the initial blog and meetup host, StartupGoa soon emerged as a full-fledged platform for the tech and design communities in Goa. The addition of the job board only aided that growth, starting with roughly 60-70 companies which has expanded to the over 450 companies it currently hosts today. The success of the job board made it clear that all over Goa, companies were looking for creative, dedicated individuals and the job board also acted as a meter for the emerging companies across Goa.
As for the future, Startup Goa's plans moving forward remain rooted in its original objectives:
1. Growing the community: As more people move to Goa and move back to Goa, our focus is on getting them connected so that we help them increase their odds of success in Goa's startup world.
2. Growing people within the community: As the base of seasoned operators and executives from India and abroad that call Goa home expand, we have the makings of a truly capable tech community. Our goal is to help them find the resources and catalysts that they need to startup in Goa.
3. Building something physical: We've got these beautiful beaches. We need a few more years for this one, but with the right bunch backing us up, we have something interesting on the horizon.
It takes a village to raise a community, so we asked Luke who we have to thank for helping get StartupGoa.org to where it is today. Here's what he had to say:
Frederick Noronha - for introducing us to computers, and to free, libre and open source software. The ideas from FOSS and the communities around that deeply shaped my mind to build things for communities.
Caslino Pereira & Aprup Shet - for working the graveyard shift to help build out the early versions of our maps and companies databases and the community itself
Silverio Souza - for being the first intern supporting SG, writing blog posts, and generally being a crash test dummy for the wacky ideas we had
Hannah Bain and the crew at DCCPER - including Monasha Shirgaocar, Joystan Fernandes, Lillian Vaz, Joshua Silveira
My siblings Ruth & David Sequeira - for supporting us financially and keeping the lights on for the job board that now serves thousands of Goans and people living in Goa.
Fabian Mossberg - for co-starting the first meetups with us via Goa Web Folks and for the crash course he provided on the startup scene in Sweden and how we could build one out over here.
Hampus Olsson & Siddharth Ashok - for designing the StartupGoa logo, supporting us through multiple meetups and hackathons
Jervis Pereira - for being the ear to the ground and the eye in the sky at the same time, helping sharpen the mission of StartupGoa, strengthening our support from the local community and in many ways giving us credibility to go beyond the grass roots level.
"So many many many more, that I cannot possibly list!"
A grassroots initiative to foster entrepreneurship in Goa, connecting technology startups with talent, mentors and investors. We connect the emerging Goan tech community through our meetups, workshops, blog, job board and amazing super-powers.