North East India’s startup hub, Manipur is rising and shining after a dark past

Startup written on a whiteboard

India is a vast country laying from the high and mighty Himalayas to the serene Indian Ocean and from the majestic Thar desert to the hills and jungles of the North East. The region of the North East comprises of 7 states that is often referred to as the ‘Seven Sisters’ and Manipur is one of them. The region is known for its lush green cover of nature everywhere from its mountains to its rivers. The place seems to be somewhat left untouched by the modern day developments and life is much laid-back there without the rush that most of the other places in India are constantly engaged in.

Yourstory, a popular online media platform has published an article about the startup ecosystem in Manipur. They interviewed various entrepreneurs from the regions who have started out recently. The article reflects upon the technology side of one of the most beautiful and scenic places of India.

The people are hard working in the North East but in a way that is different from the rest of the country. Instead of the 10-hour/day work shifts, people lead a healthy lifestyle working in the hills and fields or government offices. The majority of the population cares less for the technological developments happening across the globe and instead is in search of a government job that will support them and their families for life. This allows them to lead a healthy as well as laid-back life.

Over the past few decades, people from the North East have turned towards the mainland for education and more recently for jobs as well. This has raised their desires and the will to bring digital transformation to the region. Considering the pace at which Indian is growing, the rate of growth in the North East is a bit slow. The major reasons for the slow growth are:

  • Lack of connectivity with mainland India (Only one entry point through the Siliguri corridor also known as the chicken neck corridor – 3 mile stretch in North Bengal)
  • Violent and unstable past due to several insurgencies happening in the region

Currently, the conditions are more stable compared to the last decade. The insurgencies have declined over the years. It is almost wiped out but traces can be found sometimes. Amidst the vicissitudes, the region is rising up from the unknown to reach new heights.

In recent years, techies from the region who were studying or working in the metro cities or different parts of the world have been coming back to the region to contribute to the growth. Out of the seven states, Manipur is one of the fastest growing ones after Assam. Since Assam is nearer to the mainland and Guwahati is a major city, the investments come easier than Imphal, the capital of Manipur.

Most of the popular platforms that are used by the Indian population have not yet started operations in the North East and that is why local services have started. Instead of Swiggy/Zomato, they have ‘Hummingbird‘ in the food tech industry. The major investors from India and abroad have not set foot in the region. Hence, a group of & people working outside mostly in the major tech companies of the world returned to Manipur to start their very own investment platform called the ‘Imphal Angels’. They are an early stage angel investor firm with an aim to start supporting the new players in the region, which will showcase their abilities as a budding contender in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Similarly, there are numerous startups based on technology coming up each day in the region. It is becoming a region worth following as it offers vast opportunities. The market is fresh and lack of major players that gives the local players to breathe and grow limitlessly. This article is a shoutout to the local as well as global investors. A fresh market is emerging from the scenic expanse of the Indian North East. It is high time that people look at the region from a business perspective as well apart from tourism. More such articles will be posted in future covering the further developments in the region.

-Soumya De

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