TATA ELXSI's Incubator to Incubate 4-5 Startups a Year - With Rajesh Kumar, VP, Strategic Initiatives

27th Nov 2012
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This article is part of the series called Startup Hatch, about incubators and accelerators in the startup ecosystem.

This has been a season of incubators and accelerator for the Indian startup ecosystem. After the recent Khosla Labs, TATA ELXSI's incubator, incub@te is the newest entrant into the incubator space in India. Launched yesterday, the incubator offers plug and play infrastructure, mentor support and assistance

in raising funds.We got in touch with Rajesh Kumar,  VP, Strategic Partnerships and a member of the founding team behind this TATA ELXSI initiative and we were talked through to why this incubator was started, what it aims to provide and its future plans.

[Edited Excerpts] 

YS: What was TATA ELXSI's intention behind starting this incubator? How does this fit into TATA ELXSI's overall strategy?

TE: Tata ELXSI focuses on three verticals, namely broadcast, communication and transportation. We come with a background on embedded systems and parallelly our whole story in the past 20 years has been built on emerging technologies. We have never been into software and other areas and with this incubator, we can get into this space and help entrepreneurs and startups here through our experience in the industry.

We want to increase our service offerings towards products and solutions and we aim to do this through the incubator initiative by being a shareholder in the companies of the incubatees.

YS: What are the services that you are offering as a part of this incubator program?

TE: We are offering infrastructure in one of the prime locations in Bangalore which is ready to be used which people can start off as soon as they come here. We will be providing guidance to the incubatees specific to their issues. They will be interacting with senior management of various companies on how to go about business, which we feel will be of great value to them. We will also be doing key technical consulting through domain experts. These

experts are come from the vast network that we have created over the years through our interactions with emerging markets, and they will give exposure to the incubatees which they wouldn’t have otherwise.Furthermore, TATA is a well-known brand in India and companies incubated by TATA ELXSI will be seen in a different light as compared to others owing to the brand name. We also connect the companies to the right source of funding. We aren’t representing any kind of fund through our incubator and our assistance will be in guiding companies and making them the right kind of connections to the right kind of funds that will suit their companies. We will facilate that, but we ourselves won’t be involved in it. We also believe that the entrepreneur should focus on their core activities and we will take care of their requirements, such as accounting, by connecting the incubatees to the right people who can work within a startup’s budget.

YS: How many companies do you wish to incubate and what will be the duration for each batch?

TE: We are looking to incubate 4 to 5 companies a year with an incubation period of about 18 - 24 months. The number of companies that we do might be a little more in the beginning but 4 to 5 is something that we’d like to settle upon as time goes by. Our incubation periods are relatively longer because we want to make sure that our companies are successful before they leave. We don’t want our companies to have just made a prototype when they leave.

YS: What are some prospective sectors that you will be targeting for the incubator program?

TE: Mostly emerging sectors like mobile, cloud, embedded applications and others whom we feel can benefit from our experience in the emerging markets field.

YS: Who are some of the mentors on board? Will people within the TATA ecosystem also be a part of the mentorship panel? 

TE: We are in the process of forming an expert panel which will consist of both internal and external members. The external panelists will usually be people who have undergone these experiences in the past and will include many serial entrepreneurs and VCs. Internally, we will have people who have been representing and heading various BU’s within the TATA ecosystem to help the incubatees as mentors.

YS: Are there plans of setting the incubator in other cities as well? What according to you is incub@te's key differentiator among the current crop of incubators?

TE: At this moment we have set up our HQ at Bangalore and depending on the response that we get, we will decide upon setting up the incubator in other places as well.

Our biggest differentiating factor is our experience in working with emerging technologies. Furthermore, we are looking to working adjacent technologies and we are not looking to push our product like other incubators or any other motive for that matter. And we also feel that our mentorship team is a strong one and will help many entrepreneurs to scale to the next level.

Click here to register for TATA ELXSI's incubator program.

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