UK royal Prince Andrew, the Duke of York has an eye on Bangalore startups


In Bangalore, the term 'startup royalty' conjures images of co-founders from the likes of FlipKart or Redbus.

However, yesterday in Koramangala it meant something rather different, as the UK royal Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, spent an hour touring startups at TechHub. The Prince, Queen Elizabeth II's second son, quizzed a panel of entrepreneurs on their products, funding and strategy as part of his visit to India to promote trade with the UK.

Ankit, the Co-founder of fashion social network Wooplr, said the visit of a high profile foreigner "tells us that there are a lot of possibilities across geographies if someone like him from the UK is coming and checking out startups."

Wooplr has 60,000 users, who upload photos of purchases made at local shops.

The Duke, known as 'Air Miles Andy' in the British press for his role as special representative for the UK trade and industry, asked a panel of startups: "If I had unlimited money, time and expertise, what would you ask me for?"

Praveen Singh, Founder of 99tests, told the Duke he was looking for 1 lakh dollars to expand his crowdsourced software testing network. The four-year-old company now has 10,000 registered bug hunters globally, who have helped discover over 62,000 code errors.

The incubator, headquartered at the Google campus in London, opened shop in Bangalore in July 2014. It now houses 30 startups and has 100 members.

"We are actually full," said Ayesha Kazi, the Bangalore TechHub community manager, "people are coming in for the network we offer."

Ayesha explains that TechHub does not take equity investments in the business it hosts.

“There is a lot of cross-pollination happening,” she said, citing links between TechHub members and investors in the UK, Australia and Switzerland as part of the added value of TechHub to its members.

As a startup brand, TechHub has a presence in six countries from Riga in Latvia to Boston in USA where a new incubator is being launched.

The Duke isn’t the first high profile visitor to pop in to the Koramangala incubator. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the CEO of Biocon, came in August and Mohandas Pai, Infosys former CFO and educationalist was the first registered TechHub member.

The UK is the third largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to India with a combined total of US $20bn invested in Indian companies. Tax havens Mauritius and Singapore hold the number one and two slots on the FDI rankings. India was the fifth largest investor in the UK in 2013, according to figures from the Indian Foreign Service.

About the author:

Bernard Goyder is Emerging Markets Correspondent at Acquisitions Daily. Born in Oxford, he studied at SOAS, University of London, and worked in sales and digital marketing, before training to be a journalist at City University, London. He speaks rudimentary Arabic and plays the violin and guitar.


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