T-Hub, located in the IIIT-Hyderabad campus, is India's largest incubator for startups. T-Hub is a unique partnership between the Telangana government, three academic institutes (IIIT-H, ISB & NALSAR) and other key stakeholders in the startup ecosystem. With startups, accelerators, investors, and workspaces all in one place, T-Hub plans to create a tight, vibrant, and successful community of entrepreneurs in the city.
As the COO and one of the founders of T-Hub, Srinivas Kollipara is a crusader with the cause of improving the startup ecosystem in the city. Having closely worked with startups his entire life, Srinivas is leading his troop of entrepreneurs, which now swarms the city of Nawabs.
T-Hub was started last November, as a miracle of collective and individual collaboration. Built on an area of 70,000 square feet, T-Hub has world class facilities for entrepreneurs to thrive. It also provides separate space for incubators and accelerators, and has special arrangements for entrepreneur-investor meetups. T-Hub provides a platform for entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and academia to interact and collaborate.
Srinivas believes that T-Hub will help write the history of Indian entrepreneurship in the years to come. After 20 years of management experience, working with international teams and projects, Srinivas believes that the formation of T-Hub is his greatest success story. He says, "I dream of T-Hub becoming a global phenomenon, when some of the most successful startups will be incubated by us. And the day is not very far if you trust my instincts."
Srinivas has lived in different countries, and believes that the startup culture of Silicon Valley has been appropriated by cities all over the world, without much heed to the local details. This is also the reason no country has been able to replicate the Silicon Valley. "Ignoring local dynamics and issues will never allow us to realise our true potential," Srinivas says.
Srinivas and the city of Hyderabad go a long way. The city is a conglomeration of talented workforce and world-class research in potential medicine, biotech, and agriculture. Hyderabad has grown significantly as an IT hub in the past decade. Srinivas hopes that T-Hub will give these sectors the space for collaboration and innovation the city dearly deserves.
Despite the advantages the city offers, Hyderabad was a tough nut to crack. Srinivas recalls how there was a time when entrepreneurship was not the buzzword in India and the only city where people wanted to start up was Bengaluru. He wanted to bring Hyderabad to focus too, and started convincing people to start up in the city. Even back then, IIIT-H played a major role in ensuring that his ideas reached the younger crowd.
Things changed in 2014 for good. Telangana was formed, and the new IT minister, K. T. Rama Rao, challenged his own limits to build Hyderabad as a startup hub. He and his team soon came up with a new IT policy that eventually led to the formation of T-Hub. The government has also been actively supporting institutions in its attempt to make Hyderabad a city that helps not just the IT sector, but startups and entrepreneurs as well.
On a lighter note, we ask Srinivas about the rivalry between Bengaluru and Hyderabad that exists among the young startup community. Srinivas laughs at the idea of two cities competing for the spot of number one startup hub in India. "T-Hub was never intended to flare the debate. We believe in collaboration. A health competition is good, but the larger goal is to build many such centres across the country," says Srinivas.
Life and motivation
Srinivas spent his childhood in UK. His father was a famous doctor, who later started his own business. Srinivas was sent to Vijayawada for his college education. Vijayawada came as a shock to Srinivas. It took him a considerable amount of time to adjust to the chaos and fun that India offered. Once accustomed to the organised chaos of India, Srinivas' journey has been filled with joy and learning.
During his college days, Srinivas stayed with his grandfather and uncle, and was strongly exposed to the social reality, traditions, and culture of India. His grandfather was a populist Left leader, who had worked for the development of Vijayawada and the nearby area of Gannavaram. Srinivas says, "I too wanted to do good work and give back to the society."
After finishing college, Srinivas started his own company called Omega Immunotech Pvt Ltd, that imported diagnostic enzymes from UK. A few years later, his company was acquired by a large pharma company. After working in different companies for the next few years, in 2007, Srinivas finally left his corporate career to set sail in the startup waters. Soon, he became a popular startup mentor, acclaimed not just in India, but internationally.
Srinivas believes the scope for entrepreneurship in India is huge and the country has the potential to cause great impact to the world at large. He is hopeful of Hyderabad's potential and the unique way academia, government, entrepreneurs, and investors have partnered to make to make T-Hub possible.