Hyderabad has two landmarks that one simply has to see. One, of course, is the legendary Charminar. The other is the new-age dream startup destination – T-Hub.
Last week, T-Hub completed one year of operation, and the journey so far has been on the ascent. This unique public and private sector partnership between the government of Telengana and three premier academic institutes - IIIT-H, ISB, and Nalsar – has so far proven to be more than just a physical space, having become one of India's fastest-growing startup engines, catalysing innovation, scale, and deal flow.
The recently announced second phase of expansion bears testimony to its success. The facility, which will spread over 350,000 square feet,will receive an investment of Rs 180 crore and is likely to be open to entrepreneurs by mid-2018.
Today,T-hub has India’s largest startup ecosystem under a single roof, with over 70,000 square feet of space. The infrastructure and the design are both futuristic and cutting edge. As you walk into this startup haven, you cannot help but feel the vibrancy and energy that the startups bring in. The startups within T-hub are divided into seven sectors and specialisations – Fintech, Healthcare, Agritech, Smart Cities, Transportation and Logistics, Sustainability and Social Tech capturing Big Data, IOT, Analytics, Sensors, Cloud and Mobility.
We caught up with CEO Jay Krishnan and Founder and COO Srinivas Kollipara to get an insight into their journey so far, and their future plans. Both were gung-ho about making T-hub one of the top ten startup ecosystems in the world by 2020. Srinivas said:
Some of the stuff that we have done here could not have happened in other states because the support this government has given is unbelievable. We are breaking barriers and really pushing innovative ideas, and not just copying the West. India has a set of problem that is unique to it and not faced by the West; those are huge opportunities. We are trying to facilitate the leveraging of these opportunities with the programmes we are running with corporates.
Talking about the journey so far and the support from the government, Jay said, “For year one, we have done a phenomenal job; years two and three are when it is going to get tougher and tougher, and it will boil down to execution, and execution will boil down to people, and people will boil down to hiring. When we started out, our aim was to house 200-300 startups; our ambitions are getting bolder by the day, with us today having well over 300-400 startups in the building alone. He adds:
The government has added value to what we bring to the table, and it is always open to our feedback on policies; they make the necessary changes, if required. They also provide grants to some of the programmes or initiatives that may require funds.
T-hub is also in the process of creating a technology-driven ‘Sandbox’, which is going to be the first-of-its-kind in the country.Startups will get access to supercomputers through this, which are otherwise available only at giant corporates.
Some of the startups housed in T-hub echoed management’ sentiment that T-hub is much more than just a physical space.
Amit Dhodapkar, Co-founder of WizCal talking about his experience about t-hub said:
Over time, a great peer network has been developed here.With any new startup initiative, a first-time entrepreneur typically has no time as he has to learn a lot of things and then build his company; but then, if you find a network of people and a support system where you can quickly tap into other people's knowledge and experience, I think that is the biggest value that a place like this brings.
Jayanth from 4G technologies had similar views to share:
T-hub is a very good space, and the journey has been good. In the beginning, there was a lot of figuring out to be done, but now, the management is very clear on what it wants to do and they are helpful, for instance, in terms of connections and network. In terms of ecosystem, you get to meet smart people, I have been to the second, third and fourth floors, and made some new friends who are in the same boat - it’s good to be a part of something that is growing.
The strategic and corporate partnerships announced include:
- PwC Innovation Hub Partnership
PwC, one of the leading consulting firms in the world, has partnered with T-Hub to create an Innovation Hub within the Catalyst building. This strategic partnership is aligned with PwC's Innovation Programme to support and mentor startups. This innovation hub will give startups access to PwC clients across 157 countries.
- Carnegie’s Policy Hub within T- Hub
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, India, a public policy think-tank, has partnered with T-Hub to create a ‘Policy Incubator’ within Catalyst. The focus of this one-of-a-kind ‘Policy Incubator’ is to guide startups through the regulatory and policy implications of innovation.
- DBS Asia Hub-2 partners with T-Hub to create an ‘Innovation Hub’ for fintech startups
This partnership will leverage a network of Fintech startups to make banking simpler, seamless, and joyful for customers. It will also seek to drive innovation and agility in banking.
The programmes announced include:
- AgriTech Accelerator announcement with ICRISAT, RVP and T-Hub
T-Hub’s AgriTech Accelerator Programme is a startup-focused initiative created in partnership with ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics) and powered by RViP (Riverbridge Ventures Innovation Platform). It is a unique three-month accelerator programme that enables AgriTech startups to move game-changing products to market, and scale their existing businesses, providing market, business scale, global exposure, funding support, expert advice, corporate partnerships, and government connects.
- CL Educate- Innovation Partnership for student innovation
T-Hub and CL Educate entered into an MoU to make innovation accessible to millions of youngsters who are working or studying in schools and colleges. Awareness, research, a technology-platform, a curriculum, access to mentors and funds are some of the benefits that will reach aspiring young entrepreneurship aspirants through this collaborative partnership.
Wainconnect.com, the innovation platform from CL Educate and the T-Hub ‘PlayBook’, will play a crucial role in the implementation of this partnership.