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Karnataka becomes first state to fast-track 100 startups with equity and grants  

Vishal Krishna
1st Sep 2017
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Karnataka's government pledges to support more than 20,000 startups in the years to follow

The Karnataka government along with industry leaders such as Gururaj Deshpande, Ravi Gururaj and Ravi Narayan and industry partners such as PWC, Google Amazon Web services, Digital Ocean, Zoho, Axis Bank and Kotak Bank spent a good two months to validate 1,700 startups from across the state and select 100 that can become large businesses in India.

“This is something that is not done by any government in any part of the world. We have reached all corners of Karnataka and the bottom of the pyramid with Elevate,” Priyank Kharge, Karnataka’s IT minister said, adding that 400 startups from the rural regions participated in the competition.

According to him, this is the first time a state government has given Rs 35 crore in funds to startups. These funds will come in the form of grants and equity. Kharge was speaking after the conclusion of the two-day Elevate 100 conference in Bengaluru. No wonder companies like Intel India took active part in the programme and pledged to support startups.

Nivruti Rai at the ELEVATE 100 conference in Bengaluru.

“When we spoke to the minister he wanted the programme to be different from anything that was done. There were three levels of pitching and it was a very rigorous process,” said Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary for Information Technology & Biotechnology.

“It is ideation, innovation and invention that lead to investments. Our IT-BT policy started in 1997 and that is the reason for our success. It takes time to be successful with great policy,” said Kharge.

The 100 selected companies will receive $20,000 of cloud credit from partners like Amazon and also credits from Zoho.

“Karnataka has the third best startup ecosystem in the world because it has invested time in helping entrepreneurs,” Ravi Gururaj, Co-founder of QikPod, said, adding, “Literally everyday, global corporate leaders are coming to Bangalore to discover startups and talent here.”

The state government plans to support 20,000 startups over time including 6,000 product companies.

“Thanks to the initiative of the Karnataka government we finally see an ecosystem where corporates and the government can collaborate,” said Ravi Narayan, Global Director, Microsoft Accelerator. According to him, building a startup ecosystem is not easy, but what was supposed to happen in 2005 has finally happened. “It is finally heart warming to see a platform like this in Karnataka,” he said.

Winners of Elevate 100 will have access to all the programmes of the state as well as a kitty of Rs 400 crore, over a period of time and based on their growth.

A day of gender equality

There are 19 women startups in the top 100. K Ratnaprabha, Additional Secretary, government of Karnataka, set the tone by saying that she came from a educated family that placed equal emphasis on educating men and women. “There are biases but you can stand your own and be proud of what you are,” she said.

Referring to women in technology and how they are building IOT technology, Uma Reddy, MD of Hitech Magnetics, said, “We are still far from IOT in the SME sector, but innovations are happening fast and I see technologies impacting us for efficiency.” She added that women can play a major role in technology if they can make it a career choice.

Shantala Bhat of Gamantics stressed the need for technology to track data on performance of women athletes, as most women athletes tended to quit their sporting careers by the age of 20. “We need to track this and help youth get to an international scale,” she said.

The Elevate programme is a combined initiative of the Startup Cell, Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services (KBITS), Government of Karnataka and attracted 350 women entrepreneurs.

Recalling the grueling contest which saw the best entrepreneurs of the state face off with each other, Kharge said: “The efforts of the Karnataka government doesn't stop at elevating the chosen 100. We see ELEVATE 100 as a continuing process where the best ideas from the state gets the support and guidance it deserves.”

The winning startups came from various sectors including 27 from ESD, 19 from life sciences, 11 from biotech, 11 from agri tech, 4 each from AVGC and Clean Tech, 26 from IT/IAS. Of these 26 startups had women founders and 11 were from the rural regions. During the two-day Elevate 100 conference, the state government signed eight MoUs with companies for providing assistance to the 100 winning startups.

  • Google will provide $3,000 worth of cloud credits for startups registered with the Startup Cell and $20,000 worth of cloud credits startups who are winners of Elevate 100.
  • With PwC will provide mentoring and consulting services for sustainable growth of startups
  • With Yes Bank for banking services, API Integration and customized solutions for these startups.
  • With Kotak Bank for helping set up business and registration processes and assistance in providing accounting, income tax returns, GST returns and tax audits, amongst other support.
  • Amazon Activate will provide $3,000 worth of cloud credits for startups registered with the Startup Cell and $20,000 worth of cloud credits for winners of Elevate 100.
  • Indian Law Practices to provide legal consultancy services for the identified startups.
  • Digital Ocean to provide a $100 one-time credit for all startups registered with the Startup Cell and a $1,000 one-time credit for startups which are being funded under the Karnataka Startup Cell.
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