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TechSparks: GenNext Hub’s Amey Mashelkar talks co-innovation, customer acquisition, and the importance of millennial entrepreneurs

Team YS
28th Sep 2017
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“At GenNext Hub, we are catalysing a unique startup ecosystem, which rests on the tripod of Talent, Technology, and Trust. We spot and encourage ‘talent’, help them harness their ‘technology’, and back them up by putting total ‘trust’ in them.”

Speaking on Day 2 of TechSparks 2017, Amey Mashelkar, Head, Reliance GenNext Hub, elaborated how the three Ts mentioned in this quote by renowned scientist and GenNext Hub chairman, Dr R A Mashelkar, are integral to the three-year-old programme that has been actively helping startups build a strong foundation to scale up.

Referring to a survey on social media that he had conducted on the role of corporate accelerators, Amey said that more than investment, 80 percent of the respondents said they wanted corporate accelerators to help them scale up through proof of concepts and help them grow customer leads.

Amey then explained why they referred to GenNext Hub as a Scalerator and not an accelerator. He cited the example of these Reliance offerings -- Jio, which had over 125+ million 4G users and the company’s retail wing with 4,000 Reliance Retail stores. This, according to him, was indicative of the kind of scale and impact that they wanted the participants to achieve. “The idea is how we can take your product or concept and help you scale up,” he said.

“Participating in GenNext Hub has helped companies such as Dattus, Coitor, Enguru, Headspin, Widely, and RecipeBook progress in their journey with funding and customer acquisition,” he added.

Amey Mashelkar, Head, Reliance GenNext Hub

Explaining the criteria for applying to GenNext Hub, Amey said that typically, startups needed to have a product in place, and, in some cases, even have a proper product market fit. Further, he gave an insight into what they looked for in founders, and mentioned these four key attributes:

  • Pace to follow up and follow through, consistently and quickly
  • Perception about what they were trying to achieve through GenNext, which is to co-innovate. “We are looking for partners, not vendors,” said Amey.
  • Perseverance, which is extremely important, as it takes time to build momentum. Amey added that there are no quick wins, and everyone has to sweat it out before reaching a certain level of success.
  • Pragmatism to choose what is best for you as a business, and not get caught up in too much idealism. Amey advised founders to be open, flexible, and work in a partner mode.

Sharing the roadmap for the programme with the audience, Amey said they were looking at getting 12 business units from Reliance to partner with startups for co-innovation each year.

“We are building a community. It’s not just about Reliance doing its stuff; it is about creating an ecosystem,” he said. This GenNext community consists of seasoned mentors, expert jury, dedicated team, partners, and GenNext alumni. “All this is built on mutual trust, which is the most important thing for us,” he added.

Amey told the audience about a soon-to-be-launched Jio Phone developer programme for early-stage startups, or ones that have apps on the Play Store.

“It is extremely important that young people are part of a mobile app startup, to understand and empathise with the user in order to build products that are more appealing at the user base,” he said Amey.

Interestingly, the respondents on his survey echoed this sentiment, with over 71 percent responding that a millennial would be a co-founder in a mobile app startup.

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