Amazon Launchpad has collaborated with HAX — the world’s largest hardware accelerator — and crowdfunding community Kickstarter for a competition among Indian startups. The initiative was officially launched today in Bengaluru by Priyank Kharge, Minister for IT, BT, and Tourism, Karnataka.
The winner, to be announced on January 31, 2018, will be supported by all three organisations in its 'concept to customer' journey as well as be provided resources for launch both in India and in Europe/US. They will also receive benefits valued at $500,000.
Applications for the challenge will be accepted until January 15, 2018, from startups that provide software-enabled hardware products and which address the needs of a large customer base.
Amazon Launchpad was launched a year ago and has since received 200 applications per month. The programme has around 250 startups and 17,000 unique products across 30 product categories like electronics, toys, grocery, beauty, wireless, etc.
At the event, the minister said, “The Government of Karnataka is also committed to providing the most favourable environment for investments and acceleration across all verticals to ensure we remain on top in technology and innovation. The Amazon Launchpad programme can really make a difference in facilitating these talented startups to take advantage of the growing digital economy and e-commerce.”
Seed accelerator for hardware HAX will provide the winning startup three months’ workspace in Shenzhen, China, along with mentorship from about 50 international experts. There will also be a six-week go-to-market boot camp in San Francisco and investment support of $375,000.
New York-based Kickstarter — backed by 13.5 million people who have together pledged $3.3 billion — has funded more than 1,31,000 projects globally and will support the winner of the C-Cube challenge in PR and marketing, promotion, etc.
Amazon Launchpad will take charge of helping the winner gain visibility, account management, and launch in India and the US/Europe, all of which will be worth more than $1 million. At present, over 50 local startups are selling in global Amazon Launchpad marketplaces.
Sateesh Kumar Srinivasan, Director and Global Head of Amazon Launchpad, said, “We have witnessed tremendous success with Amazon Launchpad on a global scale and are delighted to see the positive reception in India. This is an opportunity for Indian startups to get access to big consumer markets nationally and internationally. There is a booming entrepreneurial culture in India and through Amazon Launchpad, we hope to augment this in the Indian youth and contribute to the India story.”
Sateesh, who is also the founder of Amazon Launchpad, recollected that in 1996, a startup needed a $10 million investment to make the first sale. In 2016, it takes $1–2 million to generate the first sale. “In 2014, there was more funding for hardware startups from crowdfunding and VCs. But many founders say that creating demand and a market for their product is more difficult than launching it. Amazon Launchpad was set up to help startups launch market, and distributive innovative products to millions of Amazon customers around the world,” he said.
Amazon Launchpad was launched in 2015 in the US, UK, and China. In 2016, it expanded to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Canada. So far, it has launched more than 2,500 startups across 35 categories by cooperating with more than 150 partners including Y-Combinator, Crowdfunder, and Qualcomm Ventures.
The Amazon Launchpad initiative is not very different from Amazon’s famed Global Selling programme through which retailers can sell across the globe. If an Indian entrepreneur wants to sell in the US, there are some essential tasks to be completed: ensure that the product is compliant in the destination country, set up a legal entity, and once that is set up, it is possible to sell with any retailer. Amazon sets up processes to manage the business.
Sateesh added, “But Amazon Launchpad's real value-add is to help these entrepreneurs get access to the global stage. Secondly, once they get to the destination country, we help them make the customers care about these products. For example, if Vahdam Teas in India launches in the US, how do we get the US customers to talk about the organic tea, which is their USP, and how do we market it to the US customers?” In short, Amazon Launchpad’s role is creating consumer interest in these startups' products.