The Rajasthan government is gearing up for yet another significant milestone in its startup journey with the upcoming launch of the Bhamashah Techno Hub in Jaipur.
The goal of the hub will be to provide a platform to boost startups in Rajasthan, and help them ideate, evolve and grow into successful businesses. The Bhamashah Techno Hub is slated to be the largest and most advanced in the country, and will have world-class technological facilities, co-working spaces, mentorship and advisory support, banking, IPR, funding, technology exposure - all in one place.
In addition to the Bhamashah Techno Hub, the state already has three incubation centres – at Udaipur, Kota and Jaipur. Interestingly, all incubation centres are running at 100 percent capacity.
Commenting on the facility, Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology & Communication, said, “As per the vision of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Rajasthan has moved tremendously in a disruptive fashion for startup promotion. With providing such state-of-the-art facilities, that too free of cost to startups – ensures that the entrepreneurs of Rajasthan have a platform to JumpStart – rather than worrying about logistics.”
The Bhamashah Techno Hub’s Jaipur campus will be spread over 1 lakh sq ft, making it the largest incubator in the country. It has space to accommodate 700 startups – which will be innovative knowledge-based and emerging technology ventures that are looking for mentorship and nurturing. Selection of startups is currently underway and remains sector-agnostic. Basic infrastructure facilities include
In addition to the infrastructure, the Government of Rajasthan will provide one-of-its-kind dedicated mentorship support, wherein mentors will work full-time with startups for their overall growth and promotion. This facility is not available anywhere else in the country.
The hub will also house Tinkering Labs to nurture curiosity, creativity and imagination among emerging entrepreneurs to help them acquire skills like adaptive learning, computational thinking, physical computing, and the likes, through a do-it-yourself approach.
There will also be a state-of-the-art digital museum that will utilise technology to help preserve relics and antiques, as well as historical records and display their digital avatars at the hub.
Most importantly, all of this will be available to startups housed at the hub entirely free of cost – with quality being the only parameter required in a startup.
In fact, the Rajasthan government is the only one to run an incubation programme in the country that offers all services and facilities free of cost. Most other similar incubators either charge a fee or take equity stake in the startups.
Not having to spend on facilities and mentorship will allow these startups to focus on refining their offerings and expanding their business. (Startups that are being incubated as part of iStart are also able to access facilities free of cost. Close to 70 startups are being currently incubated across Jaipur, Udaipur and Kota.)
“Bhamashah Techno Hub is one of the multiple out-of-the-box initiatives of Rajasthan Government to ensure providing world-class facilities and ensuring Rajasthan entrepreneurs prove their mettle to be leaders not just in India, but across the world,” the Secretary added.
Another aspect of the incubation programme is that it provides full-time onsite mentors. Other similar programmes only provide part-time mentors with fixed availability and limited face time.
Mentors are handpicked experts with a background in having set up and run, or worked for startups. Each mentor is selected by a committee which is responsible for the progress, or lack thereof, as the founders themselves. There are currently over 50 mentors under the incubation progamme. Apart from that, there are technical mentors, including a pool of CIOs from the industry, and business mentors that startups can approach.
As part of the Bhamashah Techno Hub, startups can avail of a comprehensive support system for emerging entrepreneurs which will help them pitch their ideas and connect with potential investors.
Participating startups will also get to regularly participate in industry events, set up exhibits, exchange ideas, build relationships with potential partners, customers, investors, and experts. iStart also ties up with various startup, technology, and investment conferences and summits across the country to provide startups the visibility they need to help scale their business.
Rajasthan already has a significant partner connect for startups which includes renowned VCs, angel investors, HNIs, and other financial institutions. Participants also get to be part of the Startup Showcase Yatra that brings them exposure across the country. Startups also get the opportunity to showcase their ideas and ventures at international industry events abroad.
The State Government’s flagship startup programme, iStart, of which the Bhamaashah Techno Hub is a part, employs a three-pronged strategy to help startups gain momentum through:
The programme is sector-agnostic and uses the assess-improve-access model, which means startups first undergo an assessment using a pre-defined scoring mechanism; they then receive mentorship and training to help them evolve and therefore gain access to new markets, investors, customers, etc.
Participating startups will be initially housed at the Bhamashah Techno Hub for a period of four months, which can be extended after an evaluation process. Every startup is assessed using the Qrate assessment framework, by which they are assessed every four months based on a predetermined plan of action they are meant to follow, and the amount of progress they make. The focus is on idea-stage and early-stage startups, or those with a minimum viable product (MVP).
So far, more than 750 startups have signed up for iStart - a single platform for startups, investors, incubators and accelerators and mentors in the state.
Rajasthan has embarked on an ambitious journey to become the world’s best startup ecosystem, and to this end, has already started rolling out a slew of programmes in a short period of time.
For instance, the Rs 500-crore Bhamashah Techno Fund is the largest of its kind in the country and focuses on boosting early-stage startups. Of this, Rs 100 crore has been set aside for women-led startups, which makes it a unique offering among government programmes across India. In another unique feature, the fund has set aside Rs 50 crore for green startups, which will be payable through the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board.
Commenting on Rajasthan’s progress as a startup ecosystem with 750 registered startups, Chairman of Aarin Capital, Mohandas Pai, said, “This is thanks to the startup policy that is friendly and is modelled around encouraging people to go after technology and scaling up. Not many know this, but Rajasthan is a digital state. Everyone thinks that this would be true for the southern states, but Rajasthan has led e-governance initiatives.”