'Angels' of Amaravati: How TiE is building an ecosystem in Andhra, one startup at a time


Anudeep Chappa, Associate Director, TiE Amaravati, talks to YourStory about the startup trends in Andhra Pradesh and what the state has in store for its entrepreneurs. 

It was 1992 in Silicon Valley; a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives and senior professionals got together to start TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), a non-profit global community welcoming entrepreneurs from all over the world. 

Currently, over 13,000 members from across the world make up TiE. The focus is on mentoring, networking, education, incubating, and funding. One of the newest chapters of the initiative - TiE Amaravati is all set to build a strong startup ecosystem out of Andhra Pradesh, following the state’s bifurcation in 2014

The chapter’s prime focus is on fostering entrepreneurship in the state through the network, and TiE Amaravati Angels, which is a group of angel investors who share a passion for nurturing early-stage businesses that have the potential to scale and create value.

In a conversation with YourStory, Anudeep Chappa, Associate Director, TiE Amaravati, explains how the chapter aspires to be the largest player in this ecosystem. It aims to be the preferred choice and first port of call for any serious entrepreneur with an innovative idea, IP, business plan, a startup venture, or in need of the first round of institutional investment.

Soft launch of TiE AP chapter, in January this year.

Anudeep has earlier worked with a leading political party in Andhra Pradesh to help them get their election strategy off the ground for the 2014 general elections. He is currently working with Talent Vouch and Himentor, both in the recruitment space. 

YourStory: After the bifurcation, Andhra Pradesh had a lot of work cut out for it. With Amaravati the new capital, what are the key shifts you see and how would you describe the startup ecosystem that exists here?

Anudeep Chappa: After bifurcation, Andhra Pradesh chose Amaravati to be the new capital. The state has to develop everything from scratch and itself is in startup mode. Developing everything from scratch would help build things in a planned way, learn from experiences of counterparts from around the globe, and implement the same. As Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu puts it, this is a crisis turned into a rare opportunity. 

A greenfield capital can be a world-class city and compete with the likes of Singapore. This planning shall ensure decentralisation of development and give importance to various sectors relevant to the state. The AP Economic Development Board has identified various clusters across the state based on the availability of resources in those areas. This is an opportunity to attract strategic partners from outside the state as well as for the local enterprises to grow. This has also enabled the state to offer market access support, which is a key factor for startups to grow.

YS: How many startups are there in Amaravati and which sector is the city leaning towards?

AC: There are close to 500 startups, in various stages, across the state. The state has developed four incubation centres, and appointed AP Innovation Society as the nodal agency for startup support. Xlr8AP Andhra Pradesh, the state-sponsored accelerator, has graduated about 132 startups till date and there are other ecosystem enablers like Nasscom 10k startups working with incubation centres to support startups. 

Having a tech-savvy chief minister has helped foster a culture of technology in most startups, but they aren’t confined to the IT/ITES sector. We have observed that more startups around Visakhapatnam are in the areas of IT, fintech, healthcare and edutech, while startups around Vijayawada lean towards agri and food processing. 

With the investments coming up in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh’s industrial enclave, and the setting up of the Korean automaker Kia Motors’ plant in the state, more manufacturing enterprises and their ancillary services are coming up in the Rayalaseema region. We have seen startups working on electric bikes and developing services and solutions using drones.

YS: What kind of help do startups need in the region and how is TiE helping them?

AC: The state currently has only Tier-II and III cities, which need to develop a startup culture. The startups in the state primarily need mentoring support and exposure. TiE Amaravati’s initial focus would be on working closely with policymakers, education institutions, and other ecosystem enablers

We are working with policymakers to create a conducive environment for startups at the policy level. We have also recently organised the TiE Impact Conference in Visakhapatnam with the objective to enable universities to introduce entrepreneurship in the curriculum, creating an entrepreneurial culture on campus, and assessing different approaches by universities and businesses to provide accelerator or incubator-style support. 

TiE Amaravati has already organised a couple of workshops by inviting facilitators from VC funds and angel networks to guide entrepreneurs in fine-tuning their business model. Startups can reach out to us for help to connect with the right mentor and advisor.

The first-ever Investor Connect event scheduled this month shows that we would be helping the startups in the funding aspect. We are planning to make this a quarterly event. TiE would help in every aspect of the startup journey, with our activities that can be classified into Education, Mentoring, Networking, Incubating, and Funding.

YS: What are the kind of startups you are looking at? What are the key selection parameters?

AC: TiE is sector-agnostic and would be open to working with startups from all sectors. Considering the initial set of charter members and angels of TiE Amaravati and the availability of resources in the state, we would be focusing more on the sectors of IT/ITES, food and agri processing, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and fintech.

For the Investor Connect event of TiE Amaravati Angels, the key criteria of shortlisting startups would be their presence in Andhra Pradesh or their plan to set up base in the state. The startups should have a PoC or a working prototype.

YS: What would you be looking for in these startups?

AC: The investors would look for a good team trying to solve a problem with good market potential. The startups should be able to convey clear scalability plans for growth.

YS: What are the judging criteria?

AC: There wouldn’t be any jury. All the members present at the pitch would invest in individual capacity. The angels would look for the value that can be created by joining hands with the startups. They would bring on board their experience and network along with funding.

YS: What are the key future objectives of the TiE Amaravati chapter? 

AC: The goals/KPIs on which we rate ourselves are the number of startups that are incubated and funded through TiE and the number of successful entrepreneurship cells and incubation centres established in colleges and universities in the state. We work with a mission to promote the growth of the startup ecosystem in the state. We will play a crucial role in focusing on creating and nurturing our next-generation entrepreneurs

We would be organising a number of impactful events that would encourage and guide more entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have to deal with a lot of uncertainty and chaos and TiE Amaravati will provide support and hand-holding. TiE Amaravati will also work closely with educational institutions to introduce entrepreneurship-based courses in their curriculum to inculcate entrepreneurial aspirations in young minds.