A new startup incubator called Indiarath was launched on Thursday, with an aim to bridge the gap between Indian entrepreneurs, global experts and impact-driven coaching. The initiative hopes to enable startup founders to create, sustain, and scale their ventures in a “new age of entrepreneurship”.
The incubator claims to already have mentors from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Silicon Valley Bank, Morgan Stanley, Crisil, Cisco, Paytm, OYO, JOYY Inc, Akatsuki Inc, Blume Ventures, and Global Entrepreneurship Network, among others.
The programme also promises to bring experts from startup ecosystems across the world, including India, the US, Japan, Hong Kong, the UK, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
“The Indian startup ecosystem has been going through a paradigm shift over the past few months. While we saw valuations peaking for some large Indian unicorns, somewhere the ongoing crises have also put a question on sustainability and long term impact. We felt the biggest need of the hour for Indian entrepreneurs is support, mentorship to build the right business models, products, and access to real customers,” Indiarath Founder Yatin Thakur told YourStory.
Yatin is also the Chair of Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Asia and the Founder of the co-working chain, Coworkin.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Indian startup ecosystem hard, with several players having to resort to layoffs and salary cuts to stay afloat. Unicorns like Ola, OYO, Swiggy, and Zomato, have also had to downsize their staff as well as business.
A Nasscom survey, conducted last month to study the impact of COVID-19 on Indian startups, found that 70 percent startups have less than three months of cash runway and around 40 percent have either temporarily shut down, or are on the verge of closing.
However, Infosys Co-founder and former CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan, earlier this month, said, he believed that despite the coronavirus crisis and its adverse impact on life and business, India would have a “large number” of unicorns (startups with $1 billion valuations), and would see “significant” investment.
Indiarath Co-founder Arjita Sethi said, “We realised that while we were going through an extremely challenging time, this was also an opportunity to rewrite the rules and help the next generation of entrepreneurs. With the advent of technology and adoption of remote work, we realised that it was possible to bring founders with experts from across the globe seamlessly. We wanted to create a platform that was sector-agnostic, geography-agnostic, and with no barriers of access between talented founders and experts.”
Arjita is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Media Studies at the Hult International Business School and also teaches Social Entrepreneurship at the San Francisco State University. She is the Founder of Equally, a Silicon Valley-based venture-backed startup that works on augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). Arjita is also on the advisory board of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center.
Indiarath is a 24-week incubation programme for startups, which will broadly focus on three things-
1) Upskilling entrepreneurs to handle real challenges through fundamentals, business remodelling, product designing, branding strategy etc., via masterclasses by industry experts.
“Masterclasses will be conducted by some leading professionals, entrepreneurs, and CXOs, who have worked on multibillion-dollar companies,” Arjita said.
2) One-on-one mentorship by industry veterans to help entrepreneurs achieve tangible goals over the course of six months.
“Mentors will be assigned based on the goals set by each founder. Each mentor would give a fixed number of hours over the course of six months,” Yatin said.
3) Global connects to build stronger market reach and create products and services, keeping in mind global markets and economies.
The incubator will also have in-house core teams from India and the US that will work on the day-to-day engagement and learning of the cohort.
Interested founders will have to apply through an online application form available on the Indiarath website.
The screening team would shortlist the top teams and conduct video interviews with the founders, after which selected startups would get an intimation to enrol on the online platform.
“The most important parameters of selection include the scope of their product/service and the impact,” said Indiarath Co-founder Upasna Dash.
Upasna is the Founder and CEO of Jajabor Brand Consultancy, a public relations and brand strategy startup based in Delhi with partners across India, the US, Japan, and Singapore.
The incubator aims to start the batches by July end. It plans to get 200 startups on a rollover basis in its Summer 2020 cohort.
“There would be vertical, stage and gender-specific tracks/sub cohorts within the S2020 batch,” Yatin said. Commenting on funding opportunities for the entrepreneurs, he said “While Indiarath does not offer any investments, it has already brought some of the most legendary investors as mentors or coaches, giving entrepreneurs a chance to raise money, if required.”
While there is no fee to apply for the programme, selected founders will have to pay a one-time fee.
Indiarath is still in the process of finalising the fee, but it is “expected to roughly translate to $60 (around Rs 4,500) per week to cover basic operations and logistics”.
This means for the 24-week programme, founders will have to be prepared to shell out around $1,440, which is a little over one lakh Indian rupees. However, there will be scholarships too.
“Scholarships will be given to startups, depending on the scale of impact of their ideas. Any startup with an active minimal viable product is eligible to apply,” Yatin said.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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