Arthayan & MeitY Startup Hub’s Bharat CSR Summit opens avenues for incubators to raise funds
The Bharat CSR Summit brought together incubators and Corporates to explore synergies to leverage CSR funding, as well as ways in which corporates can go beyond investments to truly enable the startup ecosystem.
CSR executives, incubators, entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate heads got together at the Bharat CSR Summit held in Mumbai to explore the intersection of entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility to create a radiant and cohesive startup ecosystem. Curated by in collaboration with the MeitY Startup Hub of the Government of India, the Summit sparked important conversations focused around fostering entrepreneurship and innovation.
Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Minister of Tourism, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, and Women & Child Development, Govt of Maharashtra, inaugurated the Summit. Noting the importance of innovation and skills development, he said, “On behalf of the Maharashtra Government, I want to congratulate Arthayan and I request you all to support this young entrepreneur in this immense endeavour. Thank you for coming here to participate. [...] I sincerely appreciate Arthayan’s efforts.”
The Bharat CSR Summit opened with a keynote address by Arthayan co-founder Malhar Potnis. Malhar spoke about Arthayan’s mission to democratise the funding landscape in India, by facilitating easy access to global investors' funds for innovative and hardworking founders. The company’s tech-enabled platform ‘Funding Quest’ connects startups with institutional investors based on their investment thesis and has managed to partner with a community of 130+ investors, 80+ partner incubators, and 60+ corporates to support 2,000+ startups. Working on a 0 percent success fee model, Arthayan has initiated more than 1,000 conversations between investors and startups till date. The organisation has also worked with 15+ incubators for acceleration programs and capacity-building initiatives.
The keynote address was followed by the plenary session by Jitendra Vijayvargiya, CEO, MeitY Startup Hub — a national platform focused on promoting technology innovation, startups, and the creation of intellectual properties. Jitendra noted the government's facilitatory role in supporting the growth of startups in India by collaborating with large corporations such as Meta, Jio, and Google. During his address, Jitendra pointed out the integral role corporates can play in all this, allocating their CSR funds more effectively and efficiently to create impact.
“Corporates are needed because they have the global supply chain, they have the expertise, and they have the strategic mindset of where the future is going. For startups ... let’s focus on building scalable solutions. [...] Every Ministry is working with one single vision of our Hon'ble PM, that we have to build something big, inclusive, sustainable, and impactful,” he said.
The next session on ‘Innovation in Incubation’ saw Nitin S Komawar, CEO and Co-founder of Grok Learning, in discussion with Malhar Potnis. Nitin touched upon the key differences in USA and India in matters of innovation; the startup ecosystem in India and the scope of improvement, such as R&D; the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to innovation; the role of academia in entrepreneurship; the talent and skill gap issue and the way forward to addressing this challenge in India and enabling the youth to “solve real world problems”.
Insightful panel discussions
The first panel discussion, ‘Co-investing Strategies for Incubator’, focused on co-investment as a strategy for risk reduction and portfolio diversification, with panellists talking about deal structuring, the qualifications that put startups at an advantage for receiving funds, and so on. The panel featured a diverse group of experts, including Aman Bhaiya, AVP & Program Head, SBI Foundation; Sushanto Mitra, Founder and CEO, Lead Angels; Anthony Anish, Chief Delivery Officer, T-HUB, Kargil Veteran, retd Wing Commander, IAF; and Sajid Sundrani, Head of Investments, GetVantage. Sushanto touched upon the need for incubators and angel investors/networks to work together and the ways to achieve this. Aman spoke about SBI Foundation’s work with incubators, its revolving fund model, how startups can leverage their offerings, and more. From the incubator side, Anthony spoke about his experience as CDO of the largest incubator of the country, and how incubators can become self-sustaining. On investments, Sajid talked about GetVantage’s journey of financing startups and the different funding models they offer. He shared insights into how incubation centres support and validate startups, how and when startups should approach for funding, and how incubators can benefit from revenue-based financing.
The second panel, ‘Corporate Supporting Startups’, focused on how corporates are currently working with innovative and agile startups and what more can be done in this space. The panellists included Kuppulakshmi Krishnamoorthy, Global Head, Zoho for Startups; Neel Bhatia, Senior Director & Head Startup Ecosystem and Strategic Industry Collaborations, Intel India; Prakash Jaiswal MD, India Head, Business Banking, HSBC; Abhishek Pandey, Head of VC & Startups, Google; and Jitendra Vijayvargiya, CEO, MeitY Startup Hub.
Kuppulakshmi spoke about Zoho for Startups and the Zoho One offering. She highlighted the ways in which Zoho is bridging the gap between businesses and technology, serving startups “impartially” and with minimal conditions. With a vision of “serving the underserved”, the company recently made USD 1 billion in revenue without IPO or external funding. Neel spoke about Intel India’s flagship Startup Program for nurturing SMEs and startups working on innovations that are disruptive, scalable, and solve real-world problems. He highlighted the importance of collaborating with other core service providers to support startups with their requirements. He mentioned Intel's early collaboration like the Plugin Alliance, a first-of-its-kind Industry Technology Alliance in India with focus on increasing awareness, collaborating to innovate, accelerating startups, adopting solutions & scaling the solutions in the industry. Abhishek talked in-depth about Google’s initiatives in the startup ecosystem, including “Google for Startups” accelerator, the growth and development program “Appscale Academy” in collaboration with MeitY Startup Hub, and the Google Startup School that has reached 10,000 entrepreneurs across India. He noted how Google engages with digital leaders both as customers and partners – focusing on three broad areas of paying it forward, business partnership, and investments. Finally, Prakash talked about HSBC’s new Beyond Banking initiative, and their vision to help entrepreneurs scale with convenience. He noted the importance of digital startups, highlighting how 89 percent of HSBC’s trade finance is digital. He spoke about how HSBC has a $250 million fund earmarked for startup financing of which $220 million is already underwritten.
After these sessions, Amit Kothawade representing Maharashtra State Innovation Society (MSInS), delivered a short address highlighting the ongoing work in the area of startup enablement, including some of their prominent flagship programmes such as the Maharashtra Startup Week, wherein top 24 winners receive work orders up to Rs 15 lakh.
Post this, for the larger part of the audience, the event was thrown open for a networking session, where attendees had the opportunity to connect with industry leaders and peers and explore mutually beneficial opportunities. For incubator heads, a special closed-room Fireside Chat session was conducted with MeitY Startup Hub and CSR Heads, focused on funding and investments.
The success of the Bharat CSR Summit by Arthayan and MeitY Startup Hub is testimony to the growing need of the multi-pronged approach for collaborations needed in the startup landscape, and the role that corporates can play in driving the growth of socially impactful startups.