How these women entrepreneurs are helping early-stage startups reach their true potential
Born in a family of entrepreneurs, Tanvi Singla and Disha Singla, co-founders of Supreme Incubator, realised the power of entrepreneurship early on. The sisters say they witnessed the result of business firsthand – jobs created, problems solved, and passions leading to a better future for everyone.
Tanvi and Disha Singla - Founders of Supreme Incubator
After graduating from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi, Tanvi joined her family business to lead the digitisation of financial services.
Entrepreneurship in the genes
Disha is a Chartered Accountant and initiated new projects and product launches in the domain of financial services as part of the family business. Further, Her fintech startup was selected as a part of University Incubator and she experienced the centre of innovation firsthand being a part of the startup ecosystem in the US, connecting with Silicon Valley startups and mentors. Currently, Disha is also working on her own healthtech venture.
“Both of us always knew we wanted to lead our own ventures. When Disha’s venture got incubated at Gator Hatchery, and during her time spent with startup founders in the Silicon Valley, she experienced firsthand the tremendous value added by experienced mentors in the journey of helping entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls and build stronger products,” Tanvi says.
“Entering the startup ecosystem can be daunting for anyone, particularly for first generation entrepreneurs and founders from Tier II, III, and IV cities where the network might not be as easily accessible,” she says.
The sisters decided to start Supreme Incubator to build an entrepreneurial hub in New Delhi, offering mentorship support, infrastructure, and hands-on coaching under one roof to early-stage entrepreneurs from around the country.
Gradually and with the advent of virtual working, they have expanded the scope of the programme to startups and mentors from across the world, seamlessly connecting and participating in our cohort-based programme virtually.
Getting startups their due
In the beginning, they spoke with several early-stage founders and curated the top value additions they seek in any entrepreneurial support programme. Infrastructure, mentorship, peer networking, and investment opportunities were the most common answers - and so they used this as a foundation. Starting in October 2019, they held a pilot programme for the first cohort of Supreme Incubator, inducting a total of eight startups shortlisted from over 102 applicants across the country.
So far, eight startups have graduated from their pilot cohort in Winter 2019, and 14 startups (30 founders) are enrolled in the current Summer 2020 cohort.
Additionally, 98 startup founders participated in a Startup Bootcamp series organised early during the lockdown, in collaboration with LaxmiRamaVarma Capital, and 30 founders participated in its mentor-matchmaking programme - designed to enable founders to fill a form and get matched with a mentor fit for their startup goals. Around 102 students participated in their virtual entrepreneurship fest: a series of events including a startup ideation contest and a pitching demo.
Diversity of applicants
“We’ve seen a greater diversity of applicants, with startups from different niche industries applying to get incubation support. One of the most inspiring changes has been the spread of applicants geographically. For the current cohort, we received applications from all parts of the country (Dehradun, Hyderabad, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Lucknow, and more) and some even from countries like the United States, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Kenya, Mauritius, and Bangladesh,” says Tanvi.
The biggest surprise was seeing the sheer value in bringing two founders building different startups together to share raw feedback and honest experiences with each other. Building an enterprise can get lonely, and as an incubator, we can never focus enough on building a strong thriving community.
“We’ve had many learnings along the way - to rest majority of our focus on the team and less on the idea during startup evaluations, the importance of engaging external communities outside of our incubatees and figuring out the structure and business model of a complicated ecosystem like an incubator,” she adds.
With the onset of COVID-19, most of the peer learning and programme structures that relied on face-to-face interaction among the founders and mentors has moved online - immediately shifted transitioning to virtual meetings, mentor matches and sessions.
She also believes building a startup can be an intimidating journey where one minute you’re ideating and the next you’re wearing 10 hats for speaking to customers, hiring a team, planning your marketing campaigns and developing the product. It’s very important to build resilience early on.
Tanvi has some pertinent words of advice to entrepreneurs.
“Leverage every possible tool to build a strong network from Day 1, reach out to as many people and make sure you have a takeaway from every meeting, and that you keep every person you’ve ever met involved in your journey of building the product. One never knows how connections with people can materialise in the future. Also, don’t forget to end your workdays at a reasonable time, and tune out to take care of yourself.”