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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Startup Saturday: Secret to incubating unicorns out in open

Pune is a great city for entrepreneurs - well equipped in several ways to help the setup of a startup, with access to talent, several IT Parks and manufacturing companies

pune Updated: Nov 09, 2019 15:39 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Villgro, one of the startup incubators, runs an annual event, called “Unconvention”, one of the largest gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, CSR heads and other ecosystem players. This is a snapshot of the 2018 Unconvention.
Villgro, one of the startup incubators, runs an annual event, called “Unconvention”, one of the largest gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, CSR heads and other ecosystem players. This is a snapshot of the 2018 Unconvention. (HT PHOTO)
         

In this concluding section of looking at Pune’s startup support structure, the big boys, and girl, allow Namita Shibad access to ecosystems generating some serious cash flows, driving local entrepreneurs towards that magical valuation formula of $1 billion. In true Punekar style, for the mentors, it’s not just all about profit at the end of the day.

TiE, Pune; Kiran Deshpande, president

TiE, Pune; Kiran Deshpande, president
TiE, Pune; Kiran Deshpande, president ( HT PHOTO )

TiE Pune Nurture is an advanced pro-bono accelerator, not only in Pune, but at the national level. Nurture is in eighth edition now with over 50 startups part of this nine-month programme. TiE has its offices at the MCCI, ICC Trade Tower A, SB road, Pune. However, work is virtual as startups operate from respective premises. Startups from Hubli, Nagpur and Surat have signed on for this year’s Nurture programme.

Nurture is an accelerator - like a post graduation. Startups who have successfully completed the current Nurture programme can come back to continue their “Master’s programme”.

By the numbers

100 startups have graduated from Nurture

5 to 1, rate of admissions, post interviews

Where’s your money at

TiE Pune sustains its operations via annual fees charged to charter members (70 currently, who are well established entrepreneurs and “give” to the organisation), as well as fees from associate members. In addition to TiE also receives sponsorship.

Ecosystem includes

We help entrepreneurs in all aspects of business, right from validating the idea, going to market, scaling up, funding, building teams, hiring a CEO, filing patents, and more. Each startup is assigned two mentors. We have the largest collection of mentors helping startups at any given time.

USP

We have two aspects that differentiate us from the others. One is - all help from TiE is pro-bono and voluntary. We do not charge any fees or claim equity. The other is, we offer the collective expertise of nearly 75 successful charter members who have founded, built and sold businesses of diverse natures. We take an industry neutral approach in our programme. Domain expertise as needed is also available within TiE ecosystem.

From left field

We do not mind helping an entrepreneur decide to close business. This is as important as growing a business. If something is not working, it’s better to shut it down and move on.

Impact

Anirudh Singla, founder, Pepper, content provider

Anirudh Singla, founder, Pepper, content provider
Anirudh Singla, founder, Pepper, content provider ( HT PHOTO )

“I think the best thing about Nurture is that an entrepreneur can get to learn from people who have been there, done that. They have rich experience of running their own businesses successfully and the insights such people can provide is priceless. As a newbie I did not understand the implications of having a legal support system. It was Kiran Deshpande who explained the importance of legal aspects of a business. The mentors we had access to helped me strategise and some of them have now become our customers.”

Villgro, Binu Mathews

Binu Mathews, Villgro
Binu Mathews, Villgro ( HT PHOTO )

Villgro was founded in 2001 by Paul Basil, and is India’s oldest and largest social enterprise incubator. Villgro supports early stage, for-profit, tech-driven, social enterprises in the sectors of education, employability, healthcare, agribusiness, and renewable energy. Villgro has been championing social innovations for the past 20 years, having supported 300 entrepreneurs, who have impacted 20 million lives. Apart from India, Villgro also has overseas branches in Kenya, the Philippines, Vietnam and the US.

Where’s your money at?

Villgro is funded by family foundations, CSR, and several quasi federal and other government programmes.

By the numbers

We provide seed funding up to Rs 1 crore to selected social enterprises working in sectors that we work in.

This year we have partnered with other players in the ecosystem to raise Rs 8 crore.

Supported 300+ enterprises

Have raised Rs 1,270 million in investments

Created 3,500 jobs

Ecosystem includes

We also have an incubation model that goes beyond funding. This includes mentoring, technical assistance, business planning support, go-to-market strategy and follow-on fundraising assistance.

We run an annual deal discovery platform called iPitch, from where we source early stage social businesses from all over the country. Our annual event, called Unconvention, is one of the largest gatherings of social entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, CSR Heads and other ecosystem players.

USP

Social entrepremeurship. Way back in 2001, we set up Villgro when even the term social entrepremeurship was unheard of. Today, we have developed deep sectoral expertise in our areas of operation. We incubate startups in these sectors only.

From left field

We have developed a one-of-its-kind platform through our investment partner Menterra, where Villgro incubates, and Menterra invests. Both these distinguishers enable Villgro to realise impactful, innovative and successful enterprises.

Impact

BookMyBai, founder, Anupam Sinhal

BookMyBai, founder, Anupam Sinhal
BookMyBai, founder, Anupam Sinhal ( HT PHOTO )

The best thing about Villgro is that they don’t give you ‘dumb’ money - a hand out. Here they hand hold you till you are sailing smoothly. Apart from the mentorship, they also helped me expand my network and connect me to people who helped my business. I got connected to several NGOs that work with women looking for livelihood and this helped my business a great deal. Today, we have 15,000 ladies on our platform and we have provided 14,000 of them jobs so far.

MCCIA Pune, Prashant Girbane, director general

Hindustantimes

The Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (MCCIA) is a behemoth established 85 years ago. They presently have 3,500 members, of which many are MSMEs. “While we are happy that there are several organisations helping startups, we see ourselves as an umbrella that brings together all the startups, the activities, advocacy everything.

Where’s your money at

Membership fees

Government grants

Programmes conducted on industry, commerce and agriculture, mostly for members, but also attended by non- members paying varying degrees of admission fees

By the numbers

A considerable portion of our 3500 members are MSMEs

IT and ITes sector alone then I think they alone account for about 250-300

Auto cluster in PCMC set up 10 years ago by MCCIA, along with PCMC and government of India. This today has a capital of Rs 70 crore.

We are building an electronic cluster now, along the same lines - a facility to test, validate and certify electronic products

Ecosystem includes

Every quarter (this is the second one), we take a sector and invite the startups in that sector to participate. We choose four to five of them and their work/product is showcased for the next three months. What this does is, it allows their work to reach out to all the visitors, and thousands of our members who visit MCCIA daily and who may be interested in what is being showcased.

USP

Since our focus is on the bigger picture, we can see that by 2025 Pune which is outpacing many other startup hubs in the country, will and we hope, become home to many more unicorns than the three that we have now. Of the 12 unicorns in the country Pune houses three. With the government getting gung-ho about becoming a $5 trillion economy it is possible that we may house perhaps 10 to 12 of them. And we believe that we should be there and do more for the startup ecosystem now and when it grows.

From left field

A year ago, we set up an MCCIA Startup Hub. We have designated a room that is available to any investor (serious one) who wishes to meet up with a startup founder. This is all free of cost.

Impact

Swasti Agro, Abhay Shendye

Swasti Agro, Abhay Shendye
Swasti Agro, Abhay Shendye ( HT PHOTO )

“I have developed a product that helps convert slurry from biogas plants that farmers use to beneficial microbial cultures, that helps fight disease and provide micro-nutrition to plants. It has to be validated by numbers, it needs peole who will try it out. As long as I do not have the data to back my technology, my product may not go far. To that end there was a programme at MCCIA where they showcased my technology and I got calls from TiE Pune members who will be very useful to my business. Sometimes all it takes is getting connected to the right people, which MCCIA did for me.”