The Startup Centre, a rather novel concept, in the manner that it is imbibed itself - not just as an accelerator, but also as a hub which nurtures early stage talent, entrepreneur and the birth of new ideas, opened its doors this year in May.
Since then the centre has seen two batch of Resident Programmes, a six month hands-on mentorship programme, which enables high calibre teams with amazing ideas to work out of the Centre, receive on-time advice and build out the first versions of their product that will find its way into the market. "Market validation becomes a crucial aspect of building a technology startup", Says Vijay Anand the founder of the Startup Centre, "If you don't find that customer-product fit early on, it becomes a second priority, when that is the crux of understanding what business you are in."
Two of the current residents at the centre are raving about what the centre has done for them. Shrin Shrikrishna of Startup, School of Skills (an IIT-K Graduate), and Shailesh Jain of Startup, Mirraw claim that the programme helped them refine their ideas and extend their network significantly.
The Centre does not take an equity in these companies, but instead charges a nominal fee from the residents to filter the applicants based on seriousness and as a sign of commitment towards making this happen.
"We roughly get around 30-50 applications each batch and we have taken in two for each batch. We want to be selective about the teams, and that curation ensures that the teams have an amazing peer-learning experience during the programme" says Mr. Anand.
The call for applications for the third batch are out. They close by the end of this month and the batch starts on the 10th of December. It looks like there will be around four teams that will be picked for this batch, now that the centre is also moving out of pilot mode and has been able to crystalize its proceses internally.
What happens next? Teams with ideas come in and build the first market validated version of their products and then what? Interestingly the teams have an answer for that. "Thats where the Accelerator comes in. Once the teams have figured where they are heading in terms of business, value proposition and the market (via the resident programme), the mandate absolutely becomes one of acceleration, and thats where capital, the right advisors and such make apt sense" says Anand who is crafting the entire programme together. The Startup Centre aims to invest into each one of these teams in the programme (upto 10L each - Approx 20K USD), with a probation period of two months - especially to get to know the teams directly applying to the accelerator, without going through the resident programme.
"Pivots are a very common word used these days within startup circles, but when the company has been invested into, it is a lot of stress and rollercoaster for all the stakeholders for a company to make that leap,, and the resident programme in a way is to ensure that the teams get the liberty to do that, with ample support from our base of mentors and the support we provide without the tangles." says the team.
And it seems to be working. Vivek Ravishankar, the founder of Interviewstreet, the first startup out of India to get into the acclaimed Y Combinator Programme says: "The First 6 months of a startup is probably the hardest phase and most startups fail because of bad execution and lose morale. What is needed is great advisors (Vijay and his team) to provide focus and a place where the founders can hack together (2x productivity) - both of which TSC provides. TSC concept + Vijay is a godsend�."
There are several teams that have already been through the process, and the founders of the Centre, some of them prominent members of the Startup ecosystem in India - including The Startup Guy - have played this role informally before. Teams that are currently in the Resident Programme like Shrin Shrikrishna, an IIT Kharagpur/Stanford graduate who was part of Dave McClure's famous facebook class and is building a venture to enhance the skillsets of students, Anup Nair and Shailesh Jain of Mirraw who has returned from the US having worked with Microsoft and VMware and building an ecommerce platform, PV Sundarram and his cofounder Ram who are building on a transporation venture, Souvik Roy a rockstar in the Google Summer of Code circuit and star programmer building a Social Search platform, are all the first highlights of the talent and calibre that the centre has been able to attract.
"Obviously with that much talent in a room, you can imagine the conversations that go on, and how quickly the ideas iterate. They find life.", says Vijay Anand, The Startup Guy.
For more information visit http://www.thestartupcentre.com
Accelerator Application: http://www.thestartupcentre.com/accelerator
Resident Application: http://www.thestartupcentre.com/resident
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