Even a few years back, founding a startup in India used to be a lonely battle between the founders and the harsh world outside.
Unlike Silicon Valley, there was no definitive ecosystem in place. Isolated, founders often struggled to find the right guidance and network for success.
However, things have dramatically changed for the better. Government initiatives like Startup India programme, the proliferation of co-working spaces, city-wise regular startup meetups, startup-focused initiatives by NASSCOM, new-age startup accelerators and incubators- all these have aligned to create a vibrant ecosystem.
As a first-time founder and woman entrepreneur, I have immensely benefited from our association with T-Hub. Here are my top takeaways on what you can expect from today’s startup ecosystem in India.
Getting the right mentorship
As a startup founder, you have so many questions. How to find the product-market fit? How to scale up? What about funding? Getting help and insights from seasoned mentors can significantly increase your chances of success by avoiding rookie mistakes.
Successful startup founders, experienced corporate business leaders, domain experts – the list of potential mentors is vast. Startup hubs help to bring a wide gamut of mentors under one roof. Depending on your type of business, maturity, and life-cycle, you can be paired with the right mentors. On more than one occasion, right advice from mentors have saved the day for me.
Idea validation and access to potential customers
Startup accelerators and industry body like NASSCOM runs multiple corporate connect programs. Sometimes it is in conjunction with corporate innovation teams, sometimes it is a day-long startup pitch event. The formats vary. At SmartWinnr, we have been fortunate to present our sales enablement platform to CXOs of Fortune 500 companies through our connection with T-Hub, leading to business opportunities which simply wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
For corporates, engaging with startup accelerators significantly reduces their search cost. They can tap into a wealth of upcoming startups with disruptive solutions that can be a game changer.
The network of service providers
A successful startup outsources activities which are not part of its core competency. Recruitment, accounting, payroll and legal matters can often bog down your business. However, today we have a lot of service providers who specifically focus on early-stage startups and cater to their needs.
On the technology front, companies like AWS, Google, Microsoft can give significant free credits to get things off the ground, provided you are part of an accredited startup network. We benefited immensely from free credits which helped us to experiment with our technical stack before finding the right balance.
Help with Fundraising
Fundraising is tough, especially for first-time founders. Presenting your business idea in a pitch that appeals to investors takes practice. Startup accelerators provide a lot of help in preparing you with the fundraising process – by validating your idea, preparing you for pitches and making those all-important introductions.
Connecting with fellow entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship has ecstatic highs, but there are also depressive lows. There are often challenges which you can’t discuss with anyone else in your team. But fear not, today’s startup ecosystem enables entrepreneurs to reach out to other fellow founders.
Today, we have multiple forums like Facebook groups, city-specific networks and global networks like TiE. From sharing lessons, offering help, looking for rockstar co-founders, these entrepreneur’s networks can help in all.The startup journey is tough. But today in India, it’s not a lonely one.
There is a vibrant ecosystem which has come together to help the startup community. In that respect, it is probably one of the best time to be a startup founder in India today.