It’s a global fact that the startup world is tough! Sustaining and sailing through all odds and seeing the light for a startup is one big challenge. Startups launch themselves with a lot of aspirations but en-route its journey, something can go terribly wrong and displace it completely off its course. Promising to hold a startup’s back strong is India Accelerator —one that helps startups develop, sustain, take wings and soar high in success.
With a strong penchant to prevent startups from seeing their end, entrepreneurs Mona Singh and Ashish Bhatia embarked on a founding journey to build the India Accelerator. Built with a supreme intention, the duo set up India Accelerator to provide budding entrepreneurs with the right set of opportunities and the necessary guidance to ensure they emerge as achievers in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
In a nutshell, India Accelerator (IA) is a seed-stage accelerator program that helps startups grow. It’s a structured 3-part program that brings the building blocks for a startup under one roof — the much-needed mentorship, network, technology, and peripheral services (like legal, financial etc.). The Accelerator also helps startups raise capital through a well-connected network of High-Net-Worth individuals and angel investors. It is claimed to be the only Global Accelerator network (GAN) partnered mentorship-driven program in India.
Essentially, IA provides mentorship-driven incubation and acceleration program to startups mainly in the areas of AI/Chat Bots, Blockchain, Health Tech, Financial Services, Consumer Commerce and Mobile (iOS & Android), and IoT. Twice a year IA chooses around 8 startups that later undergo the intense, rapid and mentorship-driven 4-months program.
Introducing India Accelerator to VnD and speaking more about its credentials, co-Founder Mona Singh, says, “We want to be the major contributors to the fledgling startup ecosystem in India, the ‘Accelerator of Choice’ for startup community here. Our performance is reflected by our culture and by the success of our startups. The community we have now built, including mentors & investors, has established some really strong values for putting entrepreneurs first, and our startups tell us that it’s a top consideration for them when they apply to us.”
India Accelerator’s Demo Day for Summer Cohort 2018
Before getting to know more about India Accelerator, it’s quite important to know about their upcoming HDFC-supported Summer Cohort on October 26th, 2018. In the upcoming batch, India Accelerator (IA) will be considering up to 7 most promising early stage and technology-oriented startups to help them transform their idea into a meaningful company. The event is going to witness pitches of various tech startups from AI and Machine learning, fin-tech, legal tech, and Algorithmic trading. Mona Singh says that it is the right platform for the founders to share their vision with the investors, industry thought leaders and media.
The Demo Day will be a private viewing of India Accelerator’s most recent accelerator startups before they ‘graduate’. Top-tier investors and corporate strategists from the likes of Sequoia, SAIF Partners and MATRIX Partners to name a few would be there at the Demo Day.
The making of India Accelerator
The startup boom is quite evident across the world, but the mortality rate of startups is equally high. To leverage the benefit of the upsurge in entrepreneurship and startup industry, it is quintessential that the startups are provided with the right mentorship and investment opportunities. Bearing these as a virtue of service towards the startup community India Accelerator was formed by Singh and Bhatia that can handhold startups in all aspects, leading them to success.
The interest to set-up IA germinated from bearing the pains of a failed startup by Singh and Bhatia. Not giving up so easily, Mona Singh, as the Chief Accelerator Officer, assimilated her 13 years of experience at MNC’s for IA and brought specialized technical skills to the startup world to ensure a well-rounded perspective on successful business models, brand building and consumer trends. IA’s co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ashish Bhatia was roped in to exploit his experience as the IT Site Leader of American Tower. Bhatia brought his erudite leadership skills to the accelerator, specifically to help budding startups and entrepreneurs reach great heights.
Voicing his opinion on the ideation and creation of IA, Ashish Bhatia says, “Myself and Mona realized the glaring need for having an institute like YC or Techstars in India to help Indian startup founders, who I assumed, correctly, could use some help in this arduous and difficult journey. Our focus shifted from creating an individual success story to the content and joy that come from solving their problems and helping them build their ideas. It is the promise we are making to ourselves and to our fellow entrepreneurs that we care, we have their back and we always have them at the center of what we do. It’s the joy of achieving something as a team, of being on a beautiful journey, of learning, growing and giving back. It’s our mission, we value it deeply and we want others to see what we see.”
Credentials worth a mention
According to Singh, India Accelerator is the only Global Accelerator network (GAN)-partnered accelerator in India. GAN is a consortium of more than 85 leading accelerators in the world including SparkLabs in South Korea and TechStars in the US. Being a part of GAN provides IA’s startups with global exposure, a credential specific to IA! Hence, IA’s startups are provided with investment opportunities not only from investors on-board but also from the GAN Venture fund.
The accelerator’s program structure is broadly based on 3 themes — Design, Execution, and Pitching. The curriculum is a combination of classroom sessions, deep dives, mentor 1-1, industry-based thought leaders speaking with the founders and cross-pollination between founders. iConsult – IA’s in-house mentor network guide startups on lean principles, design thinking, discovery, product management, etc.
Startups accelerated at IA receive up to $25K in cash and services, with the potential to score follow-on funding after the demo day. There are also the massive amount of perks offered by IA, standalone and by virtue of its membership with GAN. Another interesting service is IA’s Virtual CTOs — a group of senior technical architects (from OrganIQ and BigDrop) who provide technical guidance to its pure tech-based startups. The 3-part program culminates into a Demo Day, where startup’s pitch to the IA’s network of investors.
The first batch of startups accelerated at IA was all bootstrapped and self-funded. Along the journey, IA itself has been able to raise funds from a Singapore based entity Hotstart Ventures and a domestic player, Invest Mind solutions. This fund is being used as a seed stage investment.
Singh exuberantly admits, “I am convinced we have now managed to set-up an organization which has got strong foundations to put a dent in the startup ecosystem. When we started out 18 months back, we ended up playing all the roles that are required, i.e. from being a receptionist to reviewing legal documents to attending networking events and raising fund – pretty much everything under the sun! We have grown to a 9-member team now, and counting.”
Envisioning a bright future for IA, Mona Singh says, “With IA’s rapid growth and increased mentorship, we would want to reach the state where a significant part of cos who raise Series A are those who come from IA. What started off as an accelerator program alone should expand to a committed venture fund and multiple events/geographies. We want to be the birthplace for some of the world’s best start-up companies.”
So be it! And presumably, there would be no looking back for Mona Singh and Ashish Bhatia. India Accelerator would be one to constantly watch out for, as their accelerated startups would take wings and would plausibly never see the day of perish.