iAccelerator – Supporting Early Stage Tech Ventures

Preparing to come to India I talked with a number of Silicon Valley VCs about the opportunities they saw here. Some were bullish, a partner at MDV told me he thought there was a 30% chance the next Google would come from here, but many were taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to investing.

In the four years I’ve been here I’ve seen VCs talk at a large number of startup events. Startup founders and VCs seem to like being in the same room together, but the VCs usually say ‘We are looking for profitable companies with proven management teams who need money to scale’. Founders tend to be young, energetic, first time entrepreneurs hungry to get started.

The net of this disconnect is the small amount of technology investing that happens. While complaints of a lack of innovation and leadership may be valid, they are excuses for inaction and represent a failure to identify and address the real power and potential of India.

The power and potential of India rests in it’s people and it’s youth specifically. 50% of India’s almost 1.2 billion people are under 25. The successes of Silicon Valley demonstrate that the digital economy is the domain of younger people who quickly adapt to and adopt new technologies. The ever decreasing costs of powerful computers, the advent of cloud computing and widespread free open source software frameworks has made the capital costs associated with starting a technology company cheaper than ever. At the same time, rapidly expanding mobile phone adoption and internet penetration has created a large addressable market for these companies that does not require massive spends in sales and marketing.

Large markets, low entry costs, all that is required is smart motivated people …. 600 million people under 25 … We should own this sector. To reach this potential though, the venture capital scene needs to service this part of the entrepreneurial sector by providing bootstrap capital, intensive guidance and connections catered to young first time entrepreneurs in India.

This is what we are doing with the iAccelerator a micro venture program I am conducting with the Center for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIMA We invest upto 5 Lakh INR in the companies we work with, and run them through a four month intensive startup bootcamp where they live and work in Ahmedabad. We help refine ideas, establish proper legal, financial, marketing and engineering processes, and connect teams with advisors, clients, partners and investors who can help take them further.

April 1 is the last day to apply for the summer program which runs from May 1 to September 1.

3 Responses to “iAccelerator – Supporting Early Stage Tech Ventures”

  1. Aditi Gupta says:

    A week into iAccelerator and there are already quite a few interesting things happening.

    Mr Nishith Desai talked to the start ups about various corporate governance issues and general good practices they should follow. MC Gupta talked to them about what it means to be a pvt ltd company and what investor terms they should be vary of. A few more people who were very active in the startup scene in Silicon Valley visited us in Ahmedabad and shared their experiences with regards to starting out and scaling up and also buy outs..

    More interestingly, while it has just been a week, we feel the first team, Hashcube is ready for launch. Please do mail me if you would require further information on this.. I am reachable on aditigupta AT iimahd.ernet.in

  2. Old Hand says:

    I’d recommend that anyone who is about to drink the “India’s youth is India’s power” kool-aid, take a hard look at these youth.

    Our graduating youth are poor in life skills, know no craft skills, have been pampered till age 21 (no earning experience), have been thru a decaying higher educational system (where teachers don’t come to classes and you study everything at tuitions), are extremely vulnerable to peer pressure, and often have the wrong ideas about jobs and careers.

    If you really want to nurture entrepreneurs in India, spend at least half of your time with people 35 and above. They are likely to have gone thru a few hard knocks and actually serious about learning and doing.

  3. Nidhi says:

    “[India has] 600 million people under 25” indeed thats HUGE market to cater to which has its own idiosyncrasies… however even then most of the Internet startups in India seem to be copy-pasting the value-propositions which have worked well in USA or Europe.

    There is a serious lack or propositions/ideas which are created bottom-up for Indian market.

    VCs too seem to be playing safe by backing the proven business model which can get ‘good-enough’ success (from the perspective of their returns) in Indian market.

    The concepts which can become mega-successes among those 600million haven’t yet seen the light of day!

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