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Rajesh Sawhney heads the multi-city startup accelerator Global Superangels Forum (GSF) India which will kick-off its two-day annual startups and investors’ conference #WhereDoWeGoNow on August 21 in Bangalore city. It’ll incorporate a unique 10km run on the meet’s second day.
For most of us, it’s a bit hard to understand what’s the link between a 10km run and a startup investors’ conference. So here’s what the man behind this unique idea has to say:
Building a startup is a stressful job. Most founders work long hours and ignore their health. We want to build fitness as an essential ingredient of startup culture. In fact, we have incorporated running and yoga into our 10-week long GSF Accelerator programme. This 10K run in Bangalore on the sidelines of GSF #WhereDoWeGoNow is our effort to bring “fitness” into mainstream consciousness of startup culture.
The idea of bringing investors and founders to run together is a reflection of GSF’s core philosophy of encouraging collaboration between the different essential elements of the startup ecosystem, according to Sawhney. In fact, Sawhney, is highly passionate about running and his passion has helped him to gain a transformative experience; as he says, “I am making a sincere effort to make running an integral part of startup life.”
What can startups and investors expect from this year’s #WhereDoWeGoNow?
According to Sawhney, he’s very focused on his participants:
GSF #WhereDoWeGoNow has been designed to deliberate on the future rather than the past, as an “optimistic” hiatus in the life of its high quality participants; a hiatus that intends to recharge and refuel bodies, minds and spirits of its extraordinary participants. This year, living up to its belief of curating audience and not speakers, the conference will draw 400 thought leaders, some of them will get to be keynote speakers, panelists and performers, while the rest of us will be co-creators of this enigmatic experience.
GSF #WhereDoWeGoNow 2013 conference will focus on six key themes: future of design innovation, future of impact/social entrepreneurship, future of women in tech and entrepreneurship, future of venture innovations and disruptions, future of entrepreneurship, and future shots by 12 thought leaders from across the world.
Hundreds of venture capitalists (VCs), angel investors, founders, and entrepreneurs in residence (EIRs), along with some 100 leaders from the corporate world and academia are expected to be part of this year’s meet. Also, GSF will showcase 30 startups at #WhereDoWeGoNow.
Some 25 startups have gone through the GSF Accelerator program so far and have been funded by GSF Superangels.
In the last few years, India is seeing a good growth of startups, entrepreneurs, angel investors and venture capitalists – but when compared to Silicon Valley, the IT and outsourcing services destination of the world struggles with its own set of challenges.
According to Sawhney , there are 3 key challenges in India that are different from Silicon Valley.
First, we don’t have enough startup formation. Chinese create 10 times as many and even Israel produces more startups every year than India. India is changing, but gradually. Second, we don’t have enough capital going into angel and seed financing. In the US, angel and seed financing was equal to venture financing last year (roughly at $23 billion). In India, seed and angel funding is at 1/20th size of venture funding. We need to fund more companies.
Lastly, we have a lack of small and mid-market M&A, since our corporates and big technology companies don’t invest much in buying startups for talent and IP. This is changing, but again gradually. In recent time, we have seen some pickup in M&A from the overseas strategic players.
Despite its own set of challenges, Indian startups like RedBus, Flipkart, GupShup, and many others have successfully attracted local and foreign investor firms and venture capitalists.
Going forward, what goals has GSF set in terms of investments and startups in India? Sawhney explains:
We are India’s leading startup accelerator programme and have a multi-city presence in NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai. We believe we are building a global platform for startups from the emerging world. We are also building strategic linkages and relationships to provide global springboards to Indian startups. We have so far announced three relationships: one with MIT, the second with 500 Startups, and the third with Seedcamp from Europe.
This article by Pankaj Maru originally appeared on Tech in Asia, a Burn Media publishing partner.