20 startup accelerators in India we should all know about

India Taj

While India is lagging behind other Asian markets in terms of venture capital, there is no dearth for startup incubators and accelerators in the country. Apart from the traditional accelerators run by governments and IT majors, a host of multi-national majors like Target Corp and PayPal also ventured into startup incubation recently. Most of the angel/seed/VC investors in the country and elsewhere are working closely with these incubators — majority are located in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi — for funding opportunities.

Here we bring you a list of the 20 most active tech startup incubators in the country.

1. Microsoft Ventures

Location: Bangalore

About: It is an early-to-middle-stage accelerator focussed on themes such as smart cloud services, mobile applications, urban informatics and Big Data, Internet of Things and wearable computing.

Programme details: It is a four-month programme conducted twice a year — one starts in January and the other in July. Startups gain access to business mentors, technical and design experts, office space and resources to help entrepreneurs quickly scale their business. It also connects startups with VCs and angel investors. It has incubated more than 30 startups till date.
Microsoft Ventures does not take any debt or equity from the startups in exchange for the programme.

2. Startup Village

Location: Cochin

About: Started in 2011, Startup Village is a sector-agnostic technology business incubator promoted by the government. It is also in the midst of launching an angel fund aimed at backing its startups.

Programme details: Unlike traditional cohort-based accelerators, it works with startups on a long-term basis until the startups gets some traction/generate revenues. In addition to regular programme, it also offers a virtual incubation, and the companies by default are selected to make a pitch presentation to Startup Village Angel Fund.

3. GSF India

Location: Bangalore/Gurgaon

About: GSF is a startup accelerator-cum-early-stage fund run by former Reliance Entertainment President Rajesh Sawhney.

Programme details: It is a 13-week programme created around the concept of a hackathon. Products pivot several times as teams go through intense, often gruelling Q&A sessions with mentors and entrepreneurs in residence. The startups attend 20 intensive workshops conducted by global experts. These workshops are in five major themes of product strategy, marketing, technology, business strategy and venture funding.

GSF invests US$30 000-US$60 000 in return for eight to nine per cent equity in the startups inducted into the global accelerator programme. GSF also does follow-on rounds of up to US$500 000 into a few select startups after the programme.

4. TLabs

Location: Noida (near New Delhi)

About: Founded in 2011, TLabs is a startup accelerator-cum-early-stage seed fund for Indian Internet and mobile technology startups. TLabs is run by The Times Group, parent of Times of India newspaper.

Programme details: The accelerator programme, spread over 16 weeks, provides support through weekly catch-ups across different verticals of the business. Startups also get access to over 60 experts who are mentors of the programme and guide startups on specific issues. It also provides regular engagement with early-stage VCs and angels through multiple sessions.

It invests up to US$50 000 in each startup in exchange for eight per cent equity.

5. iAccelerator

Location: Ahmedabad

About: Started in 2008, iAccelerator is an initiative by Indian Institute for Management Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship.

Programme details: iAccelerator programme is focussed on startups in the Internet and mobile domains. It is a three-month long residential programme. During this period, experts give specific, one-on-one help in areas of technology, product management, user experience and interface design, sale and marketing, customer acquisition, business model innovation, legal, and incorporation. The programme ends in a demo day.

The startups get US$8 000-US$16 000 each in seed funding. iAccelerator has produced over 40 ventures to date.

6. Kyron

Location: Bangalore

About: Kyron is a next-generation global accelerator for early-stage technology startups. Kyron is supported by a team of experts in technology architecture, business strategy, design, finance, fund raising, innovation and organisational effectiveness, human capital management, marketing and customer relationship management.

Programme details: The Kyron programme begins with a boot camp organised in partnership with global academic institutions. It concludes with a week-long base camp that prepares the teams “to deliver an unfailing performance on Heroes Day”. Heroes Day marks the formal culmination of the programme.

In return for a nominal equity stake in the company, Kyron offers a dedicated CXO team to build product/market development roadmap for the post Kyron phase. It may also provide seed funding.

It gives access to Kyron for life resources such as continued access to mentorship, online resources, Kyron alumni network, etc.

7. Venture Nursery

Location: Mumbai

About: VentureNursery (VN) is India’s first angels-backed startup accelerator. It was established in March 2012 by angel investors — Shravan Shroff, Founder and former MD, Fame Cinemas; and Ravi Kiran, former CEO (South East and South Asia), Starcom MediaVest Group.

Programme details: VN undertakes an intensive and immersive coaching and mentoring role in the chosen startups and helps each with end-to-end infrastructural and learning support. It follows a hybrid model which includes acceleration programme, as well as ParallelTrack process of acceleration.

The programme offers three-month focussed business acceleration aimed at enhancing the probability of success of the startup. The comprehensive package for startups including regular interaction with Angels-in-Residence, Executive-in-Residence, feedbacks session with top angel investors and partner level VCs, and basic infrastructure support.

ParallelTrack accelerations aims at taking participants outside the acceleration.

Currently, VN is focussing on six sectors – media and entertainment, retail, e-commerce, consumer technology, education and clean tech.

Angel investors associated with VN may invest up to US$40 000 in each startup upon successful graduation from the acceleration programme for five per cent equity stake.

8. 5ideas

Location: Gurgaon (near New Delhi)

About: A sector-agnostic tech startup accelerator-cum-fund, it was started by Pearl Uppal and Gaurav Kachru.

Programme details: 5ideas typically looks for businesses in niche e-commerce, B2B/SME focused SaaS, intersection of mobile and geo, education, urban parenting, Big Data, and ad tech. It ‘fuels’ startups with scalable distribution, design and UX, communication and brand building.

It also offers seed investment between US$50 000-US$300 000. It can also invest up to US$500 000 in follow-on rounds, usually pre Series A.

9. AngelPrime

Location: Bangalore

About: AngelPrime was founded by serial entrepreneurs Sanjay Swamy, Shripati Acharya and Bala Parthasarathy.

Programme details: AngelPrime is a sector-agnostic seed-stage fund, focussed on startups that not only need seed capital but also require mentoring. The firm closely works with the companies we invest in provide mentorship for 12-18 months. AngelPrime typically invests between US$500 000 and US$1-million each in three-four startups every year. It has invested in and incubated half-a-dozen companies to date.

10. ZoneStartups

Location: Mumbai

About: Started in February last year, Zone Startups is a joint venture between Bombay Stock Exchange Institute and Ryerson Futures, a Toronto-based technology startup incubator.

Programme details: Zone Startups offer work space, in addition to mentorship including functional, business experts and industry panel, market development and business development support, networking and branding opportunities, funding opportunity, access to North American market and peer-to-peer mentoring.

It also runs a US$15-million fund which seeks to invest in early-stage technology ventures in India.

The fund invests between US$50 000 and US$500 000 in 10-15 startups every year.

Zone Startups has already on-boarded 36 startups across data analytics, e-commerce, education, hardware technology, human computing interface, mobile payments, healthcare and enabling platforms.

11. GrowthStory

Location: Bangalore

About: Started by serial entrepreneurs K Ganesh and wife Meena, GrowthStory is an entrepreneurship platform that promotes greenfield ventures. A seed investor-cum-accelerator, it mainly focusses on consumer Internet, technology, education and the India retail consumption sectors.

Programme details: GrowthStory doesn’t follow a cohort-based programme. It basically incubates the companies it invest in. To date, it has founded four green-field startups, and nine of its portfolio companies have raised funds from institutional VCs. It also co-invests in its portfolio firms with other leading VCs, including Qualcomm Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, VentureEast, WestBridge Capital, Ascent Capital (UTI venture funds), Lightspeed Venture, Silicon Valley Bank (Saama Capital), and Zodius Capital.

12. HealthStart

Location: Noida (near New Delhi)

About: HealthStart is an accelerator programme dedicated to supporting startups in the healthcare industry through funding, mentorship and other requisite support.

Programme details: HealthStart, along with Indian School of Business’s human centred design-focused incubator DLabs, has launched an acceleration programme that will incubate five to eight startups a year. The selected ventures get mentorship and access to a dedicated in-house team and global network to help them develop products.

It basically looks for early-stage startup that solve a genuine problems with particular relevance to the Indian market and have high-growth potential. They can be digital healthcare, medtech and wellness and disease management startups, and companies that increase access and affordability of healthcare services and products through innovative distribution and business models.

The selected startups also receive VC funding.

Separately, it also runs an angel funding programme which targets to invest in five to six companies outside the accelerator programme and relatively mature in terms of their stage of execution. HealthStart investment at angel stage would typically go up to US$100 000.

13. Ginserv

Location: Bangalore

About: Global INcubationSERVices (GINSERV) is a technology business incubator, promoted by JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore, one of India’s modernistic educational organisation, with the support of National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. It works closely with foreign companies looking to set up Indian operation, as well as Indian startups that show a great degree of promise.

Programme details: It provides collaborative work space, along with strategic, technology, operation and services support. Ginserv is incubating 30 companies currently.

It also provides seed funding of up to US$80 000 to companies with minimum 51 per cent ownership by Indian nationals.

14. Target Accelerator

Location: Bangalore

About: Started in May last year by US retail major Target Corp., the accelerator is focussing on startups that can bring in transformative ideas across five key areas — search, content, data, social and mobile.

Programme details: Target is currently incubating five teams to work in a specially-designed space in Target’s Bangalore headquarters facility. During the four-month immersive programme, Target will help each startup develop its ideas by providing access to mentors, tools, resources and operational support. It is currently incubating muHive, Unbxd, InstaClique, Konotor and Turnaround Innovision.

15. Start Tank

Location: Chennai

About: In 2013, PayPal India launched Start Tank, an innovation space for the next generation of startups in India. It is located within PayPal’s India Development Centre in Chennai. The initiative seeks to nurture and support the creation of a new generation of technology companies by offering them initial infrastructure and mentorship, direction and encouragement. PayPal has partnered with TiE Chennai and their mentor network to support the varying needs of the incubated startups.

Programme details: Start Tank offers an innovative environment where entrepreneurs can grow and feed off each others’ energy, creativity and support. It also gives access to talent and connections from within the PayPal team.

It is a 12-month programme for pre-angel/pre-venture funded seed and early-stage technology startups. The ventures should have a significant tech-centric component that can benefit from PayPal’s technical mentors and TiE’s business mentorship.

It doesn’t provide funding to incubatee startups.

16. The Startup Centre

Location: Chennai

About: The Startup Centre was launched by a group of entrepreneurs in India. The aim of the programme is to help transform one’s prototype and product vision into a viable product with product-market validation.

Programme details: It is a six-month programme. It provides a collaborative work environment
with a furnished office space and bandwidth (Internet and guidance) for the duration of the programme. It gives enough time for the team to build the first version of the product and get the market validation done. The teams will have their first checkpoint in month three to deliver a minimum viable product, followed by customer validation and the remainder of time (approximately two months) to pivot accordingly.

Each startup pays US$800 and two per cent equity in the startup on graduation.

17. Khosla Labs

Location: Bangalore

About: It is a startup incubator started by Vinod Khosla, Co-founder of Sun Micro Systems and Founder of Khosla Ventures.

Programme details: The incubator is focussed on solving large-scale problems driven by technology. The selected startups get prototyped through in-house design and technology teams, and are pilot tested on the ground to get feedback and market validation. Based on the project traction and business plan, the project gets funded by the Khosla Ventures seed fund and a new company gets spun-off by the lead entrepreneurs from the lab.

It also runs a programme called Incubate Aadhaar, along with Unitus Seed Fund to support entrepreneurs building applications linked to Aadhaar, a Unique Identification Authority of India. It jointly provides technical and business expertise to entrepreneurs and also provides relevant services that they will need to integrate with Aadhaar. It plans to build an app store to showcase Aadhaar apps and provide a platform to publish and market them.

18. Infuse Ventures

Location: Ahmedabad, Bangalore

About: Housed at Indian Institute of Management’s (Ahmedabad) Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), it provides clean tech entrepreneurs with hands-on business and mentoring support, an ecosystem of Indian and global partners, and seed and early-stage capital.

Programme details: It runs PowerStart, a two-month accelerator programme aimed towards Indian clean tech startups. Following the programme, two startup teams receive seed investment of US$40 000 from Infuse.

19. Villgro

Location: Bangalore

About: Founded by Paul Basil, Villgro mentors, funds and incubates early-stage innovation-based social enterprises that impact the lives of India’s poor. Villgro is one of India’s oldest social enterprise incubators, supporting innovators and social entrepreneurs during their early stages of growth. Since 2001, Villgro has incubated 103 such enterprises.

Programme details: Villgro incubates and supports enterprises in four key sectors – healthcare, education, agri business and energy.

To date, it has incubated/invested in around 30 firms

20. Srijan Capital

Location: Bangalore

About: Founded by Ravi Trivedi, Srijan provides seed-stage investment to technology startups. It targets startups that are based out of India, or have India as a target market. Its focus areas are Internet of Things (IoT), SaaS, and consumer Internet.

Programme details: It incubates startups, where it works in tranches at a co-founder level. It does only one incubation in one or two years. It also invests in angel/seed rounds by syndicating investments from like-minded individuals/funds. Its investment is often part of a incubation round of between US$16 000-US$24 000 or a seed round of US$160 000 to US$320 000.

This article by Sainul Abudheen K originally appeared on e27, a Burn Media publishing partner.

Image by Trey Ratcliff via Flickr



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