Getting an invite from an overseas accelerator would be a turning point for many an Indian start-up. Landing a spot in accelerators from the US, the UK, Singapore, Israel or Japan propels them into a new orbit. But with India climbing up the world start-up charts and a rising number of Indian accelerators, the game has subtly changed.
Start-ups from around the world could soon be dreaming of being hosted by Indian accelerators, viewing it as a big opportunity.
Two start-ups from USA along with one from Russia have just joined the boot camp for start-ups at Pune-based education technology (edtech) start-up accelerator, Edugild. Edugild is the first edtech start-up accelerator in the country and has just launched the second batch of its accelerator programme with seven edtech start-ups, three of which are from other countries. The programme offers intensive mentorship and product realisation to edtech start-ups.
The three are part of a new breed of start-ups that want to be part of the Indian start-up ecosystem and get closer to their potential market. “The Indian edtech market is at present worth $20 billion and is expected to touch $70 billion by 2020. For these foreign start-ups, it is an opportunity to validate their product or idea in the Indian market, build partnerships and linkages with mentors, other start-ups and investors with the goal of entering the Indian market or scale up business globally,” says Rishi Kapal, CEO, Edugild.
Making India a target market is Ahhaa.co, promoted by New York-based Diane Bachchus-Quddus and Ashwin Srisailam. Its ahhaa360 Virtual Reality platform and Ahhaa inspirational app ioffer a people-to-people virtual reality learning platform for performing arts and music, health and wellness, relationships and sports. The start-up is based in New York and India. Srisailam, who will be heading the venture in India, says the young demographic makes it compelling for Americans to come here. He emphasises that their next product will be designed out of India.
Edorble, a company based in Santa Barbara, California, is the second foreign start-up enrolled with Edugild.
Promoted by Gabe Baker, Edorble aspires to make online learning and meetings more personal, playful and powerful with the use of emerging 3D/VR technologies across all devices. It plans to change the way people communicate and collaborate in the online education and corporate meeting space. Edorble is making a 3D world that is built for collaboration and which will leverage next-generation VR hardware.
Artem Kozin and Adeniyi Adebayo have come from Russia with their ProctorEdu start-up. Founded in Moscow, ProctorEdu provides credible online exams, anywhere, anytime and on any device. Their solution makes online exams secure, convenient and cost-effective and offers required authentication, monitoring, recording and review of the exam. The target audience includes universities, online learning platforms and corporate learning solutions.
For Kozin, India is the biggest market for his online exam platform. “If we have to grow here, we have to understand the customer here and test our product here,” says Kozin. With 80,000 students at the campus, there is a readymade ecosystem for commercialisation of a start-up’s idea, agrees Edugild’s Kapal.
All three foreign start-ups will be working along with Indian start-ups enrolled for the programme. The Indian start-ups include Tiny Tapps, Abroad Shiksha, EKIN Knowledge and ReadRush.
Abroadshiksha.com, based in Gurgaon, was started by Kanav Sachdeva and Jyoti Sharma. It offers Indian students test preparations, and facilitates funding and scholarships assistance for admission to overseas universities. EKIN Knowledge promoted by Preetham Shetty and Seran Devaraj of Bangalore is a personalisation platform, with an instructional design engine that makes it easy for teachers to build next generation learning solutions. Delhi-based ReadRush, founded by Mizanullah Mizan and Upendra Sachan, creates crisp summaries, called ‘Rush’, of any book that can be read in 25 minutes. Altaf Rehmani’s Tiny Tapps is a pre-school digital solutions for early learning.
Founders of all the start-ups signing up for Edugild’s accelerator programme will be staying at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Pune which is behind the Edugild initiative. “Edugild’s strength lies in the fact that is part of the MIT Group of Institutes’ educational ecosystem with a captive audience to validate ideas and proof of concept,” says Kapal. Edugild has partnerships with Cisco, Cambridge University Press, Tata Class Edge, CodersTrust, Upgrad and Aptech also to complement this ecosystem.
Nirav Khambhati, CEO, Tata ClassEdge, said it’s exciting to see international start-ups crossing borders to expand in India, and likewise, Indian start-ups eyeing global opportunities. “Through Edugild, we can share our experience in this space with start-ups and help them scale fast to cater to the needs of schools, teachers, and students better,” adds Khambhati.
The first signs of this momentous change can already be seen. The trickle could soon turn into a flood with Indian accelerators being sought after by start-ups across the globe.