(This post is part of the Think Next thought leadership series)
When it comes to entrepreneurship, countries such as Israel, US, UK, and China have succeeded by building strong, diverse startup ecosystems.
Their model celebrates entrepreneurship and collaboration, managing to create massive economic and social value. In fact, these markets are considered mature precisely because of the size, strength, and diversity of their entrepreneurial ecosystem. Can India take a cue? More importantly, what can we do to encourage diverse viewpoints, disruptive ideas, passion, innovation, et al?
There is a growing need for accelerators to take the lead in building an equally strong ecosystem in India by working for collective impact. Shared learning through best practices is clearly the need of the hour. This was the theme of the roundtable — All India Accelerators & Incubators Meet — hosted at Think Next 2016. At the fourth edition of this roundtable, various ecosystem builders outlined ways to optimize efforts and avoid duplication in the ecosystem.
Since individual accelerators function with lean teams, it is imperative for them to leverage resources with a view to build a sustainable ecosystem. That’s not all, startups are also known to switch between accelerators as they naturally gravitate towards value. Amidst such a fickle landscape what can an accelerator do to differentiate itself? The unanimous answer — each accelerator must define a clear USP for itself and align with others to ensure true value for the ecosystem. Every incubator/accelerator should be creating a program to help startups depending on its growth stage, domain or impact.
Building a robust mentor network
Mentoring is one of the most vital processes of an accelerator program. Mentors are known to bring a degree of empathy and expertise to the table, which is supremely valuable to the startup. Serial entrepreneurs, domain experts, and operations executives are committed to help startups, and therefore make great mentors. Seeing how instrumental mentors are to startups, there is a need to craft a perfect match between startups and mentors, thereby facilitating the success of both the startup and the accelerator program. Moreover, it is equally important to bring more mentors into the ecosystem — mentors who have first-hand experience of dealing with various situations a startup encounters in its journey.
Together, we will be creating a pool of our best mentors and identifying areas where we are looking to partner with other accelerators. These mentors will be matched to the right startups across accelerators, based on parameters such as motivating factors, industry, domain, and so on.
Building a startup nation
The time is ripe for the Indian startup ecosystem to apply the learnings from successful startup nations elsewhere in the world. Naturally, the accelerators must work together to help establish India as a startup nation in the long run. We, the accelerators and incubators, need to engage with the Government collectively and bring in ecosystem inputs to shape the initiatives. There is a huge opportunity to partner with the Government and define prominent avenues to showcase Indian innovation on a world stage.
On a macro level, there is an urgent need to better equip ourselves to cater to the India of tomorrow. After all, only when ecosystems evolve can a country forge ahead.
Accelerating India: The Road Ahead
The Think Next Roundtable has proven to be a catalyst in the next phase of collaboration. This collaborative ecosystem can end up achieving great success, if we can think frugal (much like the startups we accelerate) & leverage our resources. For us, as ecosystem builders, it’s time to consolidate, forge ahead, and share our recipes of making a winner!
Raghav KherManaging Director, Microsoft Accelerator Seattle
This week, we’re proud to announce the latest batch of startups joining our Seattle Accelerator’s Fall cohort. With a combined funding of over $140 million, these 11 startups span AI, cloud, and IoT spaces.