Does your startup need a headstart to get off the ground? Ecosystems like startup incubators provide closed support mechanisms for founders to build their ventures rapidly with support from expert mentors and advisors.
True to their name, such programs are built to insulate early-stage founders from market forces, while providing essential resources that typically include office space, mentorship, starting capital, legal guidance, etc. Most importantly, incubation programs offer networking and knowledge-sharing so that founders know what they are getting into and how they can engineer their startups for success.
India, as a rapidly emerging startup ecosystem, is home to several such startup incubators that each offers their own set of resources, network connections, and infrastructure. One of the major parts of an incubator’s offerings is effective mentorship; a guiding hand that nudges you and keeps you on the right track.
Most incubators in India too are characterized by strong mentor pools, and programs to support founders in navigating the slopes of forming and running a modern day startup. Some cater to multiple domains, others are focused on specific industries to help drive growth in niche groups, and all incubators are united with the objective of turning seed-stage startups into effective businesses.
We’ve put together a list of some of the top incubators in India that every early-stage founder should be aware of:
1. Electropreneur Park: Inaugurated and launched in 2016, the incubator Electropreneur Park (EP), Delhi, is managed by Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). Its partners are Delhi University and India Electronics & Semiconductor Association (IESA), to nurture ESDM (Electronics System Development and Maintenance) startups in India. EP has completed six batches of incubation, with 32 graduated startups, and an additional eight startups mentored in other programs.
2. Techstars: Having invested in more than 2,300 companies, Techstars is one of North America’s largest investors, with a track record of providing market leaders such as Sendgrid, PillPack, Classpass, Digital Ocean, and Salesloft with the tools to build hyper-scale businesses. In their upcoming 2021 program, Techstars Bangalore is going to provide 10 outstanding companies from South Asia with the tools and network to become market leaders in North America.
3. Supreme Incubator: Supreme Incubator has been active in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the past 2 years - organizing regular events and mentorship meetups. With their Summer cohort, the program has transitioned to a fully digital model where the 30 selected founders now get together on regular video calls to share progress, meet mentors or join workshops. With a virtual program, they have expanded the scope of support offered and startups incubated. The mission is to make India the hub for entrepreneurial support, and for founders in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities to get the same level of networking and support opportunities as their counterparts in metro cities. The program of SI has received great reach with over 100 applications in the first cohort (Winter 2020) and 350+ applications in the second cohort (Summer 2020), currently, more than 700 entrepreneurs have applied to the program.
4. Brigade REAP: Since its inception in 2016, Brigade REAP has been at the forefront of articulating the industry’s pressing problems and bridging the solutions gap by connecting with startups addressing those issues. The accelerator has so far mentored 30 startups, of which 12 have received external funding. This includes startups like QwikSpec, Snaptrude, WEGoT, AKP, PParke, Renewate, Clairco, CREMatrix, PropsAMC, Exprs, Nanorama and PropVR. The startups have won the confidence of top investors such as Accel Partners, HDFC Capital, GoFrugal, Pidilite, Better Capital, Angel List, Brigade Enterprises, besides Architects, Developers, and Angel Investors such as Mohandas Pai.
5. Hubli Sandbox: The Hubli Sandbox in Hubballi, India is an ecosystem launched by Deshpande Foundation that supports mission-driven individuals to come up with sustainable and scalable enterprises having a social and economic impact. It's a co-creation of Dr. Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande, Indian American venture capitalist and entrepreneur, and his wife. Hubli Sandbox runs many programs in the areas of education, student leadership, agriculture, micro-entrepreneurship, and maternal health.
6. NetApp Excellerator: NetApp Excellerator is NetApp’s global start-up program that aims to fuel innovation by partnering with deep-tech start-ups. Founded in 1992, NetApp specializes in helping its customers get the most out of their data with industry-leading cloud data services, storage systems, and software.
7. Indigram Labs Foundation (ILF): One of the Key USPs of Indigram Labs is its host institution: Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP) which has set-up more than 1,800 agritech ventures through its ACABC program and is currently promoting 250 FPOs. The years of experience that ISAP brings with it helps shape the journey of agri-entrepreneurs through Indigram Labs even further. At present, the company is incubating 15 companies and accelerating three more. The duration of the incubation period ranges from three to five years.
8. Catalyst by Societe Generale: Offering global exposure and mentorship, Catalyst, a 12-week innovation program from Societe Generale’s global solution centre in India (SG GSC), is an incubation centre for enterprise-relevant fintech startups to co-create solutions along with business leaders for the future-ready and customer-focused bank. Having completed six editions, the seventh edition of the challenge has identified 396 challenges from across Societe Generale’s units in India, Europe, and Africa.
9. NSRCEL by IIMB: With programs specifically catering to entrepreneurs with profit ventures and social ventures, also student and women entrepreneurs, NSRCEL offers its support to various players of the startup ecosystem. NSRCEL brings together startups, industry mentors, eminent academicians from its parent institution Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and researchers who thrive on continuous interaction of theory and practice. NSRCEL is also the first incubator with a program tailored for social entrepreneurs and their unique challenges.
10. INVENT: Innovative Ventures and Technologies for Development (INVENT) is a joint collaboration of the Technology Development Board (TDB), Government of India and the Department of International Development (DFID), Government of the United Kingdom. INVENT aims to make a positive social impact by providing incubation support to technology-oriented start-ups.
11. IAMAI: Industry body IAMAI has launched the country's first virtual incubator for short and mid-term needs of technology-related startups arising amid the global pandemic situation. The primary function of the virtual incubator is to address the needs of the start-ups located outside the major cities of Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, and Kolkata, the Internet and Mobile Association of India stated. The program will be virtually accessible and will provide state-of-the-art incubation services to every Indian startup and enable them to charter their success stories. It will entail close supervision by the dedicated mentors from the relevant industry for multiple cohorts that would be created based on the domain, sectors, and the progress of the startups.