London-based global talent investor and accelerator, Entrepreneur First (EF), has announced its foray into India setting up its headquarters in Bengaluru, its sixth global base. The accelerator which focusses its investment on deeptech startups, has also launched a cohort of 50 founders, as part of its Entrepreneur First, a program model that invests in outstanding early-stage startups.
It has appointed Esha Tiwari to lead the company’s India operation as general manager. Tiwari has completed Computer Science & Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She has previously worked for a healthtech company Cloudnine, online fashion marketplace Myntra. She has also helped GSF Accelerator during the initial launch.
“We are very ambitious about the Indian market and can foresee this becoming one of the largest global plays for EF,” company statement cited Entrepreneur First cofounder Matt Clifford.
EF primarily focuses its investment on Deeptech companies in the areas of defensible technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Computing, AR/VR, Robotics etc.
During the three months programme, the select cohort members will be developing startup ideas and products. Come July this year, they will pitch to popular regional and global investors at Investor Demo Day in Asia. In a statement, EF said to invest in each of the companies developed during its bi-annual Bengaluru programme.
“India has a unique startup ecosystem. It’s got its own unique entrepreneurship journey. We are at the very important cusp of that journey. And, EF is going to play a significant role in shaping how people form multi-billion dollar companies in the country,’ Tiwari said in an interview.
Launched in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck, EF help startups develop an idea and create a high-growth technology company from scratch. Every year the two cohorts in each location and invites applications. Selected companies get funded by EF and are also showcased to the larger investor community to raise seed funding.
It claims to have helped over 1,200 individuals build more than 200 companies, with a combined valuation of almost $1.5 Bn. The accelerator and talent investor is already running across five locations — London, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong and Singapore.
According to Inc42’s The State of Indian Startup Ecosystem 2018‘ report, sector-specific and partnership-driven incubators and accelerators are gaining more traction in the Indian startup ecosystem, and Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns are increasingly becoming important destinations for them to set up the base. For instance, GSF accelerator focusses its investment on fintech startups.
India is currently home to more than 39K startups, and the number of incubator and accelerators in India is growing — 250 to be precise as on November 2018, according to the Inc42 report. Over the year, India is seeing a rise in the number of deeptech startups, which EF is focussed upon, has seen. The report further suggests that there are 737 deeptech startups creating an array of AI, ML, and big data products across ecommerce, fintech, banking, surveillance, customer service sectors.