Bringing the concept of entrepreneurship encouragement from the US to India, Lightspeed India Ventures has launched Extreme Entrepreneurs — an entrepreneurial training series aimed at connecting eight select Indian startups with the top guns in global technology and entrepreneurship.
The company runs a similar initiative — Lightspeed Summer Programme — in the US, where it invites young founders, mostly from universities, to hang around its offices and get mentorship from Lightspeed partners to help them pick up some tools and tricks to build large companies.
The eight-week programme will start in mid-September in India. Lightspeed India has roped in business leaders such as Jon Steinberg, ex-Buzzfeed president and now Cheddar CEO; Ritesh Agarwal of OYO Rooms; Dheeraj Pandey of Nutanix; and John Thompson, chairman of Microsoft, who will share with startup founders their spark and the practical tips they have learned from being entrepreneurs.
Also, well-known investors such as Anu Hariharan of Y Combinator and Jeremy Liew and Ravi Mhatre of Lightspeed will share their experiences of shaping highly successful companies with the participants of the programme.
Talking to Inc42, Vaibhav Agrawal, partner at Lightspeed India Partners, said that the programme is a community initiative to help Indian founders build “iconic” companies.
He said, “Most of the partners here at Lightspeed, including myself, were founders before. I myself started up twice, once in India and once in the US, and having gone through this journey, we know how critical exposure and right advice can be, early on. Therefore, we decided to start this community initiative to help Indian founders build iconic companies.”
What Is Extreme Entrepreneurs?
Under the Extreme Entrepreneurs programme, eight selected startups will undergo mentorship sessions and attend community events.
Agarwal believes the programme is a reflection of Lightspeed’s years of experience in shaping companies from scratch and helping them become big. Extreme Entrepreneurs will certainly help startups take their company to next level, he said.
However, Agarwal emphasised that the programme can’t be termed as an accelerator as it does not include any funding deal — neither equity nor debt.
“No terms, no contracts, but a 100% pure community initiative,” is how Vaibhav describes Extreme Entrepreneurs.
Every Tuesday at Lightspeed’s Bengaluru office, the selected eight startups will participate in three sessions:
- Morning session: An invite-only masterclass from leading members of the technology and investing world both in India and abroad. The discussions will feature well-known business personalities who will share their candid learnings with the selected startups.
- Afternoon session: These sessions will enable startups to work with a Lightspeed professional one-to-one. Agarwal said the experience will be similar to Lightspeed’s portfolio companies having a board member for eight weeks. The selected startups will have their processes and points of view torture-tested and grilled by an experienced Lightspeed India investor.
- Evening session: In these sessions, the startups will gain access to a community of high-quality startups and investors, along with a host of services, cloud credits, marketing credits, etc.
The best part is that there’s no specific sector or idea stage that the startups have to be in. Lightspeed is simply interested in founders who are hungry to learn and have a passion to build something that can be potentially large.
Agarwal summarised, “We select eight startups that have high potential.”
Interested startups can apply here.
Lightspeed Ventures: Betting Big On India
Lightspeed Venture Partners via Lightspeed India has been investing in India since 2004, with a focus on direct and cross-border businesses. It generally invests $1 to $25 Mn in growth or early-stage startups seeking to disrupt or transform large markets in the domestic economy.
Lightspeed Venture Partners has some of the most notable startups in its portfolio, including OYO Hotels, BYJU’S (which recently acquired unicorn status), ShareChat, and Udaan, among others.
Here are some updates from the company:
- Lightspeed India has five partners— Bejul Somania, Dev Khare, Akshay Bhushan, Harsha Kumar, and Vaibhav Agarwal
- It closed its second India fund with a corpus of $175 Mn in July this year
- It is now looking to invest in another batch of 25-30 early-stage startups as well as in few deals in the Series B and C stages
- Lightspeed’s total capital under management in India stands at $310 Mn. This includes a $115 Mn India-specific fund, raised in 2015
- Lightspeed recently appointed former Andreessen Horowitz executive Hemant Mohapatra as its sixth partner
The Indian startup ecosystem is currently home to more than 5,200 tech startups and has been growing rapidly and witnessing increasing investment in India. The Indian Tech Startup Funding Report H1 2018 found that $3 Bn was invested across 372 deals; in 2017, $13.5 Bn was invested across 885 deals.
Agarwal said that some iconic companies have come out of Lightspeed India’s US programme, some of which the firm hasn’t even invested in. After the success of its US programme, Lightspeed is looking to help Indian startups make it big with the Extreme Entrepreneurs programme.