Taking another step towards boosting the Indian startup ecosystem, the Indian Government recently launched the Startup India Virtual Hub. In line with the several other announcements, the Startup India Hub team also formed an association with NYC-based tech incubator Collaborizm.
Collaborizm was launched in April 2016 by Steven Reubenstone with his partners Rob Lancer and Anton Voltchok. It will help the Startup India Hub select potential Indian startup projects and help entrepreneurs pursue their ideas.
In conversation with Inc42, Steven shared his plans for Collaborizm and how the platform will help the Startup India Hub.
Collaborizm: A Brief Overview
Collaborizm is an online tech incubator and collaboration community for highly-skilled millennials in emerging markets. Most of its early adopters are software and hardware engineers from India. They are using the platform to pursue their early-stage entrepreneurial ideas, to learn, display their skills, and to earn online credentials. “We now have over 115,000 users and the platform is extremely active,” said Steven.
With Collaborizm, one problem founders are trying to solve is that aspiring entrepreneurs and highly-skilled people have fewer effective ways to collaboratively pursue their ideas. Collaborizm offers them a platform and a community to help them get their early stage ideas off the ground and to find like-minded teammates, globally, to work with them on their projects.”
Apart from this, Collaborizm is also helping highly-skilled people from being siloed in their existing professional and social networks. “We provide them with a forum to display their talents and the credentials they earn on the platform enhances their online resume,” he added.
It also runs the Collaborizm Innovator Fund – a collective fund used to support top innovators in the developing market to help with things like new parts, elite freelance work, and project prototyping. It is a fund with a flexible model wherein investment can come in different amounts to different projects and different intervals.
The Collaborizm-Startup India Hub Tie-Up: Startup Selection And Mentorship
Collaborizm will select one or two promising Indian-led Collaborizm commercial ventures each week. It will provide The Startup India Hub with a detailed description of these projects, including the kind of assistance they need.
The Collaborizm team looks for the following factors in Indian startup projects for making the final selection call:
- The number of people working on the project and the level of activity in the project.
- The “reputation” of the Project Leader(s). For instance, if they’ve participated in many Collaborizm projects and they’ve performed well, their projects will be ranked higher than those with Project Leaders who have not yet established a trustworthy reputation.
- The Collaborizm team’s opinion of the commercial potential of the project. “We will welcome disruptive, innovative ideas but will prioritise those that appear feasible,” shared Steven.
- And those projects that it believes will receive the greatest impact from having Startup India Hub mentorship and support.
Once selected, Collaborizm will provide the aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools to easily launch a new project, find ideal teammates, and manage the venture.
“However, beyond these tools, we also offer a motivated community of aspiring entrepreneurs, engineers, and digital artists who provide mentorship and inspiration to Collaborizm teams. Critical input from engineers, entrepreneurs, and designers, help these ventures in the very early stages weed out kinks. And push forward on difficult early-stage tasks — like product design, business planning, and fundraising strategies,” added Steven.
The Startup India Hub will further provide the selected Indian startup projects with mentorship from The Hub’s experienced Indian entrepreneurs. Also, the entrepreneurs will get guidance regarding fundraising and other key elements involved in the success of a new venture. “The Startup India Hub is also interested in connecting our ventures to Manufacturing aid, legal aid, and angel investor connections,” said Steven.
Collaborizm, on the other hand, will routinely mentor users based on their contributions to the community. The founders further intend to continue mentoring selected users and to offer modest capital to their most elite users via the Innovator Fund.
When asked about the time duration of the mentorship programme, Steven said, “Our engagement with The Hub is on a trial basis, and we hope the pilot programme will last for at least 6 months before we and The Hub evaluate the success of the engagement. As for how long The Hub will mentor a specific startup (i.e., to what stage), that is up to the discretion of The Hub. Presumably, they’ll continue to mentor startups that are responsive to The Hub’s recommendations and requests and to those that appear to be moving in the right direction.”
Collaborizm: Startup Projects Pitched So Far
Collaborizm has selected two Indian startups under its engagement with Startup India Hub. This includes Sciencotonic and Valtrack Hardware Systems.
Sciencotonic is a project by Narendran Ashok to teach robotics online using augmented reality. As mentioned in a Collaborizm blogpost,
“The Hub jumped right in and immediately asked the Project Leader, Narendran Ashok, an engineer-maker from Chennai, India, to lay out his business outline via a series of direct questions. The entire Collaborizm community can watch The Hub’s mentorship in action, which inspires those users who may have not have the confidence to aggressively pursue their entrepreneurial ideas.”
Valtrack, on the other hand, is a hardware startup led by Ravi Pujar. It aims to create a much more effective GPS chip for maker projects that is more durable, replaceable, and configurable with different web server configurations.
Startup India Hub: Other Plans In Process
On the same lines as Collaborizm, the Startup India Hub team, will soon be organising the Startup India Yatra – Gujarat, in collaboration with Openfuel.
Based out of IIM- Ahmedabad, Openfuel programmes and tools have been participated and used by over 300,000 individuals in the last three years across IITs, IIMs, fortune 500 companies and Government Organizations in India. Among other things, Openfuel toolkits powered the World’s Biggest Hackathon – Smart India Hackathon 2017.
The initiative will involve setting-up four boot camps across non-metro cities in Gujarat and one grand finale in Ahmedabad. The team is still finalising the modularity around the event. The details will get disclosed probably in few months as per the Startup India Hub team.
As stated by Aditya Sharma, Manager, Startup India Hub & Invest India, “We are at different stages of building synergies with stakeholders across the Indian startup ecosystem. With Collaborizm, we are providing facilitation to India-based entrepreneurs on Collaborizm platform. We are eager and open to engage with more Indian entrepreneurs across similar platforms.”