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What Startups Look For In An Accelerator: The Growth And Scale Of Indian Startups Amidst The Pandemic


India is currently home to over 200 incubators and accelerators

Amongst them, a deeptech B2B accelerator programme, Cisco LaunchPad is supporting the startups through its tech stack, mentors, business connects, events, and more

Currently, on its 7th cohort, it has been helping the growth and scale of its graduated startups even amidst the pandemic

Ever since March 2020, we have all been talking about the pandemic and the various approaches homegrown startups took to survive it. While many startups pivoted their business models to adopt the trends of the market, others tweaked their products and services to cater to the prevalent challenges. 

“The lockdown affected the acquisition of new sales for our business. To survive and grow in those scenarios we took a little different approach. We came up with a new product UV Saaph in March and completed all the certifications by May. The product has helped us survive the pandemic and the lockdown immensely,” said Gokul Shrinivas, CEO and founder of Minion Labs.

Bengaluru-based Minion Labs initially focussed on providing real-time insights into the energy consumption of electric appliances. Its latest product UV Saaph, designed like a microwave, enables the users to disinfect items such as grocery, food, supermarket deliveries, water bottles, utensils and more.

While another startup, Teslon didn’t have to make any changes, rather, noticed better adoption of its products amidst the pandemic, “We didn’t really face a lot of challenges as our vision has always been to build technology that can bridge the access to care. Our carenation packages provide a host of products that enable remote care and diagnosis and thus we were able to contribute and spread our presence to more places amidst the pandemic,” said Harsha Muroor, founder and CEO, Teslon.

The startup develops the Carenation product, which provides remote healthcare facilities. By June 2020 alone, its remote ICU carts were being used across eight states in India and seven countries overall.

Thanks to the enabler ecosystem of the country, startups such as Teslon, Minion Labs and more have been able to clock immense growth in their business. According to the startups — while investors and incubators have also played a major role — the help they received from their accelerator programme has proven to be the most beneficial. 

Startups Reveal The Importance Of Accelerator Programme In Their Journey

According to a recent Inc42 Plus analysis, India is currently home to over 200 incubators and accelerators. Providing the startups with the necessary connections and mentorship, the accelerator ecosystem of the country has helped the growth of the startups right from the initial days of their inception.

Amongst the prominent names is a B2B deeptech startup accelerator, Cisco LaunchPad, aiming to support the startups via its tech stack, mentors, business connects, events and more. The LaunchPad boasts of having over 100 mentors in its portfolio who have helped more than 47 deeptech startups till now. The startups that have benefited from the accelerator till date include names such as Minion Labs, MishiPay, Teslon, Probus, SenseGiz, FluxGen, SatSure, ZestIoT and more.

Elaborating on the same, Muroor explained that an accelerator plays a major role in the journey of the startup even well past its graduation. A part of the first-ever cohort of the Cisco LaunchPad, he added, “We were a group of engineers starting out with an idea and we needed guidance in turning that idea into a business. That is where the accelerator’s connections help the startup, right? In our case, we were able to focus on our product as well as channel the GTM strategies much better with the help of the Cisco LaunchPad team.”

While Ganesh Shankar, founder and CEO, FluxGen focussed on learning the nitty gritties of a business and product-market fit from its accelerator programme.

He pointed out, “The right connections and networks in the industry are important for a startup which is just starting its journey and such was the case with FluxGen. Thankfully, our ties with our accelerator programme have enabled us to leverage their industry connections to date.”

A part of the third cohort of Cisco LaunchPad, FluxGen develops sustainable water management product, AquaGen. It told Inc42 that while the lockdown made it a little difficult for the startup to scale its operations across borders on India, it also brought with it a host of opportunities. Recently, the startup said that it has been able to initiate conversations as well as deploy its solutions for various corporates such as Microsoft, Amazon and more.

“With the realisation that the world will be a very different place after Covid, we understood that we had to revisit our product strategy and Rakesh Sharma (senior design strategist at Cisco) spent nearly 22 hours with us on helping redesign our product strategy,” added Shankar. It is this help and guidance from Sharma, that helped FluxGen scale during the current scenarios, believes Shankar.

Hyderabad-based, ZestIoT that develops solutions for asset tracking and passenger management for the aviation industry, believes that an accelerator needs to be spot on in creating value for partner startups and help it in developing a unique story for each stakeholder. The founder and CEO of ZestIoT, Amit Sukhija further told Inc42 that for any startup that is just charting out its journey, getting benefits such as the sales team as well as tech stack from its accelerator programme benefits a huge deal.

More Than Just An Accelerator

India’s startup ecosystem, undeniably, is amongst the fastest growing startup ecosystems across the globe. ‘The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020’ by Startup Genome, ranked two Indian cities, namely Bengaluru and Delhi, amongst the top 40 most favourable ecosystems to build a globally successful startup.

Sruthi Kannan, head of programme at Cisco LaunchPad believes that with the right guidance and mentorship from the incubators and accelerators, the startup ecosystem is bound to flourish and scale furthermore in the global ranking.

The accelerator programme that concluded its 6th cohort in August, has recently closed the applications for its 7th cohort, which — due to the pandemic and social distancing norms — is going entirely virtual.

Elaborating on the steps taken to ensure smooth conduct of the upcoming virtual cohort, Kannan said, “We have inaugurated Kalki, our very own VR-based interactive and immersive experience centre that enables startups to demo and pitch their products/offerings to potential clients virtually.”  Kannan further added that Cisco LaunchPad will continue to bring the mentors and the startups together to co-create several meaningful engagements and drive digitisation into newer realms.

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