A country like the UK has swiftly created a progressive environment that forever shifts its economic dynamism by spurring innovation. Global startups such as Amazon and Uber believe the world is your oyster. For India to join this path, it has to fulfil the global startup vision.
Co-founders Akarsh Naidu and Adhikar Naidu talk about the loopholes in the ecosystem—and the company’s new business models inspired from their academic exposure in the West.
How different is the startup culture in India from the UK?
Studying at the London School of Economics, Department of Management, we both have gained an insider’s view of the UK startup culture, and it’s certainly very different from India. Indian startups are still young in their progress; and the key factors such as incubators and accelerators are yet to mature. On the contrary, the UK landscape is shaped well in terms of incubator presence across each sector. This means, the startups in the country are leveraged in so many ways.
However, the UK is focused on fintechs, while India is a lot more diverse—adding an edge to domestic businesses. Ten years ago, our country was premature in understanding the startup ecosystem—and is now changing.
What is the starving change startups in India need to move ahead of the curve?
Startups in the West such as Uber and Amazon have a global vision. They are not confined to a single region or market. On the contrary, Indian startups are yet to fully change their perspective. But, select startups such as Oyo are signalling a progression in the industry by penetrating into the Chinese market.
What is the vision behind Startupreneur?
Our experience and exposure in the global startup ecosystem has helped us to identify the challenges in India, especially for early-stage entrepreneurs. There is substantive work to support existing startups, but potential entrepreneurs with fascinating ideas lack mentorship. And we wanted to resolve this issue. My understanding of the ecosystem coupled with Adhikar’s academic knowledge in technology is the driving force behind this venture.
We hope to become an end-to-end provider for anyone with a vision to build a startup.
What is your company’s nature of work?
We have understood that most management institutions have incubators, who are not fully functional. In order to bridge this gap, we tie up with various educational institutions and develop activities around entrepreneurships. So, one of the models we have devised is how to activate E Cells in a manner that they can connect with alumni from their own institutions. In addition, we also mentor students on emerging technologies, business models, funding, teamwork and the like.
It is important to give the students an insight into the realistic aspects of being an entrepreneur. In future, we hope to work with governments to uplift the startup culture in smaller states. For example: The government of Uttarakhand has appointed us to conceptualise on an idea to create a startup ecosystem that is relevant to their state.
What are your company’s latest product offerings?
Our first is a boot camp model that students can sign up for. We are also in the phase of developing a virtual/online interface which will assist students and potential entrepreneurs with internships and relevant courses.
So far, we have conducted pilots and reached out to more than 3,000 students through these initiatives.
It is new for industry experts like you both to create business models that educate the uninitiated in the startup ecosystem about balancing profits with ethical reasoning and societal contribution. How is the feedback, so far?
The interaction we have with students across India tells us that they are passionate about starting a venture with a social impact. It will take time to orient themselves in terms of business and profits. For now, they are more inclined toward opportunities in waste management, edutech and healthcare. So, the question is: how do we channel their ideas into a meaningful business strategy—without being heavily reliant on external factors.
For example: A student from Christ University had conceived an idea to develop an app that will help ambulances to swiftly navigate in traffic and reach the destination on time. We helped him to connect with hospitals in the city, and capitalise on the idea.