Four years ago, an idea took root in Kochi (Kerala) in the form of Startup Village (SV). With the hope of attracting the best entrepreneurial minds and creating successful start-ups, then a nascent idea has today a list of grand accomplishments and good takeaways for the new nationwide campaign.
The popularity of SV is clearly reflected from the fact that the Kerala government has decided to celebrate September 12 every year as Entrepreneurship Day.
What is this “Startup Village”?
The Startup Village was set up jointly by Mobme Wireless (a mobile technology company) and Technopark TBI (now, Kerala Startup Mission) with the Department of Science and Technology’s (Government of India) financial assistance of Rs.2.50 crore in 2011. Startup Village commenced operations in April 2012 as India’s first public-private-partnership (PPP) technological business incubator. It was set up with the aim of incubating 48 startups over a period of five years. As of October 2013, Startup Village has incubated 450 startups.
The entrepreneurs have an absolutely life changing experience at Startup Village. Apart from providing good infrastructure, SV helps them getting connected to many HNIs including top level executives, industry veterans, successful entrepreneurs and startup gurus. Going much beyond its established targets, Startup Village experimented with an array of new bold ideas, which have created not just an incubator but a robust startup ecosystem in Kerala. It has now the ambition of implementing the plan at the national level and produce startups straight from schools and colleges.
“Startup Village” enters its 2nd phase:
After its successful first phase, officials at SV are now excited about their next phase of expansion in which they aim for complete digitization of the incubation process right from filing applications to mentoring, resource allocation and final graduation. The target is to support 10,000 startup teams in the next five years. SV will exclusively deal with engineering students and campus teams in the second phase of operations.
A major feature of the expansion plan is ‘complete digitization’ of the incubation process – right from application process to admission, allocation of resources, learning, funding, connecting to mentors and experts, integration with university education and final graduation.
Startup Village, recognised by the Union Government as the Best Technology Business Incubator in 2015, has already tied up with five universities for integrating entrepreneurship with curriculum. These are Gujarat Technological University and Gujarat Law Society, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University at Anantapur and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, and APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) in Kerala.
Some of the successful startups:
- WowMakers: It is a designing-cum-digital marketing company. It was one of the first startups to be incubated at SV. Started out as a graphic design studio, it now focuses more on animated explainer videos on specific topics.
- Fin Robotics: It is another much talked-about startup is which rattled the Silicon Valley last year with its wearable technology brand- ‘Neyya’. Neyya is a smart ring, which when connected via Bluetooth, can control desktop computers and iPhones. With a swipe of the finger on the smooth capacitive touchpad, one can make/receive calls and lower music volumes on iTunes.
- Zero Bulb: Designs and develops websites, applications and other digital media
- Addictive Innovations: Mobile app developers, SEO experts and social media promotion analyst
- CAT Entertainments, Cooey, Unihalt, SecDes3, Profoundis and many others.
A model to learn from:
With a young and aspiring demographic, India can very well be the ideal environment for enterprising startups that can contribute to national GDP as well as provide gainful labour. The challenge remains to sustain this momentum, scale-up and become financially self-sustaining.
Finally, the Kerala government should be congratulated for the initiatives it took to encourage the startup environment.
– Sachin Jadhav