The importance of building community in India’s startup scene

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India is in the midst of a startup boom. The country is now the third-largest tech startup hotspot in the world, according to [a report]( by NASSCOM and Zinnov. Growth is expected to more than double by 2020 with around 11,000 new startups. Startups are also tackling India-specific problems head on by leveraging new technology and innovative business models.

To support this, the Startup India initiative brings together industry, academia, government, and media to create a strong Indian startup ecosystem. Serial entrepreneur Kashyap Deorah welcomes the government’s show of intent, saying that “acknowledging the role of startups in solving the country’s problems lends the movement great credibility.”

Benefits of strong startup communities

Sharing knowledge and mentoring

Research on New York City startups shows that 33 percent of founders mentored by successful entrepreneurs went on to become top performers – more than three times the performance of other New York-based tech companies. Mentorship allows founders become more self-aware and focus on their weaknesses and blind spots to build better companies.

To facilitate this in India, 10,000 Startups, a partnership between Google for Entrepreneurs and NASSCOM, conducts focused group workshops for shortlisted companies on product management, go-to-market strategy, pitching and industry insights from experts. Its Innotrek program also provides Indian startups with access to Silicon Valley’s industry experts, like Julie Zhou (Facebook) and Indus Khaitan (Sequoia Capital).

Likewise, the Startup India Hub unites government organizations, incubators, educational institutions, and private organizations to mentor young entrepreneurs and assist them with key milestones like funding and business structuring. In April, this will be upgraded to a more interactive Virtual Startup Hub, which will “intelligently connect startups” to investors and incubators by sectors and locations, respectively.

Getting through road bumps together

Indian startups face numerous challenges both at home and abroad. Sudden demonetization in late 2016 presented unique opportunities for startups depending on the industry vertical. Karan Anand, a senior assistant vice president at Invest India, remarks that startup- strong communities “encourage collaboration among various stakeholders of the ecosystem.” They pool together a strong network of resources to help entrepreneurs tide through tough times and give confidence and support to new entrepreneurs.

For example, 10,000 Startups has a network of 70 partners including key stakeholders of the ecosystem like incubators/accelerators, angel investors, venture capital, and technology corporations. Grassroots-level organizations like the Headstart Network provide a platform for local city chapters to plan events like pitch days and hackathons. Startup India Hub provides a forum for entrepreneurs to ask questions and share information.

Inspiring the next generation of startups

72 percent of India’s founders are less than 35 years old. Students, in particular, are a big driver of India’s startup scene, which included 350 student-run startups in 2016.

To support this, the Startup Hub’s Student Ambassador Program connects students with startup founders and industry leaders, providing mentorship that allows them to learn what it takes to run a business.

India’s education system is also focusing toward entrepreneurship, with college curriculums including courses on product development and marketing. In 2016, more than thirty new academic incubators were launched to support student startups. The #StartInCollege initiative, India’s largest student entrepreneurship campaign, aims to reach all engineering colleges in the country to create the next generation of great startups.

Ultimately, a strong startup ecosystem in India signals to the world that emerging markets are willing to take a lead in innovation and disruption. We certainly look forward to seeing more Indian city ecosystems topping the Startup Genome rankings soon.

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