The challenge in India is to figure out what steps you need to take to turn a prototype into a product and launch it globally. That’s where ‘accelerators’ come in.
Three years ago, Benjamin Joffe, partner at HAX, a hardware accelerator in Shenzhen and San Francisco, visited India. After a three-year gap, he has been in Bangalore thrice in the last six months, investing in two start-ups.
Earlier the VC community used to call the shots. But something has changed: hardly a day goes by without a new accelerator announcement.
“I think the growth of the hardware scene is amazing,” said Joffe. “Three years ago there was nothing but now there is a lot. I think it’s great to think there are 450 start-ups here in India only for IoT, a subset of hardware. The resources to create prototypes are getting better.”
The challenge in India is to figure out what steps you need to take to turn a prototype into a product and launch it globally. “That’s why connecting India and China makes a lot of sense. The same thing had happened between India and Silicon Valley 20 years ago. Two decades ago, there were not many Indians working in the Silicon Valley but today, you see that many Indians are CEOs of some of the largest U.S. companies. It takes time but the benefits are fantastic because not only you have many Indians planning great businesses in the Silicon Valley but also the IT sector in India has grown incredibly. The time is right to create a similar synergy between India and Shenzhen,” Joffe explained.
India has also been noticed by Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator (YC). Its three-month programme has become highly popular. “Today, after the U.S., India is the country that sends us the most applications,” Kathrina Manalac, a partner at Y Combinator said in a news report. When YC partners Tim Brady and Adora Cheung visited India for the first time in September as part of their 11-country tour, it was the only Asian country on the itinerary. “We think there is enough value to be created in India. We have already worked with a few startups that have created value in the Indian B2B and B2C ecosystem. In the end, Y Combinator is building a network which has created rich experiences and interactions worldwide,” Brady told the press.
According to Brett Stevens, director and VP of Jaarvis Accelerator, part of Hong Kong-based technology company, Jaarvis, the market opportunity in India is too big to ignore. “The cost of doing business is reasonable and it’s a hot market with a lot of startups,” he said. The company, which has offices in Singapore, Australia and India, had decided to launch an India specific accelerator back in June 2015. Since then it has invested up to $50,000 each in 15 startups and 10 of these are now in discussions with investors from Singapore and Japan.