Places to Connect, Collaborate and Grow Your Start-up
Two years ago we published an article titled Start-up Incubators and Accelerators in Bangalore. While many of the entities on that list are still around, new ones have appeared. This post is an updated list.
Incubators are those that provide a working space plus other services that startups often look for. This might include networking events, business guidance and mentor connect. Where expensive equipment is needed, such as for prototyping and testing, incubators may provide these as well. Accelerators do a lot of things that incubators do but with more focused timelines and intensive short-term involvement. Startups in an accelerator program will start together as a cohort, will regularly share their progress with mentors and often end in a "demo day" that will showcase their achievements. Very likely, they will seek to scale their businesses via useful industry contacts.
A visit to Redd Robotics, Chennai
I recently made a day trip to Chennai to meet my friends from Redd Robotics, a 3D printer company, who I had first met at Makerfest 2016. The intent of the visit was to learn more about Redd Robotics and 3D printing in general and explore possible uses of 3D printing in my own work.
As planned, I was at the Redd Robotics R&D office at Anna Nagar, Chennai, on a sunny Saturday afternoon by about 12 noon. One of my friends from college days, Subra, himself a tech-entrepreneur and technology enthusiast, joined me in this visit. Subra is based in Chennai.
Our hosts had chalked out an elaborate plan for the day: after spending time at their office, we had to head out to IITM Research Park, almost the other side of the city, to catch up with the 3D printing workshop that the company was conducting the same day.
Event Highlights and Guidelines for Entrepreneurs
I was fortunate to be invited to the Start-up India, Stand-up India event last week at Delhi, where our Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi unveiled the government's action plan for India's start-ups. It was a fantastic event for young entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs like us, especially in terms of learning from other successful entrepreneurs who were present at the event. We listened to about 100 successful start-up founders and investors across the world. One complete day was filled with panel discussions and success stories from founders, investors and policy makers.
There were discussions on what qualities are required in entrepreneurs, what support is required from government, how to raise funds, what investors look for and how do we make India a global hub for developing entrepreneurs. The event was attended by Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance, Secretaries of the Government, investors and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley. Founders of successful Indian start-ups and about 2000 young entrepreneurs from many parts of India were present, making the event all the more exciting.
Thoughts from Nandan and Chamath
If you're running a start-up or thinking of doing so in the near future, you might want to get some insights and thoughts on the Indian start-up ecosystem and the dynamics of building a great company. What better way that to hear of it than from two successful entrepreneurs: one from the old world before web and apps came to us, Nandan Nilekani, who built Infosys; the other from the new world built on web, mobile and cloud technologies, Chamath Palihapitiya, who was responsible for growing Facebook from a few million to a billion users.
Things are changing pretty fast in the Indian start-up scene. New start-ups are cropping up by the hundreds, not just dozens. Funds are plenty. Many if not most students graduating out of college are looking first to start out on their own and only otherwise "settle down" via the campus placement route. But in this fast moving environment it's sometimes not clear who's winning and who's going to lose in the long term.
Deciding on the best framework for your website
The beginning of the year is the best time to think about your next web project. The first thought that strikes us when we embark upon a web portal development project is which framework to use. Should we use Drupal or WordPress or Joomla! or any of the rest? I have worn those shoes a multitude of times. Today while my company has an arsenal of more than ten high-traffic web portals, I ponder as to what drove me to endorse Joomla! as our principal architect.
In the not so distant past in 2008, Drupal was the buzzword. It had a lot of opportunities for developers to build tools around it. Being an engineer and having worked under some of the best technical brains, I was naturally inclined to choose such a challenging framework. But such advantages come at a cost -- a steep learning curve! And furthermore, if you are a start-up, it means training your ever-changing team members (attrition), which is time consuming and costly.
Some things we have done and are proud of
Quite often I come across a start-up's website that starts by saying that "they are here to change the world." No doubt it is good and admirable to set high goals for oneself but at IEDF we have a different approach. We believe that the world can take care of itself once its shafts, gears and pulleys are sorted out.
IEDF exists to help engineers on an individual basis. Engineers can then go out there and change the world. We act as facilitators, enablers and connectors. It is really not about how many members we have on our website or how many followers on social channels. It is about making a positive difference to the career growth and aspirations of our member engineers, one engineer at a time. This is needed today more than ever. There is a great demand for talented engineers but engineering has always been an unglamorous career option for many.
Failure is just another word for learning
How does it feel to fail? Most hate the feeling of failure. It can sting, it can be embarrassing and it can make you look like an amateur, a wannabe and a talker. We try to hide our failures or dismiss them as something that was only an attempt, something we didn't have our hearts in. Perhaps there is some truth in that. Part of the negativity may be to do with the uncharitable attitudes we ourselves have towards those who fail. Failure isn't pleasant, whether it's in work or personal life.
In recent years, the narrative of the start-up scene with respect to failure has gradually shifted for both investors and entrepreneurs alike. Having a failure or two under your belt is almost a badge of honour, something that takes on a more positive hue from which you learn and grow. If you failed in a venture then there was a reason for that. If you care to admit that reason to yourself then it serves as a personal allegory, an experience you can draw on and hopefully not repeat. Learning from your failures requires that capacity for reflection.
A Growing List
The list in this article is old. An updated version of this list from December 2016 is available.
View Updated List
The start-up ecosystem in Bangalore has really grown in the last few years. It is with intention that I use the word "grown" rather than "matured." The numbers have increased but it is debatable if this is accompanied by a proportionate improvement in quality. Yet there are enough success stories to suggest that Indian start-ups are getting better: Google acquired Impermium; Facebook acquired Little Eye Labs; Yahoo acquired Bookpad; Flipkart, MU Sigma, Olacabs, and a few others got funded handsomely; Zomato has acquired companies overseas and has gone global.
A start-up ecosystem has many parts: incubators, angel investors, accelerators, seed funders, venture capitalists, mentors, business connectors, networking platforms, technology bloggers... the list goes on. Let us not forget the entrepreneurs themselves. They are the ones who have ideas, have the passion to see it through and are bold enough to take risks. Then there are the designers, engineers, coders, marketeers and analysts who translate ideas into executions.