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(From left) David Brown, founder and co-CEO of Techstars; Lalit Ahuja, founder of ANSR Consulting, and David Cohen, founder and co-CEO, Techstars.
(From left) David Brown, founder and co-CEO of Techstars; Lalit Ahuja, founder of ANSR Consulting, and David Cohen, founder and co-CEO, Techstars.

Techstars to launch start-up accelerator

Global start-up incubator network Techstars to launch programme in Bengaluru next month

Bengaluru: Global start-up incubator network Techstars will launch a new start-up accelerator in India next month and has hired a top executive from Microsoft Accelerator to run the programme, while setting up a separate India fund to invest in early-stage ventures in the country.

In an interview with Mint, Techstars co-founder David Brown said the new accelerator programme, which will be set up in Bengaluru, will look to support and back nearly a dozen early-stage ventures.

This month, Techstars hired Bala Girisaballa, who was previously managing director at Microsoft Accelerator India, to run the new accelerator programme, which will be launched in April. Techstars has also set aside a separate corpus from its global $300-million start-up fund to back early-stage ventures in India.

“We’ve committed to a separate India fund, funded partially through our global fund. We’ve got $300 million under management—we’ve carved out $5 million to start for India, but we can flex that as needed as we continue to grow," said Brown.

Last year, Techstars launched in India through a joint venture with ANSR Consulting—a Bengaluru-based start-up which counts Accel Partners as one of its top investors and helps large Fortune 500 companies like Limited Brands and Target set up their technology centres in India.

“Last time when I was in India, it was all ideas. And now it’s reality. We had big plans to do more than just an accelerator, but it wasn’t very tangible when we were here in August. Now I think it’s much more tangible—we’ve hired Bala, we’re going to run an accelerator here, we’re opening applications soon to run an accelerator here in Bangalore, we have a lot of corporate engagements that we are excited about and we have a talent program here," said Brown.

“We have 40 accelerators around the world—and we typically don’t do less than nine companies and not more than 12. It’s about 10 and we expect it to be the same here. That’s the model and it works very well. You need it to be small enough to have enough attention for the start-ups, but big enough to have some mass," he added.

Techstars also plans to work with a number of top companies and corporates that will set up or already have set up their technology centres in India through ANSR and help them build out in-house corporate accelerator programs.

“Every GIC (global in-house centre) that we bring in from here on will have a Techstars component," said Lalit Ahuja, founder of ANSR Consulting. “We also have existing engagements and we’re in the process of transferring them over to Techstars India because that’s the right place for these engagements."

Globally, companies such as Amazon, Walt Disney, Barclays, Comcast and Target have tied up with Techstars to launch corporate accelerator programmes.

Start-up accelerators and incubators typically help entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures turn promising, disruptive ideas into sustainable businesses. Apart from office space, accelerators typically provide mentoring and seed funding to early-stage start-ups for about 3-6 months.

Techstars was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2006 by Cohen, Brown, Brad Feld and Jared Polis. It operates in countries such as Australia, Canada, Israel and France, and across the US. Over the past decade, Techstars has accepted well over 1,000 early-stage ventures globally into its programmes.

“What is missing (in the Indian ecosystem) is probably the depth in understanding the market and domain expertise. And that is an opportunity for us—we can actually bring in (that expertise) through our global partners, as well as our partners here, and connect them to the start-ups here," said Girisaballa, president at Techstars India.

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