Move Over Me-Too Ventures, This Academic Incubator Values Uniqueness
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What does it take for a young entrepreneur to get enrolled at an ivy B-school’s incubation program? Professor Suresh Bhagavatula, Chairperson, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development, NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore helps us figure out!
Set up in March 2002 as a focal point for entrepreneurial studies at IIM Bangalore, the Nadathur S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) facilitates business growth through academic research by scholars and practical learning for entrepreneurs. Located within the academic space at the serene IIM Bangalore campus, NSRCEL offers extensive engagement with industry in order to channelize and refine raw entrepreneurial energies that go on to become successful businesses. The centre draws upon both the IIMB faculty and industry experts to provide mentoring support.
“We look for ventures that have a unique value proposition. We do not incubate ventures that are adopting a "proven business model” from elsewhere in the world to India. We also incubate companies that are clear as to what they would want from NSRCEL/IIMB. Greater the clarity more likely they are to use the services of NSRCEL. Before we put the startups before the screening committee, they would have gone through multiple meetings with our mentors, which help them clarify their ideas and the way forward. So, we look for entrepreneurs who are keen on learning and adapting.” Prof. Suresh said.
Advice on how to get pitches right?
“I think startups should focus on delivering value to their customers. Their first and primary objective should be paying customers and not getting funds from the investors. Once their business model is proven there would be investors who will show some inclination to invest.”
With international corporate giants like Microsoft, Oracle and Airbus rolling out their incubation program, how does an academic incubator stand out?
“Most academic incubators are for their alumni and faculty. NSRCEL unlike many academic incubators is open to anyone. Also, unlike many corporate incubators and accelerators where there is some expectation (or maybe hope) that the startups would use the various technologies that are being developed by the corporate, we are agnostic to the technology they use. We have had startups that are deep technology focused like Amagi, OneClick (acquired by FreshDesk) and Mango (acquired by Qualcomm) and we have had companies such as WonderGrass, Bubblenut wash and Black Baza Coffee that connect products from rural India to urban or international consumers.”
Prof. Suresh further added that iPhone maker Apple’s announcement of launching an incubator in Bengaluru strengthens the fact that the city is a startup capital in this part of the world.