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Incubation Trends for Startup India 'Just like you can't get guaranteed results from them, set your expectations right from what you can provide them'

By Sanil Sachar

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7,200 startups in India as part of a report by Nasscom. Startup India showcase 8,625 startups recognized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. These numbers reinstate India being the third biggest startup hub. To grow as a strong startup nation, a stronger ecosystem needs to be created to create front runners.

As an enabler of our startup ecosystem, it is on incubators, to innovate how to grow the success of startups in a country that is oozing with talent.

Call them incubation trends, or methods to create a stable path, incubation is the first step for ventures, and here are six key tools –

  • Fail Fast, Succeed Fast

Failure at some level is inevitable to be faced by any startup, and it's important for incubators to encourage a "fail fast' model. Working on "call to action' points bi-monthly with ventures that are growing just so everyone can work quick and assess results to see what works and what doesn't. Tracking data of your performance is key and through short spurts, you can fail fast and move on till you hit the right chord.

When multinationals like Glaxo Smith Kline can have internal incubators, propelling growth and encouraging mistakes, with the aim of not missing out on good ideas, then early-stage startups while they have a lot to lose through failure, are better of failing faster than later.

Chandigarh University, for instance, has a Technology Business Incubator (TBI) which hosts the youngest and brightest minds. While the infrastructure is a big push, it is, more importantly, the openness of the institution to encourage students to group together and fail until they figure their route to success.

"An incubator builds startups but first and foremost, it is pivotal to be founder focused.'

  • Focus on the Soft Skills

Entrepreneurs mostly focus on their offerings and come with great ideas and failure rate occurs due to their lack of adopting softer and more essential skills which are needed in the long run.

These include how to deal with people, building a team, making your first sale (and repeated sales), and dealing with customers. Providing assistance early on enables the startup to become more organized and in return an organsiation.

"Build the entrepreneur and his venture will grow alongside.'

  • Mentorship

Don't tell them what to do but ask the right questions. A mantra that reaps value is a one mentor, one mentee partnership towards growth. Simply to provide stability in the venture, so while the founder focusses on the now, the mentor can support them in development for each step ahead.

"Incubators should work with teams with the mindset of a founder, but not as the founder, which is why startups should not look for incubators to get operationally involved.'

  • Partner up

Startups don't have resources and that's what you need to give them. Work with other incubators, they aren't a competition for one another. Partnerships with fellow startup enablers, assist startups to leverage a larger ecosystem.

Partnership platforms like Global Accelerator Network allow enablers to come together. Similarly, look to work with corporates, coworking spaces, educational institutions alike to leverage all your strengths, because, by the end of it, the reason incubators set up is to begin to support the incubatees, so why not do it together!

  • Don't Over Commit

Startups can look at incubators as the answer, and this could happen at any time to the best of entrepreneurs, so don't over commit or guarantee.

"Just like you can't get guaranteed results from them, set your expectations right from what you can provide them.'

  • Set a Timeline, not a Timer

This difference between the terms is the mindset. You don't have to onboard companies in batches because not all startups grow at the same rate. Timelines are important but never when you're supposed to take time to create.

A thesis within the incubator for onboarding needs to be followed and each of the five key methods above act as pillars for this before bringing a team as part of your huddle.

It's on us as incubators to constantly evolve and get involved.

"No startup is the same, and neither should be the way we incubate.'

Sanil Sachar

Entrepreneur, National Best-Selling Author & Angel Investor, Co-founder - Huddle, Co-owner - Trusox

Sanil Sachar is one of the co-founders of Huddle, a sector-agnostic incubator in Gurgaon, providing 360-degree support to multiple startups. He is also a co-owner of the international sports brand, Trusox, focussing his efforts on propelling sportspeople's performances with his products, within and outside India. Sanil is a national best-selling author, and one of the few Indian writers to be published in all forms of literature, with over 120 poems, 25 short stories, scripts and a novel to his name. An angel investor, he actively looks for startups solving need-based issues to get involved with and help through their evolution. His investments are sector agnostic and have made him venture into co-producing an award-winning Indie movie, Mantra. A sportsperson by passion, Sanil's principles off the field are inspired by those he learned on the field

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