SoftBank founder’s brother to set up India-centric accelerator

Taizo Son, founder and CEO of incubator Mistletoe

Ties up with GSF Accelerator, InfoBridge to launch Gastrotope

Bengaluru, September 14

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son’s kin will set up a start-up accelerator to aid Indian ventures, with a plan to launch a fund in the near future.

Taizo Son, founder and CEO of incubator Mistletoe, and brother of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi (Masa) Son, announced his foray into India with an accelerator that will handhold start-ups in agri, food tech, healthcare and education.

Early-stage investment firm and incubator Mistletoe, the venture of the younger Son, is an early- stage investment firm and incubator, has tied up with GSF Accelerator and InfoBridge, a business consultancy that connects Japanese companies with their Indian counterparts, to launch a start-up accelerator, Gastrotope.

“Our approach will be different — we will build a community of entrepreneurs, designers, investors, and importantly look at ventures through long lens, something which will differentiate us from folks like Y Combinator or 500 Startups,” Son told BusinessLine. “India can set in motion, technologies to upgrade farming and optimise the agri supply chain, which can be adopted by the rest of the world,” he added.

Eating healthy

Food consumption habits are changing worldwide, with a focus on nutrition and wellness. Gastrotope seeks to play a crucial role at a time when Indians are getting health conscious. “This requires the birth of a completely new agriculture and food tech ecosystem,” said Rajesh Sawhney, founder, GSF Accelerator.

Son is working out every aspect of the accelerator and not much details are available at present — for example, where the accelerator will be set up, what would be the quantum of funding or the size of the first batch, all need to be figured out. But one thing he is certain of.

“I will look at entrepreneurs who never give up and have the passion to carry the venture through tough times,” he said, adding as an afterthought that most start-up failures are a result of founders giving up on their idea, apart from lack of capital and employee attrition.

Son had earlier founded mobile gaming company GungHo Online Entertainment, the makers of Puzzle & Dragons. He launched Mistletoe four years ago and has so far invested $161 million of his personal wealth in more than 90 start-ups. Mistletoe, in India, has taken baby steps by investing in InnerChef (founded by Sawhney) NinjaCart and Kisan Network.

Efforts taken by Son is not entirely new. State and Central governments for the past several decades have been trying to implement lab experiments on the field. Where Son differentiates is that this is the first time large capital is at the doorstep,.

During her recent visit to Bengaluru, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Food Processing Industries Minister, had said the government is eyeing $10 billion in investments in the food processing sector in next few years. It plans to set up 42 mega food parks, create direct employment for up to 5 lakh and benefit 25 lakh farmers with the intention of doubling farmer’s income and increasing output 2.5 times by 2020.

Published on September 14, 2017

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