‘Need encouraging support system for start-ups’

CYRIAC DAVIES ,Managing Director, KITCO

KITCO’s entrepreneurship development activities have triggered a boom in Kerala with more than one lakh entrepreneurs seeking the agency’s support. A recent initiative – My Enterprise Development – to aid entrepreneurs with innovative ideas is getting encouraging response.



“Today, it is easy to start an enterprise with minimum investment. The real challenge lies in converting that business into a successful venture,” says Cyriac Davies, Managing Director, KITCO, a State-owned consultancy firm in which SIDBI holds a 49 per cent stake. He shares the roadmap charted out by the company to create a self-sustainable ecosystem by working closely with all agencies. Edited excerpts:



What made KITCO think of launching an entrepreneurial development programme?



Start-ups are important drivers of the economy and KITCO plays the role of a facilitator to them. Since the beginning of this century, a large number of technology-based start-ups has emerged. Many of these, after a good beginning, failed to make significant contribution in the long run. It was found that many of the failures are due to lack of proper mentoring on business modelling, operational issues and team building. This prompted KITCO to play the role of mentor. Many working professionals are keen to become entrepreneurs, but they do not get the right advice and training. These factors prompted the agency to establish a Technology Business Incubator.



What is unique about this initiative? How is it different from such programmes conducted by others?



Our focus is not only on making start-ups commence operations, we want them to grow successfully. This can happen only if the business operation is performed in a more organised manner. Start-ups need not re-invent the wheel.



There are enough case studies and learning available. There is a need to understand the best model of business operation. In KITCO–TBI system, it is the organisation with various skill sets playing the role of mentor, rather than a set of individuals.



How is the response so far?



The Business Leadership Programme focuses on aspiring entrepreneurs keen to pursue a business idea but lacking the confidence and competency. The 45-day programme comprises class room training and pre-incubation under the guidance of mentors and leading faculty. It aims at creating confident and learned founders. The first batch has received good response and the second batch is scheduled to commence soon.



What is the content mix of the programme?



‘My Enterprise’ is not limiting its services only to incubation. We look at incubation and mentoring from the whole process chain, which includes creating quality entrepreneurs, all round mentoring and encouraging angel investors. The company intends to conduct six such programmes annually. Another programme under finalisation is Angel Leadership Programme (ALP). Many feel that there are nuances in operating as angel investor and worried about selecting promising start-ups. Through ALP, KITCO plans to create a learned angel investor group in Kerala.



What is the follow-up you are planning?



Only a few start-ups cross the second or third year or record a turnover of ₹1 crore. It is not always the product/service which is preventing the growth. In a majority of the start-ups, errors in operations, marketing plans and team building are causes for them failing.



We have decided partner with each of the start-ups getting incubation and mentoring through ‘My Enterprise’ by converting the cost towards the services offered by KITCO as equity.



My Enterprise is looking at creating successful enterprises out of each and every aspiring entrepreneur. We focus on start-ups from a wide spectrum of sectors. Being a stakeholder in the start-ups will enable KITCO to continue its close scrutiny and mentoring to increase the success rate.



What ails the entrepreneur ecosystem in Kerala? Is it the lack of opportunities or motivation or support from governmental agencies?



For any initiative to be successful, it is important to have an encouraging support system. For start-up led economic progress, it is important to have co-ordinated efforts from all stakeholders. All TBIs operating have competencies and expertise in many sectors.



The need of the hour is to create a collaborative environment of TBIs, academic establishments and R&D labs. Such an environment supported by angel investors will enhance the success rate of start-ups. Another advantage is the possibility of avoiding of duplication of start-ups working on similar idea/products. This has been a matter of concern which is draining lot of energy and time of many innovators.



Published on December 14, 2015
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