Emerging Entrepreneurs

Startup Village: Kerala’s magnet for innovative entrepreneurs

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on January 22, 2018


The incubator provides budding enterprises with both infrastructure and seed funding

A group of friends studying at College of Engineering, Trivandrum, wanted to do something different. The result was MobMe Wireless, a start-up that the group established in 2006, while still on campus. The team did not have too many role models and learnt on the job, the hard way. In the process, the students even mentored a few others who were keen on becoming entrepreneurs. This, in turn, got them thinking about having a technology incubator, one that would help entrepreneurs in a more organised manner.

Thus was born Startup Village, God’s Own Country’s first incubator, set up as a public-private partnership involving the Department of Science and Technology, the Kerala Government’s Technopark and MobMe Wireless.

Startup Village began operations in Kochi in April 2012 and has been established as a not-for-profit society under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955. It has been set up under the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board scheme of the Department of Science and Technology.

Pranav Suresh, CEO of Startup Village, says the incubator operates from a 20,000 sq ft facility in Kochi and a 2,000 sq ft facility for start-ups in Kozhikode. It incubates 60 start-ups in its campus. Start-ups applying for incubation can be associated with the incubator as a physical incubatee, operating from the space provided by Startup Village, or a virtual incubatee, which means they will operate from their own space but have access to all the services provided by Startup Village.

Focus on Mobile & Internet technology

Pranav says Startup Village focuses on ventures in the mobile and internet technology space. The ventures that have taken up space are allowed to operate from the work space for up to five years.

Significantly, he says, Startup Village does not judge the incubation applications it receives. “The idea is to support the maximum number of youngsters exploring entrepreneurship by giving them a platform.” Any start-up can apply for virtual incubation. However, to avail themselves of the space, start-ups will have to pitch before the Incubation Team, where they will be judged on the basis of the innovativeness of the idea, product or service, quality of the business plan and entrepreneur background.

Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder, Infosys, is the Chief Mentor of Startup Village and is also the Chief of its Advisory Board. The mentors, as mentioned on its website, include Nishant Verman of Canaan Partners, Abhishek Goyal of UrbanTouch.com, Sunil Kalra, angel investor, Krishnakumar Natarajan, CEO, Mindtree, and Sasha Mirchandani of Kae Capital.

According to Pranav, apart from offering physical infrastructure, Startup Village ensures that entrepreneurs receive help in training, networking, mentorship, connecting with angel investors or seed funding support. It does not directly invest in the ventures nor does it take a stake in them, but it offers seed fund support for ventures that require it. The money for this comes from the Seed Fund Support Scheme for Start-ups in Incubators, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology.

Some of the start-ups incubated at Startup Village are Fin Robotics, MindHelix Technosol, iTraveller, Jiffstore and WowMakers.

Published on October 05, 2015

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