Kick Starting Entrepreneurship
The energy in the air is electric and the mood optimistic. The buzz at Startup Village, Kochi is palpable as young entrepreneurs dream big for the future. Launched in 2012 as a not-for-profit organisation, the 15,000-square feet incubation centre was created with the aim of providing a thriving, productive ecosystem for young entrepreneurs. The ambition was to create 1000 start-ups out of Kerala over the span of a decade. And the response from young students studying at technological institutes dotted across the state continues to be overwhelming. The statistics say it all. Over the past year, Startup Village received more than 900 applications and 324 companies are on incubation mode. The scale up has been quick and by 2014, the total area of the Startup Village is expected to be 100,000 square feet.
The Ecosystem at Startup Village: The dream is to create a billion dollar tech giant in Kerala and Startup Village provides an enabling ecosystem to achieve this dream. Young entrepreneurs and students are provided with the entire basic infrastructure they require to pursue their ambition. This includes office space at minimal rent, access to investors, mentors & advisers as well as legal and intellectual property services. The telecom innovation zones bring the latest technology and products to the startups in the village. Startup Village also provides financial support with incubate companies being eligible for service tax exemption for a period of three years and up to Rs 50 lakh revenue.
In order to help Indian companies explore the global market, Startup Village also has plans to launch a centre in the United States. The aim is to provide the young entrepreneurs at the Village the opportunity to understand and interact successfully with the US market.
The Many Firsts Achieved by Startup Village:
• Startup Village is India’s first public-private partnership model Technology Business Incubator. Its promoters are Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, Technopark Trivandrum and MobMe Wireless.
• The project is the first to draw intense interest from the private sector. Unlike other incubation centres in India, it is not set in an academic milieu. A network of advisors from the private sector makes Startup Village unique. Some of the leading names associated with it include Blackberry, IBM, Oracle, KPMG and more.
• Startup Village is the first centre in the country and the second in the world to have 1 gigabit-per-second connectivity.
• Startup Village is the first incubator in India to have its own in-house fund. Market regulator Security and Exchanges Board of India has approved the Startup Village angel fund of $10 million that could go up to $20 million with a ‘Green Shoe’ (over-allotment) option. The focus area of the fund will be telecom/internet, and it would start investing once the initial close of $2 million is achieved.
With its success, Startup Village has shattered several myths about Kerala’s supposed lack of entrepreneurial skill and its unfriendly attitude to business. The applications raining in at Startup Village and the excitement it has created among youngsters in the state prove that developing the right ecosystem can help foster the spirit of innovation and change.