Espark Viridian Accelerator [earlier covered here and here], a startup accelerator for early and growth seeking startups in-association with Headstart Network Foundation, brings a unique opportunity for all the aspiring entrepreneurs- SmartUp 2017. SmartUp is a Pan India Business Plan Competition that could help win a cash prize worth Rs 1.75 lakh, entry to Espark-Viridian’s accelerator program, live one-to-one mentoring, potential to raise seed investment, network with all the who’s who of the business world.

Image Source – ESpark Viridian

Espark-Viridian in association with Headstart Network are committed to promote entrepreneurship in India. Early stage startups having original idea and clear business model with significant market research are eligible to apply. Top 25 startups will be shortlisted by selected jury members. The event would culminate with two full days dedicated to one to one mentoring from national level mentors followed by a pitching session to top rated investors wherein one could get a chance to raise a seed investment. The deadline application submission is 25th September 2017.

Vibhuti Channa, Director, Espark Viridian Accelerator, said

We, at Espark-Viridan Accelerator believe that India has tremendous potential and startups are the future of business ecosystem. This is a one-of a–kind business plan competition for budding entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality. Besides a potential to raising seed investment, the startups will get the opportunity for one-to one mentorship.

Amit Singh, Co-founder & MD, Headstart Network, said

SmartUp 2017 is Espark-Viridian and Headstart’s endeavor to identify and nurture India’s young entrepreneurs who have the aspiration and ability to solve big problems through their ventures. With Espark-Viridian’s enablement led program and Headstart’s country wide network -we seek to make mentoring and funding accessible to the early stage startups.

Individuals with an idea and passion for entrepreneurship need to register at SmartUp 2017  for participation.

About Espark-Viridian

Espark-Viridian is a startup accelerator for early and growth seeking startups. We offer an up-to 18-month multi-center, multi-sector accelerator programme through 5 centres spread across Bangalore, Chandigarh, Gandhinagar, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR. To know more, please visit Espark-Viridian

Couple of days back, we had covered the #StartSomething initiative by Espark-Viridian, a startup accelerator which is a joint-venture between the Entrepreneurial Spark, UK and Viridian Ventures, India. Today we have a chat with Mr Vibhuti Channa, Director of Viridian Ventures about the accelerator, how to apply for the October cohort, entrepreneurship, scaling up, etc.

So, lets start with the Q&A…

Espark-Viridian(EV) is a JV, can you please give a brief about the team and Viridian’s association with Entrepreneurial Spark?

We have a partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark under which we have been operating accelerator centres in India for over a year now.

Can you please walk us through the complete programme or what is the planned curriculum over that 18 month period?

The programme is a comprehensive one that gives access to the entrepreneurs to dedicated enablers, mentors, service providers, suppliers, office space and potential investors for their businesses.

Off late there are many accelerators- Microsoft Accelerator, Kyron, TLabs, GSF, etc. why should an entrepreneur choose EV accelerator (or how does it differ in offerings) over other accelerators (that are present in India for quite sometime)?

The fundamental differentiator is the enablement programme which envisages a dedicated enabler who works with an entrepreneur on a one on one basis through the entire relationship that an entrepreneur is with us in the programme. This facilitates a regular tracking of the business and the entrepreneur is challenged and stretched at every stage to ensure that the outcome is robust and in line with his dream for the business.

How strong are your connections to mentors/investors etc. involved with the accelerator? How much time would the selected startups get with the mentors?

The mentors and entrepreneurs are linked up at a stage when it is believed that the entrepreneur requires the necessary intervention and support. The duration is determined by the specific need that may arise for such support.

Do the selected startups have to part away with equity? Are there any fixed costs that selected startups need to bear during the tenure of the programme?

The accelerator does not take an equity stake in the entrepreneur’s business.

How are the previous cohorts of Espark-Viridian (EV) doing right now? Can you please share some details about the traction, revenue, funding, etc. of couple of startups from the previous cohort.

We have 25 graduates from our programme thus far of whom 5 have successfully secured seed funding.

What does the EV team look for in the startup team that is applying for the accelerator programme?

We look for people who have an entrepreneurial mindset – someone who is willing to take the risk, is open to being challenged and work hard. This is not an easy journey and one should be resilient to ride the tumbles with equanimity in the quest for success.

EV is present in select cities in India, is it mandatory for the shortlisted startup to relocate to any of these cities or they can work remotely (and get necessary support from mentors etc.)?

It is possible to operate from locations where we are not present and be a part of the programme.

When you choose a startup, do you look at companies which are solving local problems or companies which have a global mindset?

We are sector agnostic and are open to companies that are addressing areas across sectors and geographies.

Should a startup be in any particular stage (i.e. Idea/Growth etc.) in order to apply for the Programme?

We are happy to support start ups at any stage between idea and scale up.

Any priority or focus on sectors that the programme would focus on (Can a hardware startup apply for the programme)?Is your programme also open to Social Enterprises?

We are open to people from any sector and do have people on board from the social enterprises space as well.

Apart from Idea, what are some of the key things your team looks into while assessing the applications?

We look at the entrepreneurs mind set which is critical to the success of the business. We look for openness, resilience and a spirit to get challenged in a positive manner.

Some insights into the industry partners for the Programme?

Some of the partners we work with include banks, payment gateways, cloud space, software support apart from other service support areas.

2016 is a tough year for startups (especially for companies that are in the growth stage), can you please some tips for entrepreneurs looking to raise funds and how they can see through these turbulent times?

It is critical that entrepreneurs remain hard nosed and ruthlessly focused on driving value for their businesses. The fundamentals of doing business and driving the bottom line will never change irrespective of the industry or times we live in. As long as entrepreneurs bear that in mind they will not have a problem riding through these times.

If you are an entrepreneur and willing to apply for the October 2016 cohort of the Espark-Viridian accelerator, please visit the Application Page. If you have any further questions about the accelerator, their offerings etc. please leave a comment and we would have it answered from the EV Team.

There is a dialogue in the Web Series TVF Pitchers from TVF Play – ‘India’s future would be shaped by entrepreneurs and it is their ideas that would play a crucial role in India’s growth‘, that is very relevant in the current scenario. India is on the cusp of the entrepreneurship wave and grass-roots level initiatives like Make In India, Digital India, India Stack (UPI, eKYC etc.), Startup India Fund etc. are opening up new avenues for aspiring entrepreneurs in India. India did jump four spots in Easy Of Doing Business Index but yet there is lots of work to be done (Source*) so that the conditions are more conducive to starting as well as winding-up of businesses.

Apart from the conducive entrepreneurial environment, there is a dearth of focused groups for idea validation, converting ideas into a viable business, connecting with fellow entrepreneurs, connecting with investor community (Angels, Early stage VC’s), getting early-adopters for products, etc. Mentors can act as a motivational device for a startup, they can provide guidance through their domain expertise as well as much needed motivation! Effective Mentorship & Guidance was one of the key factors for the success of RedBus (Source*). To summarize, each and every torch bearer is critical in building a vibrant startup ecosystem.

As mentioned in Startup Revolution, a community is a core part of the startup eco-system and must be built with a bottom-up approach, not top-down. Startup Accelerators play a vital role in community development and that is the reason number of accelerators have been on the rise. However, the impact an accelerator has in a startup’s journey would vary depending on the program. Many accelerators welcome entrepreneurs that have business ideas in Ideation Stage whereas some require the ideas shaped in the MVP Stage. Seed capital, Mentoring, Infrastructure are the key pillars of Startup Accelerator. During my tenure with a startup – Anaxee, the team at the Nirma Labs incubator (used interchangeably with accelerator) played a crucial role in shaping up the idea to MVP along with providing the Seed Capital.

One such accelerator that aims to be a significant player in the development of the entrepreneurship eco-system in India is Espark-Viridian. Espark-Viridian is a joint initiative of Entrepreneurial Spark, UK, and Viridian Ventures. It has a network of accelerator centers that follow a program based approach to foster entrepreneurship. Espark UK has an amazing track record with more than 650 Enabled Startups with a success rate of 88%.

Irrespective of whether a startup is in the ideation phase or growth phase, entrepreneurs are welcome to apply for the October 2016 batch. Espark-Viridian has launched the #StartSomething campaign and expanded the accelerator program to Chandigarh and Mumbai. Hence, entrepreneurs irrespective of their current location can apply for the October batch for the Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi or Gandhinagar centers.

The Espark-Viridian program is an 18-month long program that can be very crucial for accelerating your business to the next stage. That duration would help them validate their idea, get initial traction and make their ideal market-fit. That is the primary reason, the program is built on the following pillars that are key to the entrepreneurial eco-system:

Validation and MVP Design: Develop an initial prototype of your product with minimum investment.
Funding Readiness: Transform ideas into viable businesses by helping entrepreneurs explore new avenues and validate the product. Pitch to investors for follow-on funding.
Enablement and knowledge sharing : Industry experts, successful entrepreneurs would be invited to empower startups. Each team would have a Mentor who would be a Subject Matter Expert in that particular domain. Enablers keep the team motivated and play a vital role in shaping the idea into a workable product. Check the mentors associated with Espark-Viridian program here

In order to address requirements of the startups that enroll for the program, Espark-Viridian has tied up with AWS Activate, Paytm, HeadStart, IAmWire, YourStory, and Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Some of the startups that Espark-Viridian has worked with can be found here. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur looking for idea validation or to shape your idea to MVP or to take your startup to the next level of growth, you can apply for the Espark-Viridian Program

Follow Espark-Viridian for updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube

In a nutshell, startup accelerators can have a positive impact on the startups associated with them, though it might vary depending on the program. Irrespective of the potential of impact, accelerators do have a positive effect on the eco-system!

Espark-Viridian, a joint venture between Viridian Ventures and Europe’s most dynamic business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark, UK, is now accepting applications for the October 2016 Batch.

Image Source - Twitter
Image Source – Twitter

Espark-Viridian : Build People who Build Businesses

Espark-Viridian is a business accelerator that aims at growing the Indian startup ecosystem by helping entrepreneurs transform their ideas into realizable and feasible businesses, through its 18 month programme. A tested model adopted from its parent accelerator, Entrepreneurial Spark, UK, has an amazing track record and so far, there is a success rate of 88% with more than 650+ Startups enabled* [Entrepreneurial Spark, UK figures].

In sync with the government’s growing support to the young entrepreneurs, around the country, Espark-Viridian has expanded its acceleration programme to Chandigarh and Mumbai with the launch of #StartSomething campaign.

Espark-Viridian : What’s in it for YOU, the entrepreneur

Through a national network of accelerator centers that follow a programme based approach to building entrepreneurs, Espark-Viridian will provide a comprehensive platform that includes infrastructure, access to seed capital and mentoring.

In the initial 45 days of the Programme, shortlisted startups would go through an Idea Validation and Market Feasibility phase. This phase would help them understand the ground-level impact of their idea. An Enabler would be assigned to each team. The Enabler keeps track of the progress of the startup and helps them shape their ideas into a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or make it market ready. Successful entrepreneurs, Mentors and experts from the industry act as Mentors in the Programme. Shortlisted startups would get the necessary support in the Fund Raising Process so that they can take their startup to the next-level.

The Espark-Viridian has the following to offer for entrepreneurs:

  • Multi center and multi sector innovation environment
  • A large portfolio of mentors and passionate enablers
  • Opportunities to raise seed funding
  • Pool of service providers to smoothen daily processes
  • Access to global markets and networking opportunities
  • World class infrastructure and other amenities
  • Weekly workshops and events to enhance business skills

In the last one year of its entry into India, close to 25 startups have graduated from Espark-Viridian accelerator across sectors ranging from tech to farming, with a belief to not only build a business, but also the entrepreneur behind the business.

Espark-Viridian : Graduated Startups

Some of the startups graduated from their earlier batch are below

Startups Graduated from espark-viridian accelerator
Startups Graduated from the Espark-Viridian accelerator

Espark-Viridian : #StartSomething and How to apply

Espark-Viridian has key industry partners namely AWS Activate, Paytm, HeadStart, IAmWire, YourStory, and Kotak Mahindra Bank. The intake of early stage startups and entrepreneurs, for the first batch commencing this October is in process.

Along with inviting applications for the October 2016 batch for all the four centers (Mumbai, Delhi, Gandhinagar and Chandigarh), Espark-Viridian will also be hosting #SparkSessions in all the four cities, to meet aspiring startups and entrepreneurs.

You can follow Espark-Viridian on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.  To apply for the Programme, please visit ESpark-Viridian Application Page. If you want any more information or have any doubts about the Programme, please leave them in the comments section or email at himanshu.sheth@gmail.com