The biggest startup successes- from Henry Ford to Bill Gates to Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg- were pioneered by people from the middle-class background. These founders were not wealthy when they began. Rather, they were hungry for success and knew they had a solid support system to fall back on if they failed.

However, all the startups are not so lucky to have a place in silicon-valley for their progression and nurture. So, Headstart being a grass root level support system for entrepreneurs and startups trying to create an ecosystem to foster a startup and innovation by its countless initiatives.

Headstart is on a mission to make India a more innovative and prosperous place by nurturing and encouraging the budding startups and innovative entrepreneurs.

With this rising spirit Headstart Delhi through one of its leading initiatives Startup Saturday conducted an awesome session themed “Ecosystem Support for Startups” in August.

The session commenced with Mr. Amit Ramani, Founder & CEO of Awfis Space Solutions- a non-conventional coworking space platform for startups, followed by the comprehensive professional insights and opinions from Mr. Suyash Mishra, AVP, Invest India- a platform that helps startups and VC’s to collaborate, Mr. Erik Auzulay, Director Nexus, Mr. Soaib Grewal, Venture Partner TLabs, and Dr. Sunil K Shekhawat , Regional Head (North India) NASSCOM for Start-ups.

The major insights from the informative session are mentioned below…

Coworking as an Emergent Collaborative Activity:

Coworking is measured as the best place for the startups due to three main factors:


Along with startups many large corporates are also moving to co-working space even as they build their new campuses, to lower the overhead costs by limiting the amount of separate, dedicated space, which a business needs to lease. From large information technology, banking, financial services to insurance companies are increasingly opting for co-working spaces to cope-up with the rising rentals while getting the flexibility to move in a grade A offices in a prime property market across the country with complete facility. 

These spaces differ radically in ambience, amenities, location, and clientele. Coworking is a great way to be in the community of likeminded people for integration and engagements. coworking spaces are built around the idea of community- building, and sustainability. This flexible concept has taken the real estate from backstage to frontstage and opened up ample opportunities in the industry. Although the competition is large at the same time there is a lot of visibility.

How Invest India is Supporting Startup Ecosystem:

Moving further, Mr Suyash has undoubtedly thrown a light on Invest India framework and how this organization is supporting the startup ecosystem in its own way.

Invest India is the country’s official agency dedicated to investment promotion and facilitation. Set up as a joint venture between FICCI (51% equity), DIPP (35% equity held by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry) and State Governments of India (0.5% each), its mandate is to become the first reference point for the global investment community.  

It provides in-depth sector-specific and state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services. Its mandate also includes assisting Indian investors to make informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.

Invest India meld with SIDBI & Startup India as an initiative for supporting the startup community and helping in curbing the tax restriction from them. Through DIPP, startups will get a great help in getting the hassle-free patents and trademarks for their startups. Here, it is important to note that Govt. will not be funding startups. It the VC’s who fund and are listed on the website. It is the startup’s responsibility to select the right VC firm and approach them.

Startup India is focused on boosting private sector entrepreneurship. Here Invest India is playing a facilitating and catalyst role.

So, its a great opportunity for the investors and the startups to come together and share a single platform for the progression.

After Invest India presentation Mr Erik Auzely, Executive Director, Nexus Startup Hub and Incubator, American Center, has tried to differentiate the Indian vs Silicon Valley startup ecosystem.

To inspire and encourage the budding and existing entrepreneurs he pointed that US angels are more willing to take risks, and are far-sighted enough to be able to back a passionate founder based on just a great idea. Indian investors, on the other hand, are seen as being far more traditional and conservative except few,  because they are not willing to back an entrepreneur’s dream unless he can show them as commercially successful. 

The best seed stage investors do not wait for entrepreneurs to pitch to them – they go out and seek entrepreneurs who are doing clever things, and ask them if they want to be funded. They market themselves and want to be seen as being the first choice of a good entrepreneur.

We need to remember that the US is a much more established ecosystem, which can boast a lot of high profile success stories. India is still lagging behind but progressively learning probably we don’t have these local success stories as yet with the strong value proposition.

The startup ecosystem in the US is much open and transparent and investors try to be more supportive. They listen respectfully to entrepreneurs and compassionately think of themselves as being partners with founders and have imbibed the service culture, which is now a part of their DNA. The question they ask themselves is, “What can I do in order to make the entrepreneur succeed?” This is one of the reasons why so many of them have an active online presence and are happy to share information. 

Erik, towards the end, advised the startups and the entrepreneurs to deploy the time constructively while meeting with the investors. Although, startups are mature enough to understand the competitive market when raising funds, and they are working hard on trying to impress investors. For the perfect and concise approach startups must do the homework and spend time in finding the right investors beforehand.

Soaib Grewal, in the continuation, discussed the role that accelerators and incubators are playing for early to mid-stage startups.

He clearly explained both incubators and accelerators are important for the growth and development of the startup ecosystem and can provide valuable insights and growth opportunities to help a startup idea flourish into a full-fledged business model. Although these are two different entities offer growth prospects and shouldn’t be confused with one another.

Startup incubators begin with companies (or even single entrepreneurs) that may be earlier in the process and they do not operate on a set schedule. Within the incubator, a company will refine its idea, build out its business plan, work on product-market fit, identify intellectual property issues, and network in the startup ecosystem. 

Accelerator programs like TLabs usually have a set timeframe in which individual companies spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months working with a group of mentors to build out their business and avoid problems along the way. Early stage companies are typically given a small seed investment, and access to a large mentorship network, in exchange for a small amount of equity. The mentor network is usually comprised of startup executives, venture capitalists, industry experts, and other outside investors.

Last but not the least Dr Sunil Shekhawat while putting across his views on startup ecosystem said:

Startups in India has grown rapidly over the last few years and any business takes nothing less than 3-5 years and successful businesses take up even 15-20 years to establish itself. Brand creation and recall takes more time.”

But startups today are already ahead of the curve when compared to entrepreneurs before them because they have adapted to think innovatively. They are employers of tomorrow who are trying to solve genuine problems in the urban and rural world today. He is optimistic about the startup ecosystem as it stands today and firmly believes that this spirit should continue in the years to come.

The key takeaway from the informative session:

Indeed, businesses in India need to stop thinking of how to create a billion-dollar company for the next two years. The race to a billion-dollar business means that there are a lot of rash ideas floating around with no lights at the ends of the tunnel. The time frame needs to be longer to propel India’s nascent startup ecosystem. The most substantial aspect of building the startup is to think of value creation, not valuation. The value will automatically come your way once it will reach on a soaring success.  


Contributed by:
Heena Gupta
Volunteer- New Delhi