India Japan Startup Bridge Vol.1- Headstart Network : Changing the World through Entrepreneurship


01 Jan'20

This article is available in Japanese. Read

Who we are?

Headstart is one of India’s oldest and largest startup ecosystem development organizations that supports entrepreneurship and startups. We have been chasing the vision ‘changing the world with entrepreneurship’ for the last 11 years. 

It is a not-for-profit organization, almost entirely volunteer driven. Our volunteers are a passionate bunch –  entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship enthusiasts, with a fervent desire and commitment to being change agents.

Today, we are actively working in 23 cities across India engaged by 200+ volunteers and launching 2 international chapters in Helsinki and Berlin.

Current network of Headstart

Since its establishment in 2008, Headstart has been committed to building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and worldwide through its many initiatives.
We have helped 15,000+ startups showcase their offerings and get feedback on their products. We have facilitated tens of thousands of connections to potential co-founders, customers, vendors, mentors, investors and employees.

We are planning to expand our network to many more cities in India and bridge the startup communities globally.


Why startup ecosystem development?

A vast majority of startups die within the first 6 months. This is often due to the lack of resources and support structure for early stage entrepreneurs in their ecosystem.
We create an ecosystem that helps these early stage startups (typically in the -6 months to 2 years bracket) through initiatives across India.  

For example, in 2007 when entrepreneurship wasn’t a buzz word and most startup founders were making the same mistakes while starting, we created an initiative called Startup Saturday. It helped early stage startups learn from veterans who had been there and done that. It also helped them get feedback on their product and provided them with a platform to network with a lot of people. The networking in turn helped them with prospective customers, investors, employees, co-founders, media personnel and service providers. Companies that demoed at Startup Saturday have today created over 4,00,000 jobs and added 36,500 Crores to the Indian economy.

Startups like Flipkart, Fusionchats made their first public demos at Startup Saturday, We strongly believe that entrepreneurship is a key and essential driver for development of the nation, which will bridge the unemployment divide and contribute to the Indian economy.


What we do?

Headstart is committed to building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country through its many initiatives. Currently we drive 15+ initiatives across India.
Some of the initiatives are: 

– Incubator Consulting – Enabling and empowering incubators by helping them run world class programs and integrating them better with the rest of the startup ecosystem. 

Startup Saturday –  Our flagship initiative, a monthly meetup of founders and enthusiasts that happens across multiple Indian cities based on a particular theme. The format typically includes expert talks on a focused subject, panel discussions, startup pitches and demos.


A snapshot from Startup Saturday

Kickstart –  A closed-door pitching session where pre-selected start-ups will be invited to pitch in front of a panel of investors.

Headstart Jobs –  is our hiring initiative, with a speed dating format of match making amazing startups with incredible candidates. 

WE – WE is our initiative focused on supporting women entrepreneurs with resources, guidance and mentorship. More than women only sessions, we are more geared up towards getting more women entrepreneurs into the ecosystem and helping them become mainstream.

 – Cohort Mentor – A series of group mentoring sessions for a cohort of startups, struggling with a particular thing, on a particular topic with startup mentees and mentors who are established experts on that topic.

And there are many other initiatives that help startups with Product, Marketing and Finance needs in addition to providing connections and exposure to industry and new markets.

Most of the initiatives had taken place locally in respective chapters offline until 2019. Since 2020, we have transformed our initiatives into completely online mode, which accelerates building an ecosystem network across India and worldwide.

Our initiatives are completely moving offline to online mode
One of our Startup Saturday focused on one of the most evolving sector over the pandemic – Indian Edtech Startups


What is our uniqueness and advantages?

Local and Nation-wide network – We have a strong network with its 23 chapters, including metro and Tier2/3 cities across India. Each chapter understands the challenge and maturity of their local ecosystems and addresses them by closely working with startups and partners in respective cities. On the other hand, we as a Pan-India organization have a strong collaboration and support among chapters. Each chapter bridges their local startups/communities with relevant supporters across India, leveraging our intra-city network.  Our central team closely works with a number of partners like national level government organization and global corporates. This means, while we enable startup communities to develop locally within their own city, we create an opportunity for them to access a larger network at national level.


Mission driven – Headstart is a volunteer driven organization. Our initiatives are driven by passionate volunteers with commitment to be a catalyst to the change. We execute our initiatives with focus on our vision and collaborate with partners who share common goals with us. Our volunteers are professionals from diverse backgrounds such as product, design, VCs, marketing, tech etc.  to name a few. This enables us to drive a wide range of initiatives in impactful and creative way to achieve our vision ‘changing the world through entrepreneurship’


 Recognition– Headstart has been recognized by a number of startups and ecosystem players through its quality of what we deliver for the community and of how our volunteers work over the last 12 years. Being a part of our initiatives is a great opportunity for startups to connect with people and organizations impactful for their growth, and it is an honor for speakers, mentors and partners. 


Our Partnership

Besides a number of startups, Headstart collaborates with key players in the startup ecosystem at both national and city levels. Some of our partners are: Niti Aayog (formerly National Planning Commission), Atal Incubation Mission (a Govt of India Initiative), various State governments, corporates like IBM, SAP, Intuit, Microsoft.   

We join hands together with these partner organizations towards creating an environment that empower startups and entrepreneurship.


Join our community

We welcome you to join our community for building the startup ecosystem together locally and internationally.
Follow us in our social media, join our initiatives, and meet entrepreneurs who are changing the future of the world!


Contributed by
Kaede Nagashima, Volunteer, Headstart Bangalore


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