The startup ecosystem in India has rapidly evolved in recent years. According to the Economic Survey 2021, 12 out of the 38 unicorns in India were added in 2020 while 4,70,000 jobs were created by 39,000 startups. India currently houses the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem. Paul Ravindranath, programme manager at Google for Startups Accelerator (GFSA) India, says that 2020 provided an environment for fast-paced digital adoption in the startup ecosystem. “Areas such as education, healthcare, fintech, gaming, media, and retail have taken a front-row seat in the current scenario. The use of scale approaches using deep tech continues to be an area of growth amongst startups,” he adds.
Ravindranath knows the pulse of the market; over the past few years, Google for Start-ups Accelerator India has successfully worked with over 80 startups. “The programme started in 2018 and is focused on supporting startups that are solving India-specific challenges,” he says.
Take, for instance, Navia Life Care, a digital health startup that is facilitating the flow of information in the area of data-driven decision making, by introducing digitisation, analysis, and engagement across the healthcare ecosystem. “We were privileged to be selected as one of 20 companies in the Google for Startups Accelerator batch of 2020. Through this programme, Google extended technology, business, and product mentorship support to select companies that were creating a positive impact during the pandemic,” says Kunal Kishore Dhawan, co-founder & CEO, Navia Life Care.
According to Ravindranath, the idea of the accelerator programme is to help promising startups with three months of mentorship and support from Google and industry experts in the areas including cloud, UX, Android, Web, product strategy, and marketing, and with a specific emphasis on building AI and ML capabilities. “It is a three-month digital accelerator programme for high potential Seed to Series A tech startups based in India.”
Google is now ready to accept applications for its fifth class and is looking for startups that are not only using scalable technology such as AI/ML but are meaningfully helping the world adapt and move forward. Startups that meet the following criteria are eligible to apply:
- Startups in these verticals but not limited to edtech, healthtech, fintech, retail & logistics, media, productivity and agritech
- Startups based in India
- Preferably in the Seed to Series A, B stages.
“In addition to technical mentoring, founders are also coached on key aspects of leadership, in a Google-created ‘Leaders Lab’, specially conceived to make leaders aware of the blindspots in their management styles,” says Ravindranath. The startups graduate with multiple wins to their credit— including deploying and optimising scalable tech architecture, managing growth, executing pivots, fundraises, features/awards on Google Play, and more.
Dcoder is another Google beneficiary; it is a mobile-first coding platform, creating a mobile developer workforce. Co-founder and CEO Ankush Chugh says Google for Startups programme helped in three main facets: technology, product, and marketing. “The GCP team and mentors helped us scale and optimise our infrastructure and reduce costs by upto 50%, product workshops helped us hone our strategy in delivering value to our coders, with the help of the marketing workshops we received in-depth knowledge of the tools, product and strategies in the digital ecosystem.”
InnerHour is a technology-led mental health platform that offers a range of tools and services to individuals struggling with mental health concerns. “As part of the GFS accelerator programme, we were able to attend workshops led by industry professionals and also access 1-1 mentorship,” says Amit Malik, founder & CEO, InnerHour.
Again, Sai Gole, co-founder and COO, BharatAgri, says his startup not only moved to 100% digital subscription and digital payments during a span of two months during the GSFA programme but also is growing 40%+ month-on-month.
Last but not the least is BlackLight Games, that creates culturally relevant real-time multiplayer games for mobile. Says Shruti Sarraf, CEO, BlackLight Games, “GSFA is a programme that is designed to help startups succeed given their needs, their current state, and their challenges.”