The state-run Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and Zone Startups India have jointly launched a first-of-its-kind initiative in the southern state to accelerate startups in the revenue stage. Titled the Kerala Accelerator Programme, it will help the startups to achieve the right product-market fit through a curated customer validation process, a statement said here today. The structured three-month virtual accelerator programme, commencing on February 5, comprises a mix of live and virtual mentoring sessions, including visits by mentors to Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi to interact with the participants. There will be weekly reviews, customer interactions and an end-of-program demo day with investors, it said. Selected startups will also be provided a week-long residential programme travel and accommodation included in Bangalore and Mumbai from February 12 to 16. The programme fee is Rs 1,00,000 and Kerala-based founders can get 90 per cent scholarship from the KSUM, an official said. "Exposure is a key challenge for startups from Kerala. We hope this accelerator programme to bridge this challenge and ensure that startups attain product market fit and growth faster," Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM, said. "Programmes like these will help the founders to keep pace with the startup ecosystems in Bangalore and Mumbai, he said. Zone Startups is the global brand of early stage tech accelerators and venture funds operated by Toronto-based Ryerson Futures Inc. Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director, Zone Startups India, said it was their first direct engagement with a state government in India. "A lot of promising hardware and software startups emerge from Kerala. So, the ecosystem of entrepreneurs has been in place for a while now." "Startups in such markets lack the exposure to the ecosystems of potential customers, investors and peer entrepreneurs that larger hubs of Mumbai and Bangalore offer, he said. The KSUM is the apex organization of the Kerala Government for supporting startups.
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