Facebook India on Wednesday launched the "VC Brand Incubator Program" as part of which, it will collaborate with venture capital (VC) funds to help the growth of small and medium businesses (SMB) they invest in, with the social network providing skilling and guidance.
As a part of this initiative, Facebook will work with VC funds with the aim of skilling and mentoring SMBs by sharing insights on best practices, proven solutions, insights among other key learning.
For the first edition, Facebook is working with Sauce.vc, a Mumbai-based early-stage venture capital fund that works with startups in the food and beverages, personal care, apparel, and the lifestyle space.
Facebook will hold day-long workshops and mentor these startups and take them through the Facebook family of products- Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
"For the SMB ecosystem in India, the key challenges are absence of technical expertise, reach and their will to scale exponentially but their inability to have resources around it," Archana Vohra, Director, Small and Medium Businesses at Facebook India.
The first this session there were brands like Mumbai-based bakery chain Theobroma, socks brand mint & oak, yogurt maker epigamia, and boAt, which makes electronic devices.
Vohra explained that while Theobroma may be a large brand in terms of recall but are still new to digitally promoting their products.
“SMBs are the backbone of our economy and Facebook is the default destination for them to thrive and grow. Several SMBs are actively working towards creating a larger social change, and many are empowering women entrepreneurs and generating impact in tier-2 and tier-3 towns. Their seamless growth can lead to consistent job creation, adding to the GDP growth. Working with VC funds is crucial as it allows us to scale and support SMBs at an early-stage itself, fast-tracking their growth,” she added.
Facebook has 90 million SMBs on its platform globally. The number of small venture capital funds with active investments in Indian startups and small businesses has been rising steadily in recent years. However, a robust skilling and support infrastructure to ensure the swift scale-up of SMBs is still lacking in the country. The VC Brand Incubator program aims to solve for this gap by supporting the VC funds and the brands they are invested in to facilitate their growth and remove roadblocks.
“The VC Brand Incubator program provides a much needed understanding of Facebook, its family of apps, and the digital landscape. As a consumer focused investor, we look for social marketing expertise in teams that we back as it is a huge driver of success for small startups that have to optimize every rupee spent. The entire consumer startup ecosystem benefits from these initiatives, both from a skill-development and a community-building perspective,” said Manu Chandra, founder of Sauce.vc.
The first VC Brand Incubator program was held last month in collaboration with Sauce.vc and saw participation from 25 brands of which five were women-led businesses.
Facebook recently made an equity investment in social commerce company Meesho, which empowers first-time entrepreneurs, especially women, across tier-2 and tier-3 towns. While Meesho is not part of the VC Brand Incubator progamme, Facebook will be using it for its other engagements with small businesses.
In order to cater to the differing needs of SMBs, Facebook will be launching a slew of programs in the coming weeks that will benefit SMBs at different stages of their lifecycle. Some of these programs will be curated for agencies as well as industry partners who regularly work with SMBs.