Following the footsteps of several peers, internet major Google is eying active participation in India's fast-growing start-up ecosystem. Just weeks after the company's venture capital arm, Google Capital, announced investment in CommonFloors.com, the company on Monday launched its 'Startup launchpad' programme for the first time in the country.
The start-up incubation programme, which was globally launched two years ago, is being held in India for the first time and is also globally the first such event for Google this year.
The one-week start-up incubation programme for early-stage start-ups focuses on mentoring companies around topics like product strategy, user experience and user interface, engineering, digital marketing and presentation skills. After one week of incubation at a premises, the programme allows start-ups to remain actively engaged with mentors and have one-on-one meetings with them to seek further help.
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In the first edition, the programme includes 20 Indian start-ups, which have been shortlisted from more than 1,450 applications. These companies include those in the business-to-consumer and business-to-business space, and most are focused on a mobile-first strategy.
“We plan to hold four launchpad events in India during 2015 and aim to touch more than 100 start-ups here this year,” said Sunil Rao, Google's country head for developer relations and start-up ecosystem in India. “Every year we invite start-ups to enroll with us online on 'startup launch', where we can help them with resources, content, mentorship and training. In the recent enrollment process, we saw 8,000 applications, 1,450 were from India. That is one of reasons that prompted us to bring the launchpad programme here.”
Besides selection from the applications, Google also considered companies that were suggested by other ecosystem players such as venture capital firms.
The mentors for the program in India include senior venture capital officials from Helion Venture Partners and Accel Partners, among others, and also top officials at companies such as LinkedIn and Flipkart.
Several multinational companies, like Microsoft and Citrix, have set up startup incubators in India in view of the rapidly expanding ecosystem. As per industry body Nasscom, India is the third largest base of startups in the world with over 3,100 such companies. The industry body estimates India to add over 800 startups each year and have around 11,500 startups by 2020, employing over 2,50,000 persons.
Google has been gradually increasing its role in the Indian startup ecosystem. Besides investing an undisclosed amount in Bengaluru-based real estate portal CommonFloors.com this month, Google had acquired Impermium, a startup with Indian founders and offices in Bengaluru and California, in 2014.
In line with its global practice and unlike peers, Google does not plan to set up a brick-and-mortar startup incubation centers in India, and would connect mentors and companies through an online platform, Rao said.