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Selected Start-up Teams and Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Selected Start-up Teams and Aspiring Entrepreneurs | Infuse Newsletter | Scoop.it

Details of the start-up teams & aspiring entrepreneurs selected for the PowerStart Bootcamp 2013.

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Building Cleantech Clusters

Building Cleantech Clusters | Infuse Newsletter | Scoop.it

Anil Paranjape, Venture Partner @ Infuse Ventures shares his thoughts on what it takes to build thriving cleantech clusters.

Infuse Ventures's insight:

What does it take to build a thriving industrial cluster for cleantech, an inherently multi-disciplinary industry, when even traditional industries have not stepped much beyond joint advocacy, marketing platforms, or occasional training and talks?  Are the basic ingredients, such as strong partnerships amongst industry, academia, research labs, funding agencies, entrepreneurial pool and the government, enough to build a Cleantech cluster?  I think it goes even beyond that, especially for a nascent industry such as Cleantech.

 

For starters, Cleantech industry has a highly inter-disciplinary support requirement.  Cleantech companies, depending on their area of operation, need diversified inputs from engineering, chemical, agricultural, IT, energy and many other industries.  Beyond that, for many companies, easy access to rural markets and distribution could be a key.  Sometimes, NGOs are required to help with market research and populating ideas since many cleantech ventures have a big social impact component.  Manpower requirements are often very broad in terms of their availability, experience and expertise.  This includes not just employees but also advisors and mentors who understand the sector.  Research, testing and piloting capabilities also need to be broad based.  Venture, debt and project financers need to build out their knowledge about Cleantech investments.

 

Above all, it is the entrepreneurial pool that needs to have appetite and vision beyond the current market darlings such as social media.  A cleantech venture cannot be built in an office.  It needs rolling up of sleeves, wading thru waste, greasing the hands, kicking up the dust and those sorts of physical things.  It needs people who are comfortable with machines, grease, nut-bolts, chemicals, noise, dust, unpaved roads, muck, smells, and critters.

 

Fortunately, many strong Indian industrial clusters, Bangalore and Pune in particular, score high on almost all these factors because of their highly diversified traditional industrial base.  Connecting the dots amongst their institutions may be easier than ferreting out the entrepreneurs hiding inside the employees at their engineering, machining, forging, pumping, plumbing, chemicals, automotive and IT factories.

 

A cluster is like a mall.  A fund such as INFUSE can play the developer, bringing the diverse entities in a Cleantech ecosystem together.  But what sustains a mall are the anchors.  Will our industries, labs, academia, finance and organizations such as TiE play anchor?  Are they listening?

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PowerStart Bootcamp 2013

PowerStart Bootcamp 2013 | Infuse Newsletter | Scoop.it
Infuse Ventures's insight:

The PowerStart Bootcamp 2013 was part of an accelerator programme for early stage cleantech entrepreneurs managed by Infuse Ventures, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank and the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad. The bootcamp was held at CIIE from 10th to 14th November 2013. The PowerStart programme has been designed specifically for both current (young) cleantech ‘start-up teams’ as well as ‘aspiring entrepreneurs’ (individuals with significant experience in the space exploring a cleantech business idea of their own). PowerStart is supported by the Asian Development Bank through their ‘Pilot Asia-Pacific Climate Technology Network and Finance Center’ project.

 

In all, 169 applications were received for the programme; 129 from start-up teams and 40 from aspiring entrepreneurs. In comparison, 130 applications were received last year for the Infuse Venture Bootcamp. Similar to last year, applications were received under almost each of the diverse sub-sectors within the cleantech space. There was an abundance of solar and solar-themed entries. This is perhaps a reflection of the maturing ecosystem for solar entrepreneurs in India. The geographic spread of the applications reveals that Bangalore produced the highest proportion of start-up applications compared to any other city, keeping up its reputation as an entrepreneurial hub in India. Unlike last year, there also seems to be lot of interest from the southern states, especially Tamil Nadu. This is perhaps a result of the partnership that was recently forged between Infuse Ventures, CIIE & TiE Chennai’s Cleantech Special Interest Group on our ‘City Ecosystems’ initiative.

 

Over the course of the five-day bootcamp, 30 selected participants – 12 start-up teams and 6 ‘aspiring entrepreneurs’ – got to meet, network, and learn from over 30 leading industry experts and ‘mentors’ encompassing a wide variety of topics of relevance to early stage cleantech entrepreneurs. The bootcamp featured talks and discussion by experts such as V. Subramanian (former Secretary – Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India), Aniruddha Patil (Senior Investment Specialist at the Asian Development Bank), Ashish Sethia (Country Manager & Head of Research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance) and Vineeth Vijayaraghavan (Editor of Panchabuta). Since ‘financing’ is a critical issue faced by nearly all cleantech entrepreneurs, the bootcamp had several sessions on various options and methods of raising finance – some of the speakers included Jaisingh Dhumal (Chief Manager of ICICI Bank’s Technology Finance Group) and Mr. Ravi Tyagi (General Manager of Small industries Development at the Bank of India). In addition to financing, participants were also introduced to indispensable business skills like financial modeling, legal matters, pitching to investors, design thinking, etc.

 

The third day of the bootcamp (13th Nov) saw the participants attending an 2-hour workshop on the ‘business model canvas’, following which there were over 4 hours of individual ‘one-on-one mentoring’ sessions during which 19 ‘mentors’ sat down with the participants individually, reviewing their business plans, refining their ‘business model canvases’ and helping them prepare ‘booster plans’ – essentially an outline of their targets, milestones and activities for the immediate and short term following the bootcamp. Participants presented these ‘booster plans’ on the final day wherein they received additional feedback and comments from the Infuse team and other mentors present.

 

Following the bootcamp, selected start-up teams and aspiring entrepreneurs will be provided with additional mentoring support to create and accelerate their ventures – especially with helping them achieve the targets and milestones that they had put forth in their ‘booster plans’. Accordingly, the Infuse team and our mentors are currently actively engaging with the participants as part of the ‘acceleration’ phase of the programme. The objective is to have these teams accelerated to a stage where they are ‘ready’ to receive seed funding from Infuse Ventures.

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