The spurt in the number of startups coming up in India has also spawned a new breed accelerators and incubators. We’ve seen the likes of GSF Accelerator, Microsoft Accelerator, Freemont Partenrs, 5ideas, VentureNursery, The Hatch and a few others come up along with the more established The Morpheus and iAccelerator. Joining this league of new ‘startup enablers’ is Utthishta.
Started by Mandava Prabhakar Rao of Nuziveedu Seeds, Utthishta closed its first batch of startups in December last year and now are inviting applications for the next batch. Apart from Rao, the day-to-day affairs of Utthishta are looked into by Mohsin Khan and P Ramakrishna. Both Khan and Ramakrishna have been involved with startups in their previous jobs besides their stints in corporate roles. Their common interest in startups and discussions over many cups of tea brought them together to found Utthishta. “We wanted to create an environment to encourage startups that are focused purely on high value addition, new ideas, new creativity and not just pure IT services like what we have been doing for the past decade,” says Khan.
In the first round, according to Khan Utthishta received about 250 applications of which 15 were shortlisted and after deliberation by the independent investment committee, the final batch of four were identified for funding. While Khan doesn’t want to reveal the names of the startups they have invested in, what he is willing to disclose is the areas these startups are involved in. The final four come from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai and operate in the field of education, healthcare, travel & events and events management space. One of the startups that Utthishta has funded only has an idea, another one has few customers, the third one is pivoting their model and going from one platform to another with a couple of customers while the last one has only just started and has no customers. The median age of founders of all these four startups that Utthishta has funded is in the region of 30 years, informs Khan.
Utthishta provides funding of Rs 10 Lakh in return for 10% – 15% of equity in the startups. These newbies are given funding, office space, legal and accounting help among other facilities for a period of four months before they get ready for their demo day. Even after the demo day, Utthishta will continue to support the startups in the journey forward. “The Utthishta program is to put little bit of a boot camp type of pressure to get their service or whatever they are trying to sell quickly into the market and prepare them the Demo day,” explains Khan.
While the first batch only has four finalists, Utthishta is targeting double digits in its next batch and is already calling for applications from aspirants. Details of their selection and application process can be found on the Utthishta website.