A group of experienced entrepreneurs have come forward to create InnovationQore and launched a nationwide programme—Turbostart—to identify and nurture top, innovative startups in the country. Their aim is to offer a funding of Rs 2 crore each to the startups identified.
What makes this fund unique is that they haven't kept a time frame for the startups to produce results or show immediate profits. “We feel that a startup should be allowed to work and innovate on their own and at the same time the entrepreneurs should be allowed to work freely without any pressure from a VC (venture capital) or a private equity fund. Pressure from a VC fund or a startup fund kills the entrepreneurial spirit of a startup and it eventually crashes,” Saikat Bhattacharya, chief operating officer at InnovationQore, told THE WEEK.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be used to zero in on startups to be funded for the programme. “We are expecting hundreds of applications for the programme and do not want to miss out on any good startups. We will be deploying AI and ML technologies which will have pre-loaded metrics to help us identify such startups among the applications whom we can shortlist for the programme. We will not have an exit period for the startups and give them a free hand to function. We have been formed by a group of entrepreneurs who have seen both success and failures. They can very well understand the problems of the startups without putting pressure on them,” explained Rama Subramaniam, chief strategy mentor, InnovationQore.
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The Turbostart startup programme aims at funding six startups every six months and has a larger target to fund 100 startups in the next five years. The programme will broadly facilitate the discovery of innovative early-stage startups, invest in them and help them with product and market validation, instant funding, and industry connects, besides providing them with customary business support. The programme is open to all Indian startups and will be run in a competition format. It is a pan India sector-agnostic programme that will eventually be extended to a few overseas geographies as well.
In order to be eligible for the Turbostart programme, a startup should have been incorporated for a period of less than 10 years with a minimum viable product or proof of concept. The startup should be working towards innovation and development or improvement of products or processes or services with a scalable business model. “Our plan is to fund 20 startups per year in two seasons—January and June. The intent is to accelerate the growth of at least 100 startups over a period of five years. We have raised around Rs 50 crore already with additional commitments from investors on a need basis. Selected startups will be funded up to Rs 2 crore per startup. Based on their business plans and funding requirements, it may be provided upfront or in tranches and we have a very flexible mandate from the investors. In addition to funding, we will provide the startups with assistance in product positioning, human resource management, brand and digital strategy along with marketing and sales.” said Ganesh Raju, founder and CEO, InnovationQore.
Raju had earlier headed the entrepreneurial and private business practice at PwC India, where he had conceptualised and ran a national level programme (LevelNXT) for startups looking to scale up. He also was part of the Elevate programme organised by the government of Karnataka for the first two editions. In the last four years, Raju has advised more than 300 startups.