These women entrepreneurs have established a seed-stage startup acceleration program to help early-stage startups reach their true potential in tier 2, 3, and 4 cities of India.
For first-time entrepreneurs, especially those from Tier 2,3, and 4 cities, obtaining pertinent business advice, developing a support network, and getting access to capital can be difficult while building their product. Inadequate individualized support and access to a network can make or break a startup in its initial stages. In search for such support, many Indian startups turn to overseas incubators, such as US-based incubators like Y Combinator and AngelPad.
Realizing the value of a well-managed incubator in India, sisters Tanvi and Disha Singla co-founded Supreme Incubator, a seed-stage startup acceleration program to empower early-stage entrepreneurs. Their mission was to offer mentorship, infrastructure, and hands-on coaching to early-stage entrepreneurs from around the country.
The Tech Panda spoke to Tanvi Singla, Co-founder of Supreme Incubator, about their journey, their vision, and future plans.
The concept behind Supreme Incubator… was to provide Indian entrepreneurs with an organized six-to-eight-month support system for obtaining individualized advice, network, and infrastructure
“The concept behind Supreme Incubator, as inspired by the world’s pioneers of incubation, was to provide Indian entrepreneurs with an organized six-to-eight-month support system for obtaining individualized advice, network, and infrastructure,” she says.
The Pain Points They Solve
The pain points they saw in early-stage entrepreneurship were mostly related to getting support and creating a network.
Inadequate Individualized Support
Singla relates that apart from the widely available cohort programs lasting three, six, or nine months, founders need individualized support and ongoing one-to-one coaching to avoid common pitfalls. The Incubator strives to develop one-on-one relationships with each founder and helps them map the path that works best for them.
“We take a customized approach for each company, knowing that despite being in the same stage, the founders in our cohorts have very different backstories, perspectives, and visions for their projects,” says the SRCC graduate.
We take a customized approach for each company, knowing that despite being in the same stage, the founders in our cohorts have very different backstories, perspectives, and visions for their projects
Another problem they witnessed was that Tier 2, 3, and 4 city startups do not always have the same ease of access to startup networks as their metro counterparts. However, Supreme Incubator has a geographically dispersed virtual program, with the majority of their founders hailing from Tier 2,3, and 4 cities throughout the country.
“The program’s networking opportunities allow entrepreneurs to develop strong relationships with industry leaders worldwide while growing their projects in their home cities,” she adds.
Born in a family of entrepreneurs, Singla and her sister realized the power of entrepreneurship early on. They witnessed the result of business firsthand, jobs created, problems solved, and passions leading to a better future for everyone.
Starting in October 2019, they held a pilot program for the first cohort of Supreme Incubator, inducting a total of eight startups shortlisted from over 102 applicants across the country. So far, eight startups have graduated from their pilot cohort in Winter 2019, and 14 startups (30 founders) are enrolled in the current Summer 2020 cohort.
Supreme Incubator was created to empower entrepreneurs wherever they are, by providing equitable access to mentorship, resources, and infrastructure to help them create the next generation of innovative companies and strengthen their local ecosystems
“Supreme Incubator was created to empower entrepreneurs wherever they are, by providing equitable access to mentorship, resources, and infrastructure to help them create the next generation of innovative companies and strengthen their local ecosystems. Our mentorship-based program aims to empower early-stage entrepreneurs to establish strong foundations from the outset, surrounded by expert guidance and a supportive group,” says Singla.
As an incubator that started in the middle of the COVID-ridden year of 2019, the co-founders faced many challenges since majority of peer learning and program systems are built around in-person contact between founders and mentors.
“We quickly moved our base online in response to the virus outbreak, using virtual meetings, mentor matches, and sessions. Enabling more peer-to-peer interactions, which we believe is at the heart of our program, can be difficult in virtual meetings,” says Singla.
We quickly moved our base online in response to the virus outbreak, using virtual meetings, mentor matches, and sessions
“However, we’ve developed new strategies for sustaining the dialogue and bridging this divide, ranging from exploring smaller, more intimate meetings to developing a technology platform to support our program’s development,” she adds.
So far, 20 startups have graduated from two cohorts, and another 21 are about to embark on their journey with the Incubator from the third cohort. The demo day event for the second cohort was televised on NewsX and is available to watch on Disney Hotstar.
Additionally, the team foresees developing program models that would attract stakeholders outside of their target segment of founders. To accomplish this, they host regular events aimed at curating the entrepreneurial culture and sharing the startup experience.
Supreme Incubator’s success is contingent on more entrepreneurs thriving, establishing businesses, and creating jobs
Additionally, 98 startup founders participated in a Startup Bootcamp series organized early during the lockdown, in collaboration with LaxmiRamaVarma Capital, and 30 founders participated in its mentor-matchmaking program, designed to enable founders to fill a form and get matched with a mentor fit for their startup goals. Around 102 students participated in their virtual entrepreneurship fest: a series of events including a startup ideation contest and a pitching demo.
“Supreme Incubator’s success is contingent on more entrepreneurs thriving, establishing businesses, and creating jobs. Our mission is to establish a global network of entrepreneurs and to assist them in establishing strong local entrepreneurial communities,” Singla says.
“Another important indicator of our success is the number of businesses or startups referred by our alumni. Something we saw a significant increase in immediately following our pilot cohort, owing to the inspirational founders who joined us for the first batch,” she adds.
Singla reveals that they have a list of tasks they want to accomplish in the future, which includes broadening the spectrum of services provided to offer greater value to incubatees via strategic alliances.
“Our goal is to support passionate entrepreneurs and to assist them in bringing their ideas to market, where they can have an impact and make a difference,” she says.
Our goal is to support passionate entrepreneurs and to assist them in bringing their ideas to market, where they can have an impact and make a difference
Also, they plan to enhance assistance by providing financial resources in addition to the mentoring and resource infrastructure already in place and introduce niche verticals to foster the creation of support structures for startups in related industries.
“To that end, we are currently finalizing applications for our forthcoming fintech incubation track, which is designed to provide focused mentor, network, investor, and resource support to startups in the financial technology domain,” she concludes.