When the diminutive David felled the giant Goliath in the Biblical tale, he won the war for his people and also underscored the power of the upstart. Large technology corporations that face a similar threat of being blindsided by nimble, young entrepreneurs are using innovative methods to disarm potential rivals. They are offering a mix of advice, access to technology and in some cases money to build a symbiotic network that benefits all players.
While some including Intel and Cisco, provide direct funding for new startups, others such as Microsoft are taking a different approach to nurturing young entrepreneurs. Last September, the software maker set up the Microsoft Accelerator in India that picked 11 very young technology ventures to make up the first batch.
"In India most entrepreneurs are very young, very rarely will you find people who have formed two or three ventures. They have to still go through multiple complexities," says Sanjay Anandaram, a venture advisor and mentor who believes that accelerators will help bridge this yawning gap in the country's startup ecosystem. There are about 35 for-profit private accelerators in India at present, of which the Microsoft Accelerator is the first to have a Demo Day for the startups.
Similar events in Silicon Valley have thrown up big, technology players including Salesforce, Skype, Palm and E Trade. "The growth of the internet, access to seed capital and accelerator programmes have created a level playing field for Indian startups," says Mukund Mohan, CEO-in-Residence at the Microsoft Accelerator. Industry experts reckon that incubators at universities and research institutes lack access to investors and mentors.
"I will be glad, if hundreds of such accelerators are setup in India," says Krishna Tanuku, executive director, Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at Indian School of Business. ET takes a close look at the three top attributes of the Microsoft Accelerator programme.