Very few people actually knows about incubators dealing with technology startups. Today we are going to talk about Ashish Mittal who is one of the leading incubators of India who is responsible for mentoring technology startups.
Ashish Mittal is the chief mentor and founder of turning ideas solutions. Apart from that Ashish is an angel investor and has spoken at many startup events. He holds 19 years of experience in the field of telecom and media. He had worked with technology giants like Microsoft, Google, IBM India, oracle, Ericsson, HP and more.
Talking about his educational qualification he has a bachelor’s of engineering degree from BITS Pilani and also completed his masters in consultancy management.
Below are the series of questions asked to Ashish regarding opportunities for entrepreneurs in India, the startup approach, and assistance available from the incubator ecosystem.
Follow the below question answer round with Ashish Mittal.
Q: What was the motive behind working on TurningIdeas?
AM: TurningIdeas started with a vision of replicating Harvard and Stanford in India to give an equal playing ground to young entrepreneurs who dare to dream big. We provide mentoring, technology, co-working and funding support. TurningIdeas is supported by a team of professionals who have had long careers with global tech companies, in areas like legal, finance, technology, marketing and strategy.
We offer both virtual and physical incubation. For virtual incubation of three months we charge Rs 9,999 per month and two percent advisory equity. For on site incubation, the equity varies based on the involvement.
Q: would he like to name companies graduated from TurningIdeas so far, and which are being incubated?
AM: We have supported companies in commerce and ed-tech. AskMyGift (founded by Sumeet Agarwal) is a gifting platform for all type of gifts, and aims to delight the giver and receiver. Swagbag (founded by Shagun Nayyar) helps identify prospects in physical retail stores, along with customer likes and dislikes. FutureVidya offers technology to redefine teaching and learning processes via classroom productivity tools.
We have three startups currently under incubation: StoryWalker (founder: Antony Rajkumar), Plown (founder: Adarsh Sharma) and Buddy4Study (founder: AshutoshKumar).
Q: According to you what challenges do startups normally face in India and what are the ways to win those challenges?
AM: The key challenges in the Indian startup ecosystem include social pressure, lack of ecosystem support, and difficulty of doing business. There is pressure when it comes to acceptance of failure; one needs to realize that there are many factors governing the success of any idea or venture apart from the effort put in. The most important factor here is to learn from failure and think of something better, rather than be demotivated.
Q: On what basis TurningIdeas select startups?
AM: We look for domain agnostic technology enabled ventures. They should be disruptive, scalable, at early stages, and have a passionate team. At TurningIdeas, we focus on deviation from the usual; innovation is praised and promoted. Being innovative has no set pattern or theorem, it is all about observation and looking for a new bubble of advancement.
Reliability and long-term functioning of an organization are two major success factors for a startup to withstand storms. With every single step there must be a vision for the next ten steps, what we call a stair to prosperity.
The team must be passionate and stick to the plan no matter how bad it rains. They must set their goal and pursue it, perhaps looking for alternatives but without dropping the whole idea.
Q: what support do startups generally receive?
AM: We provide mentoring, investor connects, co-working spaces and shared functional teams. We try our best to be there at every possible step of the founders and during their plan to make sure they are right on track. We connect founders to those who can financially support them, and advise them along the process.
We also give space for the ‘base camp’ for physical launch of the startup, along with shared teams for technology, business, marketing and so on. We provide teams of professional tech-savvy people, social media managers and other activity managers to assist startups wherever necessary.
Q: How would he define success for TurningIdeas?
AM: Success will translate into every young professional considering starting up as a viable option without fear of failure. This will be achieved through process-based mentoring and incubation support to every corner of the nation so that no future founder fails because of lack of mentoring and support.
Q: How does he differentiate TurningIdeas from the other incubators in the same area?
AM: Many incubators and accelerators are limited to co-working spaces. Our differentiation is end-to-end mentoring for startup scale, problem validation, solution scoping, product discovery, design, architecture, and technology support.
We host multiple solutions for problems ranging from minor technical glitches to major game changing plans. We also provide go-to-market assistance, finance, brand and strategy support, and fundraising. We work with startups even at ideation stage, the whole idea is to turn ideas into reality with continuous support.
Q: How would he compare and contrast India’s accelerators and incubators with those of developed nations like China and US?
AM: US and China have a lot of funding support. The social ecosystem accepts failure and rewards innovation. The government and education ecosystem are actively involved in entrepreneurship.
Q: What are his future plans in respect to fresh startups?
AM: We will focus on startups which are solving key issues which affect the masses. We will work on scalable ventures to reach profitability more rapidly. We want to promote creativity with innovation for not just tech or profit based startups, but social entrepreneurship as well.
Q: What are his suggestions to the entrepreneurs and startups?
AM: At least think! No idea is bad, it is great if you can begin thinking. You already outshine a thousand others once you think, after that all you may need is improvisation. Try to get in touch with experts in your field for first-hand experience; no one can suggest better, warn you about ups and downs, or tell you what success is.
Get in touch with your audience regularly to know what is actually demanded. Be aware about what is in the market – try to be ‘hatke’ and not a second copy of something else. Whatever you think of, try putting it in writing – if you can’t write about it, it probably will never work. That is the first check!
Q: What are his suggestions for policymakers to make business simple for startups and incubators in India?
AM: There should be more brainstorming sessions from an early age to promote the idea of thinking creatively. Vocational education should be promoted to actually develop practical know-how rather than just theoretical knowledge.
There should be more linkages for ‘intra-startups.’ For example, marketing startup support for a tech startup. A big initial step is needed, and things will fall in place automatically, though gradually.