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Google ‘Launchpad Accelerator’ India chapter to nurture desi startups

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New Delhi, July 10: In a bid to nurture Indian startups working in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Google on Tuesday announced to open the India chapter of its global “Launchpad Accelerator” mentorship programme.

The three-month “Launchpad Accelerator” India programme has been designed to grow the AI/ML ecosystem by helping desi startups build scalable solutions for the country’s unique problems.

The programme, based out of Bengaluru, will provide a cohort of 8-10 Indian startups mentorship and support from the best of Google in AI/ML, Cloud, UX, Android, web, product strategy and marketing, along with up to $100K of Google Cloud credits, the company said in a statement.

“India has the appetite to build entrepreneurs of the future and we are proud to announce a focused programme for the next wave of Indian entrepreneurs, who are using new technologies to solve the country’s needs,” said Roy Glasberg, Global Launchpad Founder.

Over the years, Google has worked with some incredible startups across India who are using advanced technologies such as AI/ML to tackle everything from agri-tech to language web, healthcare and transportation.

“With the dedicated India-only Launchpad Accelerator programme, we will be able to build a bridge between startups and the industry ecosystem and support them to drive innovation in the India market,” Glasberg added.

Applications for the first class is open till July 31 and the first class will start in September 2018.

In an effort to mentor emerging start-ups, Google India hosted a four-day boot camp for the first 10 Indian startups as part of its ‘Solve for India’ programme.

The India-focused accelerator programme is building on Google’s “Solve for India” roadshow from last year.

Ten Indian startups were shortlisted from across India which underwent four days in one-on-one consults with experts from Google and mentors from the industry to solve critical product and growth challenges.

“We shortlisted 10 startups from 160 home-grown start-ups by travelling across 15 cities in India, and are now ready to scale this pilot as a dedicated programme for India,” Karthik Padmanabhan, Developer Relations Lead, Google India, said at that time.

The participants were the founders of startups including Nebulaa, Slang Labs, PregBuddy, LegalDesk, PaySack, Vokal, FarMart, Meesho, Pratilipi and M-Indicator.

“Launchpad” regional accelerators are tailored specifically to their local markets, helping startups build great products, Google said.

IANS

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Nanar will be Konkan farmers’ ‘genocide’: Shiv Sena warns BJP

Spread across over 15,000 acres in Ratnagiri, the Nanar complex is being jointly set up by three Oil Marketing Companies — BPCL, HPCL and IOCL in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

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Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai, June 29 (IANS) The Shiv Sena on Friday warned that the upcoming Nanar refinery-petrochemicals complex in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri would prove to be “a poisonous gas chamber and lead to a genocide of the Konkan farmers”, one akin to Hitler’s mass-execution of the Jews.

Terming the ally Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to go ahead with the estimated $44 billion (Rs 300,000-crore) refinery-cum-petrochemicals complex, the Sena said this is “an Emergency-like situation in Konkan” perpetrated by the “dictatorship” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The party’s strong views came in edits in its mouthpieces “Saamana” and “Dopahar Ka Saamana” — a day after Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray snubbed Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan by refusing to meet him on the Nanar issue.

Spread across over 15,000 acres in Ratnagiri, the Nanar complex is being jointly set up by three Oil Marketing Companies — BPCL, HPCL and IOCL in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

It will have the capacity to process 60 million tonne annually or 1.20 million barrels per day of crude when it kicks off by 2022.

Pointing at Fadnavis’ assurance a few months ago that if the people of Konkan were opposed, the project would not be permitted here, the Sena said if “views of the majority are ignored, then it is a dictatorship”.

All villages in the vicinity of Nanar have passed resolutions saying “no to such a toxic project” and handed over to the Chief Minister, but these were bypassed and the government signed the agreement after which “Pradhan came running to Mumbai for a compromise”, it said.

“This is a conspiracy to kill all our Konkan brothers and their families with their fertile lands in the poisonous gas chamber, just like Hitler had shocked the world by slaughtering millions of Jews. We will oppose Nanar completely,” the Sena reiterated its earlier stance.

“Now, a rumour is being spread that the Prime Minister faces death threats, so all ministers, BJP leaders and officials cannot meet him as anybody could pose a risk.

“But the lives of millions of farmers in the Konkan are like worthless insects, so they can be killed, to ensure safety of the ‘king’ installed on the Delhi throne by these very people,” the Sena edit said sharply.

Konkan farmers would be annihilated by poisoning their air, water and fertile farms, while the army soldiers are being killed at the country’s borders – “So, this is the death of the ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ slogan”, it said.

Promising that since the opposition to Nanar project will never cease, the Sena asked “whether Fadnavis will now summon the Indian Army to crush the farmers” protests in the Konkan.

Attacking the Chief Minister’s statements that the project could be shifted out of the state, the Sena said “why not Vidarbha”, since claims that such a project can only come up in coastal areas are “misleading”.

Dismissing the government’s contention that it would provide huge employment opportunities, the Sena hit back saying that “nobody in Konkan wants your jobs, they have enough work…”

It appealed to the government “to refrain from going ahead with the Nanar project as it will kill the people and environment of the beautiful Konkan dotted with lush orchards of fruits like mangoes, jackfruits, cashew, clean air and water, abundant fish in the rivers and the Arabian Sea and its huge tourism industry”.

“The people of Konkan are very happy without the project, don’t poison their joy… If you go ahead, you will bite the dust not only in Konkan, but entire Maharashtra. Implementing it will be like imposing Emergency. We dare you to do it,” the Sena challenged.

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20 Indian start-ups selected for business expansion to London

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Bengaluru, May 18: Twenty Indian start-ups have been chosen to join London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s India Emerging 20 (IE20) business programme which aims to help selected companies in setting up or expanding their business in Britain’s capital.

The India Emerging 20 programme which is in its third edition this year was launched by London and Partners, which is the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, in collaboration with BDO, a major accounting and taxation network, and Lalit Hotels.

It was set up with the aim to identify some of India’s most ambitious companies that are considering international expansion.

The 20 winners of 2018 were chosen from over 300 applications from some of India’s leading business hubs such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi, London and Partners said in a statement on Friday.

The winners will have the opportunity to benefit from discounted rates on a London office and tailored expert advice on marketing, access to finance and local market analysis, it added.

“London is a truly global business centre and presents lots of opportunities for Indian companies looking to expand their business overseas,” said Khan.

“I am delighted that my India Emerging 20 programme is helping some of India’s fastest growing companies with their international growth and London remains open to investment, talent and collaborations with India,” he added.

Among the winners selected for this year’s programme are Hug Innovations of Hyderabad and Mumbai’s Furtados School of Music.

Hug Innovations is a wearable tech company developing IoT platforms that allows users to complete tasks including controlling apps, electronics, VR headsets, toys and home automation using just hand gestures.

Furtados School of Music (FSM) is a music education firm with a vision to provide accessible quality music education to all. The company is currently testing a mobile application to bring together people interested in learning music and music teachers.

The other winners are Appnomic Systems, BiOZEEN, BlackPepper Technologies, Chai Point (Mountain Trail Foods), Happay, Intello Labs, Ittisa Digital Media Services, Senseforth, Chakr Innovation, Dineout/inResto, Fork Media, Lucideus Tech, Morph.ai, Videonetics Technology, Wigzo Technologies, Gaia Smart Cities, Iksula Services and SaffronStays.

In April, India and Britain announced a UK-India Tech Partnership to identify and pair businesses, venture capital, universities and others to provide access routes to markets for British and Indian entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises.

“IE20 is an important element of the UK-India Technology-Partnership which was agreed by our two Prime Ministers in April and formally launched in India last week by Digital and Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock,” said Dominic McAllister, British Deputy High Commissioner in Bengaluru.

“The UK and India are global leaders in technology and two of the world’s most innovative countries. The new UK-India Tech Partnership will be testimony to that. A pilot soon to be launched In Karnataka will focus on augmented and virtual reality, advanced materials and artificial intelligence — technologies which a number of our winners today are already deploying,” McAllister added.

IANS

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Debt funding: Addressing mismatch in expectations between yourself and lenders

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New Delhi, April 13: Scaling up a business is hard work. While launching a start-up and raising initial seed capital is tough, things get more complex once you are past the proof-of-concept stage and are set to scale. The funds to start a business are almost always equity capital, but a business looking to grow is also looking to choose between debt and equity.

For most entrepreneurs, this is their first time dealing with a lender and it can get confusing. Here are the top five questions start-up founders have as they set out to look for their first loan.

* Why should I take a loan? 

Because it’s cheaper. Equity capital is dilutive, which means that investors get a share in all your future profits and future valuation growth and expect to make multi-fold returns if things go well.

A loan, on the other hand, has a fixed interest rate and thus will always be cheaper than equity. So whether you take a 12 per cent bank loan or an 18 per cent unsecured business loan, that’s the final cost of the loan to you.

* What kind of loan can I get?

Start-ups usually take loans for working capital. As the business expands, precious cash gets stuck in inventory and receivables. The three most common forms of working capital debt are:

Unsecured Business Loan: This is what lenders call a term loan in which you get a certain amount of loan. Just like a home loan, you pay a monthly EMI.

Invoice Discounting: Receivables are likely your biggest cash drain. In invoice discounting, the lender pays you as soon as you raise the invoice. When your customer pays 30-60 days later, the lender takes his money back. At this point, you have more invoices to discount and hence the cycle continues. This is useful for B2B start-ups.

Cash credit limits and overdrafts: Offered by banks as a line of credit so you can use the loan whenever you need. Typically for businesses that are a few years old and can potentially offer a collateral security.

* When can I get a loan?

Lenders vary in their perception of how soon a start-up can get a loan. But irrespective of which lender you go to, you need to have some cash flows. Remember that the loan has to be repaid, with interest, on time — so the more visibility you have on your future cash flows, the easier it is for you to get a loan. At least six months post-revenue is a good benchmark.

* How much loan can I get?

It depends on your working capital cycle, especially when you are looking at invoice discounting or other cash flow-backed loans. We have found that 1-2 months of current revenue run rate is a good benchmark for most start-ups.

* What do I need to do?

Lending needs paper since lenders won’t spend months with you like equity investors. They need to analyse documents to build trust in your business and your ability to repay the loan. Lenders are only looking for documents you have easy access to; financials, tax returns and bank statements.

Also, whether or not you are planning to take a new loan today, keep your credit history clean. Every lender does a credit check on both the company and the founders. With the credit report in shape and armed with documents that show cash flows your business can make, you will be all set to get your first business loan.

By Simmi Sareen

(Simmi Sareen is CEO and Founder of Loans4SME. The views expressed are personal)

IANS

 

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