A part of the Alacrity Global startup system present in Canada, UK, France, Turkey, Mexico, and Singapore, Alacrity India is a B2B focused startup fund enabler based out of Pune and also an incubator. Bridging the gaps between corporates and startups, Alacrity India works with startups who follow the demand-driven approach rather than a technology pushed.
With Sir Terry Matthews and Gireendra Kasmalkar as the mentors to the program, Alacrity India looks at the funding and mentoring 20 startups in Pune every 3-5 years.
We met Tushar Shetty, the CEO of Alacrity India, who comes with experience in identifying strategic partnerships with cross-border seed to Series C startups and advising C-suite delegates on the impact of emerging disruptive technology on its brand and users. Tushar has been planning to take up Alacrity India at a new level when it comes to identifying startups for mentoring, helping them grow and expand with collaboration with corporates. Here is the crux of the conversation with Tushar.
eBiz: As the CEO of Alacrity India, what opportunities do you see for the companies in the Indian market? Do you see the Indian tech market ready to take the best benefit of such a funding and incubator program?
Tushar: We started last year in India, and we see a huge potential in the startups and growing companies here. Organizations like FreshDesk, Zoho are one of the many B2B SaaS companies that are doing great and have a big target market in the US and UK. How to give them the exposure and bring their names in the global market is what we work on.
India, in the last few years, has seen many successful startups, and Pune itself is growing so well. There are around 500 B2B SaaS companies who are here. Companies like Dhruva are becoming a giant unicorn with around 200 Million $ that they have raised in funding. With Early Salary’s 100 Crore funding and Mind Tickle’s 174 Crore funding, the other startups are pepped-up as this creates a lot of motivation for them.
In the last decade, digitization has acted as a great platform to raise many businesses as well as providing a new business model too. Companies like Danzo and others who work as an aggregator are changing the payment and delivery system. So I’d say this is the right time for us to come in and support them with funds and mentorship to give them the expansion they deserve and for them to become the next Flipkart and Paytm.
We see that 75% of investments and funding are done for companies in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and less than 5% is done in Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai. We wanted to be in a non-metro city that has huge potential.
Tushar: The Alacrity global model operates differently in each country, it has a local partner and government association with which it operates, and we follow the same in India too.
Alacrity India is co-promoted by Ideas to Impacts and Wesley Clover. Ideas to Impacts founded by Gireendra Kasmalkar who is a known investor for many companies in Pune. Being a part of this ecosystem, it creates the right impact and helps Alacrity reach out to maximum entrepreneurs.
We are the Pune-based first AIF fund &Incubator focusing on tech-enabled startups, and in India, we help companies at two stages – Investments and Mentoring under which we help these startups to grow their business. Data shows that these are the two areas because of which companies fail majorly.
eBiz: What kind of startups do you fund? Is there a selection criterion when choosing a tech B2B startup to invest in and mentor?
Tushar: Alacrity Globally has Invested in more than 140 Companies, and With Alacrity India, we are closing our first Investment in a Bangalore based startup. Because of the subscription-based plans and a yearly or monthly pay-as-you-go model. It caters to growing firms as well as huge enterprises, and such models definitely have a great potential to expand.
Other than this, we are also part of the Atal Incubation Centre, which comes under the Niti Aayog, which promotes early-stage startups and helps them grow. Alacrity India is one of the private AICs in Pune, and that is how we have a 10,000 square feet of physical facility to be used as a center to organize sessions, events and to assist entrepreneurs with various services, and this is the objective of Niti Aayog which we have to do every year as per their guidelines.
Niti Ayog decides on the number of companies we need to guide under the incubator model where funding isn’t compulsory. Having said that, Alacrity primarily gets into the incubation program only where we have invested. We have many companies who come and use the office space, and if they show interest in getting funded. We create milestones for them to achieve in say 9-12 months, and if they meet the numbers. Hence we promote the idea of startups using this physical facility. So that we can meet up and host program and meet all the communities which are there in Pune. Alacrity wants everyone to be on one platform, and make this as a hub for startups, developing ideas, creating products.
Tushar: There are multiple things we are open to – startups that directly approach us through e-mail and social media platforms. They need to fill a simple form with a proper presentation we then evaluate them on the basis of our checklist and criteria, as there is a proper evaluation process in the backend. We have members who evaluate these companies, assess the market, and there are multiple rounds of interviews. Startups get a chance to meet and present themselves in front of the committee and post that the Investment.
The AIF ( Alternate Investment Fund) has some prominent Investors like Sir Terry Matthews, Gireendra Kasmlakar, SIDB. We are the first AIF Fund based out of Pune and enabling the change in the startup ecosystem.
eBiz: How else is Alacrity adding value to these growing companies?
Tushar: We have built a strong network of fortune 500 Companies. These companies have a lot of customers they are working with and being such giants; they too have challenges in reaching out to end customers and often internally to automate operations. We act as a platform where these companies and our startups can work together. While the startups get exposure with these biggies, the corporates get innovative ideas through a trusted name as Alacrity India.
With partners like Google and Amazon, we get a lot of credits from them, and they are passed on to the startups to cut down expenses.
eBiz: What are your expansion plans in India? Which other cities do you plan to have an incubator center in the next three years?
Tushar: Each Alacrity center operates differently. We have just started in India and are testing waters. Based on how the startups respond to this model, we will start expansion in non-metro cities. We may pick cities like Hyderabad or Chennai for investing because there are a lot of B2B companies. We certainly don’t want to be a co-working space, so these expansions have to be well-planned.
Tushar: We focus on helping startups grow with experience. While our guidance helps, we believe the best way to learn is through customers. How your customers react to your product, enhances it in the best way.