The Pursuit of Innovation

It's been eight months since we started 'Aarambh Ventures'. On day one itself, we decided to focus on the quality of startups and not on the quantity. Therefore, for the first one year, we planned to accelerate five startups at Aarambh.

When I say quality startups, I actually mean startups working on an 'original idea'.

After evaluating 80+ startup applications over a period of eight months we ended up working with only one startup. This forced me to introspect n number of times and in those introspection sessions I asked myself - Are we really going in the right direction ? Is our approach right ? Are we offering right ecosystem , infrastructure and perks to the startups ? 

Such a high rejection rate was really alarming to me. I sat down with my team and tried to find answers to these questions.

During those brain storming sessions, we found out that we were only looking for ideas which were original and innovative. We were rejecting the ideas which were close to what ten other companies were doing with some minor modifications/tweaking. We were rejecting the ideas where entrepreneurs were more concerned about the exit within four to five  years of their existence than building the real companies.

In terms of ecosystem, we had all the reputed investors and partners viz IIT Roorkee, Unitus Seed Fund, Omnivore Partners, IvyCap,  Oxigen Services, Design for Use, Lets Venture and many more, on board to support these young startups.

For a four months acceleration program, we were providing office  space and all the required infrastructure  to a startup without charging any fee upfront or during the program. After several sessions, we came to the same conclusion that our approach of working with original startup is right and we have requisite ecosystem to nurture and grow these original ideas. 

But, one big question still remain unanswered,“Why such a high rejection rate?”

There was one area where startups themselves rejected us. At Aarambh Ventures, we don’t provide any upfront funding. We basically make the startups investment ready during our four months acceleration program. At the end of the program we help them raise fund via our investment partners. This is one area which was not liked by many startups as they were asking for upfront funding prior to joining the program.

My argument to them was, "It takes four to five months to close one funding round, why don’t you spend that time with us. We’ll make you investment ready by improving your product, biz model, operations, team, etc. and also help you raise funds by the end of the program. We are not increasing your chances of getting funded by an investor but we are only reducing your chances of not getting funded."

A startup idea is like a seed sown by an entrepreneur. Its him who chooses the right soil ( the right market) to sow that seed. Its the water ( his passion), the air ( his commitment) and the light ( his core team) which are must to have in order to grow this seed into a big tree ( into a big enterprise). Investment to a startup is what compost is to a plant. It is a good source of nutrients ( money) and it builds soil structure ( help grow startup in a market). However, too much of compost and that too without proper ratio of Nitrogen to Phosphorus ( startup stages viz seed, series) can be a problem.

And that's what we do at Aarambh. We help you grow your seed to a plant and help you procure the compost in the right ratio and right quantity. 

I believe there are original thinkers and innovators in India and our pursuit of innovation will not stop until we find them, nurture them and grow them....
Post Author

Vivek K Kaushik

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