Startup Street: One Of The World’s Biggest Startup Accelerators Is Coming To India

This week on Startup Street, India will become the first country outside the U.S. where accelerator Y Combinator will come hunting for startups. Oyo and upGrad have tied up to provide scholarships. An interesting chart shows new engineers rarely prefer working at startups. Rahul Gandhi makes promises and Flipkart turns a venture capitalist. Here’s what went on:

Y Combinator’s First Trip To India

Y Combinator is coming to India to conduct its first-ever interviews in the country.

The U.S.-based seed accelerator, which has has been instrumental in the rise of Airbnb, Dropbix, Reddit, Twitch and Quora, will be holding interviews for the Summer 2019 batch in Bengaluru from May 7 to 9, according to a post on its website. “We’ve received an increasing number of applications from India and this will allow us to interview more Indian founders.”

Y Combinator has already funded over 40 Indian startups including ClearTax, Meesho, Razorpay and Innov8. But this is the first time that the accelerator will hold interviews outside California.

“These will be just like regular YC interviews in every way. There is no difference to the application, what we look for in an application, and our criteria for acceptance,” the statement said. “If accepted, you’ll join the YC Summer 2019 batch immediately. The in-person program starts in June in Mountain View, California, but you’ll get funding and have access to YC partners and resources right away.”

The last date of applying is April 12.

Usually, Y Combinator invests money in a large number of startups twice a year. It has two batches—one from January to March and the other from June to August. It has invested in over 1,500 startups with a collective valuation of more than $100 billion.

Oyo, upGrad To Offer Scholarships

Oyo, one of India's most-popular startup unicorn, has tied up with ROnnie Screwala's online education venture upGrad to offer a scholarship programme for college students.

The Oyo-upGrad scholarhip will offer a 50 percent waiver to second-year students who are studying full stack development and data science, a joint press release said. The two companies will shortlist 3,000 students during the enrollment process on the basis of an aptitude test.

Top performers will also get an opportunity to intern at Oyo.

“The OYO-upGrad partnership is announced with a view to motivate youngsters to pursue higher education and solve the variation in quality education access in urban vs rural areas from grass-roots level.” said Screwvala and Mayank Kumar, co-founders of upGrad, said in a joint statement.

The release said that Indian education system has been unable to keep pace with the modern requirements of the industry. However, online education startups are stepping in to fill the gap.

Earlier BloombergQuint had highlighted that investors too are warming up to educations startups. Private equity and venture capital investments in such startups hit a record high 2018, growing 733 percent over last year.

Want To Work At A Startup? Nah...I’ll Pass

Here’s an interesting chart. A recent survey done by Aspiring Minds among 1.7 lakh engineer graduates from over 750 institutes across India shows less than 10 percent of them would prefer to work at a startup.

Rahul Gandhi’s Big Promises

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said that, if voted to power, his party will exempt new businesses from seeking any permissions for the first three years and also abolish the contentious angel tax. The party will also give incentives and tax credits to new businesses based on their ability to create jobs, he wrote on Twitter.

“It’s encouraging to see that the intent is definitely there. We want to see that same intent trickles down to the people on the ground who actually enforce the policies,” Sandeep Murthy, partner at Lightbox Venture Capital, told BloombergQuint.

Anirudh Damani, managing partner at Artha Venture Fund remained cautious. He said giving anyone a free hand without checks and balances should not be celebrated. “One needs to be careful of this. Once the misusing of that starts, then it will have ramifications on the entire industry,” he told BloombergQuint. “Startups don’t need freebies. Startups want better co-ordination with the bureaucracy with regards to working of the startups.”

See what other venture capitalists had to say.

Flipkart Looks To Give Back

Flipkart, once the poster boy of India’s homegrown companies, is now looking to give back to the startup ecosystem by funding early-stage ventures.

It has set up a fund to invest in new ventures in the areas of financial technology, payments and e-commerce. The Walmart-owned online retailer said the fund will be used to “build innovative solutions for the next wave of internet users”.

A person privy to the development told BloombergQuint that the fund is expected to be in the range of $80-100 million and will cut cheques of about $2-3 million.

The fund, a first-of-its-kind by the homegrown retailer, will be headed by Emily McNeal, group chief financial officer of Flipkart.