Members work on laptop computers in a common room at the Embarcadero WeWork Cos Inc. offices in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg)

Startup Street: WeWork Wants To Double Locations As It Completes One Year In India

This week on Startup Street, co-working space startup WeWork plans further expansion in India. Sixteen Indian startups are set to receive a seed funding of up to Rs 25 lakh and the world’s largest beer maker is offering up to $100,000 to startups who can complete their challenge. Here’s what went on:

WeWork’s Second Year In India

Co-working space startup WeWork had a good first year in India. From 2,300 desks in Bengaluru last year, it expanded to over 12,000 seats across nine locations. Now, it wants to double that.

The company plans to expand the desks to 35,000 as it opens up more locations. “By the end of 2018, WeWork aims to open four more locations in Delhi, four in Bengaluru and six in Mumbai,” the Indian arm of the New York-based startup said in an emailed statement. “WeWork India plans to further expand to Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad and hire 150 people across sales, community and design and development by next year.”

The seven-year-old company, which rents out desks and offices to small businesses, freelancers, large enterprises and startups, entered India in a tie-up with the Embassy Group. Following this, it partnered Blackstone Group, Enam Securities Group and Mumbai-based Vinod Govani for more leased space.

The aim of the company is to provide clients access to the “comforts of beautifully designed spaces,” said Karun Virwani, chief executive officer at WeWork India.

The startup raised $30 million in 2017, including $5 million from its parent and $25 million from the Embassy Group. It was also in talks to raise another $15 million from the Embassy Group as of January 2018 to meet its working capital requirement.

The demand for co-working space in India is rising. Co-working offices took up two-million-square-feet space in the first three months of 2018, surpassing the tally for last year, according to a report by real-estate consultancy Knight Frank. This is set to rise threefold by 2020, the report said.

“We have received a positive response as all our locations, which are operational for six months or more, have an occupancy of over 90 percent,” said Ryan Bennett, chief executive officer of WeWork.

Meet The Winners Of The India Innovation Growth Programme 2.0

Sixteen Indian startups are set to receive a seed funding of Rs 25 lakh each after they won the second edition of the India Innovation Growth Programme—a tripartite initiative of the country’s Department of Science and Technology, Tata Trusts and aerospace maker Lockheed Martin.

There were total 3,000 applicants from across areas such as assistive technology, healthcare, clean energy, cybersecurity, data analytics, space technology, education, sanitation, internet of things and fintech, according to an emailed statement. The participants were judged based on innovation, sustainability, unique value of proposition, social impact, development status and the funding required.

The winners were divided into two categories—social innovations and industrial innovations.

Social Innovations Winners

  • Aarna Biomedical Products Ltd.: The firm has made Poorti—an affordable, light-weight post-mastectomy kit designed to cater to the needs of breast cancer survivors.
  • Green Farming Forever Innovations: Its product Moksh traverses farmlands after the harvest of rice—from picking rice straw to converting them to powder.
  • Torchit Electornics Pvt. Ltd.: It developed an affordable handheld device for the visually-impaired to manoeuvre around obstacles.
  • 22bate7 Software Pvt. Ltd.: The firm made piCards—a low-cost continuous feedback, audience polling and formative assessment solution for teachers.
  • TouchVision Tech: A multi-sensory inclusive education platform for visually impaired people.
  • CareNX Innovations Pvt. Ltd., IIT Bombay: Developed a device for real-time self-screening of cervical cancer.
  • Shira MedTech Pvt. Ltd.: Its product Shira Clamps are aimed at making microsurgery possible for all surgeons.
  • Genrobotics Innovations: Its Bandicoot robot is a semiautomatic robotic system for manhole and sewer line cleaning aimed at eliminating manual scavenging.

Industrial Innovations Winners

  • IIT Madras: They developed AQUA-FI—an adaptive underwater wireless acoustic modem.
  • Delectrik Systems Pvt. Ltd.: Developed a redox flow batter for decentralised electricity.
  • DRIVAMP LLP: Developed a smart electric vehicle charging station and system controller.
  • Etrix Technologies Pvt. Ltd.: Developed an augmented reality and artificial intelligence-based visual communication tool for tech support and training.
  • Irov Technologies Pvt. Ltd.: The product does underwater inspections for critical infrastructure.
  • MakerInMe Technologies Pvt. Ltd.: Developed an educational kit of plug-n-play robotic, automation, internet of things and electronic modular building blocks.
  • Manastu Space Technologies Pvt. Ltd.: Developed a green propulsion technology for low-thrust applications.
  • Sastra Robotics India Pvt. Ltd.: Developed an intelligent robot to automate real device human machine interface testing.

The winners will also receive training from leading academia for commercialisation of their products, readiness for market, business model and intellectual property rights.

World’s Largest Beer Maker Challenges Startups To Solve Sustainability Issues

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the maker of Budweiser beer, has launched its ‘100+ Accelerator’ programme which is offering an initial $100,000 to startups which can solve its 10 sustainability challenges.

It had invited academics, entrepreneurs, scientists and technologists to solve “some of the most pressing global sustainability issues,” according to its statement. “Startups can apply with their solutions to 10 key challenges that we have developed with input from internal stakeholders and third-party experts around the world,” it said. “Successful applicants will receive a mentorship, funding and access to new networks.”

The challenges range across areas like water conservation, smart agriculture, circular economy, innovations in brewing, renewable energy solutions, reducing emissions from the logistics sector, responsible sourcing and empowering small businesses.

“We want to empower driven and committed entrepreneurs who are solving problems in their own communities,” said Maisie Devine, global director for the ‘100+ Accelerator’.

The selected winners will be announced in September 2018 and will be invited to join the 100+ Accelerator programme that kicks off in October and will run through March 2019. The startups will then get an opportunity to pitch for further funding from the accelerator as well as external investors.

The 100+ Accelerator will begin with a pilot sprint for each chosen startup to validate market fit, followed by a structured curriculum focused on integrating with a large corporate partner and best practices for scaling.

You can see the full list of challenges here.