Lab32, T-Hub’s comprehensive incubation program, is gearing up to invite the next batch of startups in its third cohort. Since its inception in 2016, the flagship program has strived to drive the spirit of innovation in India’s startup ecosystem by addressing the myriad challenges faced by startups. As its incubation manager, we continuously work to enhance the scope of the program to aid the next generation of startups participating in Lab32. On the occasion of World Entrepreneur’s Day, here is looking at the five key takeaways from Lab32 that will help the innovation ecosystem to grow faster.
1. Identifying the right entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are not born simply by becoming a startup’s founder or registering their company. Real entrepreneurs are those who have an entrepreneurial mindset that is ready to be coached. An open mind is what we seek for Lab32, T-Hub’s incubation program seeks in the entrepreneurs that walk through its door.
Equally, Lab32 entrepreneurs should be able to contribute to the ecosystem they are a part of, instead of only expecting benefits. There is a thin line between guiding someone and doing the work for them; trying to lead and being spoon-fed. Entrepreneurs who take initiatives and add value to the program are those typically accepted into Lab32.
2. Having organic conversations without any filters
Entrepreneurs need to understand the golden rule of ‘give before you get’. This ideology can make a massive difference in the journey of entrepreneurship. I am reminded of an instance when one of the Lab32 startups shot a query regarding the pricing models for his product — leading to a brainstorming session between T-Hub and the startup. It might not be tangible at that moment, but team spirit matters a lot in the long run. Such bonding among startups and the incubation program is much more useful than any random networking event.
The following day, the founder came down to T-Hub and shared the pricing strategy of their startup without any filters on. This episode got me thinking. I realised how important it is for entrepreneurs to be open about things. It is vital that from time-to-time entrepreneurs revisit the reasons why they started a business in the first place.
3. Mentoring is key to a startup’s success
Again, the concept of mentorship is to built on the principle of ‘give before you receive’. Thankfully, in this respect, Lab32 is supported by an outstanding community of seasoned mentors who participate in the program on a pro bono basis. Also, I guess, I value add as an Incubation Manager is not by answering to all the entrepreneurs’ queries, but in connecting them with the best subject matter experts in their specific industries. A dire need for an active community of mentors exists in Hyderabad. I believe the mentoring provided by Lab32 to its startups is one of the biggest takeaways of the incubation program. We are continually seeking more industry professionals to mentor Lab32 startups due to the high demand for among them. However, it is not enough to have mentors on board — they should effectively engage with startups to make a difference to the ecosystem.
4. Fuelling innovation forward
At T-Hub, we provide the startups with an ecosystem that helps them monitor their success. The Lab32 program allows entrepreneurs to be more innovative and develop their technologies and products in enterprising ways. We have on-boarded over 40 partners who are ready to provide the best deals to our startups. So this is one of the most exciting aspects of the Lab32 program that attracts entrepreneurs to join the incubation. I once received positive feedback from an entrepreneur as we had saved him over Rs 50 lakhs due to the extension of credits from one of our premium partners. Such instances reflect the synergy between a committed entrepreneur and the partner brought on board to help startups.
5. Myths about investments!
The entrepreneurs in Lab32 repeatedly ask when they connect with investors will happen. More than getting them investments, we believe in making the fundamentals right that attracts investors to startups. In my view, only those entrepreneurs who have mastered the art of presenting their pitch to the investor will receive funding. The power of an effective pitch cannot be undermined. Startups can achieve this by lucidly explaining the innovative solution they are offering to solve industry-specific problems. Potential investors are also keen on understanding the margins made by startups. In a nutshell, startups should prove their mettle in front of investors and showcase their company’s growth potential. Our incubation program helps startups by ensuring that all the slides in their presentation deck are meaningful. Our vast network of industry experts generously offers their time and expertise towards this objective.
As an incubation manager, I have realised the power and importance of listening. As a team, we always try to listen to the specific needs of an entrepreneur and follow up by assisting them with only the things that are most relevant to them.
Our objective is to do whatever it takes to mitigate the challenges and pitfalls in an entrepreneur’s life by helping them achieve their critical milestones.
When entrepreneurs tell me that they closed successful deals solely on account of our incubation program, it gives the T-Hub team confidence to put in more efforts to help create a vibrant startup community.