Building a sustainable businesses model with ecosystem enablers

India’s vast talent pool is teeming with aspiring entrepreneurs working to bring forth innovative solutions to realise India’s economic vision. With ecosystem enablers and accelerators, India has been successful in driving innovation. 

As it enters its seventh year, T-Hub leads India’s pioneering innovation ecosystem and is proud to have helped many promising startups by handholding them in their journey. One such startup, Loop Reality, offers an AI-based talent assessment tool that uses gaming and simulations and brings together virtual reality (VR) and psychology, a first of its kind.

Loop Reality co-founder and CEO Jignesh Talasila tells us about the startup’s journey with T-Hub. “It began back in 2016, almost around the same time when T-Hub started. We were one of the very first startups. We were a part of the first batch of programs like Lab 32 and the Facebook Innovation program. We were also one of the first startups to be funded by T-hub. Many firsts happened for us in our journey with T-Hub.”

He adds, “I was just 25 when it all began. I learnt everything at T-Hub—through the programs, sessions and the people that I met at T-Hub. The ecosystem was always there to support Loop Reality and helped us get where we are today.”

Leveraging the mentorship at T-Hub

About the mentoring received from T-Hub, he explains, “From providing local and secondary mentors (brought in for corporate programs) to providing highly specialised, on-demand mentorship, T-Hub offers ample diversity in guidance. We’ve had a great opportunity to work with the leadership team of T-Hub. They have helped us in getting us the corporate network and guidance that we needed at different stages. They’ve been very forthcoming in connecting us to the right people irrespective of geography. Even in the international market, they have helped to connect us with the right people and opened new doors for us. In fact, we got our first customer also through the T-Hub network.”

Jignesh says, “We underwent different corporate programs back in 2016. We were also introduced to Dr. Reddy’s and T-Systems Malaysia and eventually did business with both. Thus, our first revenue stream also came from connections established by T-Hub. From there, we pivoted to a core product aspect in 2017. That’s when we got into the first batch of the Lab 32 program. Later in 2018, we underwent the India Innovation program run by T-Hub in partnership with Facebook, which helped us expand our market presence. At that time, there were a handful of startups in VR in India. This program brought all of us together under one umbrella and gave us a chance to interact with our industry peers. Through this program, we also got to explore the US market and events like the F8 Conference, thus giving us some much-needed exposure and improving our understanding of the international market.”

Jignesh adds, “During COVID-19, most startups (working out of the T-Hub campus) were not able to pay the rent since their revenue went down to zero. During those tough couple of months, T-Hub gave us a cushion (up to 40-50 per cent) on the rental payment. It also helped us apply for the State GST reversal discounts that got us some amount back which was quite helpful at a time like thatMost recently, we got funded through T-Fund. We were evaluated in the first batch and were able to secure a fund of INR one crore.”

Ensuring growth

Jignesh says, “The leadership team at T-Hub has been extremely helpful. They have provided us with great insights into developing a sustainable business plan, running our business, and creating a go-to-market strategy. We got to learn some great things through the sessions and the playbooks that were shared with us. More recently, the leadership team at T-Hub encouraged us to participate in a program called Artha School of Entrepreneurship, which proved to be quite helpful both at the personal and enterprise level. The industry experts in this program took sessions on key topics like how to do business and the founder mindset.”

Sharing wisdom with aspiring entrepreneurs and startups

To startups and entrepreneurs considering a journey with T-Hub, Jignesh suggests, “If you’re a student, there are umpteen programs where you can interact with startups and industry experts. T-Hub offers small funding opportunities and mentorship to students through initiatives like the T-Tribe program.”

He adds, “If you’re a very early-stage entrepreneur, T-Hub can provide great support in terms of ideation, corporate connections, funding, investment opportunities, and even in getting your first customer. If you’re a late-stage entrepreneur, T-Hub can act like an ecosystem partner, a think tank, and a catalyst to help you design your policies and connect with the government/policymakers.”

He further advises, “To someone just starting out, I would say – don’t jump right in. First, learn the ropes. Enrol yourself in a program like T-Hub and try to find opportunities like EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence) where you can understand problems, form teams, get solutions, learn about getting products to the market and experience the entire business cycle. It will help you understand the depth of what you’re getting into, and once you comprehend that, you’ll be ready to take on the next steps.”

Building a rich ecosystem for India’s economic vision

Regarding the role of ecosystem enablers, Jignesh says, “It’s for programs like T-Hub that today we have a robust startup ecosystem in India that is prepping a generation of entrepreneurs for the future. Hubs like these are the go-to places to meet industry peers, policymakers, potential investors, customers, partners, etc. When young people enter the ecosystem, they need 360° support systems in the form of curated mentorship, institutional backing, financial support, and resources (people and knowledge). That’s the kind of support that ecosystem enablers can provide, and T-Hub has proved to be an exemplary support system for startups like ours.”