What makes Telangana’s Startup Ecosystem Tick

The idea of T-Hub took shape with a phone call from KT Ramarao, the minister for IT, in 2014, recalls Srinivas Kollipara, the first CEO of T-Hub. Hyderabad has all the ingredients of an innovation leader in the Indian and global startup map, and T-Hub was launched in 2015 to realise that vision. Seven years on, T-Hub has expanded with the launch of T-Hub 2.0, the world’s largest innovation campus – a space where ideas, experiences and technical know-how can be freely exchanged.

T-Hub 2.0, inaugurated on 28 June 2022, is poised to provide young Indians with a collaborative innovation ecosystem to launch their startups. It’s a 5,82,689 square feet facility, which can support over 2,000 startups under its roof.

A day of learning, inspiration, and networking

The T-Hub Innovation Summit 2022, held on the inauguration day of T-Hub 2.0, was indicative of the collaborative innovation ecosystem that T-Hub aspires to create in Hyderabad. Discussions held at the summit were attended by business leaders from across sectors sharing their insights and learnings with a crowd of aspiring entrepreneurs. The summit covered all facets of a startup’s journey, from its ideation stage to scaling and exit. It was a day of knowledge sharing, inspiration, and networking among aspiring, emerging, and recognised entrepreneurs.  

The innovation summit included several panel discussions and debates, where startup founders and unicorn leaders across India shared their views and experience. 

The panel discussions were held on topics ranging from demystifying Web 3.0 and Metaverse to the building blocks of manufacturing for startups. There was also a fireside chat on building global go-to-market and execution strategies. The discussions revolved around how startups can navigate choppy economic waters by leveraging emerging technology to shape the future of logistics. 

The ‘startup showcase’ event brought together over 40 startups and provided them with a platform to connect with other startups, investors, corporates, and stakeholders. 

The entrepreneurial energy of Hyderabad 

The T-Hub Talking sessions held as a part of the innovation summit had the CEO and Co-founder of Swiggy, Sriharsha Majety, share his views on the challenges in finding the right business product for the Indian consumer. The delegates in attendance interacted with the CEO and learned about his vision for the consumer and how to identify strengths and build a core team. 

Keshav Reddy, the managing partner of Reddy Futures Fund, said that his firm chose Hyderabad to build their startup to leverage the city’s high-quality talent pool of engineers. “When we analysed cities, we found people wanted to live in Hyderabad. The retention of employees is also higher.” 

The T-Hub talking session had the CEO and co-founder of Meesho, Vidit Aatrey, share his insights on the startup’s journey. Vidit said, “T-Hub is the best thing to have happened to India and Telangana. It is a unique forum for upcoming entrepreneurs to come together for knowledge sharing. It provides a space for them to reach out to us for advice. The sheer entrepreneurial energy witnessed at Hyderabad is a great takeaway.” 

The young CEO further noted that Hyderabad is poised to excel in the health tech sector. Hyderabad has a large base of pharma companies and abundant talent in healthcare, “I believe some of the startups that will come from Hyderabad in this sector will have unique strengths.” Vidit added.

Deepti Dutt, who heads the Public Sector Strategic Initiatives for Amazon Internet Services Private Limited, was part of a panel discussion on ‘Building for the Next Billion’ and said, “Attending the event has been an amazing experience. We’ve been working with T-Hub and the Telangana government for some time, and it’s always refreshing to come here and see the art of possibility at play. More than a physical facility, I think T-Hub and the Telangana government are the biggest catalysts enabling the startup ecosystem. I think speciality startups need this kind of a catalyst that can bring multiple stakeholders together and help them grow.” 

Phanindra Sama, the co-founder and CEO of RedBus, said, “The T-Hub 2.0 initiative works as an accelerator where people can come together and discuss ideas. The government is doing the right thing by creating an ecosystem where there can be a fusion of ideas, where an artist can meet a technologist to spark new ideas.”

Ideas and knowledge sharing

After every event, all the CEOs were approached by young aspiring entrepreneurs who sought advice on problem statements and challenges. In one such instance, Sumeet Mehta, Co-founder and CEO of LEAD, was approached by two young entrepreneurs working in the Ed-tech sector who found it challenging to access schools to test their ideas. The CEO advised the duo to reach out to their alma mater and mark their startup journey from there.

For many of the delegates in attendance, the T-Hub 2.0 inauguration allowed them to interact closely with their idols. When Padmaja Ruparel, the co-founder at Indian Angel Network, walked into T-Hub, one young entrepreneur told us, “We can call ourselves entrepreneurs because people like her paved the way ahead for us.”

“There is a stark difference between entrepreneurs of yesterday like me and those who are starting on that journey today,” said Padmaja. “When we started, there were no such supportive ecosystems. The people here today are entrepreneurs and the innovators of tomorrow,” she added.

Sateesh Andra, managing director of Endiya Partners, said, “The post-pandemic world gives you the ability to have a distributed workforce even if you have a presence in other cities. Having a presence in Hyderabad is a no-brainer. If you want to increase your presence in the city, based on your experience, that’s fantastic.” he added. 

In less than a decade, T-Hub has brought together all the right people, resources, and knowledge to make startups realise their full potential. It has become a space that celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship, enabling and empowering the innovation ecosystem of Telangana. 

Quotes available from the following: 

  • Ajay Jain, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Silverneedle Ventures – “T-Hub 2.0 is a great start to what can be a large enabler in the form of a startup ecosystem accelerator. I have been a part of T-Hub phase one, and I’ve seen what it has done. T-Hub 2.0 is set to catapult the startup ecosystem in Hyderabad to the next level. What interests me is that all the workplaces, such as the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), T works, etc., are getting together at T-Hub 2.0. “You have everything in one place, and innovation, which will add value. I think investors will see what T-Hub 2.0 and Hyderabad can do through this new network, and I appreciate the vision that the government brings to this”.
  • Sampath Vinay, Co-founder of Urban Kissan, “All of us entrepreneurs look forward to the events at T-Hub. They offer a wide variety of exposure to founders and CEOs from different backgrounds. There is a lot to learn from here. T-Hub 2.0 is an excellent platform for startups to learn their trade. It offers the best startup ecosystem that’s bound to attract investor attention.”
  • Srinivas Kollipara, group president, startup ventures, Xelmoc Design and Tech Limited, “I’m proud that we’ve got to where we are. It is an incredible new building. Just the scale of the world’s largest innovation ecosystem at T-Hub 2.0 allows for multiple organisations and incubators to come together. It’s about bringing the ecosystem together. It is a celebration of the whole of the Hyderabad ecosystem, as well as the Indian ecosystem coming into one space.”
  • Umesh Thota, CEO, Authbase, “T-Hub 2.0 is set to transform the startup ecosystem by enabling more startups to grow out of their accelerator programs. The startups being nurtured here at T-Hub help solve specific industry cases that are in demand globally.”