Why Community Accelerators are Necessary for Startup Innovation

World-over, startups are considered an expression of a country’s innovation and entrepreneurship and a measure of its future growth potential. India, now the world’s third largest startup ecosystem, has seen an extraordinary expansion in its startup number, growing from about 430 companies in 2016 to nearly 73,000 in June 2022. 

These startups have emerged to address the country’s unmet needs in over 50 fields, including high-tech, smart transport, food tourism, and women’s empowerment. 

Social networking platform Facebook launched a global community accelerator program in 2020 to lend a supporting hand to promising startups worldwide that have used the social platform. Two of 13 startups that were selected by Facebook from India in late 2021 to be a part of its prestigious community accelerator program are a Kochi-based food-lovers community, Eat Kochi Eat, and a Bengaluru-based women’s financial empowerment organisation, Bengaluru Women’s Power (BWP).

Spreading the good word about food

Founder and Creative Head at Eat Kochi Eat, Karthik Murali, says being selected for the program has been empowering. He says, “The program has helped bring in new perspectives that would have never occurred to us before.” The right kind of mentorship, which the accelerator program has helped enable, is facilitating communities like Eat Kochi Eat to scale faster. “The backing of prestigious accelerator programs like this one from Facebook and others like it from T-Hub provides added impetus to foodie communities like ours,” Murali says. 

He also says, “if you as a community want to reach out to a person or organisation, you can simply tap into the accelerator’s vast network. Further, funding opportunities also open up when a community is a part of an accelerator program.” 

Empowering women entrepreneurs 

Swati Gorantyal, the founder of the Bangalore Women Power online community, agrees. As a social seller trying to scale her business, she ran into frequent challenges due to the lack of a platform, no clear sense of direction, and limited access to resources. When she realised there were millions of women entrepreneurs like her, she decided to launch BWP. Over the years, the group has grown to become home to 1.11 lakh members. Its main aim is to create a community of women entrepreneurs with the tools and access to a ready network and platform to build their business.  

Facebook’s Community Accelerator program helped Gorantyal see that any fledgling business needs three factors to grow: coaching, outreach activities, efficient company processes, and technology. With the support she received from the accelerator initiative, the BWG founder launched a social commerce enabler platform. It aims to simplify the sellers’ journey on social media by making it ‘fast, efficient and easy’, offering a full stack of productivity tools and an automation platform. 

Since being chosen by Facebook’s community accelerator program, the BWP Business School has launched a pilot program. The program attracted more than 550 sellers and offered training on the business aspects of selling, exposing them to using productivity tools to double their reach.

As an innovation hub and ecosystem enabler, we at T-Hub are aware of the role accelerator programs can play in fostering cutting-edge entrepreneurship. Not only do individual startups and fledgling companies get the opportunity to pick up innovative best practices from incubators and social networking platforms, but they also get to leverage the knowledge of peers these institutions already have in their ecosystem.