BENGALURU:This Bengaluru-based club calls itself an accidental business. Startups Club started in 2013 as coffee shop meet-ups at Mr Beans, Koramangala. It moved to co-working spaces in Jayanagar, Rajajinagar and other places around town. Today, it has grown across 29 states, with 1,300 startups incubated by them.
“Our concept is to hand-hold startups at various stages, be it less than one-year old or more than three years. Entrepreneurs require a third person perspective. In the beginning, we had meet-ups and Whatsapp groups to help with the daily requirements of budding founders. This was in 2013 when we were just a group of five to seven people,” says Salma Moosa, founder and managing director of Startups Club.
Now, the club has 55 in-house members, their own platform, messaging system, offline collaborations, skype mentoring, passing around connections or business leads; and continue meeting up like before, for about 150 times a year in 10 to 12 different cities.
How did it grow from a meet-up group to a startup of its own? “People who approached us for mentoring were initially from Bengaluru. Later, Chennai, Hyderabad and Coimbatore joined within the next two years. When we started approaching investors to help our members out, they said ‘We want to invest in you’! “ remarks Salma, adding that this was when the club created a revenue model of their own and became a structured business.
They have 30,000 free subscribers and other paid members who are incubated. With money in their kitty, they were able to reach out to tier-two and tier-three cities. This created a network across 35 cities, which meant someone in Patna could take assistance from someone else in Dharamshala, the founder shares.
“We have an office now in Koramangala, but a virtual local network with angel investors, venture capitalists and other stakeholders in each city or town we are established in,” she adds. Having been a business consultant before, she knew how businesses are always a collaborative process. Connecting the dots between people was what prompted this club to begin in the startup hub of India.