KOCHI: A startup’s journey is quite lonely. Even more so in India as the startup support environment is still evolving. The local ecosystem often becomes the best friend of a new startup, nurturing, supporting and accelerating right from its nascent stage.
What is this enabling ecosystem?
A combination of social, academic and commercial enablers in a city that helps startups, specifically in the early stages. For many years this ecosystem was inside institutions like the IITs, IIMs and the IIITs that provide enablement and funding for early stage startups. Lately, several other private commercial enablers have come up.
But how effective are these? Is there value beyond just providing startup work spaces?
Co-working spaces are not accelerators (that have structured programmes that a startup must go through) nor incubators (that nurture and grow startups through a domain or a purpose-specific enablement, mentors and support programmes), but can still help startups. Studies show that peer group support network is the best, most available and effective support for any startup. Even as all startups maybe at a similar level in their early stage, they can gain value by sharing experiences, learnings, and even contacts.
A dense concentration of startups in one space provides an opportunity for shared services. Even better, co-working spaces can help connect with the extended ecosystem in the city giving access to events, programmes, mentors and investors too -- whether it is within the office hours in the space or by channels outside. Topically, as Central and state governments start providing support, services and incentives to startups, co-working spaces can now help funnel information and also route the requests from startups and ensure they are benefited.
In this process the line between co-working spaces and incubators is fast fading away.
Today, incubators are mainly a larger canvas, while a few are domain-specific Co-working spaces are generally domain agnostic and often smaller in size. Otherwise, the nature of enablement and services is fast becoming very similar. This is good news for the startup Ecosystem
(The writer is MD and VP - Products and Progress Software and an advisor to Incubator at IIIT Hyderabad)