Earlier this year, the Founder Institute launched it's first-ever chapter in Bangalore, India. Starting with a class of over 30 eager entrepreneurs, only seven made it through the gruelling four-month program. The Economic Times recently covered program's success and shared the story of several graduates.
"While most startup accelerators aim to further the growth of young ventures, Silicon Valley's Founder Institute nurtures raw ideas from working professionals keen to try their hand at launching a business.
The first batch of graduates from its Indian programme, launched in August, includes doctors and an airline pilot who worked on their business plans even as they held a day job. "We are taught how to kill their idea, if it survives, it is an idea worth taking forward," said Srikanth Bhagavat, co-director at Founder Institute, Bangalore. "We grind the idea, polish it and make it into a diamond."
Among the graduates who turned their idea into a business venture are Ganapathy Bhagavathi Rajan, a plastic surgeon, and Biswajit Dutta Baruah, an orthopaedic surgeon, who both work at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai. The duo formed a startup — Check Health, that brings clinical labs, doctors, patients and pharmacies on one technology platform.
"I am a doctor and I had no idea of running a technology company and building a team," said 42-year-old Rajan. The startup uses data analytics and predictive medical algorithm to offer personalised health checkups through web and mobile applications. It guides people to accredited clinical diagnostic centres and doctors.
The applicants at the accelerator are chosen through a psychometric personality test which helps evaluate the personality of applicants to ensure they have the aptitude for entrepreneurship. Of the 270 people who applied for the programme, 69 qualified based on the test. Around 32 enrolled for the programme and only seven graduated.
"They build a business around their ideas without putting their livelihood at risk," said Bhagavat. Founded in 2009 by serial entrepreneur Adeo Ressi, the Founder Institute has helped launch over 1,017 companies across 55 cities and six continents.
Bhagavat, who is a managing director at a wealth management company himself, had to take the test to become the co-director at the institute. The Bangalore chapter, which is the only arm of the Founder Institute in the country, has roped in several entrepreneurs to mentor the students.
Those accepted by the accelerator must pay a fee of $200 (Rs 12,397) and also give up 3.5% of their companies — which gets divided among the mentors, semester graduates and the institute. The students also need to pay $4,000 (Rs 2.4 lakh) if they are able to raise a substantial amount of funding.
Srinivas Bhamidipaty joined the programme to avoid repeating the mistakes made in his earlier venture. Bhamidipaty, 45, who has worked as a pilot in the Indian Air Force ran a flying school venture and a real estate business. Even though he successfully exited the flying school business, the real estate venture did not succeed.
"An entrepreneur's journey is not trial and error," said Bhamidipaty, who has now launched HomeConnect, an online marketplace for services like grocery, healthcare, kids education, concierge and apartment services.
"The best thing is that the institute's success depends on our success," said Bhamidipaty. He was able to rope in working professionals Deepika Nayak and Sundeep Dasa as his co-founders. They also attended the programme.
'If you go to Silicon Valley and shake a tree, 10 venture capitalists will fall down to mentor or guide you, it is not happening in India," said Bhagavat of the Founder Institute. "We are globalising the Silicon Valley.'"