In less than a year, ZNation Lab, an early stage accelerator, has mentored over 20 startups like ONN Bikes, Feltso and TOCH amongst others to build strong organisational capabilities and raise capital to convert their business models into an enterprising venture. Their initiative KHOJ 2017, a bootcamp competition, has received an overwhelming response from the selected 9 locations across India. ZNation Lab has also announced a 3 week bootcamp for Indian entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley.
Started by Anup Mehta and Neha Jain, Team NewsBarons spoke with Neha Jain, Director and Chief Marketing Officer at ZNation Lab about their early stage accelerator which not only provides mentorship but is also one of the only startup accelerators in India that has the potential of taking deserving startups to the Silicon Valley, their 3 week bootcamp and their process of empowering startup models.
NB: Explain the services and USP of Z Nation Lab?
Neha: ZNation Lab is an early stage accelerator which empowers entrepreneurs with capital, experience and network.
Our members benefit from working out of our co working space, real time access to our network of mentors, pre-accelerator startup bootcamp programs, events and demo-days, pitch counselling, legal and tech consulting, and connect to fortune 500 companies.
We curate startups for our pre accelerator bootcamp by vetting online applications and through an initiative called Khoj which covers 9 cities including Indore, Jaipur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
We are founded by experienced investors and have an extended network of veteran mentors, corporates and investors from India and Silicon Valley. We are the only Indian accelerator which has the potential to take your startup to Silicon Valley, provided you have a uniquely disruptive idea and a business model.
We are working closing with various corporates like GE (General Electric), Reliance Communications IoT & many more in the world to help them identify the next big disruption in their industry and connect them with our startup ecosystem.
NB: What is the support system that you provide to start-ups?
Neha: We selectively invest seed capital in early stage startups graduating from our bootcamp, in addition to the thousands of dollars in credit provided from our ecosystem partners like Amazon, PayTM, Google, Freshdesk, IBM and others to help the startups scale up their entrepreneurial ventures. We provide them with help in marketing, technology, strategy and professional advisory by linking them up with our extended network of experts, mentors and partners. We also offer them our co-working space which ends up being a platform for collaboration amongst the startups.
NB: You recently concluded ‘Khoj 2017’. Explain the process, scale of the operations and the advantages for the qualifying start-ups?
Neha: The search for the Bootcampers begins with Khoj 2017, an initiative by Z Nation Lab to identify unique business ideas across 9 cities in India – Indore, Jaipur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Khoj aims to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, government bodies under one roof to understand & help the entrepreneurship flourish in India.
KHOJ is a Start-up competition, where we select approximately 15 start-ups to pitch on the event day, from over 90-100 decks which we receive from each city. The winning start-up gets the following –
• Free entry to Z Nation Lab Start-up Bootcamp Program in India.
• Mentorship & scaling up opportunities from the veterans in India & Silicon Valley.
• The winning start-ups from all 9 cities will be called for the final round in Mumbai.
• Winners in the Final round will get a Rs. 25 Lacs of seed funding from Z Nation Lab.
NB: You have announced a 3 week boot camp in the Silicon Valley for Indian entrepreneurs? What is this boot camp aimed at? How do start-ups qualify for this?
Neha: Z Nation Lab Start-up Boot camp is a 3-week intensive program that will give Indian entrepreneurs an opportunity to broaden their perspective through various Mentorship sessions, peer learning and interacting with Angels, VCs, Industry experts and Venture Partners at Z Nation Lab from India & Silicon Valley. Disruptive start-ups graduating from the pre-accelerator Program in India & having potential to make a global footprint would be then qualified to attend the boot camp program in Silicon Valley.
NB: Does Z Nation also invest in the start-ups that its mentors. If yes, what is the amount you have invested till date and the corpus you have earmarked for the coming financial year 17-18?
Neha: We have invested over INR 2 million in 7 Startups till date. For FY 2017-18, we are looking at increasing the numbers of startups to over 20 with a planned investment of about INR 50 million.
NB: What is mission 2020?
Neha: Mission 2020 is to have around 75-80 startups in our portfolio. Also, we plan to expand our operations to atleast 10 additional cities across India.