How Telangana embraced the ‘incubator boom’

Entrepreneurs outside T-Hub at IIIT-Hyderabad in Gachibowli

Entrepreneurs outside T-Hub at IIIT-Hyderabad in Gachibowli   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL


Over the past 10 years, the State has seen new and old schools of incubators flourish

The past 10 years have proven why and how Telangana has become synonymous with entrepreneurship on the startup level. After all, the 2014 Telangana state formation had a direct effect on young entrepreneurs, giving them pause to think about how their new state would affect their funding and how their business is shaped. Interestingly, startup hubs and incubators reaped the richest rewards from this politically volatile time, making sure the incentive of a fresh new state economy held a lot of promise. Incubators underpin the evolving modernity of Telangana and the country.

It’s been a decade of boost after boost with the most recent startup industry valuation coming to about US$4.2 billion, according to Nasscom, from January to September 2018... an increase of 108% from the previous year. Here, we pay homage to two schools of incubators which put Telangana on the international enterprise map.

Keep it old school

One of the oldest startup incubators — and one of the state’s most respected centres — is Bala Vikasa, a community development organisation founded in 1991 by Bala Singareddy and Andre Gingras. Bala Vikasa has maintained itself as a registered non-profit and secular community development organisation. Since its inception, Bala Vikasa has impacted the lives of five million rural poor in India over the past 42 years through variety of community driven development projects such as tank desiltation, water purification, sujal ATW, model villages and more. Bala Vikasa retains its status as a centre to keep old means alive.

Last July, Bala Vikasa teamed up with Verizon India for a state-wide desiltation programme which employs the age-old technique of removing silt from water tanks to improve water saving levels as well as fertilisation of the fields where the silt is deposited. By the end of the ongoing project, 1500 acres of farmlands would receive silt, water percolation rate will improve significantly, thereby increasing water table levels in and around the village, says Shoury Reddy, executive director of Bala Vikasa. Come summer 2020, the farming communities around the state would have wells of the saved water. Forward thinking is what kept Bala Vikasa in the game and they have an innovation hub in construction with an inauguration date to be set within the next two years.

To the future

Having opened in late 2015, T-Hub is one of the country’s most influential startup hub, defining itself as more of an “ecosystem”, housing more than 150 startups across more than a dozen subcultures of technology.

In the environmental realm is Banyan Nation, one of the country’s first vertically-integrated plastic recycling companies that helps global brands use more recycled plastic instead of virgin plastic. Taking on the wearables market is Hug Innovations who make smartwatches with a more personal touch. Then there is the nationally-known MyGate, an advanced security and community management app used in more than 13 cities with over 1.2 million users. Then there is Gayam Motor Works, which manufactures electric smart-autos at affordable rates.

How Telangana embraced the ‘incubator boom’

The impact of T-Hub has been the most tangible and over the years, the centre has hosted regional, national and international events which offer opportunities to young enterprises to network with each other and with potential investors. These events have featured well-known entities such as Facebook, Blockchained India, Get In The Ring and government bodies talking about policy. Much of the T-Hub tag is the exclusivity; getting one’s startup in the door is no small feat. While the Internet can provide only so many resources, T-Hub managed to get a leg up and offer inter-personal meets with some of the industry’s head-honchos.

In a December 24 blog post on the official website by CEO Ravi Narayanan, T-Hub reflects, “The growth of the startup ecosystem in the last 14 years have been a testament to the ingenuity of Indian entrepreneurs. Bringing corporations and the government to actively procure from startups will herald a new wave of unprecedented growth for the Indian startup ecosystem. Together, this will build tomorrow’s innovation ecosystem that ushers in an era of transformative and disruptive corporate innovation.”

In 2019, the incubator space took a surprising but welcome turn for cinema creatives with the launch of 25,000 square feet C Space by actor Navdeep Pallapolu and financial consultant Pavan Goparaju.

A section of WeWork Hyderabad at the Krishe Emerald building in Kondapur

A section of WeWork Hyderabad at the Krishe Emerald building in Kondapur   | Photo Credit: WeWork India

Despite a rough financial year, WeWork made a home in Hyderabad with two setups in Financial District (four floors) and Kondapur (14 floors), offering its unique brand of holistic startup rearing with a focus on mental health. Most of the startups across WeWork are in the marketing and advertising disciplines though.

What is next?

What took place over the past 10 years is probably going to be a mere fraction of what is to come. T-Hub’s second phase in Hitec City is in construction while many are already anticipating the launch of Compass in Hyderabad by former Amazon director of software development, Jaideep Ganguly. Compass is a New York-based tech startup incubator, bringing the industry’s top talent and startups under one roof to discuss the different layers of running a business in the modern economy while still retaining personal philosophies.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:28:42 AM |

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