NSRCEL, the academic incubator of IIM (Indian Institute of Management) Bangalore, celebrated its 20th year of mentoring entrepreneurs from a varying spectrum of industries, in Mumbai on Saturday. The innovation and entrepreneurial centre hosted ‘The Dialogue’, a panel discussion on ‘Bootstrapped vs Funding: what’s best for your startup?’, as part of its aim to grow its presence in Mumbai and Delhi.
Professors also stated that this will help NSRCEL increase its focus on women entrepreneurs, social ventures, start-ups in rural areas, and student-run ventures across India, professors from the institute said.
Venkatesh Panchapagesan, Chair, NSRCEL at IIMB, said, “The idea is to bring together bright minds to share experiences that are idea-focused and relevant to the entrepreneur, to foster learning and to provoke conversations that count.”
He further spoke of the journey that IIMB’s open, early-stage incubator, has had, saying, “When IIMB set up NSRCEL 20 years ago, we were the only game in town. Now, there is a proliferation of players. But we stand apart not only because we provide a safe space for entrepreneurs but also because we build a body of research, build a community that supports entrepreneurs and mentor sticky stakeholders. Only a public institution like IIMB can do this.”
Suresh Bhagavatula, Chair, Entrepreneurship area at IIMB, who was also the Program Director for several of its entrepreneurship programs, said, “The founder-patron of NSRCEL, Mr NS Raghavan, always wanted us to grow our presence, as an early-stage incubator, outside of Bangalore and, thanks to support from our partners and alumni, we have made a beginning here in Mumbai.”
The keynote address was given by Karthik Reddy, the co-founder and managing partner of Blume Ventures, an early-stage Indian venture fund, where he stated that he would provide a structure of funding for start-ups, recounting examples of many businesses that have explored both avenues.
“The existential question for entrepreneurs, when they must choose a route, remains, ‘is this what I am signing up for?’ Entrepreneurs must ask themselves what kind of capital should be taken for what kind of outcome. They must ask themselves what is the market size and opportunity they are chasing,” he said, asking entrepreneurs to evaluate the scalability of their business before looking for a source of institutional capital.
Following the keynote address, a panel discussion was held between Imran Jafar, Managing Partner at Gaja Capital, Vineeta Singh, CEO of SUGAR Cosmetics, Poyni Bhatt, Founding team member of SINE, the technology business incubator at IIT Bombay, and Deepa Krishnan, Founder of Magic Tours of India
Poyni Bhatt spoke about the need to encourage promising young talents to pursue entrepreneurship, instead of being tempted by big paychecks at a job. She highlighted the responsibility of role models in motivating others to take risks for success. She even recalled the days of being at the receiving end of angry parents wanting to know how their children would find good marriage proposals if they traded in the security that a paycheck offers, for the thrill of a start-up!
She stated, “In order to stay relevant, an academic incubator must play to its strength, strengthen its offerings by way of its infrastructure and funding, and extend its networks.”
Agreeing with her, Imran Jafar continued, “For instance, IIMB can be the custodian of Indian stories of entrepreneurship. Top B-schools should also tweak the admissions criteria to choose risk-takers rather than the risk-averse.”