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AP’s startup engine gets accelerating

Aditya Sabharwal

The startup ecosystem has been roaring in the country for quite some time now with young graduates chucking high profile jobs and venturing out on their own.
Although one gets to predominantly hear and read of the startup euphoria in leading metropolises, tier II and III cities are buzzing with activities too. The port city of Vizag too is warming up to the startup culture however at its own pace.
AP had come out with its startup policy in 2014 wherein it laid out a plan for helping and assisting startups in the sun rise state while becoming the bedrock of innovation and disruption.
Consider this, AP through its Startup policy had targeted the following by June 30, 2019:
> 100 incubators/Accelerators to be established
> 5000 companies and startups to be incubated
> 1 million sq ft of Incubation space to be developed
Venture capital of
> Rs. 1000 cr to be mobilized for Innovation
> Foster Innovation culture
> Create at least one homegrown billion dollar technology startup
Now these goals might seem farfetched and pretty daunting keeping in mind there’s just about a year to the target date. However the government’s pro-active interest and policy support has led to a whole string of initiatives being formed that are aimed at creating an efficient eco system for startups in Andhra Pradesh.
NASSCOM 10K startups has a base in Vizag with a 90 seat capacity, Startup Accelerator India has operations here so does the Fortissimo Accelerator.
Apart from these coveted names there a plethora of individuals who are coming together forming teams in order to create awareness among budding entrepreneurs and helping them get space and mentorship.
Start AP an initiative that defines itself to be a platform for entrepreneurs is set to be holding its first Start AP awards in Vizag on May 25th. AP’s young and tech savvy IT minister Mr Nara Lokesh is said to be giving out the awards. Leading up to the awards the organization recently organized a road show in Vizag which will be followed by similar roadshows in Vijayawada and Tirupati.
Mr Prudhvi Kaja of Start AP says in these roadshows budding entrepreneurs get a chance to network, discuss their idea with other likeminded people and also look for mentors.
Mr Alok Maheshwari who was the moderator at the event and an entrepreneur himself credited the startup policy of 2014 to be significant in laying the ground work for a startup ecosystem in AP. ‘The startup ecosystem is still evolving here and lot more needs to be done’ says Mr Alok.
He however states that there are too many organizations/initiatives that are operating in silos which dilute the overall cause. He also opines that a major focus is on student entrepreneurs and that should be corrected. ‘The initiatives should focus more towards companies that have already been incubated and have some level of traction rather than putting their efforts into just the ideation stage’ he says.
Mr Madhav Reddy who runs another initiative for connecting and helping entrepreneurs states that the startup scene in Vizag is far from active. ‘The startup scene in Vizag is very dull. I can name 50 startups in Vjayawada that are already making money’ says Mr Reddy.
He is organizing a startup summit in June, which he says will be a weeklong event filled with networking, mentoring and other allied activities.
Mr Reddy also believes that colleges play a crucial role and lauds the colleges in Vijayawada and Guntur for their efforts in this space.
With the recent mega acquisition of India’s lionized startup Flipkart for about $16 billion one is bullish that the startup scene is just getting started in Vizag and will soon see companies innovate and disrupt the colloquial.

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