Hyderabad: Nexus Startup Hub, a first-of-its-kind initiative by the US Department of State to support startups by providing them with mentorship and go-to-market support, based out of New Delhi, is looking to establish a centre in India to further spread its outreach. Nexus finds the Hyderabad ecosystem promising and has kept the city among the probables that will house the centre.
Nexus is a result of the collaboration between the US Department of State and the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. The US Embassy-driven incubator has so far worked with 83 companies in the last three years which have cumulatively raised $5.6 million in funding.
In an exclusive interview, Erik Azulay, executive director, Nexus, told Telangana Today, “Several States in India are feeling the need to create startup centre backed by Nexus. States such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Haryana have approached us. We are talking to several US consulates in India. We are trying to work out a model where either we will go through the consulates or go for a public-private partnership route or set up the Nexus centre in an existing incubator. Negotiations are ongoing and we are yet to take a final decision.”
He added, “Hyderabad’s ecosystem is among the top in the country. There is a lot of hi-tech activity going here. It is potentially one of the locations that is on our mind. We also have a consulate here. We are having a lot of US defence ties in Hyderabad. We could also look at Mumbai. By end of the next year, we would have finalised it.”
Nexus which has conducted eight cohorts in the past has seen startups representing a wide variety of sectors such as agritech, diagnostics, environment-tech (clean air & water and municipal waste), internet of things and a select defence technology focused companies. A larger focus is on the product startups rather than services-based.
On the selection criteria of startups, he explained, “The startups should have crossed the idea stage and they should have had developed a prototype and close to revenue generation, but before institutional funding. Innovation is also another key criteria for us, besides the team capabilities to take the business to the next level. For each cohort, we get about 150-170 applications, and we choose about 15 startups. Companies with Rs 10 crore market valuation with 10-member team is good for us to start with.”
Going forward, Nexus plans to create vertical-centric workshops from defence to sectors such as pharmaceuticals and automotive.
Ties with incubators
When asked if the Nexus is partnering with other incubators in the country, he said, “We are working with the existing ecosystem be it in terms of training them or co-branding with the incubators in the country. We have started training incubators from last year and we will continue this process in the coming years.”
Nexus is building a certification system for incubators as they are mushrooming across India to bring in quality and standardisation. Close to 120 startup incubators had undergone the certification programme recently in the six-city tour it has conducted.
Nexus is connecting the Indian startups with the angel investors and venture capital firms in the US. “We prepare startups for funding. We invite investors and present a perspective on what each startup is working on. For early stage startups, raising $5.6 million is a good sign. We have few from Hyderabad as well,” he added.