Hyderabad has been cementing its place in the country as the perfect place for MNCs and IT companies from around the world to set up shop here. But in the past couple of years, the city has also seen a boom in the number of start-ups coming up, and now the state government-backed T-Hub is looking at making the city one of the top ten start-up ecosystems in the world.
Officially launched in November, 2015, the company’s CEO Jay Krishnan and COO Srinivas Kollipara have been instrumental in already creating a work environment that’s conducive for start-ups to grow.
Srinivas himself is no stranger to the start-up world. After working in the US during the dotcom boom in 1999 (and eventual bust in 2000) and then coming back to Hyderabad, mentoring entrepreneurs for the past 5 years, he believes Hyderabad can learn from the mistakes of other start-up cities. “Every country in the world wants one of their cities to be a “Silicon Valley” and they’re just throwing money at the problem. But in most cases it’s not working out,” he says, adding that once he got the opportunity to run the Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the IIIT campus in Hyderabad, he dedicated himself to developing the ecosystem by bringing entrepreneurs, mentors and investors together.
“Within a year, we went from being this small academic incubator to one of the largest in the country — 65 startups in 30,000 sq ft. The first success we saw was that startups were not leaving. Earlier, as soon as startups saw some traction they would leave for cities like Bangalore. More than that, companies that went out were actually coming back,” Srinivas explains.
Now the COO of T-Hub, Srinivas credits the Telangana State government — and IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao — for being progressive enough to support the ecosystem, and financing the building itself. “A large part of the start-up scene is the policies and support of the government without bureaucracy and red tape. It’s the best of both worlds: We’ve got the full support of the government, thanks to the vision of somebody like KTR at the top, with the independence and flexibility of a startup,” Srinivas says.
Housing around 160 start-ups, T-Hub has evolved from its initial plan of being just a co-working space. “Now we need the success stories that inspire everyone and feed back into the ecosystem. We’re doing an incubation layer on top where we pick the top 12 to 15 companies, work closely with them — mentoring, market access and give them services like accounts and legal. And in exchange for that we take 3 per cent of their equity,” Srinivas says, adding that they also will be integrating an accelerator program with the government, financial institutions and other investors pooling into a `120 crore fund to finance start-ups.
CEO Jay Krishnan, who himself has worked with startups, both in the US and in India, and also been a successful entrepreneur himself — his company, Radifinity was acquired by Aditya Birla Minacs — says that dreaming big is what drives him and his team at T-Hub. “My vision is to transform Hyderabad into a top 10 start-up destination in the work over the next seven years. It’s only been 4-5 months but we’re already seeing fascinating traction,” he says, adding, “We want to make sure that the start-ups come in through a meritocratic structure regardless of industry, and that they are highly scalable. We are only as successful as the startups themselves.”
Jay also adds that he wishes he had something like T-Hub during his days as an entrepreneur — “I wish I had a place like this when I was an entrepreneur. Apart from all the soft stuff we speak about, we bring the ecosystem, which is what really makes a difference.”...