By Serilda Coutinho
A new incubator for startups launched at the Don Bosco College of Engineering, Fatorda, recently. The Forum for Innovation, Incubation, Research and Entrepreneurship (FiiRE) unveiled at the college recently with an incubation program of one year duration and monthly milestone checks to keep a track on the progress made by the startups.
The technology business incubator is established with the support of Department of Science and Technology with product development, manufacturing, agriculture and industry as special focus area. “We have a structured incubation process to make startups investible and leverage the strengths of the ecosystem to help startups scale faster. We provide handholding right from chalking out a roadmap for startups at the beginning of their journey to raising funds” said DS Prashant, chief executive officer, FiiRE.
He added that, the incubation team will be closely working with startups having a proven track record. He said that the mentor team has a background of helping launch over 3000 enterprises and 100 startups in the state over the last two decades.
Spread across a built-up area of 40,000 sq feet, the center can accommodate 100. The charges are Rs 2500 per seat, per month. As for facilities, it includes meeting rooms, testing laboratories, dedicated work space, internet connection, cafeteria and gaming zones. “We also offer a virtual incubation program priced at Rs 2,500 for a year with limited access to the incubation premises,” added Prashant. Giving details of the co-working space, he said that, efforts have been made to get in experienced startup companies to provide incubates with the required networking and support.
An MOU has been signed with the Don Bosco college of Agriculture, Sulcorna, to provide support to the agriculture based startups. The center has also tied up with Manovikas School where plans are to organize workshops to sensitize students to come up with innovative ideas.
“We have events for students where we put forth challenges experienced by entrepreneurs and give them an opportunity to come up with sustainable solutions. The winners of such competitions are then provided assistance under the incubation center” says Prashant.
A unique initiative taken up by the incubator is a one month, pre-incubation period during which startups are able to access facilities along with guidance from experts without paying a fee.“During the one month ideation period we will closely work with the startups, understand the team and their strengths” explains Prashant. He adds that, it is not possible to identify if an idea will scale up so the ideas will be tested by experienced entrepreneurs to understand if it is capable of translating into a profitable business model. Post the ideation period the startup goes through a selection process and secures a space at the center.
Apart from this the incubator also offers a fast- track service that is limited to one to two startups in a year with a two per cent equity stake. “The selection will be based on startups with an exceptional idea and a team capable of driving the idea forward at an initial stage. They will be offered an advantage with a specialized package, mentoring by investors and access to focused mentoring programs” says Prashant.
Coming to the funding, the incubation center has received a grant of Rs 10 crore from the department of science and technology and is also awaiting grants from the department of agriculture for agriculture based startups. “While raising funds for startup we do not want to make it a match making process. Rather we want to build startups from scratch by looking through the lens of the investors. Our team will be working on a checklist,” points out Prashant.
The center currently has 10 startups for incubation that includes local startups as well startups with an international base. Krishi Star, QBounce Technologies, Deviant Strokes, Vouler International among others are some of the startups receiving incubation at FiiRE.