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Cisco announces LaunchPad accelerator program for Indian startups

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In a bid to further aid and accelerate India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, Cisco today announced a brand new LaunchPad program. The program will focus upon providing industrial mentoring to developers and startups, based upon their needs. The program will also see Cisco working with selected start-ups to develop products together.

The LaunchPad is basically an open innovation initiative that will seek to accelerate the growth of relevant startups and offer additional support to India’s massive developer community. Under the awning of the program, a slew of teams from Cisco will be able to mentor startups and the developers involved with them. The assistance provided will also take a very diverse form and include technical support, financial support, and expertise transfer.

As far as the choice of location for the program is concerned, Cisco’s decision to go with India is hardly surprising. India is the youngest startup and developer nation in the world with 72% of startup founders less than 35 years old and the average developer less than 29 years old. The country is also projected to have the largest number developers population by 2018.

From matching appealing ideas with relevant business expertise, to connecting engineering talent with investors and customers, the Cisco LanchPad will provide all around support to deserving startups. The LaunchPad is yet another example of how serious the company is with regards to India’s startup ecosystem and is in addition to the Cisco Digitization Acceleration and ita investment programs in India. The company already has a significant footprint in the country and has 11,000 people on its payroll.

Speaking on the topic, Amit Phadnis, President, Engineering and India Site Leader said,

Imagine the innovation you will create when you provide global scale to the best ideas of the world’s youngest startup nation and second biggest developer community. We have an unprecedented opportunity to digitize the next three billion people in one-third the time it took to connect the first three billion. Through Cisco LaunchPad we want to unleash the next generation of disruptive ideas and help turn the entrepreneurs of today into the business leaders of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the selected startups will also receive  a space at Cisco’s Bengaluru campus with access to a suite of its technologies. Apart from all these goodies, the companies chosen to work at its campus will also receive financial grants and other aid, including expert mentoring and assistance.

The LaunchPad will work along ways similar to an incubator. The first step will be a rigorous selection process that will be based upon factors like the viability of applicants’ business plans, the strength of their core teams and their alignment with Cisco’s digitization vision. Initially, the startups chosen will be associated with industries such as manufacturing, retail, education and health-care.

The LaunchPad program will focus on the innovation and monetization opportunities in these industries and will help unlock new markets. The successful applicants will have unprecedented access to Cisco, the company’s channel partner ecosystem and select customers, and will offer startups a worldwide go-to- market engine to validate and scale innovative ideas.

Speaking about the LaunchPad, KS Vishwanathan, Vice President, NASSCOM, who was also present at the LaunchPad event, said,

Innovation and investment are the key drivers of the Indian economy, leading to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. India is a hotbed of entrepreneurial talent and Cisco LaunchPad will be a tremendous accelerator for startups to develop digital solutions that reach a global market.

The application for entry into the 4-month long program is open now. Interestingly, Cisco will not take any equity in the start-ups selected for the program — which is one major way it will differ from you regular, run-of-the-mill accelerators. Of course, the startups will still end up heavily influenced by Cisco, and the latter will certainly find other ways to use the huge initiative to its advantage. Regardless, the prospect of receiving all these benefits without having to let go of their precious equity, will prompt even the most cynical startups to apply for a spot in the LaunchPad accelerator program.

Cisco is also collaborating with Tech Mahindra to co-develop digital solutions for Indian electric utilities. The companies will be working with selected startups and developers to accelerate digitalization in the niche.

To know more, watch Cisco’s Amit Phadnis speak about the topic by clicking here.


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