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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Spotlight: Telangana IT Corridor Is Brewing Troubles

By RENUKA REDDY | INNLIVE

Many Start-Ups In The Incubator Are Complaining Of Lack Of Space, Absent Mentors And Skewed Support System.

Nearly seven months after the T-Hub threw its doors open amid much expectations and promises, the state government-run incubator is ridden with issues.Steep rates, lack of room to expand teams and a `virtually absent' and inaccessible network of mentors feature in the long list of grievances raised by many who signed up with the facility.

“While an incubator is supposed to provide all the tools necessary for a start-up to grow, such as business mentoring, financial advice and access to relevant professional networks as well as support the entire ecosystem as a whole, this has not been the case with the T-Hub, which now purely functions as a real estate building,“ said an industry insider.

Although T-Hub was designed to nurture the growth of startups for one year, a few start-ups who found their way into the 60,000 square feet facility are faced with a major impediment-lack of space to grow and expand their teams.

“When we joined T-Hub for the specific purpose of having access to professional networks, we were a team of ten. Since the prices were too steep, we had applied for only two seats.

However, over time, the dayto-day operations became complicated and it was necessary for the whole team to work from one space. This was not possible at the T-Hub as there were simply no more seats available. Also, it has not been possible to connect with relevant players in the industry network either,“ said Anoop Soman (name changed on request), who confessed that it was only after he moved out of T-Hub that he was able to add 10 more members vital to his mobile-based start-up.

Also, the impressive and vast pool of mentors and experts that the facility had boasted of during its launch only exists on paper, say innovators.

“The line-up of mentors that was promised to start-ups is virtually absent. Since I have been part of the strong start-up ecosystem in Bangalore, I can vouch for the fact that the mentor plan that was floated by T-Hub has not fully taken off. It is not possible to access the mentors unless you know them personally ,“ said an innovator working in T-Hub, on condition of anonymity .

While a few complained of hasty scheduling of events and a lack of organizational structure within the management, allega tions of an imbalanced support system within the facility were also raised by many disappointed members of the start-up community. As per their claims, the facility is focused on the growth of just a handful of start-ups, who have earned the tag of `portfolio companies', in which T-Hub has taken an equity .

Srinivas Kollipara, COO (Chief Operations Officer) of the T-Hub, in fact, admitted that 'there is a little more emphasis on portfolio companies which T-Hub has taken 2-3% equity in'. However, he asserted that the organi zation was focused on creating success stories, while organizing events on how to get market access and mentoring workshops as a form of support at the `ecosystem level'.

“As an organization, we are trying to create success stories in the city and hence have handpicked about 12 portfolio companies through our accelerator Lab 32 and provide them with customized mentoring and market access programmes. However, non-portfolio companies, who have asked for our help or intervention, have never been turned away ,“ Kollipara claimed.

When asked about the lack of space within the expansive facility, he said “At the ecosystem level, we work with other incubators and multiple co-working spaces across the city . If T-Hub does not have enough space to accommodate a start-up, we refer them to these alternatives.“
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