By Paul Ravindranath, Program Manager, Google for Startups Accelerator India
One of the most remarkable demonstrations of India’s digital transformation is in the many ways people are leveraging technology to power their entrepreneurship journeys. Industry estimates by Zinnov-NASSCOM point to between 25,000 and 27,000 tech startups having been set up across India in the last decade alone. As this momentum continues to pick up pace, it is essential that women – who currently make up less than 18% of the country’s startup leaders and founders – have an equitable opportunity to leverage digital to achieve their ambitions, and contribute to India’s aspirations of a truly digitally empowered economy.
At Google, we are committed to supporting these journeys with programs and partnerships designed especially for women to overcome the obstacles that come in the way of this quest – because it is our abiding belief that any system, be it a business or an entire economy – can be universally rewarding only if its architects are representative of its beneficiaries.
Building on our longstanding commitment to help startups begin, build, and grow, last year, we launched the Google for Startups Accelerator – India Women Founders, a 3-month program focussed on women founders that includes curriculum and engagement opportunities addressing areas like access to networks, access to capital, hiring challenges, mentorship, and many others.
We are thrilled to share that the first cohort of the Accelerator has now successfully concluded. In embracing their roles of being both leaders and learners, every one of the 20 members of the cohort have deeply inspired us, and we are excited about the wide-ranging impact they will bring to the broader startup ecosystem.
Participating in the Google for Startups Accelerator program was an inflection point in CoLLearn’s startup journey. First and foremost, our vision changed. We started thinking beyond India and about how to cater to global citizens. It has also given us an approach for structured thinking for product launches, scaling up, digital marketing, all of which have helped us immensely as a team and set the course for our next phase of growth. It has introduced us to the inner circle of 19 other fabulous founders, experienced mentors, and given us a sense of family.”
– Srishty Jain, CoLLearn
“The Google for Startups Accelerator program has been a game-changer for our startup. Through the program, we gained access to world-class mentors, industry experts, and resources that helped us, not just refine, but completely renew our product. The program also connected us to a diverse community of like-minded entrepreneurs who provided invaluable support throughout the process. What we also value about the program was that it enabled us to go down to our roots, straight to fixing the leaks in our pipeline.”
– Aakanksha Varude, OPOD Audio
Beyond the impact of mentorship and actionable inputs on technology, product, UX and growth areas, the inaugural cohort points to the true potential and power of a motivated and driven community of peers who experience shared challenges. Not only have the women founders struck collaborations amongst themselves, several have become each other’s customers.
We will continue to support initiatives focused on supporting the growth and transformation of women-led startups as part of our larger effort towards improving the representation of women across different sections of India’s digitally-trained workforce. We are looking forward to opening up applications for the next cohort, so watch this space for an update.