TE Connectivity recently partnered with the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) Startup Hub to launch an accelerator programme in India. In an interesting conversation with Electronics For You’s Yashasvini Razdan, Rahul Mathur, Director, revealed the company’s plans as an accelerator for startups
Q. How has the Indian market evolved in recent years, and how has TE adapted its focus to cater to the specific needs of the Indian market?
A. The Indian market has historically faced challenges due to its relatively small size and slow growth. However, over the past few years, there has been a significant shift in this landscape. The importance of India for an industrial technology company like TE has been steadily growing, leading to a significant shift in the landscape. TE has recognised this change and actively focuses on the Indian market. We are now able to cater to the specific needs of the Indian market by offering India-specific solutions. This involves working closely with our OEM customers to understand their requirements and developing products tailored to the Indian market. This increased focus on India has been a key area of emphasis for us recently.
Q. Could you give me more details about your collaboration with BCIC?
A. We intend to be ‘venture clients’ for these startups and enable them to work on their PoC or prototypes in our manufacturing facility. We want them to develop products and new technologies for India and the globe. BCIC will provide the business framework, external support, and consultation so TE can run this programme. The framework allows us to select the right startups and provide support in areas such as business mentoring or connecting them with academia or other technology partners in the industry. So, that is what BCIC is doing—building the ecosystem to support the startup’s needs.
TE will connect the startups directly to the business by driving it. We’ll be the sponsors, and they will be the users. This way, their use cases and projects won’t be limited to research and development or a PoC (proof of concept). They can work directly with businesses and even scale globally, if possible.
Q. In this collaborative project with BCIC, would you call yourself an accelerator or an incubator?
A. An incubator supports a startup at the early stage. We’re more of an accelerator because we’d want to partner with startups ready with a minimal viable product or a PoC to provide them with use cases to implement. We want to be their first and, if possible, biggest customer and support their growth. They’ll also get good mentorship regarding technology and business via academia and business consultants. It’s an opportunity for collaboration.
For example, in the manufacturing sector, we’re looking for startups that can assist us with Industry 4.0, enhancing our throughput, manufacturing capabilities, and process efficiency. These startups will get connected with experienced engineers who have substantial knowledge and exposure to the shop floor. This expertise will be valuable for startups to progress from PoC to final product development and scaling.
Startups are looking for a large organisation that can use or adopt their products, and we intend to be the marquee customer for these startups and leverage their capabilities. That’s why we’d call ourselves an accelerator.
Q. What are your selection criteria for patronising a startup?
A. We have very simple criteria—the startup must be sponsored by a business from any segment—manufacturing, operations, product development, technology, or even a C-suite executive. The other criterion is that the startup’s solution should be unique and competitive for India and globally.
How do accelerator programmes benefit large and established companies like TE?
Startups, with their entrepreneurial mindset and nimbleness, often hold the key to innovation. Companies don’t need to solve every problem internally, and there are challenges and areas better suited for startups. We have observed some remarkably innovative and interesting ideas emerging in the marketplace. Unburdened by the constraints of a large organisation, startups can bring these ideas to a stage where established companies can then engage and collaborate with them.
Q. What is the average investment you make in accelerating a startup?
A. The key aspect we bring to startups is our commitment to long-term business opportunities. Currently, startups have access to funding and technical/business mentorship. However, they often lack validation of their PoC and a long-term commitment to any potential business opportunities. As a client, we offer the most significant value by providing that validation and the potential for sustained business engagement to startups.