Now, India’s top young entrepreneurs can easily visit and connect with like minded counterparts, mentors and seed investors in the Silicon Valley, California. Silicon Valley venture capitalist Asha Jadeja Motwani, wife of late Stanford Professor Rajeev Motwani, has come up with the creation of Startup Corridor to support the aspiring Indian entrepreneurs.
Asha who had been investor in over 75 startups in Silicon Valley, has just begun seed investing in Indian startups after she met several bright young entrepreneurs in India pursuing excellent ideas and experiments but without the kind of mentoring that is so common in Silicon Valley.
She found that Reading and talking about this kind of mentoring in abstract can take one forward only so much. Unless the entrepreneurs understand the culture, the walk, and the talk of Silicon Valley, serious dialogue was unlikely to emerge. With this she started Rajeev Circle Fellowship program, with the idea to identify a dozen or so true entrepreneurs in India and fly them to Silicon Valley for two weeks with all expenses paid. Any expectations of returns? Nope says Asha – “just pay it forward”.
Entrepreneurs for the first round of fellowship program included incubatees from IIM-A, IIT, Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design (NID) and Kochi’s Startup Village. This first batch of the Fellows will be instrumental in identifying, selecting and grooming, the next set that will be visiting the Silicon Valley next year.
The program held for two week duration where the Fellows got to meet tech wizards and angel investors, including Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and Square and Marc Andreessen, the whizkid creator of the browser.They also visited and had in depth discussions with the Stanford Design School, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Jaw Bone, AirBnb and Get Around.
“Asha wants to build and continue the Fellowship programme for at least 10 entrepreneurs every year for next few years and we will be helping her team every step of the way” said Sanjay Vijayakumar, the Chairman of the Startup Village Board of Governors.
Infosys co-founder and Startup Village chief mentor Kris Gopalakrishnan said that such an initiative will give exposure to young startups in India to the best in the Valley, besides access to angel investors and their perspectives on how to build global product startups. He also said that he would work closely with Startup Village to set up a strong base for the corridor in India. “I am confident this will help kick-start the birth of a truly global and world class technology startup ecosystem in India, “ he added.
This corridor will also provide a momentum to Kerala government’s Startup Village to Silicon Valley initiative, under which five Kerala students/entrepreneurs selected by Startup Village will be sent for a stint at Silicon Valley in May-June.
Rajeev Motwani was a mentor to the likes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin and was the key architect of the algorithms that power Google today. ‘Rajeev Circle’, a gathering of accomplished entrepreneurs in the tech world, is held every two months, with around 250 members, including professors from Berkeley and Stanford and Founders of companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and VMWare, it is regarded as a powerful brainstorming event in the tech world.