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Google Launchpad Week To Mentor 16 Startups

Google is flagging off the second edition of its popular googlementoring programme — Launchpad Week — on Monday. Google has identified 16 Indian startups for the five-day mentoring programme, focused on areas like product strategy, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI), technology, marketing, business development and presentation skills.The event will conclude with a demo day where the startups will make a pitch to VCs and investors.

Google Launchpad Week, the flagship programme of the Google Developers Launchpad Program, is designed to support the local startup ecosystem and to add value to existing accelerator and incubator programmes. This is the second Launchpad Week to be held in Bengaluru this year as part of its annual four-part series. Launchpad’s weeklong events are held on a regular basis in locations including Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Singapore and London. Last August, Launchpad Week debuted in Bengaluru, inducting 20 local startups to the programme, which included iReff Technologies that allows you to find the best prepaid mobile recharge plan for your needs and Smart Pocket that manages all your loyalty cards on the phone.

This time, the mentoring programme is opened to startups outside Bengaluru — three each from Mumbai, National Capital Region (NCR) and one from Hyderabad — to support entrepreneurial diversity. Some of the startups who have made it to the programme include Bengaluru-based furniture rental startup Furlenco, Gurgaon-based contextual news startup Newsbytes and Delhi-based mobile travel marketplace SeekSherpa. “We have taken only startups that have dealt with real experiences on ground. The cost it incurs to the founders is minimal but they get validation from real customers,” said Sunil Rao, country head – developer relations and startup ecosystem at Google India.

Rao said that selection process was more stringent this time with over 150 startups being evaluated to shortlist the final 16. This was twice the number of startups evaluated previously. “We have identified startups that have validated their ideas much more thoroughly this time. They have used the classic product management approach with step-by-step iteration to validate their ideas. Even before the prototype, they have done a market study to assess the interest levels among 200-300 potential customers. The pedigree of entrepreneurs is very good,” he added.

Take Hyderabad-based ride-sharing app Zify for instance. Its founder Anurag Rathor, went to Ireland to participate in a global ride-sharing app developers’ conference to understand and gather insights about alternative commuting options that are comfortable and affordable.

Mahesh Vorkady, the 41-year-old founder of city-based startup Talkative Solutions, created a communication app dedicated solely to parents of school-going children. “It encourages interaction among parents about tuition, school activities and the challenges they face at school,” said Vorkady. He said the startup is looking to tap into neighbourhood communities or alumni network to create a social network of sorts.

The Bengaluru event has a roster of 40 mentors that includes Cisco’s UX lead Muthu Rajamani, Adobe Systems consumer group’s design lead Sharad Baliyan, Redbus co-founder Phanindra Sama, Google’s programme manager and member of its developer relations team in India Amrit Sanjeev and JPMorgan Chase vice-president Saurabh Chandra. Seedfund’s managing partner Bharati Jacob and Srijan Capital’s partner Ravi Trivedi would be mentoring startups on the go-to-market strategy.

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