Minutes of the meeting of all incubated startups of GUSEC that was organised on the occasion of GUSEC’s successful completion of first year of operations and to discuss possible ways of internal collaborations, co-creation and community-building within GUSEC staff and community, held at Syndicate Meeting Room, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, between 10 am and 1 pm on Saturday, March 18, 2017
Attendance: The meeting was attended founders and co-founders of all incubated startups of GUSEC, in presence of management of GUSEC
Dr Himanshu Pandya, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor (I/c), Gujarat University
Rahul Bhagchandani, Acting CEO, GUSEC
Mr Rahul Bhagchandani, Acting CEO, GUSEC opened up the forum for all founder-entrepreneurs to introduce themselves, their startups, and requested all startups to highlight one particular challenge each startup was facing currently.
Following the introduction, the following were the major challenges identified amongst the incubated startups: marketing for existing model / prototype, inability to find technically-skilled persons in IT, business development, and creative designing fields.
Startups run by single-founders also discussed elaborately on challenges they faced in finding co-founders.
All startups resonated the difficulty they continue to face to source funds to enable further growth.
All present also shared concern about legal, finance and allied problems that are natural for any startup post incubation stage / prototype stage.
Addressing the challenges / concerns of startups, CEO, GUSEC, suggested incubated startups could help each other through collaboration and co-creation. It was discussed how some startups that operate in similar domains at GUSEC could co-create, where as startups having expertise in certain technical aspects such as IT, Marketing, Business Development, could collaborate with, and even offer services to other startups.
The CEO also shared the details about the Mentor Board formed at GUSEC that could further help and guide the startups.
The CEO shared that over 35 mentors are enrolled on the Mentor Board and how GUSEC plans to involve the Mentors in the near future, including arranging dedicated Mentor Sessions, interactions and one-to-one interacting. Furthermore, he highlighted some instances of mentors mentoring some of the incubated startups on a case-to-case basis.
The CEO also highlighted that the University will create incentives for mentors, and one such incentive included Mentors being default Adjunct Faculty of the University enabling the mentors to leverage perks availed to the Adjunct Faculty of the University.
The CEO then asked suggestions on how all startups wish to involve with Mentors, and requested for broad ideas on making the Mentor Board as successful as possible. The following were the broad suggestions gathered”
It was suggested that at least one mentor session per week could be scheduled for all incubatees.
It was also suggested that entrepreneurs and innovators at GUSEC may suggest persons for Mentor Board and that the management would ensure enrollment of such recommendations on the Board.
An interesting suggestion was formation of Entrepreneurs’ Committees / Groups based on expertise / domain, who could act as first level of mentors for a particular problem, before external mentors were involved.
The need of having several mentors from as many verticals as possible was also suggested, along with the need of ensuring that mentors who misuse their positions are kept at bay.
The CEO welcomed all the above suggestions and ensured active participation of Mentors at GUSEC on a highly frequent basis.
To build a strong community-run startup support centre and ensure interactions and collaborations between incubated startups at GUSEC, the following were the key suggestions:
GUSEC can set up a forum for internal communications, discussions, solutions, problems, etc. that can be accessed by all team members of all incubated startups
GUSEC can start a periodic newsletter highlighting progress by incubated startups, growth of GUSEC and the startup ecosystem
GUSEC can facilitate frequent meetings of incubated startups to ensure sharing of best practices, collaboration, co-creation, etc.
The need of running the coworking space 24×7 was also discussed. The CEO shared that the center was running for close to 16 hours currently on a daily basis, and that soon, the centre shall be made 24×7 after certain specifics were worked out at the University-level.
The CEO then remarked on the following points:
GUSEC would be happy to facilitate a bootup guide that shall help early-stage startups find best practices around all the processes and operations that are a part of starting a startup.
A session from Schemopedia, a startup based in Ahmedabad, may be scheduled at GUSEC to help incubated startups become more aware about government and other schemes for startups and innovations.
GUSEC is already working on a Boot Up Policy that shall help early-stage startups initiate through means of funding and other resources.
Post which, Dr Himanshu Pandya, Vice-Chancellor (I/c), joined the session, and congratulated GUSEC and all incubated startups for the first successful year.
The Vice-Chancellor reaffirmed the University’s desire to continue being a significant facilitator for startups, entrepreneurs and innovators. He further shared that the only motivation of the University to support GUSEC and its activities was the immense need of the hour for the society to support startups, entrepreneurs and innovators, and that the University does not wishes to gain financially, or otherwise, for any support extended to startups.
The Vice-Chancellor requested all present to share the word about GUSEC within their networks, and ensured full support and cooperation of the University to address any need of startups, entrepreneurs and innovators. He further added that policies in the pipeline at the University-level shall further help startups with their needs of funding, resources, and other support.
Post the above discussion, the Vice-Chancellor distributed certificates of incubations to all startups.
The gathering was then concluded with a vote of thanks to the Chair.
On May 5, 2016, Vice-Chancellor Dr. MN Patel presented the following overview of the roadmap for Gujarat University Startup And Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) to members of the media, incubated startups, senior faculty members of the university and other stakeholders of the startups ecosystem.
Brief background regarding GUSEC
Since July 2015, Gujarat University has taken efforts to support startups, entrepreneurs and innovators at university campus, as well as taken efforts to build a cohesive startup ecosystem in the state of Gujarat
In August 2015, the administration constituted GUSEC officially under the university system
Education Minister Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasama chaired two pivotal meetings for the Gujarat startup ecosystem in August-September 2015, including a roundtable of all Vice-Chancellors of Gujarat
Between November 2015 and January 2016, Gujarat University partnered with Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) to carry out sensitisation of students across several GU affiliated colleges in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar
In February 2016, education ministers of Gujarat inaugurated the GUSEC Building which includes the co-working space of GUSEC
Since March 2016, more than 15 startups have been incubated at GUSEC Co-Working Space, most for any incubator or co-working space in Gujarat, making GUSEC the fastest growing incubator and co-working space in Gujarat
More than 30 qualified startups have thus far applied to join GUSEC and soon, the centre will operate at 100% capacity
GUSEC is the first incubator and co-working space in India that’s taking efforts for supporting non-tech startups and innovations
GUSEC has been instituted to play the role of a top-notch facilitator in the startup world, and is accepting applications from not only GU students, but also from entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and industry verticals, thus helping the Gujarat Startup Ecosystem
GUSEC is providing hand-holding support to each entrepreneur associated with it
GUSEC is also building a Mentor Board that will have hundreds of industry leaders and subject experts from across India. These individuals may not be easily accessible by entrepreneurs or innovators, but GUSEC will help its incubated startups have direct access to such subject experts for mentorship
Today, GUSEC is a completely community- and student-driven institution. The inputs of students and entrepreneurs at GUSEC will be of paramount importance to the university and the system will continuously adapt to the needs of the end-users
Association with GCSRA
Last week, 20 GUSEC startups pitched to receive seed funds from Gujarat State Seed Corporation via the Gujarat CSR Authority in an event organised by GUSEC and EDI, and 12 startups received grants of Rs. 40,000 each. 7 others have qualified for the 2nd round
Through an integrated MoU that has been signed between Gujarat University and Gujarat CSR Authority, the university expects more collaboration with GCSRA for promoting entrepreneurship and innovation activities through GUSEC
Outreaching to 3 lakh students
GUSEC, from the next academic term of 2016-17, will also start outreaching to all 300+ institutes affiliated to Gujarat University, where a student team and a faculty coordinator will execute GUSEC’s objectives
All 300+ institutes affiliated to Gujarat University will be provided support to build startup centres and co-working spaces in order to provide support systems directly where students are. This will directly benefit over 3 lakh students affiliated to the university. At least 50 best campuses will be provided extended hand-holding support in order to take entrepreneurship straight at students’ doorsteps
The university will also usher in several other interventions across its academic, co-curicullar and extra-curicullar platforms, some of which include providing grace marks and grace attendance for well-performing student entrepreneurs and innovators, option for deferred placements, options for students to take “gap years”, introduction of practical modules of entrepreneurship learning in syllabi, ranking affiliated institutes based on how well they support entrepreneurs and innovators, etc.
Research to Revenue & patent support
GUSEC has introduced the concept of “Research to Revenue” where the university hopes to convert at least 5% of research done by university students into commercial, profit-making startups
Already, Gujarat University is supporting student innovators for patent funding and allied processes through support from agencies such as GCSRA and NIF, but GUSEC will soon constitute its own patent and IPR support group to provide a direct, single-window support system for young innovators. GUSEC aims to facilitate filing of at least 50 full patents in the first year
Internal seed funding from university & external funding facilitation
GUSEC will also help its incubated startups take benefits of the Startup Assistance Scheme of the Gujarat Industrial Policy 2015, as soon GUSEC will also be a nodal institution under that scheme. GUSEC aims to facilitate funding support from Gujarat government for at least 25 startups through the Startup Assistance Scheme in the first year
By the end of this year, GUSEC is also keen to establish a DST-supported TBI
Most importantly, the university is also considering allocating a startup seed-fund of up to the tune of 1 crore for startups from university’s corpus funds
Startup & Innovation Policy
The university, to formalise and document all its efforts taken under GUSEC will also introduce an inclusive and broad Gujarat University Startup & Innovation Policy to support new-age entrepreneurship, innovation and startups. The core aim of the policy will be to usher in processes and systems to make at least 1% of all students affiliated to the university as job creators by means of entrepreneurship or innovation
The broader objectives of GUSEC
Through GUSEC, Gujarat University wishes to play a crucial role in building the startup ecosystem of Gujarat and the country
The university has a keenness to engage as many external stakeholders as possible contribute to the startup ecosystem of Gujarat and India to build processes, systems and policies at the broad level that are scalable and replicable
Youth of the country today requires to be independent and self-sufficient. It is very crucial that universities play their part in helping students become “job creators” instead of “job seekers”
The Vice-Chancellor through the GUSEC team will consider and implement policies and reforms to fulfill the following “wish list”.
Much of the startup policies and terminologies in India are biased towards the Engineering and Management students, and there should be a platform where startups and entrepreneurs from even the non-technical fields can be nurtured.
Student entrepreneurs should be given an option to sit in deferred placements, where in they can pursue their entrepreneurial adventures during college and after graduation, but go back to the institute’s or department’s placement pool in case their venture does not succeed.
A policy should be in place where startups could get their staff salaries subsidised.
There is dire need of mentoring from the revenue model point of view, because students who are willing to take up their idea are passionate and are not introduced to the real world challenges and business problems, such mentoring from the existing entrepreneurs would help them establish a proper business and eventually, earn more, and succeed.
The university should create a network of students who are interested in internships. University’s startups can then have access to a wide range of talent pool through these student interns.
The existing GUSEC website, which is quite inclusive, should be made open for ideas and a regular magazine/newsletter from the website should be put on place. Taking such simultaneous steps the ecosystem could be promoted easily.
Academics is not much entrepreneur friendly and hence, a proper academic support is needed from the university which would bond the students who are experts from the respective fields which in turn would help achieve a complete solution to a problem.
There is a need of an institution that goes on without dependencies on any factors, and GU itself has got vast startup pool of students dating back 60 years. Including GU startups from all walks of life would make the network stronger.
GUSEC must have a mentoring team comprising of the HR, Finance, Technical and Legal teams which can help transform an idea into startup. It should be clubbed with a screening system to filter out the ideas.
Any startup is not purely based on technical and non-technical aspects but it’s an idea. Creation of a platform where students could bring up an idea and provided with support will be ideal.
The University must provide a way to handle governmental paperwork, like setting up a company, filing taxes or registering for patents. A one-stop solution from the university for all governmental paperwork and permission must be set up.
One thing observed in silicon alley is free flow of innovation and talent. Anybody can have idea but the real challenge is the closed doors of the institutions. A student having an idea must be allowed free flow of information and innovation from the different institutions across the state and beyond.
The “Gujarat University Startups & Entrepreneurs Council” is a Gujarat University body to support student entrepreneurs and student startups of Gujarat University, while promoting and building a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation amongst Gujarat University students.
The following points briefly explain the need and roles of GUSEC:
Gujarat University has decided to formally establish the Gujarat University Startups & Entrepreneurs Council (GUSEC) – a body dedicated to bring in much needed reforms and policies to support GU startups and entrepreneurs.
After personal discussions with several external stakeholders, Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat University has realised the need for a co-working space at the University.
Dr. Patel has also decided to sanction a budget of Rs. 20 lakh for kicking off the operations to build the co-working space at GU Campus.
The university has already nominated a nodal faculty for looking after the operations of GUSEC.
On July 13, 2015, Dr. Patel personally wrote a letter to principals of all GU affiliated colleges sharing his views about the need of entrepreneurship and startup related reforms in education, as well as asking the principals to a) appoint a GUSEC faculty coordinator and b) provide information about present and past student entrepreneurs of each particular institute.
Earlier in July, in a press conference, the Vice-Chancellor had shared his plans to bring in such reforms. After media reports of the same, the Vice-Chancellor’s office alone has received over a dozen calls by interested GU entrepreneurs, seeking information about getting enrolled in the co-working space.
The University is also building a network of entrepreneurs of GU students and alumni and bring them together for an interaction session with the Vice-Chancellor and the members of GUSEC operations committee.
The Vice-Chancellor has also shown his wish to request the Government of Gujarat to make Gujarat University as one of the nodal agencies to implement Gujarat government’s Startup Assistance Scheme in order to make it convenient for GU students to get benefits of the said scheme.