In Conversation With Brett Stevens: How Jaarvis Accelerator Is Shaping The Start-Up Ecosystem

Brett Stevens Jaarvis Accelerator

Jaarvis Accelerator is a Gurgaon based accelerator for tech-based start-ups. The firm looks for early stage sustainable start-up businesses and assists them turn into a scalable business. Headed by Brett Stevens (Vice President), Jaarvis Accelerator aims at converting an entrepreneurial idea into a compelling fundable proposition.

The Hong Kong-based technology company, Jaarvis, which has its businesses in Singapore, Australia and India, decided to launch an India-specific accelerator in mid 2015. Tech Story spoke to Brett Stevens, on how Jaarvis Accelerator is shaping the start-up ecosystem in India.

Indian startup ecosystem

I think the start-up ecosystem in India is very vibrant and I see a lot of young people who see start-up as an alternative career path. The difference in Australia and western countries is that a lot of people are working for a while before initiating the start-up. In India, very many young people are working in the start-ups. There are fewer middle aged people who are interested in start-ups, it’s primarily younger people.

I always admire entrepreneurs and inventors who come up with ideas and solutions which change the life of people.

One of the differences in India is that one can build start-ups at such lower costs compared to the Silicon Valley, where it’s not as easier to build new start-ups. Many overseas firms are also looking for investment opportunities in India and hence making things much easier to fund a start-up.

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Most of us agree that technology, which plays a major role in the needs of start-ups is currently missing at the bottom of pyramid. There is a lot of life- changing things that we can do, particularly outside the metro cities and in the villages.  Most of the start-up ideas that are presented to me were targeting the metro cities in India. A great idea that helps massive population in developing nations needs to be their priority target.

Jaarvis Accelerator Mentorship

First thing that I look for is a good idea, something that is unique and is a new opportunity to solve a problem for people. It’s definitely understood that investors are not interested to look at ideas which are a copy of something.

Second most important thing that I look for is their dedication. Most of the people are already into their full time job and want to spend part of the time working on their start-ups. People should be ready to quit their full-time jobs and focus completely on their start-ups and the team need to be committed to work together for it.

Third thing that I think about is how easy it is for me to influence the start-up and coach them to achieve their success when they grow. Through what we offer in mentoring support to the start-ups, unless they accept our coaching and allow us to steer them a little bit they don’t pick up the benefit of our programme . Else it would make it difficult for me to recommend them.

At Jaarvis Accelerator, we tend to make things flexible which is required for a start-up. So based on their experience, we cannot train the same way, so we coach them differently in order to make sure that they meet the necessary requirements to start a start-up.

Most of them assume that as an experienced person who is working as a full-time employee they would be having basic knowledge about start-ups. However, for a person coming directly out of college and for an experienced person, they would be having equal knowledge of start-ups. For the experienced person, we try to train them to forget their corporate environment. With my experience being in corporate life for about 30 years, I have learnt lot of things but I feel it is not always best to think in corporate ways.

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For an individual who just came out of college, we work with them differently. For instance, providing individual coaching and mentoring for him/her. Most of the people we meet are those who come from college who are young, having eagerness to learn and experiment with new things. Sometimes it is easier to mentor youngsters than those who have experience working with multi-national companies. On the other hand, it is sometimes easier to train experienced person in terms of understanding entrepreneurship because they already understand business.

Industry Expectations

I think this year, according to the global trend, two areas are going to boom namely Internet of Things (IoT) and Fintech. IoT is going to make a global change – connectivity and communication between the masses is going to change the world. There is a great opportunity in IoT on Agriculture like Agri-tech.

The second – Fintech, we are looking for innovation in Fintech and financial technology ideas is something that we are looking for. We believe that there is massive demand for Blockchain and not just Bitcoin. These are prominent areas where the investors are also looking for.

One of the things that we are able to offer them is an opportunity to spend some time at our head office in Hong Kong so that they also gain experience related to Blockchain and financial technologies in a two-month program which also gives them access to financial marketing in Hong Kong.

We have been struggling a lot to find someone to come up with ideas in the block chain technology beyond bitcoins. At times, it is difficult for some people in terms of mathematics and thus we are getting many other business related start-up ideas. However, while mentoring we are trying to coach them with the concepts that may be useful for them in future.

Advice To The Young Entrepreneurs

Idea, product, team and execution – these are the four important areas where an entrepreneurs must focus. One of the important things that a founder must focus on is talent. If you have good talent, a good team and a reasonable idea to create a product, they have a really good opportunity to succeed.

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The other area to think about is how to approach the market. Most of the time it is disappointing when people come only for funding. The concern is about how they are going to utilize the capital in future like increasing the revenue or investing at other places along their journey. But mentoring is the most important part while they approach the market not money.

Most of the people who approach me ask how one can be successful?

Unless you have a product or service that a customer is looking for, you do not have a business. As I said earlier, it is definitely important to have talent and hire the right talented people to help get the business going. Apart from good talent, one must have good product market fit, and investors to support you, then one can be successful in the start-up ecosystem.