The greatest resource of all for company founders and entrepreneurs is each other, believes Prayank Swaroop, a partner at venture capital firm Accel India. That’s the thinking behind it Accelerate Atoms, a funding and support program that aims to build a community of entrepreneurs who can learn from each other. Accel today unveiled the second cohort of startups it supports through Atoms, bringing the total number of companies in the community to 24.
Through Atoms, Accel invests $250,000 in non-dilutive capital in each supported company, provides access to a pool of mentors, and also provides a 100-day learning and development course for each founder. Most importantly, the initiative encourages companies to support each other – each startup in the Atoms program can turn to the rest for help with a specific challenge or problem, as well as other companies in Accel’s network; by bundling their knowledge, they can move forward faster.
“New founders are getting younger and we see them asking the same questions over and over again,” says Swaroop. “We’ve been investing in these companies for 10 years, but for founders, their questions are new to them.”
The reality of venture capital, says Swaroop, is that no one company can be everything to all the companies it invests in. While Atoms hosts a series of teaching and learning sessions for founders and provides access to one-on-one mentoring support, it cannot be available 24 hours a day. And either way, companies often have issues or questions they’re reluctant to discuss with their lenders. They often feel much more comfortable discussing challenges and opportunities with other startups going through a similar journey.
There is also a need for communities that are not just focused on reaching the next round of investment, according to Swaroop. “One of the things we wondered when setting up Atoms was if we were doing something different than the accelerators and incubators that are already out there,” he says. “We felt like those groups were very focused on getting startups to the next fundraiser, rather than providing support for the hundreds of questions founders have about their company every day.”
This is not to say that fundraising is unimportant. Swaroop points out that the 24 companies in the two Atoms cohorts have collectively raised $100 million in follow-up fundraising efforts since joining the program. The support companies get in the Atoms process helps them get to Series A and B rounds faster and more efficiently, he argues.
Companies can access the Atoms program by applying directly or by referral from other venture capital funds and business angels with whom Accel works closely. Accel focuses specifically on the technology sector, although a wide range of companies fall within that criterion.
The program is also expanding geographically. While the first Atoms cohort focused on Indian start-ups, this second round includes companies in five different jurisdictions. Accel particularly wanted to work with Southeast Asian companies, where the start-up environment is now gaining momentum. “There is a real opportunity for entrepreneurs in those countries to learn from their peers in India, which is just a little further afield,” Swaroop added.
The second cohort of Atoms also varies slightly in that Accel did not acquire all of the companies at the same time. It has added companies to the cohort over time, culminating in today’s announcement of the completed complement (applications for the third cohort are now open through the end of the year). The 10 supported companies are:
- BRIK: a business-to-business construction material-focused aggregator that is transforming the way small and medium-sized contractors in Indonesia buy construction materials.
- DataBrain: a data platform that enables non-technical strategic teams to effectively extract and analyze data.
- DhiWise: An AI-powered development tool that enables developers to deliver production-ready source code for all kinds of apps 10 times faster.
- Dpanda: a decentralized platform that allows brands to transform their web presence into micro-ecommerce platforms that enable their audience to make an instant purchase at the point of curiosity.
- Fish log: a business-to-business marketplace and community-driven ecosystem that aims to streamline the seafood supply chain across Indonesia.
- Gut Wellness Club: an initiative to naturally cure intestinal problems with traditional nutrition and yoga.
- Mello: a discovery platform that helps people find the best experiences around them.
- Ripik: a software-as-a-service platform for artificial intelligence and machine learning for the manufacturing industry, aimed at helping the industrial sector to run its factories more efficiently and effectively.
- Up: a no-code tool that allows anyone to build and optimize personalized forms that generate more and better qualified leads.
- youshd: a performance engine that harnesses the power of consumer networks to help direct-to-consumer brands succeed.
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