Fellowship launched for students with startup ideas

CHENNAI: Antler India has announced the launch of Antler India Fellowship, a 16-week programme designed to enable students to turn their startup ideas into a business.

The fellowship, which comes with a grant of $20,000, aims at fuelling the growing entrepreneurial talent in Indian colleges and universities by providing a platform for experimentation, building and scaling with the support of equity-free capital, mentors and a peer network. It encourages ideas at the earliest stages.

One of the key features of the fellowship is the monetary grant of $20,000 (Rs 15 lakh) that is given to the fellows equity-free. The grant is the largest of its kind for students in India. Fellows can use the grant to scale their startup idea or even pay off their student loans should they choose to pursue entrepreneurship full-time.

Through the fellowship, students also gain access to a hands-on programme, facilitated by domain experts and founders, spanning idea validation, user research, product, engineering and marketing. Fellows will also be able to leverage the peer-community to network and brainstorm as they build on their ideas.

After the 16 weeks programme, fellows will get an opportunity to raise pre-seed funding from Antler India and will receive support in raising subsequent funding rounds thereon.

“We spoke to hundreds of college students in the past year and realised the immense potential of student entrepreneurs that is yet to be unlocked. Indian students want to start up but end up not pursuing their ideas because of the lack of guidance and mentorship. They often require more 1-1 personalized guidance that video courses or classroom learning fail to provide,” said Nandini Vishwanath, programme director, Antler India.

“Capital constraints and peer and parental pressure to pursue the more stable route of placements and jobs withhold students from pursuing their entrepreneurial interests. Accessibility is limited for students from atypical founder backgrounds such as liberal arts or commerce. Our programme is designed to solve all these barriers and facilitate a platform for students to build on their idea and convert it into a startup.”

The fellowship is not limited only to student founders who have working prototypes of their idea or a product with traction. Students who have a strong idea are also encouraged to apply. The pan-India programme is open to students from any university. Additionally, students who have deferred placements to actively work on a startup idea are encouraged to apply.

“We don’t just want to enable existing founders but create new founders. In several western countries the percentage of student founders is much higher than in India. We want to change this. We believe it’s the students of today who will build to address some of the toughest problems affecting us in the spaces of climate change, unlocking human potential, energy efficiency and upcoming spaces such as metaverse, blockchain and web3,” said Rajiv Srivatsa, partner, Antler India.

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