After testing its startup mentor programme in Israel, search giant Google is now turning its focus on Indian startups. The company has picked India to kick-start its startup mentorship programme Launchpad this year, signalling its growing interest in Indian startups.
On Monday, it launched the first of four such week-long programmes, during which a set of mentors from Google and other companies will coach startups looking to grow. “This is one of our large scale new programme offering,” said Sunil Rao, who heads the startup initiative for Google India. While Google has an interest in growing India’s digital economy, the startup programme could also turn into a pipeline for Google’s investment arm.
The company’s venture capital arm had recently picked up a stake in real estate portal Commonfloor and Freshdesk, a Chennai-based customer support tool. In India, Google plans to mentor close to 100 companies through Launchpad, which was started on a small scale nearly three years ago in Israel. Last year, it was conducted in 20 different cities.oogle benefits from the growing digital economy, as companies spend on Google to acquire customers. In the year ended March 2014, Google’s revenue crossed 3,000 crore, up 47% YoY, helped by increasing online advertising spend.
All the “bits and pieces” of Google’s startup programmes will be consolidated under Launchpad. “It will be like one offering to the developer from a startup perspective,” said Rao, country head, start-up ecosystem India, Google India.
“It will be like one offering to the developer from a startup perspective,” said Rao, country head, startup ecosystem, Google India. The company plans to take Launchpad to 50 cities this year but in India, most of its activities will be focused in Bengaluru. Rao, who heads the developer relations team for Google in India, has grown the Google developer community to one of the biggest with 45 chapters.Google Developer Relations was set up in India about five years ago in Hyderabad.
The team now has four people and operates out of Bengaluru, the largest among such teams for Google. It mainly focuses on creating Google developer groups, focused around Google technologies such as the Android operating system.
India is one of the largest Google developer ecosystems, with a large number of Android developers.
Increasingly, India has become core to Google’s vision of getting 7 billion people or the world’s population to use the Internet.
Many top executives of the $60 billion search company have been visiting India over the last few months, signalling its increasing interest in India’s growing Internet economy. Last September, Google launched its Android One programme to make smartphones affordable in India and other Southeast Asian countries.