Yojana Sharma, TimesJobs.com
In a bid to support startups, both the government and corporations are coming forward in a big way. This week, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion announced a measure for startups to file for patents in a cheaper and faster way.
Banks too are showing interest in funding and lending to startups, and that too with relaxations. ICICI Bank has shown interest in investing in fintech startups and earmarked a dedicated corpus. Federal Bank too has announced a dedicated Rs 25 crore fund to invest in startups.
Some months ago, public sector lender State Bank of India launched a dedicated branch for startups in Bengaluru under a well-defined programme called SBI InCube. Most recently, private sector lender RBL Bank has also followed suit.
TimesJobs.com spoke to Rajiv Prakash, chief manager of SBI InCube’s Bengaluru branch, to find out what has been the response to their offering among new ventures so far.
Tell us about the SBI Incube programme
SBI InCube is providing free professional advisory services to the entrepreneurs. We have empanelled professionals in various domains like CA, CS, Legal advice, Forex related queries & IPR etc., to address the specific issues faced by startups. We conduct regular events to facilitate interaction between startups and professionals. Such events have been received well by the startup community. We have connected about 300 startups for free professional advice till date.
In the past few weeks, we have provided banking services to many start-ups. We have customised our existing products in consultation with industry stalwarts and we are working on new products and services to meet requirements of start-ups- from a simple Current Account to Payment Gateway & Wallet services to Forex advisory and transactions.
We are constantly engaging with the different components in the ecosystem to explore synergies between SBI and the various sub units of the ecosystem. Through our tie-ups, we are striving to make SBI InCube a “go-to place/ one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs.
How is bank finding different for VC funding?
We cannot step into the shoes of a VC/angel investor as we are public sector bank, custodian of public wealth but there is so much more in banking and advisory that SBI can undertake and facilitate the start-ups.
How has this programme been received so far?
It is now almost four months since this branch has opened. We have successfully mobilised 85 accounts of startups which are under various phases of growth. They are working in diverse domains such as agriculture, medical & health care, education, real estate etc and can be categorised under technological heads as IT & ITES, analytics and machine learning, networking and various others.
Please share more about your future plans.
We have been conducting events almost every fortnight, sometimes at our branch and sometimes at other start-up rich facilities. Such interactions also open up more opportunities of engagement. We are ‘The Banker to Every Indian’ and aspire to become ‘The Banker to every Indian Start-up.’
About 400 startups have approached SBI InCube since our inception in January 2016. Mostly are working in IT and ITES. However, a few are also working in Agriculture, Manufacturing & Trading sector.
What kind of experts are guiding startups under the SBI InCube programme?
The officials in SBI InCube comprises of young and dynamic officers from within State Bank of India especially chosen for the assignment. They have a good exposure in various aspects of banking like credit, forex and transaction banking. The team has been given a good exposure to the startup ecosystem. Their interaction with industry stalwarts and successful CEOs only increases their business acumen.