Venture capitalist firm Antler launches $20,000 start-up fellowship programme for Indian college students

According to the statement issued by the company, the fellowship aims to fuel the growing entrepreneurial talent in Indian colleges and universities
Image for representation | Pic: Express
Image for representation | Pic: Express

Venture capitalist group Antler India has announced the launch of the Antler India Fellowship. This fellowship is a 16-week programme during which a $20,000 grant will be provided to the students so that they can turn their start-up ideas into viable businesses. According to the statement issued by the company, "the fellowship aims to fuel the growing entrepreneurial talent in Indian colleges and universities by providing a platform for experimentation, building and scaling with the support of capital, mentors and a peer network."

One of the key features of the fellowship is the grant of $20,000 (INR 15 lakh) is equity-free. It is also the largest of its kind for students in India. Besides using the grant for scaling up their start-up students can even choose to pay off their student loans. Through the fellowship, students also gain access to a hands-on programme, facilitated by domain experts and founders. The programme will train students in 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.

So, who can apply? The fellowship is not limited only to student founders who have working prototypes of their idea or a product with traction. Students who have strong ideas are also encouraged to apply. The pan-India program is open to students from any university. Additionally, students who have deferred placements to actively work on a start-up idea are also encouraged to apply. Post the 16-week programme, fellows can raise pre-seed funding from Antler India and will receive support in subsequent funding rounds thereon.

Nandini Vishwanath, Program Director, Antler India, says, “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 build start-ups but end up not pursuing their ideas because of the lack of guidance and mentorship. They often require more personalised guidance that video courses or classroom learning fail to provide. Moreover, capital constraints and peer and parental pressure to pursue the more stable route of placements and jobs withhold students from pursuing their entrepreneurial interests. We also realised that the accessibility is limited for students from atypical founder backgrounds such as liberal arts or commerce. Our program is designed to solve for all these barriers and facilitate a platform for students to build on their idea and convert it into a start-up.” 

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