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14 August 2021

Nexus Graduates it 13th Cohort

After an intensive 9 week pre-incubation program, Nexus graduated its 13th Cohort with 15 companies spread across 10 states of India. 65% of the total graduating companies are led by women founders. The virtual graduation ceremony was chaired by the Chargé d’Affaires, Atul Keshap, who shared opening remarks as well as encouraging comments on the pitches of all the startups.

A founder of one of the graduating companies said:

“Quality of the content delivered was amazing. Starting from basics and knowing which topic to spend more time on and which topic to move fast, the overall balance was the key to be more relevant to the founders. Workshops with such high profile personalities took the program a notch high. This program is a great experience. Thank you Nexus!”

The ACIR team is proud to see the growth of these companies in just 9 weeks and is looking forward to their successes that will follow.

Read more about Nexus here. Stay connected through our social media Twitter & Facebook.


Inviting applications for the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs!

The U.S. Consulate Kolkata, in partnership with Nexus and the AROH Foundation, has launched the program Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE). AWE is a State Department-funded program for aspiring women entrepreneurs across the globe that will equip them with the skills, resources, and networks needed to start and scale successful businesses. Through the program, women entrepreneurs participate in a facilitated entrepreneurship program supplemented with localized content, as well as networking and mentorship opportunities.

This call for applications is for the women entrepreneurs of Bihar and Jharkhand, who will get an opportunity to be a part of the online training program, DreamBuilder. The interested applicants are requested to apply here. In addition to business training, the entrepreneurs will also get free Amazon Web Services credits. This generous opportunity by the State Department aims to reach 50 million women by 2025 by promoting an enabling environment that reduces barriers and facilitates women’s participation in the economy.

Apply Now

Read More About AWE and DreamBuilder Here


Supporting Women Entrepreneurship in Andhra Pradesh – YLEAP Program

On May 28 - 29th ACIR, in partnership with Nexus, successfully completed an advanced two-day workshop for 25 women entrepreneurs hailing from different regions of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

This two-day workshop was the culmination of a final part of the two-part series of workshops under the Young Women Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh (YLEAP) program, supported by the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad.

As the first part of the program, a series of one-day virtual workshops were organized in April for three different regions in Andhra Pradesh: Visakhapatnam, Vijaywada, and Tirupati. Twenty women entrepreneurs were selected from each of these regions for these one-day workshops.

From these initial one-day workshops, 25 selected entrepreneurs were then invited to this advanced two-day virtual workshop where they were exposed to more in-depth, advanced business training conducted by Indian and international experts.

The workshops focused on practical skills for scaling and growing businesses and included topics such as defining value proposition according to the audience, understanding marketing techniques, business model innovation, and community building.

At the end of the workshops, all the women entrepreneurs got a chance to become part of a regional and national group of women entrepreneurs in Andhra Pradesh. These groups were the direct result of the peer-to-peer learning process followed during all the workshops. These women entrepreneurs will continue to thrive, support each other and will continue to be exposed to all the opportunities available to them in the future through these groups, as well as by Nexus and ACIR.

The startups had a wide variety of products/services ranging from medtech, agritech, sustainability, fintech, health and wellness amongst others. The feedback was universally positive, with 95% of the participants giving a rating of “excellent” or “very good.”

This was ACIR’s second successful state level intervention in India to support women entrepreneurs, following the successful program in Rajasthan. Nexus and ACIR will continue to build the necessary support infrastructure needed for women entrepreneurs to thrive in India and across the world.

To stay up to date about Nexus and our activities join us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad Under the leadership of the Consul General, the United States Consulate General in Hyderabad promotes U.S. interests and the U.S.-India bilateral relationship in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The Consulate does so through diplomatic and cultural relations with government officials, the business community, and the general public. Established in 2009, the U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad is the first U.S. diplomatic office to open in India since India’s independence. It is but one reflection of the United States’ commitment to strengthening its relationship and engagement with the people and Government of India.


Nexus Graduates the 12th Cohort

Entrepreneurs of the 12th Cohort of the Nexus pre-incubation program graduated on March 26, 2021. Aileen Nandi, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy India was invited as the keynote speaker, she congratulated the graduates and shared words of encouragement. Anthony Miranda, Counselor for Cultural Affairs, Karl Adam, First secretary of Public Affairs, John Cabeca of the US Patent and Trademark Office and a representative of Nexus' valued partner India Angels Network also attended the graduation ceremony.

Fourteen companies (50% are led by women founders) from various sectors like CleanTech, MedTech, AI, EdTEch, amongst others, coming from 7 states of India have graduated as a part of this Cohort. Over the 9 weeks, startups went through an ACIR designed online Startup Launch Program in the first week, followed by detailed sessions on various topics like marketing, intellectual property, finances, funding, pitching etc in the remaining weeks. The sessions were conducted by experienced American and Indian trainers supported by workshops from industry experts.

Nexus is proud to see the startups grow over the 9 weeks of training and wishes them all great success for future!


Masterclass on Growth Strategy for Startups

Every startup needs to have a Go-to-Market strategy to find the right customer to deliver relevant products, and often than not, it is the determining step for a startup’s success. To address this, Nexus hosted a Masterclass on the 27th of July for entrepreneurs and startups from across the country.

The Masterclass was conducted by Nidhi Pant, an Acumen Fellow, and the Co-Founder of Nexus startup S4S Technologies, a near-farm food processing platform, converting farm losses into value-added products. The session emphasized the importance of backward mapping to understand the journey of a customer before making a purchase, to better understand the product-market fit. The speaker also touched upon the various aspects of market analysis, including product, channel, and price discovery. The candid Q&A session consisted of nuggets of wisdom from Nidhi based on her journey as an entrepreneur.

The Masterclass received an overwhelming response on social media, and it reached more than 13,000 people, both on Nexus and the American Center Facebook pages! We had more than 1200 participants who were actively engaged during the webinar.

The Masterclass was a great success, and Nexus will continue to host more such Masterclasses in the coming weeks to help start-ups and entrepreneurs navigate their entrepreneurial journey.


Evidence-based Entrepreneurship

This week, Nexus organized a week-long training program on "Evidence-based Entrepreneurship". The sessions were conducted by Dr. Cliff Zintgraff, an expert in research, program design, and inquiry learning to help startups grow and commercialize.

Throughout the entire week, the startups learnt various techniques of collecting data through primary research to understand their customers better, and in return, scale and grow.

We were glad to have Dr. Zintgraff's insights and his continued support of Nexus!


Go To Market Strategies During COVID

In the times of the global pandemic, the economy, the market dynamics, the target audience- everything is in a state of flux. The dilemma of whether to hold back or dive right into it is not unfounded. To address this dilemma, Nexus conducted a virtual Masterclass on the 28th of May for startups and entrepreneurs from across the country on “Go To Market in COVID Times: Dissolving Dilemmas and Creating Opportunities”. It was conducted by Ruchika Malhotra, CEO of repliCMO, a marketing consulting firm.

The Masterclass was a great success, received an overwhelming response on social media, reaching more than 4000 people, both on the Nexus and the American Center Facebook pages! Nexus will continue to host more such Masterclasses in the coming weeks to help start-ups and entrepreneurs navigate these tough times.


Impact of COVID-19 on Commercial Contracts

In the times of the current global pandemic, a question of vital importance these days is "Should the coronavirus impact qualify as a Force Majeure event?"

Force Majeure is French for "superior force." An event is qualified as Force Majeure when it's beyond human control and would save the performing party from consequences leading to a breach of contract. To address the legal remedies available for start-ups in the current economic crisis, Nexus conducted a virtual Masterclass on the 15th of April for entrepreneurs and start-ups from across the country. It was conducted by Mr. Rohit Jain, a senior associate from Singhania & Partners LLP. The Masterclass covered topics on the legal implication of the current scenario emerging alongside the COVID-19 crisis on the performance of the contracts entered by start-ups.

The Masterclass received an overwhelming response on social media, and it reached more than 12,000 people, both on Nexus and the American Center Facebook pages! We had more than 1200 participants who were actively engaged during the webinar.

The Masterclass was a great success, and Nexus will continue to host more such Masterclasses in the coming weeks to help start-ups and entrepreneurs navigate these tough times.


You Asked, And He Answered!

Attorney Vijit Chahar sends his replies to pending questions left at the end of last week’s ‘Doing Business in the U.S.’ webinar.

Q. 1: What is the legal condition of the PayPal bank account and the Payoneer account?

A: I will address PayPal since I am not familiar with Payoneer. Legally speaking, PayPal is not a bank. Business and consumer accounts in US banks are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Government. PayPal accounts are not. This means that if a bank goes bankrupt, depositors will be compensated up to $250,000 while PayPal accounts will not. More practically, you cannot deposit checks in a PayPal account and serious business transactions happen over regular banking channels. I think you should have a bank account into which money received through PayPal should be deposited so you can use PayPal for small transactions and your bank account for regular business transactions. As far as Indian law is concerned, foreign exchange transactions have to be conducted over regular banking channels through an Authorized Dealer Bank so PayPal will not be suitable for most types of foreign transactions and can cause problems in the long run.

Q. 2: How does the IPR protect company interests?

A: As I mentioned in my talk, IPR gives defensive and offensive rights. By defensive rights, I mean it protects you from claims that you have infringed the IP of a third party. The burden of proof shifts to them to show that your patent or copyright was wrongfully granted rather than you being responsible for proving that you did not violate their IP. Offensively, registered IP helps you to prohibit any third party from selling goods and services that violate your IP. By having registered IP, it is easier for you to prove that you indeed have the IPR that you claim you have, you can get statutory damages (i.e. you can be awarded substantial money without having to show how the infringement caused losses to you and how much loss you incurred), you can be awarded the costs you incurred in the case you brought to prevent the third party from infringing your IP and lastly, you can register your IP with the US Customs and Border Protection which will automatically try and prevent any goods that violate your IP from being imported into the U.S.

Q. 3: How much variation is expected in federal vs state laws for new businesses?

A: You have to comply with both federal and state laws. This means complying with the stricter of the two and when they require different things, you must comply with both. By and large, federal and state law do not conflict and it is possible to do so with good legal counsel. Since new businesses, based on the nature of the business, have to comply with different areas of law, it is not possible to answer in greater detail. If you are asking whether the variation in state and federal laws is small enough that you can restrict yourself to dealing with one or the other, the answer is definitely no.


Doing Business in the U.S.: A Legal Primer for International Entrepreneurs and Start-ups

More Indian start-ups are looking to incorporate their businesses overseas. The United States is one of the most preferred destinations for start-ups from across the world. To address this, Nexus conducted a virtual Masterclass on the 8th of April for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to take advantage of business opportunities in the United States. It was conducted by Mr. Vijit Chahar, a licensed attorney in the United States and India, with a law practice focused on India-U.S. business transactions. The Masterclass provided an overview of key U.S. laws that are relevant to planning business deals with U.S. clients, negotiating effective contracts, and raising funds from the U.S. capital market. The Masterclass covered topics to help start-ups identify potential legal complications that one faces when entering the U.S. market.

The Masterclass received an overwhelming response on social media and it reached more than 18,000 people, both on Nexus and the American Center Facebook page! We had more than 170 participants who were actively engaged during the webinar, and we had participants from countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka as well.

Our next Masterclass is on Wednesday, and it will throw light on the implications of the COVID-19 crisis on contracts entered by start-ups. Join us live on Facebook at 3 PM!


Masterclass on Ad Equity Model at Nexus

According to the Economic Times, there are more than 50,000 registered startups in India, but, more than 90% of them fail every year. According to CB Insights, a tech market intelligence platform, 14% of these startups fail due to poor marketing. Startups require both offline and online media not just to acquire customers, but also to build their brand, take over competition and carve out a niche for themselves in their respective sector. The questions that often cloud a founder’s mind are, “How much cash do I spend on marketing?”, “How have companies like Flipkart built a brand- what is the secret sauce behind it?” and so forth. To address them, Nexus conducted a masterclass on “Ad Equity Model to Leapfrog Growth for Startups”. This was done in partnership with Brand Capital, the investment arm of The Times Group, India’s largest media conglomerate.


Masterclass on Intellectual Property at Nexus

Intellectual property is crucial for startups. It’s one of the surest ways that startups can succeed against larger rivals. When a startup has a strong defense of its intellectual property its valuation increases, and it is more attractive to investors. (Startups need to know that intellectual property is more than just patents and how to file for protection, both in India and internationally). In order to spread this awareness, Nexus, in collaboration with Adastra IP, a law firm specializing in IP, hosted a masterclass on Jan 15. More than 40 people attended the masterclass. Through these masterclasses, Nexus aims to provide support larger support to the startup ecosystem in India.


Masterclass on Dispute Resolution for Startups

Every co-founder situation is different, but one common problem that keeps propping up is how founders engage in conflict with each other. To address this, Nexus conducted a masterclass on “Dispute Resolution for Startups”. This was done in partnership with Singhania and Partners and covered the different ways of tackling such situation. More than 40 people attended the session.


Celebrating Women Entrepreneurship at Nexus

Nexus, the startup incubator at the American Center, and DO School, a global organization that believes in creating impact through entrepreneurship collaborated together to discuss women- related issues, and to promote women entrepreneurship in India. The theme of this year’s DO Day was “She Wins We Win”, and it was held at the American Center in New Delhi with Fertility Dost, India’s only platform which deals with male and female fertility issues. More than 30 people participated in the workshop to co-create solutions on how to make healthcare accessible to women of all backgrounds. More than 1 lakh people showed their support for the event through various social media channels.


Promoting Student Entrepreneurship in Schools

On August 3, TiE Delhi-NCR organized a grand convocation ceremony for budding student entrepreneurs at the American Center in association with Nexus. Conrad Turner, Counsellor for Cultural Affairs, U.S. Embassy, New Delhi was present as the guest of honor. The winning teams of the regional finals were felicitated along with other participants. The top 3 teams were Phoolvari (a startup providing support for gardening), Zap-E-Scrap (a startup aimed at effective management and safe disposal of e-waste) and Senior Saathi (a tool to manage health of elderly and incapacitated population who are unable to move and need constant care).

The overarching goal of TYE is to train driven high school students and foster entrepreneurial skills among them. It encourages young students to brainstorm ideas and turn them into lucrative business models. By recognizing potential and offering support in terms of mentorship and finances, TYE is facilitating a vibrant startup ecosystem in India.

Nexus will continue to play an active role as an entrepreneurial ecosystem enabler by bringing together different stakeholders for development and mentoring of the startup ecosystem.


Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship – Dr. Cliff Zintgraff

Nexus entrepreneurs learn to connect to markets, build evidence for their product market fit.

The seventh cohort of startups in the Nexus pre-incubation program received a week-long training on how to connect to markets and build evidence for their product market fit. Dr. Cliff Zintgraff, from the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, shared his experience as an entrepreneur, coach and mentor, through a session called Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship.

Focused on “building their core,” the entrepreneurs were challenged to connect with individual customers and stakeholders in their markets and to incorporate that information into their products and venture plans. Entrepreneurs came away with a deeper awareness of why and how they must constantly improve their market understanding to successfully build their venture.

The entrepreneurs also conducted in-depth interviews with their customers to practically implement the learning, Dr. Zintgraff also gave individual feedback on all the interviews.

Cliff Zintgraff spent fifteen years as a software developer, manager and executive in startups before building his own EdTech Company, earning a Masters in Technology Commercialization, and a doctorate in Learning Technologies. He has delivered education, training and mentorship for hundreds of startup efforts in five countries, and has secured grants and run programs in entrepreneurship and STEM education for business, research, and non-profit efforts.


Workshop on legal structures and compliances with Starters CFO

Nexus entrepreneurs learn about legal requirements for startups in India

The first week of the Nexus pre-incubation program focused on the basics of starting a business and how to describe your innovation in a clear, concise and compelling way to your customers.

Abhishek Gupta, founder of StartersCFO, conducted a session on June 12, 2019 covering legal compliance and legal requirements for starting a business in India. The session covered choosing the right structure for your business, legal and tax compliances, GST, guidelines on receiving foreign direct investment (FDI) and different instruments of funding. Abhishek further explained why understanding of the legal structure at an early stage helps in laying down a strong foundation.

Entrepreneurs came away with a deeper awareness of why and how they must take care of all the compliances required by the law to successfully build their venture.


Mr. Gupta is the co-founder of StartersCFO. He has more than nine years of experience in providing tax, exchange control and allied services to its clients. Prior to this he was working with KPMG as an Assistant Manager in international taxation for over four years.

Every Wednesday during the ten-week pre-incubation program, Nexus calls in industry experts for practical sessions on different aspects of starting up a business. These sessions are highly interactive and provide direct market and industry access to Nexus startups.


Nexus partners with WEConnect International-India to support women entrepreneurs

Nexus and WEConnect International-India joined hands to cooperatively pursue activities that will build economic parity and enhance business opportunities for women business owners. This partnership, formalized by a signed MOU, will bring opportunities available through the WEConnect platform to Nexus’ startups and promoting it to women entrepreneurs across India. The partners are also be conducting joint training programs for women entrepreneurs.

WEConnect International is a global alliance of more than 80 corporate members, primarily Fortune 500 companies that are committed to sourcing more from women-owned businesses. WEConnect International identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside of the U.S. that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women, and then connects them with our multinational corporate member buyers.

By connecting women entrepreneurs to forward-thinking multinational corporations, representing over $1 trillion in annual purchasing power, WEConnect is actively closing the gender gap.

Nexus will continue to play an active role as an entrepreneurial ecosystem enabler by bringing different stakeholders together for development and mentoring the startup ecosystem. The Nexus pre-incubation program is highly rated with an overall women entrepreneur participation rate of over 33%.


Round Table on Sustainability

Nexus, in association with SPAN Magazine, hosted an event on Sustainability and the Environment at the American Center on May 8th. The event featured 2 Nexus start-ups: Kriya Labs and Agpulse Organics, both of which deal with sustainability in agriculture. The startups shared their perspective on the problems arising from rapid growth and possible sustainable solutions to reduce the impact of urbanization on the environment.


Pitching workshop at Nexus

The growth of a startup can depend upon its ability to raise funds for scaling up at the right time. Hence it is important to learn the effectiveness of pitching to investors.

Nexus, in collaboration with Power Deck, held a Master Class on “Preparing your Elevator Pitch” at the American Center on May 3rd. Startups learned the dos and don’ts of preparing the pitch deck and why so many companies fail to pitch effectively. The Master Class was conducted by Dilnawaz Khan, chief of New Horizons, Codesign Labs. The session helped Startups create and / or refine their elevator pitch and inform them about the pitfalls to avoid while pitching. The session was very lively, interactive and full of relevant examples from the industry.

Dilnawaz Khan has over 11 years of professional experience in the design and technology space and over 6 years in the startup incubation industry. Dilnawaz was previously the founder & CEO of RockCode, based in Jaipur. Some of the other organizations that he has been associated with are Unitus Seed Fund and Startup Oasis..


Incubator Manager Training at American Center, New Delhi

Nexus conducted its flagship Incubator Manager Training in New Delhi on February 7th-8th, 2019.

The two-day training was conducted by Glenn Robinson, Assistant Director of the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, and was attended by 25 incubator managers from the states of Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.

Public Affairs Officer Conrad Turner of the US Consulate interacted with the participants and apprised them of the bilateral relations between India and the US. He emphasized on the importance of effective communication among entrepreneurs and incubator managers. Nexus Director Erik Azulay invited the incubator managers to partner with Nexus to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in India.

The Incubator Manager Training program grew out of successful sessions offered in 2018 in New Delhi and Chandigarh, which led to demand for a more structured program. The US Department of State funded the Incubator Manager Training 2019 program, which is being operated by the IC² Institute.

The program received 195 applications from incubator managers, of which 120 participants will attend the introductory two-day training being held in six cities across India. In phase 2, 40 of the introductory participants will be selected to undertake an online Innovation Readiness course in April. Of those, 20 incubator managers will be selected to attend an advanced five-day, in-person training at Nexus in New Delhi in May 2019.