Accelerators and incubators are essential for startups to transform their great ideas into successful business ventures. Did you know the Indian SaaS industry grew at an incredible CAGR of 51% in 2021 and is expected to cross $100 billion by 2026? The ever-growing startup culture in India has motivated young entrepreneurs to get started with their startup journey.
Here are a few more reasons why SaaS is booming in India.
1. Digital transformation
The surge in the adoption of cloud-based technology models to run business operations have contributed to a digital transformation. With remote working becoming the new normal, many companies are leveraging workflow automation, self-service, and more to streamline their businesses.
2. Worldwide SaaS adoption
SaaS products are being used by everyone – manufacturers, software companies, financial institutions, retail, hardware companies, and more, not just in India but across the globe. The market for SaaS products is growing rapidly and hence, it provides lucrative business opportunities to entrepreneurs.
3. Introduction of Micro-SaaS
As the name suggests, micro-SaaS is a small SaaS that focuses on addressing particular needs targeting a niche market. In other words, micro-SaaS focuses on a small niche instead of a large market. Hence, startups offering micro-SaaS products do not need hefty investments or the workforce. A small team with the desired experience and adequate infrastructure is required to get started.
Although establishing a SaaS startup seems exciting, it does bring along a fair share of challenges. These challenges, if not addressed properly, can lead to the downfall of these startups. Let us understand some of the challenges in brief.
Here are some of the major challenges faced by SaaS Startups in India.
1. Lack of knowledge and expertise
It is imperative for entrepreneurs to have a significant amount of knowledge and skills before starting up a SaaS venture. This knowledge and expertise prove to be of great help in times of difficulty.
For example, if a startup does not have any knowledge about the market and audience for the products, it will not be able to expand its customer base via targeted advertising techniques and the latest marketing trends.
2. Insufficient funding
Finance is yet another aspect most SaaS firms face difficulties with. For any business to grow, entrepreneurs must be willing to invest funds or source funds from external agencies. These funds are required to set up and expand the business and hire the necessary personnel to produce a commercially-viable product. The lack of funds may result in delayed product development and be one of the reasons for its shutdown.
3. Lack of cutting-edge technology
As the technology is rapidly evolving, SaaS companies must heavily invest in the newest technologies to deliver the best to the customers. These cutting-edge technologies ensure the SaaS product offers superior features to the customers while delivering a great experience. It also aids SaaS companies in standing out among their competitors. Hence, investing in the right technology is crucial for SaaS companies.
4. Poor business model
Adopting the right business model is important for the success of any SaaS venture. The business model must be in sync with the company’s operations. Implementing the best business model that identifies the target customers and provides the desired solution to their problems via regular product upgrades is essential.
5. Lack of mentoring
Many young startups often face difficulty in building a network, fostering strong relationships with customers, developing a brand image, scaling the product, entering into new markets, and more. They often seek a mentor who can guide the business with these operations by addressing the current issues and fool-proofing the further plan of action.
Accelerators and incubators help early-stage startups with extensive guidance for scaling their ventures and attracting VC firms to invest in their startup in the future.
As the name suggests, accelerator focuses on accelerating the growth of the startup while incubators focus on disruptive startup ideas for building a successful company.
Learn more about accelerators and incubators in this article – 50 Accelerators and Incubators for SaaS in the US.
Before we proceed further, let us understand the differences between a startup accelerator and an incubator.
There is no fixed time to enroll your SaaS startup for an accelerator or incubator program. You can look out for the following signs to determine if your startup needs accelerators or incubators.
We have made this exclusive list of top SaaS accelerators and incubators in India.
A venture by the Times Group, TLabs is a startup accelerator that invests in internet and mobile technology companies in India. Being a leading tech accelerator in the country, TLabs offers companies funding of INR 30 lakhs, working spaces, and excellent support for growth, strategy, UX, and product-market fit for the overall startup scaling.
Cisco Launchpad is a B2B startup accelerator that propels technology startups to build end-to-end digital solutions via robust infrastructure, business mentoring, and lasting entrepreneurial partnerships.
DevX is a corporate accelerator that mentors entrepreneurs and startup owners scale their products or services in the growing competitive market.
International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (or iCreate) helps budding entrepreneurs identify, nurture, and grow their businesses via technological guidance and mentorship. Besides, iCreate offers reach-out and on-campus programs for school and college students who are passionate about entrepreneurship.
CIIE.CO is a technology business incubator supporting entrepreneurs in building disruptive solutions. In addition to funding, this firm offers state-of-the-art infrastructure, workshops and training programs, coaching, and learning resources to help startups achieve their goals.
DLabs is a startup incubator and accelerator founded by the Indian School of Business in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Leveraging their experience in technology and startup ecosystem, DLabs provides physical spaces to the entrepreneurs and offers them extensive guidance. The selected startups are also eligible to receive seed funding from this organization.
GSF Accelerator is a tech-focused firm that provides funding and expert guidance to budding entrepreneurs to take their startups from incubation to seed.
Villgro (formerly Rural Innovations Network) is a social enterprise incubator that works with innovative early-stage companies to create a social impact.
Microsoft Accelerator is a startup accelerator program that works closely with businesses and empowers them with the required resources and guidance required for success.
Google for Startups Accelerator is a startup accelerator program by Google that guides growth-stage startups with technical training, product marketing, development, and support, and mentorship.
Amity Innovation Incubator is a startup incubator that assists entrepreneurs with business planning, managerial support, technology support, and legal guidance. Due to its expertise in building innovative startups, this incubator has received numerous recognitions, such as NASSCOM Innovation Awards, Read Herring Global winner, and more.
Axilor Ventures is a startup incubator that supports early-stage startup founders to accelerate their business growth via funding, expert guidance, and other resources.
Venture Catalysts is India’s 1st integrated incubator that provides startups with capital, knowledgeable resources, continuous mentoring, and incubation support. This firm has been rated as one of India’s top early-stage investors by leading national media.
Z Nation Lab is an early-stage startup accelerator that works closely with founders to make strategic business decisions, build the right team, position the company in the market and provide the necessary funding.
Marwari Catalysts is one of India’s fastest-growing startup accelerators that provide professional mentorship to budding startups and help them discover and create successful businesses. It offers support across various stages of the startup lifecycle, such as incubation, acceleration, funding, business development, and PR.
91springboard is a community-led incubator that encourages startup founders to scale their business by providing them mentorship, PR, networking opportunities, infrastructure, and guidance in business development. It provides coworking and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs to widen their horizons and promote their business.
JITO Incubation and Innovation Foundation is one of the strongest and fastest-growing technology business incubators in India. This organization helps aspiring entrepreneurs with incubation and mentorship to facilitate the building of outstanding technological products.
Rainmatter Capital is a startup incubator that provides funding, mentorship, and workspaces to innovative startups in exchange for minority stakes. An initiative by Zerodha, Rainmatter focuses on empowering startups to build next-gen finance products.
Social Alpha is a startup accelerator and incubator that believes in disruptive innovations to fuel the tech ecosystems around the world. This organization wishes to provide entrepreneurs access to excellent resources and a strong network of industry leaders.
9Unicorns is a startup accelerator program backed by leading company founders of India. This organization operates as an accelerator and also, invests in early-stage startups by providing the required capital, mentoring, networking, and growth opportunities.
Mahindra Partners is an incubation initiative by the famous Mahindra Group. It helps businesses accelerate their growth via investment, strategic assistance, structured processes, expert guidance, and periodic evaluation.
Aurum Ventures is an accelerator and value investor that focuses on long-term investments with innovative companies. While exploring the untapped opportunities, this organization helps startups achieve success with out-of-the-box thinking and a strategic approach.
Founded by the Champions Group, Champions Accelerator invests in tech startups that are solving real-life challenges with innovation and newer technologies. The motto of this organization is to promote startups to develop unique solutions that can reshape the world.
India Accelerator is an accelerator program for seed-stage startups. It provides entrepreneurs with the much-needed building blocks for successful startups, such as capital, mentorship, technological expertise, and peripheral services like finance, HR, legal, and others.
Huddle is an accelerator helping early-stage companies with building their businesses in India. This startup accelerator provides support to companies in the following areas: business strategy, business development, and investment.
Aspirelabs Accelerator is a startup accelerator that guides young businesses and startups with entrepreneurship and innovation. Besides guidance and mentorship, Aspirelabs Accelerator also provides co-working spaces with access to modern amenities allowing founders to focus on growing their business.
Society for Innovation & Entrepreneurship or SINE is a business incubator supporting technology-based startups for fostering and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit and economic growth.
HealthStart is a startup accelerator focused on guiding and promoting healthcare entrepreneurship in India. This firm helps startups with capital, mentorship, and access to corporate partnerships.
Atal Incubation Centre or AIC-NMIMS Incubation Centre is a collaborative effort of SVKM’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and NITI Aayog, Government of India. This business incubator aims on providing budding entrepreneurs with a solid ecosystem to create successful ventures.
StartupXseed Ventures is a startup incubator that supports aspiring entrepreneurs with a strategic program focused on sustainable business growth.
WE-HUB is the first and only state-run incubator for women entrepreneurs fostering women entrepreneurship across the country. This firm provides seed funding, virtual programs, business guidance, and mentoring to women.
Supply Chain Labs is a startup accelerator investing in technology-based startups that are disrupting the supply chain, logistics, and warehousing processes with innovative solutions. This firm offers a six-month structured program led by industry experts having deep experience in the supply chain industry.
Target Accelerator offers an intensive program to retail-based entrepreneurs for helping them grow their knowledge and businesses faster.
An initiative by NASSCOM, 10000 Startups support technology-based entrepreneurs across the country. This firm aims at building, growing, and nurturing a sustainable Indian startup ecosystem offering globally acclaimed products.
A unique combination of startup accelerator, incubator, and technology partner, Xelpmoc empowers startups and enterprises with the right guidance and resources to build successful ventures.
Backed by Reliance Industries, JioGenNext is a startup accelerator that provides a competitive platform for startup entrepreneurs to shape their ideas into innovative products. This firm helps startups with several aspects, such as technology, design, user experience, and go-to-market strategy.
NetApp Excellerator offers a program for startups to help them create innovative, market-ready solutions. This accelerator invests in startups by providing them technology mentorship, customer access, coworking space, access to tools, and support.
Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund partners with exceptional founders to build quality software solutions. While providing the required financial support, tactical guidance, and expert support, this firm guides startups along every step of their growth journey.
Techstars Bangalore is the first accelerator program by Techstars in India. This firm supports innovative B2B and B2C startups across all sectors.
Forge Accelerator partners with startups as innovation and growth partners to develop excellent software solutions. By providing capital, resources, and guidance, Forge Accelerators drive startup success by leveraging its partner network and program management capabilities.
Lemon Ideas is a startup incubator empowering talented entrepreneurs to convert their ideas into successful business ventures. This firm offers various mentorship programs aimed at idea validation, business creation, and commercialization.
Startup Oasis aims at establishing a startup ecosystem in Rajasthan by supporting aspiring entrepreneurs, students, and startup owners with their ventures.
V-Incube8, a boutique advisory firm, focuses on providing outstanding financial advisory services via strategic business planning, process optimization, and operational support. This firm helps startups with fundraising, mentorship, market support, and revenue generation.
Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP) aims at creating a comprehensive startup ecosystem in India. IIMCIP provides startup owners with an environment that facilitates the transformation of ideas into ventures and makes their startup journey a success.
Green House Ventures Accelerator or GHV Accelerator specializes in funding technology startups while running an accelerator program for entrepreneurs. This firm aims to increase the allocation of funds to Indian startups.
GINSERV is a technology business accelerator and incubator providing funding, infrastructure, and knowledge-based services for startups. Right from startup ideation to the growth stage, GINSERV caters to every need of the business.
Venture Center is a technology business incubator supporting science-based and technology startups with various programs, facilities, and resources required for creating a successful company. Their strong network of 250+ mentors and subject matter experts offers world-class knowledge and guidance to entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
Jaarvis Accelerator is a startup accelerator that empowers entrepreneurs with capital, technical expertise, strong business acumen, and extensive connection with industry experts. With the help of their program, this firm wishes to kickstart the entrepreneurial journey of these startups by converting their ideas into commercially-viable products.
Amplifi is a B2B SaaS startup accelerator focused on mentoring startups with product engineering, branding, sales, and marketing activities. The firm offers the required revenue and resources to create successful businesses and prepares them for investor funding.
BW Accelerate is an accelerator program that offers a 3-month sector agnostic program to early-stage startups. This firm aims at fostering innovation and business growth by providing budding entrepreneurs with the required support.
The Gain is a global startup accelerator that guides emerging tech startups with funding, business mentoring, and exposure to global markets. This firm focuses primarily on helping entrepreneurs scale up their ventures.
Research Innovation Incubation Design Laboratory (RiiDL) is a startup incubator located in the Somaiya Campus. This incubator focuses on empowering startups with outstanding guidance and introducing them to a massive network of investors, advisors, and mentors.
Dayananda Sagar Entrepreneurship Research & Business Incubator (DERBI) Foundation is a technology business incubator focused on building a startup ecosystem via state of art technology support and business expertise.
Association for Innovation Development of Entrepreneurship in Agriculture is a business incubator focused on amplifying agriculture startup growth via capacity building, incubation services, expert mentorship, technology portfolio management, and business development.
Parampara is a startup incubator that encourages young minds with ingenious ideas to get started with their entrepreneurial journey. This firm calls itself a platform where disruptive ideas meet success. The Parampara team brings in decades of experience in technology, finance, and business operations strategy and management.
thinQbate is a startup incubator and accelerator that helps growth-oriented companies scale their businesses through angel investing, entrepreneurial mentorship, and other resources.
BITS Pilani Technology Business Incubator was established by The Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani in association with The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. This incubator was set up with an objective to promote entrepreneurial spirit and support the innovative startup ecosystem of the country.
UIncept is a startup accelerator and incubator that helps early startups build future-proof businesses while gaining advice and mentorship from entrepreneurs, global investors, and educators. With a campus spanning over 12000 sq. ft., this incubator is equipped with the modern amenities and infrastructure required for setting up a successful startup.
Encubay is a startup incubator helping startups to grow and succeed in this diverse yet inclusive ecosystem. With the help of their engaged community of entrepreneurs, industry experts, corporate connections, investors, and founders.
IIT Mandi Catalyst is a startup incubator that offers budding startups and innovators from all over the country the desired guidance and support for scaling their ventures. IIT Mandi Catalyst is Himachal Pradesh’s first technology business incubator.
SIGMA is a social startup accelerator program instituted to help startups create innovative products and services to serve the Indian markets. This firm connects budding entrepreneurs with industry experts, investors, and corporates for business and technology mentorship.
VIT Technology Business Incubator is a startup incubator that supports ventures with all necessary resources to mature as successful businesses.
A joint collaboration between the Indian School of Business, Ashoka University, and Microsoft Accelerator, AIM SmartCity Accelerator helps innovative startups with smart ideas by providing mentorship, technology support, legal support, investment, and industry networking.
Spark10 Accelerator helps early-stage startups to become successful ventures by giving them access to resources, knowledge, and modern amenities. Spark10’s accelerator program also introduces entrepreneurs to the network of global mentors and investors.
Sunflowee Accelerator guides tech startups with technology support, industry mentorship, and fundraising via an investor’s network. Their aim is to ensure every idea achieves the milestones and the startups are ready for the next rounds of scaling and funding.
Sparknext is a startup accelerator that focuses on building, launching, and scaling product companies to simplify lives. This program focuses on prototyping, investing, and incubating startups by providing them with partnerships with the best corporations across the world.
IIMK Live is a business incubator that promotes new ventures, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This firm provides a collaborative platform to startup owners to transform their ideas into successful business ventures.
Rebalance offers an extensive program named Rebalance Acceleration Program to invest and shape early-stage startups into successful business ventures.
Padup Ventures offers a startup incubator program to drive innovative tech companies to build successful entrepreneurial ventures. This firm wishes to contribute to building and mentoring 1000 startups to solve real-life problems.
StartUp360 offers startups with exclusive accelerator programs to boost their business growth via strategic relations, mentorships, and investments.
IITM Incubation Cell provides technology startups with the required support and mentorship to sustain and grow in today’s startup ecosystem. This incubation cell provides all the required resources to startups, such as infrastructure, space, training programs, and seed funds for their strategic growth.
StrongHer Ventures has launched a startup accelerator program to motivate women entrepreneurs on starting up their entrepreneurial journey. This program includes hands-on master classes, investor round tables, expert mentorship, and access to an extensive community of women founders
JGI Retail Tech Accelerator offers intense acceleration programs to startups in the retail tech industry. The program focuses on how to leverage artificial intelligence for customer data analysis, predictive models, smart shelves, payment solutions, CRM, and more.
Amrita TBI is a non-profit startup incubator that mentors, funds, and nurtures startup ideas and supports entrepreneurs with their business growth. This firm was listed among the Top 5 most prolific startup incubators of India in 2015.
Xelerate Accelerator offers an accelerator program for startups that helps them identify a scalable business model. They nurture startups in their early stages and provide them with resources and guidance to build successful products.
TIDES Business Incubator facilitates an incubation program for new startups building innovative products. Hosted at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, this incubation center provides the desired physical, financial, technical, and networking support to budding startups.
Startup Accelerator India is a digital health and technology accelerator that offers various startup programs for transforming early-stage startups into great businesses.
Startup Accelerator Chamber of Commerce is a startup accelerator that is committed to bringing a change to the startup ecosystem of Punjab.
Khosla Labs is a startup incubator that ideates, validates, and launches the best startup ideas into successful entrepreneurial ventures.
Uppekha is a SaaS accelerator that helps early-stage startups with their acceleration journey. This firm aims to help founders create a valuable SaaS business.
Both accelerators and incubators contribute greatly to the success of SaaS startups. But which one should you go for? In this section, we will understand how to determine which program (accelerator or incubator) is the best for your SaaS startup.
1. Program Timeline
As discussed in the previous sections, accelerators and incubators offer growth programs with different time frames. Understand the status of your startup before choosing the program. If your startup is established and you are looking for a program to accelerate its growth, choosing an accelerator would be an ideal option. However, if your startup is in its initial stage, collaborating with an incubator will help you with in-depth mentorship and guidance.
Ask yourself if you are willing to relocate to another area to join the program. Incubators often require the startups to work on-site or offer them physical working spaces while accelerator programs provide more flexible options, such as virtual growth programs, online mentorships, and more. If you aren’t comfortable with relocation, it is best to go with accelerators.
Many factors contribute to business success. For example, long-term funding, mentoring by industry experts, modern infrastructure, technology support, and more. Determine the best resources for your startup and choose the program that offers those resources.
4. Networking Opportunities
Both, accelerators and incubators offer startups exposure to an extensive network of industry professionals. Research the network to understand who all are a part of it and how it can help you with your startup. Remember that establishing lasting connections with industry professionals is essential for startup growth.
5. Funding Needs
Identify the funding needs for your startup. If you are looking to expand your startup and require funds for the same, choosing an accelerator that offers funding in exchange for a certain share in the company’s equity would be a wise decision. However, if you are not seeking any capital investment, you must go for an incubator program.
Every startup is unique and requires a customized program for its success. The program that worked for one startup might not work for you.
Accelerator and incubator programs often receive thousands of applications every year. Their teams are highly selective when shortlisting startups. Research the firms that offer programs for SaaS startups and understand their procedures before sending in your applications.
In this article, we have covered most of the accelerators and incubators that offer excellent programs to early-stage and growing startups. We hope this article will help you with the research and enroll your SaaS startup with the one that suits your requirements.
1. My startup is already making revenue. Can I still apply for the accelerator/incubator program?
Yes. Any startup, no matter what stage they are in, can enroll in the programs to scale their businesses.
2. What do accelerators look for in a startup?
An ideal startup for accelerators has an excellent MVP with a talented team but not enough capital and experience to scale the operations.
3. What do incubators look for in a startup?
Incubators focus solely on business ideas as they offer immense learning and growth opportunities. Having a Minimum Viable Product i.e. an early version of the product having basic features that are enough to capture the attention of the customers or a business plan or a customer base is not a requirement for enrolling a startup in an incubator.
4. What are the top benefits an accelerator or incubator program can offer my startup?
Here are some of the benefits of these programs.
5. When should I apply for the said programs?
Focus on connecting with the accelerators or incubators in the early stages of your startup. Prepare the right documentation stating the required details and send your application.
6. How many days does it take to receive a reply from the accelerators or incubators?
Every accelerator and incubator receives thousands of proposals from startups all over the country. The time of response could range from a few weeks to a few months. It depends on the accelerator/incubator to whom you are sending the application.
7. My startup didn’t get selected for the program. What should I do?
Do not lose heart. Get feedback from the industry experts in your connections and rework your idea. Apply for the next batch. This will increase your chances of selection.