An entrepreneurial challenge for electronic startups

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kochi based Maker Village, one of the three government approved electronics incubator projects in the country, has chalked out elaborate plans to attract budding entrepreneurs towards the multi billion dollar consumer electronic segment.

Considering the low success rate of electronic startups in the country, it is a fact that to find a scalable product or even a prototype is a daunting task. Unlike IT-based startups, the challenges before electronic startups are manifold in the forms of skills and capability. To overcome these hurdles, Maker Village has taken a pragmatic approach in the form of ‘constrained innovation’. It will introduce a product making challenge for entrepreneurs in the months of September and October.

“We have tied up with an electronics major and the challenges are set by the manufacturer for their commercial use. So the winner’s product will have an identified market.” said S Rajeev, Chief Consultant of Maker Village and a professor at IIITM-K. Maker Village will hold four events in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Bangalore and Chennai for the applicants. There will be two challenges and three groups for each challenge. Though the competition is open for all, Maker Village will hold campaigns in 15 engineering colleges with quality electronics departments.

Launched just eight months ago, Makers Village is in the final stage of setting up the infrastructure facilities for manufacturing electronic products. A Surface-mount technology line worth Rs 3 crore, for producing electronic circuits in which the components are mounted and advanced testing machines worth Rs 1 crore have been procured. The facility can produce 25,000 electronic components per hour and the line can be utilized to build hundreds of prototypes for market seeding of a product.

“We have partnered with a Kochi-based electronics manufacturer to run the SMT line. Incubating companies will benefit from their expertise.” said Rajeev.

Maker Village is looking for a mix of students and experienced entrepreneurs as incubatees. Pre-incubation can go up to 3 months wherein the companies are guided to come up with a business plan and a minimum viable product concept. More mature applicants are incubated up to 18 months, within which they will also be provided with access to investors, marketing agencies, intellectual property experts etc. Funding would not be a constraint for the right product, assured Rajeev.

Maker Village is an incubator project, approved by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), with a Rs 2,000 crore corpus fund, that is shared with similar national resources such as University of Delhi and IIT Patna. Given all these facilities, Maker Village is the best place in South India for a startup that wishes to make its mark in electronics products, said Rajeev. Electronics is a major part of Union government’s MakeInIndia and StartUpIndia programs and has ground for immense growth opportunities in terms of employment and trade.

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