How Telenor’s digital startup accelerator is empowering innovation

Telenor Pakistan provides the power of digital communication and aims to empower societies for a secure future. Telenor Velocity is the first of its kind Digital Startup Accelerator, focused on helping startups go to market over a period of 6 months, by accessing Telenor Pakistan’s scale and assets.

Telenor Velocity provides a unique platform for startups to accelerate their products by providing:

1.World-class data analytics to target the right customer
2.Access to one of country’s largest retail network
3.Digital distribution and API platform
4.Online payment solutions
5.Mentorship from seasoned industry and Telenor experts
6.Customized curriculum for each startup

For Startups interested in applying

In order to apply as a startup for the Telenor Velocity Program, a startup must apply through Telenor Velocity’s web portal. Once the application has been submitted, an evaluation process begins where each startup application undergoes a few evaluation steps to assess whether they meet the required criteria.

The shortlisted applicants are then called to pitch their startup/ product in front of a selection committee. Through this pitching session, finalists are selected for an orientation where the startups meet Telenor experts to discuss how Telenor Velocity can add value to their startup.

Startups are recruited by using ‘Call to Action’ campaigns on social media.  What is unique about Telenor Velocity as an accelerator is the offering of its core assets for innovation driven startups.

The finalized startups of Cohort 1 were: Edjunction, Fori Mazdoori, EcoEnergy Finance, and DoctHers.  For Cohort 2: Shopsy.pk, PerkUp, Dastaan, Artsy, Affordable.pk, Micropowerlabs, and Pakshine.

Selection Criteria

These startups were selected by a panel of internal and external judges. The eligibility criteria is as follows:

1.The startup must have a minimum viable product
2.A registered company in Pakistan
3.There should be traction of sales
4.A team of minimum 2 people working fulltime on the startup

At the end of the 6 months acceleration, a Demo Day is held for the startups. This Demo Day represents their graduation. On this day, each startup demonstrates how their learning, knowledge and Telenor’s scale and assets helped grow their businesses. This is an open for all event, which includes, but not limited to, investors, mentors, other startups, Telenor employees etc.

Since the founding of the first accelerator in 2005, the industry has grown tremendously, giving thousands of entrepreneurs unprecedented access to expertise, resources, and capital that helps turn their ideas into businesses.
(Forbes)

So what does all of this mean to the industry?

1.The entrepreneurial ecosystem is evolving and more spaces are required to facilitate the startups.
2.Startups would need to adopt developments in the digital market to disrupt the industry. Choosing the right space will allow them to stay ahead in the competition.
3.The ecommerce and payment mechanisms are approaching the market aggressively and power houses like Telenor could provide useful data to develop a sustainable model.
4.We also need to understand that the existing gap allows models like Telenor Velocity to experiment with the industry data. There are a lot of businesses and startups that are still not digitised and they look for the right plugins. The role of the Accelerator here maybe to assess the recruitment process of the startups and providing them with the right mentorship and resources.
5.Accelerators would also need to provide capital at some point to support the models they empower. The Pakistani market at this time requires accelerators to inject capital so sustainability can be ensured.

It will be interesting to see how the accelerators respond to the growing unmet industry needs as according to the Global Accelerator Report 2015 they have become a mainstay of startup ecosystems in regions around the globe.

Information Source: Team @ Telenor Pakistan


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