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Accelerators like 500 Startups are using innovative strategies to woo young entrepreneurs

BANGALORE: As a new season of mentoring begins, accelerators such as 500 Startups are using innovative strategies to woo a diverse set of young entrepreneurs. 

500 Startups, which is keen to have more women 
entrepreneurs from India to join its latest batch opening in Silicon Valley, is pitching its Chief Executive Dave McClure asJames Bond 007 out on a mission to recruit the "best agent entrepreneurs". 

"We want more founders from regions such as India, Middle East and Southeast Asia," said Pankaj Jain, venture partner at 500 Startups, where Indian entrepreneurs made up a fifth of the preceding batch. 

Typically, the Valley-based incubator, which provides mentoring and seed capital drawn from a $80 million (Rs 474 crore) fund, takes in about 25-30 startups in every batch. It has graduated six batches so far. With scores of accelerators vying for the attention of young entrepreneurs, global and Indian incubators are deploying innovative branding strategies. 

In a first, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is partnering with networking forum, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), to invite Indian startups to Start-Up 
Tel Aviv, where young ventures from across the globe compete for a five-day intensive mentoring session. 

In India, accelerators are looking to pick entrepreneurs from non-metro locations. Mumbai-based VentureNursery has selected about one-third of the participants for its upcoming batch from smaller cities such as Indore, Bhopal and Pune. 

"The third batch of VentureNursery will include entrepreneurs with work-experience," said Shravan Shroff, cofounder of the 14-month-old incubator. Amongst those chosen are crowd-funding platform Catapooolt, Trelta, an online patient management platform, and Peter's Pan, a Pune-based quick-service restaurant. 

Indian accelerators, keen to broaden their portfolio, are also recruiting overseas entrepreneurs. Gurgaon-based 
GSF Super Angels has chosen over a dozen entrepreneurs and professionals from countries such as Singapore, the United States and Ukraine, who will now work out of GSF locations in those countries as entrepreneurs-in-residence. Four of the selected are women. 

"The EiRs get sweat equity for their contribution to the accelerator. Our mindset has always been global in nature. We are looking for startups across the globe and want them to work closely with the Indian ecosystem," said Brij Bhasin of GSF Super Angels.