Antler India Announces Fellowship Program with $20,000 Equity-free Grants For Student Entrepreneurs


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In an effort to fuel entrepreneurship at the university level, the India arm of global venture capital firm, Antler, has launched the Antler India Fellowship that gives $20,000 grant to the country’s brightest students.

18 November 2021 | India: Antler India has announced the launch of Antler India Fellowship, a 16-week program along with a $20,000 grant, designed to enable students to turn their startup ideas into a business. The Fellowship aims to fuel the growing entrepreneurial talent in the Indian colleges and universities by providing a platform for experimentation, building and scaling with the support of equity-free capital, mentors, and a peer network. With a focus on promoting entrepreneurship as a viable career option for students, it encourages ideas in the earliest stages.

Nandini Vishwanath, Program Director, Antler India says – “We spoke to hundreds of college students in the past year and realised the immense potential of student entrepreneurs that is yet to be unlocked. Indian students want to start up but end up not pursuing their ideas because of the lack of guidance and mentorship. They often require more 1-1 personalized guidance that video courses or classroom learning fail to provide. Moreover, capital constraints and peer and parental pressure to pursue the more stable route of placements and jobs withhold students from pursuing their entrepreneurial interests. We also realised that the accessibility is limited for students from atypical founder backgrounds such as liberal arts or commerce. Our program is designed to solve for all these barriers and facilitate a platform for students to build on their idea and convert it into a startup.”

One of the key features of the fellowship is the monetary grant of $20,000 (~INR 15 lakhs) that is given to the fellows equity-free. The grant is the largest of its kind for students in India. Fellows can use the grant to scale their startup idea or even pay off their student loans should they choose to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. Through the Fellowship, students also gain access to a hands-on program, facilitated by domain experts and founders, spanning idea validation, user research, product, engineering and marketing. Fellows will also be able to leverage the peer community to network and brainstorm as they build on their ideas.

Post the 16 weeks program, Fellows are provided an opportunity to raise pre-seed funding from Antler India and will receive support in raising subsequent funding rounds thereon.

Rajiv Srivatsa, Partner, Antler India adds, “We don’t just want to enable existing founders, but create new founders. In several western countries, the percentage of student founders is much higher than in India. We want to change this. We believe it’s the students of today who will build to address some of the toughest problems affecting us in the spaces of climate change, unlocking human potential, energy efficiency, and upcoming spaces such as metaverse, blockchain, and web3. We’re building one of India’s largest platforms for students who want to build great companies – and over the next decade, we want to support thousands of student founders through our program.”

The Fellowship is not limited only to student founders who have working prototypes of their idea or a product with traction. Students who have strong ideas are also encouraged to apply. The pan-India program is open to students from any university. Additionally, students who have deferred placements to actively work on a startup idea are encouraged to apply.

Earlier this year, global early-stage VC firm Antler announced a full-fledged launch in India. Antler is one of the fastest-growing VC firms in the world and plans to deploy $100M in 100+ Indian startups over the next 3 years.

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