Digital media executive Deep Malhotra, who was senior director at MySpace (India and South-East Asia) in 2010, has launched an incubation facility called Gemini New Media Ventures.
Set up with an investment of $1 million, the 4,500 sq. ft. facility is located in Chembur, Mumbai, and will be fully operational in two months. The 40-seat plug-and-play office will also offer administration, IT and legal support.
The company is accepting applications and expects 150 start-ups to register. Of these, 20 will be invited to present their ideas to mentors and finally, five will be picked to work in the facility.
"Internet entrepreneurs today face challenges due to poor Internet infrastructure and low risk appetite. Educating advertisers and the industry is also difficult, and more avenues for monetisation beyond advertisements should be explored," said Deep Malhotra, founder & managing partner of Gemini New Media Ventures, as he spoke to Techcircle.in.
Malhotra believes that for a start-up, having a concrete business plan is not vital. "The difference between angel investors here and those in the Silicon Valley, according to me, is in the way they start out. Those in the Valley do not look for revenues up front. Look at Twitter "they haven't figured out a revenue stream yet! So I believe what is required is a kick-ass product," he says.
According to him, marketing is also unnecessary. "There is too much focus today on marketing the product. Take Bigadda, for example. They spent a lot of money, but could not generate revenues from it. No one is focusing on the product itself, why it is required and how to reach out to the audience."
E-commerce, mobile application development and mobile services are the top areas of interest, said Malhotra. So far, 15 applications have been received, including a start-up that develops mobile phone apps for rural India.
On the filters for selecting the entrepreneurs, Malhotra said, "We will look for start-ups with ideas which can be taken to the next level. And it should be able to raise an angel round or VC fund after three-six months." Gemini will seek to acquire minority stakes in the start-ups, once they raise a VC round of funding.
Currently, the team is in talks with international investors to mentor the start-ups and it will launch a mentor list next week. It is also in the process of raising $200,000 from investors in the real estate sector to run the operations.
Incidentally, Malhotra began with small stints at Jasubhai Media and Hungama Digital Entertainment, and then launched an online creativity magazine called OnMag.com, which was live between 2002 and 2004. But it could not survive the dotcom bubble burst as he could not raise funding beyond the angel round.
Malhotra then joined Rediff.com (India), focusing on banner advertising, CPM and online advertising. In 2005, he got an opportunity to be a part of Google's founding team in India and was one of the first to join its direct sales division, heading its New Delhi and Mumbai units. At MySpace India, he focused on social media marketing till 2010 and then had a few stints with UTV's new media team, helping out with their online monetisation strategy.
Gemini will differ from other incubators such as Microsoft Tech Spark or those set up by angel funds and B-schools by introducing an 80:20 rule, where start-ups can help each other in the 20 per cent time spent in the facility.