Airtel launches accelerator programme, buys stake in tech startup Vahan

Airtel launches accelerator programme, buys stake in tech startup Vahan
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
25 Oct, 2019

Global telecommunications company Bharti Airtel has launched its accelerator programme to support the growth of early-stage Indian tech startups. 

The programme will help early startups access its online and offline distribution networks, deep market understanding and ecosystem of global strategic partners, the New Delhi-based company said in a statement.

It has also developed strong in-house capabilities around machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) which could be leveraged to aid the growth of startups.

The company also announced the induction of Bengaluru-based tech startup Vahan into its accelerator programme. Airtel will acquire a stake in Vahan and partner with it in building significant scale to achieve its vision of enabling jobs for the next billion internet users, the statement added.

“Today, early-stage startups in India have some very exciting ideas but face multiple challenges in scaling up. With Airtel’s scale and digital capabilities around distribution and payments, we have the potential to drive the accelerated growth of emerging startups that are solving hard problems. The team at Vahan is doing some incredible work to bring jobs to millions of people through AI-based technology,” said Adarsh Nair, chief product officer, Bharti Airtel.

Backed by YCombinator and Khosla Ventures, Vahan was founded in 2016 by Madhav Krishna and Mohammed Abdoolcarim. It leverages advanced AI to match job seekers with employers via messaging apps like Whatsapp. 

“Airtel will be a key partner for us as we look to solve a hard problem for Bharat. Most blue-collar job seekers are unaware of the opportunities that exist in the market, especially new-age on-demand jobs. Airtel’s distribution channels will help us reach the very depths of the country and in turn, help millions of Indians take control of their economic destiny. We are incredibly excited about this partnership,” said Krishna, co-founder and CEO, Vahan.