After Little Eye Labs Exit, India’s GSF Accelerator Goes Global

GSF, the Indian startup accelerator behind Little Eye Labs, which was acquired by Facebook earlier this year, is launching a cross-border program with increased seed funding and global exposure for its third cohort starting April this year.

The GSF Global Accelerator is partnering with AngelList, a platform that helps startups find funding and employees, to manage the application and selection process for its next batch. GSF’s next batch will have eight startups from India, and the remaining four from across South East Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.

“Little Eye Labs acquisition was the trigger for us to start thinking about a new model where startups could be exposed globally,” said Rajesh Sawhney who started GSF Accelerator in 2012 with support from investors including Dave McClure’s 500 Startups, InMobi founder Naveen Tewary, Blume Ventures and Kae Capital. 

The next batch starting mid-April will have four stopovers — starting with four weeks in Delhi, Bangalore, followed by two weeks at Singapore’s The Hub, then two weeks on the East Coast, and the final four weeks in the Silicon Valley.

All this would also mean more funding for the selected startups. GSF’s next cohorts will get $40,000-$60,000 each in seed funding as part of the new program. Earlier, the startups received $30,000 in funding after getting selected.

Out of the company’s two batches of 24 startups so far, nine have gone on to raise additional funding, and two of them have been acquired.

Many Indian accelerators started with the idea of modeling on the kind of incubation provided by TechStars and Y Combinator in the U.S. But the Indian startup ecosystem is still nascent in terms of getting the global exposure. As Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSpirt told me recently, Indian startups really need to get on the radar of newer Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter who are more acquisitive.

This is an area where more investors, accelerators and think-tanks in India are beginning to focus.

For its part, GSF took several of its cohorts including Little Eye Labs for a World Expedition last year, which helped exposing them to potential acquirers including Facebook and Twitter. 

This year, GSF is planning demo days across important tech hubs in the world.

“We’ll have four demo days — two in the U.S. and one each in Singapore and India,” said Sawhney. 

Clearly, the $10-$15 million acquisition of Little Eye Labs by Facebook is beginning to make a large impact on India’s nascent startup ecosystem, at least in terms of getting global attention and future strategies going forward.