Pitney Bowes Launches Startup Accelerator In India To Hunt For Its Next Big E-Commerce, Mobile Ideas

Pitney Bowes, the 94-year-old producer of stamp postage meters attempting to become an e-commerce platform, is the latest to tap into India’s engineering talent for incubating startup ideas.

The accelerator program will be conducted jointly with India’s technology industry association, Nasscom, as part of its year-old startup incubator called “10,000 Start-ups”.

For its part, Pitney Bowes has been pushing aggressively over past few months to build its digital commerce business. It partnered with Twitter in December last year for location-mapping services, and with IBM last month for cloud services.

“We look forward to working with the smartest and most creative engineers and developers at Indian start-ups with Pitney Bowes Accelerator program,” Manish Choudhary, Vice President, Worldwide Engineering for Pitney Bowes said in a statement. “Open-platform collaboration will inspire software development that speeds innovation and foster business growth.”

Pitney Bowes’ software push is similar to how some of the old-world industrial conglomerates including General Electric and Siemens are scrambling for disruptive technology ideas.

Unlike the Target Accelerator, which started in Bangalore earlier this year and will invest through its own corporate fund, Pitney Bowes is partnering with a much bigger Nasscom incubator that has received over 7,000 applications in a year and incubated 30 startups in India.

Pitney Bowes will be an incubator partner for Nasscom’s 10,000 Start-ups program, which will start accepting fresh applications May 1, 2014. Mobile, data analytics, location-based services, and e-commerce management are among focus areas for startups to join the accelerator program.

As we have been writing, India is witnessing kind of “an accelerator gold rush”, now being fueled by the likes of Target, Coca-Cola and Pitney Bowes. To be sure, corporate accelerators, and the incubators backed by them are placed better when compared with standalone ventures. However, as we reported recently, accelerators are under pressure because they don’t see enough exits for them to support 2-3 batches of entrepreneurs every year.

Accel India for instance, scanned around 1,000 companies across 62 different accelerators and incubators in India over last few years, and the results speak for themselves — only 30 of them went on to receive Series A funding.

The challenge for Indian startups and officials involved with launching these corporate accelerators, will be to turn these test cases into ventures churning out world-class products that serve their disruptive cause.