JETRO Global Connection -Accelerate Innovation with Japan-

Maruti Suzuki Launch Startup Accelerator

From India
July 10, 2019

In the Indian auto market, Maruti Suzuki is known as the market leader, with a market share of more than 50%. Suzuki first entered the Indian market in 1982, and he has been a business leader in India for 37 years since establishing the joint venture Maruti Udyog with the Indian government. the company has continued to be a top leader in the Indian auto market. In order to increase the pace of innovation, the company worked with the renowned GHV Accelerator, and established the Mobility and Automobile Innovation Lab (MAIL) startup accelerator program in Gurugram, Haryana, near New Delhi, the capital. To find about why the program was started and other information, an interview with Maruti Suzuki was conducted (June 4, 2019).

What led you to start the Acceleration Program?

Well, Maruti Suzuki has a high market share in the Indian passenger car market, challenge is how to maintain it for the future. Particularly development in new areas such as connected and Schering economy will be important. Internal resources are limited, so collaboration with the outside world is essential. This time, we are trying the new method called startup acceleration.

How did you wind up working with the GHV Accelerator?

The company, in the yearly accelerator ranking announced by Inc42, a media organization relating to startups, has been number 1 for two consecutive years. In addition, the Startup India Scheme, which the Government of India is using to promote startups, also partners with them. Finally, the acceleration program they have designed emphasizes quality over quantity, and this really resonates with our culture at Suzuki, which emphasizes quality.

Joint announcement ceremony held in Bengaluru with Maruti Suzuki and GHV Accelerator (Photo by Maruti Suzuki).

Joint announcement ceremony held in Bengaluru with Maruti Suzuki and GHV Accelerator
(Photo by Maruti Suzuki).

How long is the program and what are the target companies?

Its total of 6months.3 months for recruitment and selection and the acceleration program is also 3 months. With the goal of solving various problems Maruti Suzuki faces, early stage startups in the automobile and transport fields taking applicants from all over India twice a year, and 5 companies are selected. The first time for the program has already started, and promising startups from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Gurugram and Pune were selected. Given Maruti Suzuki’s scale of business and power of its brand in India, there was a high interest from startups therefore many applicants were there.

What kind of information does the program cover?

The program consists of mentoring, primarily in the areas of management, finance, solution technologies and marketing. There are 7 – 8 people selected for participation as mentors who were introduced by the GHV Accelerator or through connections in their own companies. The top 2 startups chosen receive funds for a Proof of Concept (PoC). As this has just started, we plan to continue making adjustments as necessary to the information covered.

As a Japanese company running an accelerator program in India, are there any points Maruti Suzuki is aware of?

In order to attract promising startups, the company has to be well-known. In addition, there are huge differences in corporate culture between large companies and startups, so this has to be understood. When working with startups in India, Maruti Suzuki understands good internal flow of information, management that incorporates both top-down and bottom-up, and decision making with a sense of speed. Internally, there is a small and elite startup team of executives and employees gathered from each department, who are responsible for networking at events and discussing with outside parties.

Flexibility and humility are the key to startup collaboration

The number of Japanese companies seeking cooperation with startups is increasing. New investments in India and acquisitions of Indian companies are one option to create partnerships, but an acceleration program that takes time to create businesses and products together is another option. This makes startups closer and presents a good opportunity for both sides to learn about each other’s corporate culture. Regarding the method, Maruti Suzuki's representative said, "Either we are patient with the startup and teach our culture, or we learn the culture of the startup" and "The unique culture India and startups has things like Agile (* 1) and Design Thinking (* 2), which we are humbly learning." Maruti Suzuki's strength is the flexibility and humility to accept a different culture and incorporate it into its own business. In India, such a positive and open attitude is likely to be required when Japanese companies work with startups.

Note 1:
An English word that means flexibly and quickly. A method that repeatedly develops while minimizing risk and develops in a short period of time. The word especially used in software development.
Note 2:
The concept of solving business problems by using the thinking methods and methods required for design.
Author Profile
JETRO Bengaluru Office (At the time of writing)
TAKI Sachino
Joined JETRO in 2016. Was a member of the Invest Japan Promotion Division, Invest Japan Department from 2016 to 2018 and since 2018 has been undergoing training in the JETRO Bengaluru Office. Currently in charge of business and research related to highly skilled professionals, startups, and open innovation.

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