Leisure shoe maker Solethreads, sustainable lifestyle brand Ecoright, and packaged food venture Go Desi have emerged as Season 2 winners of the Amazon Global Selling Propel Accelerator program. The three consumer brands–selected from a pool of 15 participating brands–cumulatively bagged $100,000 in equity-free grants from Amazon and $300,000 in AWS Activate credits. The other startups that made it to Demo Day–including Almo, Avishkaar, Belora, Eske, Greencure, Hathmic, IVEI, Masterchow, Minimalist, Shumee, Sleepy Owl Coffee, and The Artment–cumulatively received $600,000 in AWS Activate credits. When the second season kicked off in February this year, AGS Propel received entries from 1,000+ businesses.
Demo Day began in New Delhi today with all 15 startups presenting their business propositions to a distinguished jury, including Prayag Mohanty, Principal, Fireside Ventures; Abhishek Mohan, Principal, Sequoia India; Radhika Ananth, VP, Accel Partners; Hariharan Premkumar, Head, India Business, DSG Consumer Partners; and Preetham N, Principal, Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund and Corporate Development.
“I believe in the power of one. We need one breakout brand from India that people will be talking about, and this can be from this year’s finalists or previous years’ winners. This will motivate the entire startup ecosystem. We also need more digital skills apart from product building,” said Rajan Anandan, MD, Sequoia India & SEA, during a fireside chat with Raghava Rao, VP - Finance, India and Emerging Markets, Amazon India and Minari Shah, Director - Corporate Communications, Amazon India.
Deepak Bagla, MD & CEO, Invest India commended Amazon for the AGS Propel Accelerator program as it is at the intersection of three important government priorities: startups, technology adoption, and boosting exports. Reflecting on his experience of interacting with the program’s finalists, Bagla said, “The energy you get when you walk into a room like this is totally different. For a person who is at an age that I am, let me tell you–there’s nothing better. You are the makers of new India. If there’s anything I can say from my generation to yours, it’s thank you.”
The AGS Propel Accelerator program is a key part of Amazon’s pledge to enable $20 billion in cumulative exports by 2025, and contribute to the government’s vision of ‘taking local, global’.
We created the AGS Propel Accelerator with a vision to take India’s entrepreneurial innovation global. We are truly excited about the innovation and passion we have seen and would like to congratulate the winners and all the finalists of Season 2 of the program. The true success of Propel reflects in the growing number of startups and D2C brands adopting it to launch in global markets.
A look at the winners
Solethreads, Winner: A leisure shoe brand based out of Gurgaon, Solethreads’ founders started the venture as an online first brand. Post winning the Propel program, the brand wants to tap into the US, UAE, and Australian markets with their comfy yet stylish footwear.
In the last couple of months, we’ve had so many opportunities to interact with industry stalwarts, venture capitalists, and peers, and we’ve learnt a great deal from them about the nuances of building a global business, serving global customers with varying preferences, benefits of going directly to customers worldwide, and more.
Ecoright, 1st Runner Up: Ecoright is a sustainable lifestyle brand that intends to make eco-friendly products part of the mainstream. Ecoright plans to connect consumers across the globe with sustainable products with the help of the Amazon Global Selling program.
Go Desi, 2nd Runner Up: Now catering to over 5 million POPz every month across India, Go DESi launched in 2018 with a mission to make regional packaged food more accessible to Gen Z and millennial customers across the world. Through Propel Accelerator, the brand will now take their indigenous products to global customers.
Amazon’s commitment to empowering startups
Launched in January 2021, Amazon Global Selling Propel Accelerator is designed to help early-stage startups in the consumer products segment to expand globally and become international brands. As part of the program, a cohort of select startups receive 1:1 mentorship from industry leaders, a platform to interact with potential investors, and receive support in going global. Slurrp! Farm, Sirona, and Wellbeing Nutrition were the winners of the program’s inaugural season in 2021.
Amazon Global Selling is a flagship program that lowers the entry barrier for Indian MSMEs to start or expand their exports business using e-commerce. The program was launched in India in 2015 to support Indian exporters in reaching global customers through Amazon’s international websites and marketplaces. It provides an avenue for businesses of all sizes to build global brands. “India currently has over 75,000 registered startups. And around 47% of these startups are from Tier 2 and 3 cities, the heart of India. This is where Amazon is making an impact. The ideas that are coming from these areas are ideas much easier to scale and implement. These are the makers whom you can trust. Listen to the voice in you and keep the strong pillar of culture as you move ahead,” Bagla said.
From India to the world
Today there are over 100,000 exporters across India on the AGS program, showcasing millions of Made in India products to customers in more than 200 countries and territories across the world. Many of these businesses are first generation entrepreneurs and emerging brands.
Meghana Narayan, Co-Founder, Wholsum Foods (the makers of Slurrp! Farm) and the winner of the 2021 season, said: “The program has helped us expand to global markets such as the US and UK, and at the same time given us the right mentorship and platform to ensure success in new markets we have ventured into. We look forward to taking our brand to customers in more markets across the world through Amazon’s e-commerce exports program, as part of our mission to create a global brand.”
Amazon Global Selling has been witnessing remarkable growth. Indian MSMEs exporting through the program have surpassed $5 billion in cumulative sales till now. The program took 3 years to enable the first billion dollars, while the last two billion have come in just the past 17 months.