In Google's startup boot camp, unicorns learn the way

The fifth edition of Google's startup accelerator programme will have – for the first time -- two companies that have crossed $1-billion in valuation.
Roy Glasberg, who founded and runs the search giant's startup mentoring effort, qualified it as a first for any accelerator across the globe to have a unicorn in class and an indicator of how important cutting edge technology has for start-ups to scale their businesses.
Brazilian startups Nubank, a financial technology firm offering a digital, branchless experience, and real estate marketplace Grupo Zap Viva Real are now taking part in a 2-week training and mentoring session as a segment of a 6-month programme that aims to help small companies deal with hurdles from funding to growth management and imagine a future in a world where artificial intelligence and machine learning become common tools.
“For the first time, we have brought two companies that are above a billion dollars in valuation. So, we proudly cater and service the strongest and the biggest in emerging start-up ecosystem, said Glasberg told the press at the Google's offices in San Francisco. “We are basically the gateway to Silicon Valley – whenever we showcase such companies to the Valley, it creates awareness about opportunities that lie outside of the usual suspects of Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv.”
Notwithstanding the valuation of the two start-ups, Google believes these companies would benefit from getting mentored: "These start-ups are growing fast; scaling up and expanding at a high pace and they would need guidance as they work on setting up AI teams and so on," said Melina Mattos, Program Manager, Develop Relations at Google.
So far, 135 start-ups have benefited from the accelerator, including the 24 firms selected for the ongoing fifth edition of the accelerator. Besides the unicorn start-ups, the accelerator has four Indian start-ups this year. Niramai offers a software-defined solution for early detection of breast cancer. Baby Chakra is an online guide on parenting. Socialcops enables date-driven decision making and mPaani runs a mobile-based loyalty programme.
LaunchPad connects select startups from emerging economies with mentors and venture capitalists from the Silicon Valley, allowing entrepreneurs to go through intensive bootcamps and access Google's cloud products. The 5-year-old effort by Google to identify and train startups has led to a growing mentor community too, many of which are entrepreneurs themselves doubling up as teachers.
Google now boasts of a 1,500-member mentor network. It also runs the Studio, a tailored programme for startups trying to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence for better products and services.