Key Dates

10 November 2022 - Launch Deadline
22 December 2022 - Standard Deadline
9 March - Extended Deadline
10 March - Judging
5 April - Winners Announced
16 May - Awards Presentation

MAARG - the National Mentorship Platform of Startup India

Image Credit : All images have been taken from design files and actual system designed, developed and maintained by the team at Gaia. All intellectual property for the site resides with Start Up India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.




Project Overview

Catalysing India’s start-up ecosystem through the National Mentorship Platform of StartUp India.

StartUp India is the umbrella initiative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India. India has one of the most vibrant start-up ecosystems in the world and ranks among the top countries in the Global Innovation Index. There are 108 start-up unicorns, the largest number in any country after the USA and China. There is a concerted effort through government initiatives to use targeted mentorship to further catalyse growth and help more founders create successful start-ups.

National Mentorship Platform, MAARG, is a unique digital platform for a new service created by StartUp India to connect national and international mentors with start-ups to foster connections, create dialogues, and provide mentorships.

We aimed to build a best-in-class platform that leverages the latest technology stack and AI algorithms to seamlessly select and pair best-suited mentors and start-ups through a dynamic, attributes-driven recommendations engine. Generative AI learns user selection behaviour for self-learning.

The dynamic and engaging public site showcases rich interactive and visual information and case studies to drive participation and highlight achievements.

The platform facilitates registered users through a guided digital process of mentorship, appointment scheduling, video sessions, and impact reporting and monitoring. Ecosystem partners, such as incubators and accelerators, can host mentorship programs.

Given the large number of start-ups and potential mentors in India, this platform is ready to become the largest global hub for mentorship.

Project Commissioner

Start Up India/ Invest India

Project Creator



Gaia is an information and analytics company that brings the best of STEAM talent and Design Thinking approach to design and develop multi-stakeholder platforms at the intersection of business, government and society.

The project team included:
Dr. Sumit Chowdhury - Chief Solutioneer
Amrita Chowdhury - Account Director
Mayuri Naik - Design & Development Head
Parvati Sami - UIUX Designer
Rupali - Frontend Developer
Sandeep - AI and Automation Developer
Gopal - Backend Developer
Rohit Nigam - Account Manager

More than 20 people team of designers, developers, managers, testers worked on the project. The process went through a structured approach of requirements documentation, user journey mapping, and visual language creation through design explorations.

Project Brief

Partnering with StartUp India, our brief was to create a best-in-class platform for national and international experts to mentor entrepreneurs in India. The platform is free.

MAARG portal (Mentorship, Advisory, Assistance, Resilience and Growth) is a one-stop platform to facilitate mentorship for start-ups across diverse sectors, functions, stages, geographies, and backgrounds.

StartUp India has 85000+ registered start-ups and enablers. The project aimed to bring them into a common mentorship framework and serve as an online hub for all entrepreneurship-related information, tools, and tutorials.

Our aim was to create a sleek visual and UIUX design that was at once inviting, functional, intuitive, and easy to use. The design had to be sophisticated for global experts while being simple for the smallest, non-tech startup founder in a small town.

For the registered users, it required automation and rich dashboards to track progress and outcomes. It aimed to bring the latest tech innovation through Big Data Management, Cognitive Process Automation and Visualization for transactional, operational, and informational ease. Artificial Intelligence was used to automate the shortlisting of best-suited startups and mentors. Feedback loops and automated engagement gamification were included.

Above everything, the platform had to bring delight to people from all parts of India and experts from all parts of the globe. It had to be engaging for easy adoption and repeat usage. Tracking of mentorships had to be built-in to provide recognition to star mentors and encouragement to young startups.

Project Need

India has a young population and one of the most thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world. Global mentors, accelerators, and innovators participate in this ecosystem.

MAARG platform of StartUp India is a major initiative to address and augment the knowledge and skills needs of youth, women, and people of all ages and all walks of life in every part of India to create more successful start-up founders across every segment of the economy.

The project aimed to leverage a custom-built, robust artificial intelligence algorithm to create recommendations and match mentors and start-ups based on sector, segment, function, and multiple attributes.

Given the complexity of the unique needs of an entrepreneur and the richness of experience available with a large pool of mentors, creating automation eases the process of getting targeted guidance. Given that the platform had to be accessible to all Indians, many of them not tech-savvy, all information and process were showcased through clear steps and infographics.

The MAARG logo and visual design language had to be simple yet sophisticated, and detailed user journey mapping had to be done to define the visual and interaction design requirements for each type of user.

Delivering an intuitive and easy-to-use site for all entrepreneurs – whether they are from small towns or less tech-savvy – ensures adoption and positive feedback within the ecosystem. Showcasing positive stories and mentor expertise creates the pull effect to increase adoption.

User Experience

The platform blends cutting-edge technology and fresh design to craft a digital experience for each user category – including entrepreneurs, experts, investors, officials and staff.

Using Design Thinking principles, detailed user journeys were created to define unique features, interactions, navigation, and workflows.

The artificial intelligence engine recommends best-suited mentors or startups based on attributes and contextual keywords. It envisions the usage of Generative AI to understand the pattern of selection by users to improve the search and match ability of the algorithm.

Rich interactive dashboards were designed to manage the guided self-service process of identifying mentors, accepting mentorship engagement, and managing the engagement through in-app video interactions and communication tools, relevant checkpoints and document submissions.

The modular framework allows each mentor and startup pair to customise their journey to suit their needs while ensuring that outcomes get captured to aggregate program impact at a national level.

The public-facing site was designed to be user-friendly, with clear information and navigation about the new services and the process of accessing the services. The design was considered through the lenses of Presentation and Layout, Ease of Interactions and Customization, and Robustness. It was web/ mobile compatible and available in 12 languages.

By showcasing the richness of services offered and the objectives of the program, we are able to increase visibility, adoption and usage. Visually interactive feedback mechanisms enable users to easily raise issues and the StartUp India secretariat staff to address them

Project Marketing

The MAARG platform was complemented by 360-degree marketing – through online information, tools, and tutorials - complemented by offline and online campaigns.

This new initiative of StartUp India has been given visibility through ministry press releases, social media campaigns and active engagement with ecosystem enablers, such as global and international investors, incubators, associations and industry bodies.

The platform was initially launched for experts to sign up as mentors. Within 3 months, more than 6000 experts from 14 countries have signed up as mentors. The StartUp India secretariat vets experts through approval workflows to ensure a quality pool of mentors.

The platform was then launched for start-ups and within 4 weeks more than 1200+ guided engagements have been initiated for 850+ start-ups. The platform has garnered more than 600,000 views. Multiple third-party channels have created videos about mentorship assistance available via this platform. This visibility and adoption will continue to grow for this ongoing initiative.

Process maps and illustrations inform visitors about the program. The platform collects rich detailed data on visits, usage, and outcomes. Comprehensive dashboards and data visualizations are available to the Secretariat to view patterns, understand trends, and amplify targeted outreach. Startups and mentors can manage their engagements, set goals, get alerts, schedule and conduct online meetings, and report outcomes through their personalized dashboards.

As the program matures, this platform will become the one-stop destination for startups and enablers to augment funding and acceleration initiatives via guided mentorship processes.

Project Privacy

Information Security and Data Privacy were critical while designing the system.

The public site has information about the program, links to videos and tutorials, and profile information. The site is free and accessible.

The platform is opt-in, where registered users agree to use the digital platform for mentorships. The applications for experts are vetted and accepted by the StartUp India Secretariat.

Several layers of security have been considered. Only limited public information about mentors, startups and their profiles are visible on the public site. Registered users can communicate using in-platform communication tools and initiate requests. Once a start-up and mentor agree to start a mentorship, further contact details are available to them to manage the interaction better.

Both start-ups and experts share data and documents at different stages of the signup and usage process. All information is encrypted and securely transmitted and managed on the cloud infrastructure. Role-based access and two-factor authentication for every session ensure that validated users can access information based on their privileges. Detailed roles and rights management have been defined to ensure data privacy and information access to the correct set of users.

Network security and Data Security principles were defined, and the system ensures that all privacy and security considerations and risks are managed.

Based on the interaction reports submitted, only aggregated and anonymized outcome data is visible and available to general users.

The provision of timely government services has been transformed as applications and sites are developed and implemented to either replace or complement previous methods. Be it the delivery of current and up to date critical information, compliance, community support and engagement, notification and registration or providing greater accessibility to government resources.
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