The Grand Finale of Conquest 2017, BITS Pilani’s international startup challenge, concluded on a high note at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. With DCB Bank as the title sponsor, Conquest has been become a paradise for startups, providing them with a chance to voice their ideas, network with industry leaders, and obtain incubation and funding opportunities.
The winner’s position was grabbed by Recopro,? which manufactures recyclable paper pallets which are cheaper, stronger & greener than the traditional wood counterparts, while the runners up were Incredible Devices,? which works on providing affordable treatment techniques for CVD, a disease with a fatality rate of 80%. The winner and the runner-up have been awarded INR 250k and INR 150k of equity-less cash funding.
Conquest, BITS Pilani’s International Startup Conclave, is an initiative whose wheels were set in motion back in 2004. Thirteen years have passed by, with a couple of revamped models and success stories laden throughout, with a lot more promise exuding from Conquest 2017. The edition, in association with Zoho, Accel, WNS and PayU, raked in 1000+ startup applications and in partnership with Letsventure filtered the number down to the Top 50. The demographics and sectors of the registered startups were variegated in equal measure, making the competition pan-India with a few foreign applicants. The number was brought down to the Top 50 based on a rigorous scrutiny spread across 36 extensive parameters.
The top 50 startups were then mentored on a one-on-one basis in mentoring sessions held at Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The networking sessions witnessed attendance from the likes of Meera Iyer, CMO – Big Basket, Ashish Goel, Head of Product – Zomato and Suvonil Chatterjee, former CDO, Housing and Flipkart.
Dr. Bindu Dey, the Guest of Honour for the Grand Finale, ?is the current secretary of the Technology Development Board. In her address to the gathering, she emphasized on the importance of commercializing the results of research, and the role played by Technology Development Board in the same.
Praveen Kutty, Head of Retail and SME Banking, DCB Bank, on his experience with Conquest, said
The experience has been brilliant as always. It is our third year of association with Conquest, and each year, the finalists have been splendid. We have actually started interacting and doing business with a couple of finalists from the previous editions. Conquest is a remarkable event, and it is commendable what the team does to put it together.
The itinerary consisted of two panel discussions, a pitching round for the Top 10 startups in front of investors from over 25 investment firms and leading industrialists, a networking lunch along with interaction of the jury with the audience in the Fish Bowl round.
The first panel discussed nuances that a young entrepreneur should keep in mind. Some of the panelists who shared their thoughts on the topic were Nishith Rastogi, CEO & Founder of Locus.sh, Barath Shankar, Senior Analyst, Accel Partners. Dhruv Mathur, Co-Founder at Little Black Book, Abhishek Gupta, COO at Tlabs and Sanjay Nath, Managing partner at Blume Ventures.
The second panel, consisting of Vivek Khare, Director Strategy at LetsVenture, Abhiraj Bahl, Co-Founder at Urban Clap, Vikram Upadhyay, Chief Mentor at GHV Accelerator, Shantanu Mathur, Country Head at Knowlarity and Sujit Panigrahi, CEO, Fitness 365, discussed the troubles of innovating in a risk averse country like India.
Erik Azulay, Director, Nexus Startup Hub was among the members of the jury. Talking of Conquest, he said
The quality of startups and the pitches that I saw here has been much better than at other events. Kudos to Conquest for ensuring quality at every stage!
The Fish Bowl round was the most looked forward session where the students and entrepreneurs in the audience were given a chance to directly interact with the corporate leaders at the event by asking them questions in an open to all discussion. The jury members, including Nilesh Kothari, Managing Partner, Trifecta Capital amongst other distinguished industry leads, were part of the session. The session was an enthralling experience, with discussions on topics ranging from the rise in popularity of Initial Coin Offering [ICOs] to the heated debate on Artificial Intelligence.
With a handpicked audience consisting of some of the biggest names among VCs and Angel investors, the top 10 start-ups in the country as well as students from the leading institutes of India, the Grand Finale of Conquest 2017 has lived upto its reputation of being a startup paradise, and every startup enthusiast’s networking dream.