Founded in 2003, Conquest has grown into an outstanding platform for startups, enabling more than 1000 startups to succeed every year. Conquest has constantly evolved and adapted to the ever-changing needs of the startup ecosystem to emerge as India’s first ever student-run startup launchpad.

Assimilating learnings from various revamped models and experiences from the ecosystem, Conquest 2019 will provide the top 10 most exciting startups of India with 6 weeks of online mentoring from some of the best entrepreneurs and field experts out there. This will be followed by a 10-day Accelerator Program in Bengaluru consisting of investment workshops by firms like Accel Partners and Blume Ventures, mentoring sessions by successful founders and pitching to seed stage investors. With promising investment opportunities, media coverage and a prize money of Rs. 5 Lakhs on the line, Conquest is on a mission to empower founders and assist creation.

This year, Conquest has tied up with Venture Catalyst as an Investment Partner, which has set aside a fund of INR 20 Crores exclusively for Conquest startups. With investors like Dev Khare from Lightspeed, Shanti Mohan from LetsVenture, Sanjay Nath from Blume and Barath Shankar from Accel, coupled with mentors like Suvonil Chatterjee from Ola Cabs, Abhishek Nayak from Accel and Anuj Rathi from Swiggy, Conquest serves as a networking paradise for every startup out there.

In the past, Conquest has had success stories like SocialCops, which has received acclaim from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has also been recognized as the Most Impactful Startup of 2017 by YourStory. Thinkerbell Labs, the winner of Conquest 2016, aims to bring Braille within the reach of visually-impaired people and has been funded by IAN and Anand Mahindra. XWards and Pencilton, the two finalist startups of Conquest 2018, have already expanded to multiple cities after receiving support from the expansive network.

We are thrilled to announce that Himanshu Sheth Blog is a Digital Media Partner of Conquest 2019. You can  find more information about the digital media partners here.

Ishan Joglekar, CEO at Conquest, BITS Pilani, said

In those magical moments of giving birth to innovation, we stand by the crazy ones, for they are the ones pushing the human race forward by rejecting the status quo and building the future. Creation, with all its purity and nobility, is a mammoth task, and startups don’t need to rediscover the wheel every time.

At Conquest, our goal is to help startups find that one missing piece, tie that one loose end or just connect the existing dots so that they can leave their mark on the world. We have just the right people, who have done it all, to help you do it.

A Glimpse of Conquest 2019

With something in store for every founder, Conquest has become a leader in India’s startup ecosystem with multiple initiatives for all stakeholders in the industry.

  • Accelerator Program – With a goal to help the best founders build great businesses, Conquest provides a 10-day long accelerator program in Bengaluru. Fueled by the belief that multiple founders tackling similar problems in close proximity would lead to efficient solutions, the program features a unique co-living and co-working experience. Every day has something new in store for the startups, including investment workshops, fundraising pitches and mentoring by successful founders.
  • Online Mentorship Program – Conquest connects the Top 10 Startups with industry stalwarts from all over the country, enabling them to grow remotely while they continue to learn and work.
  • Grand Finale – The Grand Finale serves as the perfect platform for the Top 10 startups to pitch before Top Investors and Media houses for a prize money of INR 5 Lakhs.
  • Conquest Mentoring Sessions – Top 50 shortlisted startups are invited to attend a day-long multi-city mentoring session in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai with mentors from various domains such as Product Management, Customer Acquisition, and Fundraising.
  • Conquest Community – An initiative to build a strong and long-lasting community by bringing together stakeholder from all editions – startup founders, mentors, investors, developers and media representatives, this is the perfect platform to make the most of network synergies.
  • Conquest Academy – A one-stop shop of localized content for Indian startups. Whether you need help in acquiring your first 100 customers or in designing the perfect UI for your app, Conquest Academy ensures that you don’t have to go through tons of foreign resources.

Why should your startup register for Conquest?

Conquest has created the perfect high growth environment for every founder trying to build a great company. Be it an online word with a mentor, a casual chat with a founder, an intense discussion with an investor, a pitch to investment partners or just the cash prize, Conquest will make sure that you get exactly what you need, and much more. With numerous networking opportunities lined up, all you need to do is grab them as you take your startup to the next level.

Conquest has opened registrations, embark on your journey here.

To know more about Conquest, check out their blogs – Introducing Conquest 2019 and Why register your startup for Conquest?.

Reinforcing its commitment to fostering innovation in the country and creating a real impact on communities, Microsoft Garage India has partnered with International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad [IIITH] to run a series of lectures on quantum computing starting March 29, 2019.

These lectures are part of a course offered as a pool elective for BTech and MTech students. Microsoft will provide the scholars practical experience in quantum computing and quantum algorithms with access to the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit and Microsoft Q#.

Quantum computing is poised to alter the world’s economic, industrial, academic, and societal landscape. Quantum computers have the capacity to solve complex problems that would otherwise take billions of years for today’s computers to solve within weeks, days, and even minutes. This has massive implications for research in healthcare, energy, environmental systems, smart materials, and more. It also creates a need to start building a quantum-ready workforce well versed in quantum computing skills.

Leveraging Microsoft’s strength in quantum programming and algorithms, Microsoft experts will participate in lectures for three weeks on ‘Quantum Information and Computation‘ – an integrated IIIT course which includes practical projects as part of the curriculum. Through Q# and the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit, students will have access to Microsoft’s GitHub resources and katas, samples and libraries.

Microsoft began its quantum program more than 15 years ago and, today, has a worldwide community of experimentalists, developers, theoreticians, and computer scientists working together to deliver our unique approach to quantum computing.

Dr. Krysta Svore, General Manager of Quantum Software at Microsoft, said

This collaboration with Microsoft Garage India and IIIT Hyderabad is part of our continued effort to the enrich the innovation journey of engineering students and make technology more accessible.

Also commenting on the partnership, Prof P J Narayanan, Director, IIIT-Hyderabad added

Quantum computing is an emerging area of the future. We have a small but vibrant team of faculty and students who work on this area. Collaboration with Microsoft plays a critical role in taking IIIT’s research and expertise to a new level.

Our students will receive hands-on experience for practical project work on solutions which can impact society. We are excited about the potential of quantum computing and the learning experience students will gain from thought leaders at Microsoft.

Microsoft has a goal of empowering students to think innovatively to craft solutions for real-life challenges. Our academic initiatives provide skills and training to launch successful careers and provide students with unparalleled hands-on experience, guidance, and mentorship from industry veterans. Through programs like this Microsoft Garage India and IIITH one, students are encouraged to dream big, build creatively, and learn through practice, while gaining lifelong career skills as part of their journey.

With an aim to further strengthen the BSE Startups platform, BSE, Asia’s oldest exchange and now world’s fastest exchange with the speed of 6 microseconds, has signed a memorandum of understanding [MoU] with HDFC Bank. The MoU has been signed to spread more awareness on the benefits of listing on BSES Startups on this platform.

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BSE had launched the Start Up platform on December 22, 2018 with an aim to encourage entrepreneurs to get listed and raise equity capital for their growth and expansion.

Benefits of the platform

  • Develop awareness of BSE’s Startup platform amongst HDFC Bank’s portfolio of startups. Also, extend value-added support for eligible startups, along with BSE for the listing
  • Offer Banking and Lending solutions to eligible start-ups already listed or due-to-list on BSE Startup platform
  • Ability to access capital via BSE’s Startup platform in turn will enable startups to access growth capital and enhance tradability of an otherwise illiquid/ high-risk investment asset class.

Commenting on the collaboration, Ajay Kumar Thakur, Head BSE SME & Start Up said

BSE is the first exchange to have launched the Start Up platform. The idea was to help entrepreneurs look beyond the conventional channels of raising capital and enable them to list on the stock exchange to further enhance the credibility of the firm.

While we have conducted numerous seminars in Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities on the benefits of listing on the  BSE Start Up platform, we believe by associating with a leading bank like HDFC that boasts of a large network, presence and Start up base would enable more firms to choose our platform and raise funds as well as improve productivity.

Commenting on the association, Ms Smita Bhagat, Country Head – Government, e-commerce and Start-ups, HDFC Bank

This is part of our commitment to the larger cause of strengthening the Startup community/ecosystem in the country. Startups are today re-imagining and reshaping the world we live in. We are already partnering with them by mentoring them and giving them a chance to work with us. We are extremely happy to reinforce our commitment to them through this partnership with BSE.

About BSE

BSE [formerly Bombay Stock Exchange] established in 1875, is Asia’s first & now the world’s fastest Stock Exchange with a speed of 6 microseconds. BSE is India’s leading exchange group and has played a prominent role in developing the Indian capital market. BSE is a corporatized and demutualised entity, with a broad shareholder base that includes the leading global exchange- Deutsche Bourse, as a strategic partner.

CredRight, one of the first FinTech start-ups focused on facilitating loans to chit fund subscribers, announced the launch of its branch network at Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Warangal. Very soon the operation will start at Coimbatore too. The latest expansion will even shape up the future employment opportunities for professionals in these cities.

In the next 24 months, CredRight plans to reach out to more than 6000 customers at Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Warangal and serve the Chit Funds Subscribers by facilitating loans from Banks/ NBFCs – with a targeted monthly disbursement of more than INR 250 million.

CredRight aims to disburse loans of more than Rs. 500 million by end of March 2020. CredRight, the data-driven lending platform, facilitates loans to Micro & Small Enterprises. Given little or no financial history and informal/unrecorded transactions, such enterprises are often turned down by Banks & NBFCs but CredRight is able to build a better credit profile using chit repayment history of these enterprises and helps them avail loan from INR 100 thousand to Rs. 3.5 million. In the coming fiscal year 2019-20, the company plans to further invest in technology and grow from the strength of 20 to 50.

Neeraj Bansal, Co-founder & CEO of CredRight, said

There are around 50 million registered and unregistered MSME businesses in India that face a nearly $300 billion credit gap. The lack of adequate finance due to shortage of organized lending from banks and other formal institutes along with absence of transparency poses severe challenges in front of MSMEs to obtain loans.

We are looking to provide loans of above Rs. 5 Lakh to retailers/small businesses like vegetable vendor, chicken or barber shops and above Rs. 10 Lakh to SMEs. In the last year, the loan band ranged from Rs. 1 Lakh to maximum of Rs. 35 Lakh with an average of Rs. 9.5 Lakh

Many of the banks hesitate to offer loans to small scale units seeing the growth of non-performing assets in the past. Collateral-based lending models will have to become more flexible and thoughtful, based on cash flows and commitment of the entrepreneur towards the business. So, what are the options left for such unserved and undeserved enterprises? Can such MSMEs be able to start and run their businesses or will they be discouraged to shut down?

CredRight brings unsecured loans as well as fill the deficit of financial data via chit records. So, customers who are unserved or underserved currently can avail loans from CredRight and make monetary use of their available Chit data. Also, CredRight’s end-to-end process is digital so customers can apply and receive money via the app in 3 days. On the other hand, CredRight offers local language/vernacular services via the app as well as call centres making the process easier and comfortable for the customers to avail loans.

The Indian chit fund business is estimated to be around Rs. 700,000 million with about 75-80 Lakh customers. There are an estimated 1.6 million registered MSMEs in India, as per Ministry of MSME, Govt. of India 2017~18 report; but they face a major problem in terms of getting adequate credit for expansion of business activities. The report pointed out that the MSMEs received only 17.4% of the total credit outstanding. It is very saddening that in a progressing country like India, only 33-34% of firms from MSME sector have an access to banks and institutional financing channels while rest of them resort to informal channels like friends, family and other personal channels for raising loans, says ASSOCHAM report.

An organized approach in Chit Fund lending can surely decrease the pressure since this has long been the predominant instrument for financial inclusion in India – even before microfinance. CredRight has experienced a huge credit pull from small vendors, start-ups, shopkeepers, agencies dealing in commodities and those engaged in numerous other trades in the unorganized sector. The growth of unsecured loans is a reason for hope for the new entrepreneurs, particularly high-skill professionals and those who can part finance their businesses.

By tapping the huge database and strength of the chit fund sector, the Hyderabad-based CredRight is expanding rapidly in extending loans to the small and medium enterprises. With a few players in the segment, the company hopes to tap into the huge unmet demand for credit/ loans in the MSME segment while addressing the problem of getting them and making the procedure simpler.

About CredRight

CredRight is a disruptive fintech platform, driven by an inspiring mission to empower Micro & Small Entrepreneurs [MSEs] which do not have access to organized credit from financial institutions [like Banks and NBFCs]. To meet their working capital needs, MSMEs often subscribe to rotating savings and credit associations [ROSCAs] and chit funds where the average wait time is 5 months given the high volume of bids from subscribers. Dependence on informal sources like money lenders is high.

Venuelook, an Online-to-Offline [O2O] platform and marketplace for venue aggregation, recommendation and booking has raised an undisclosed amount in their pre-series A funding from marquee angel investors and successful entrepreneurs like Srikant Sastri [Co-founder, Crayon Data], Shailesh Rao [Senior Advisor – TPG; McKinsey & Co; Board Member – JLL], VP Rajesh [Managing Partner – Banyan Capital Advisors LLP] and Vishal Sampat [Founder of Convonix].

Venuelook’s proprietary aggregation and AI backed algorithms help identify and match customer requirements with the best venue options available, thus simplifying the venue discovery and booking process for weddings, social and corporate events. Their experienced event managers help ensure the event is smooth and hassle-free.

Founded by a first-generation woman entrepreneur, Ruchi Garg, with over 12+ years of experience in technology and events industry, Venuelook was started with an aim to create an end-to-end solution for every event, from weddings to corporate events, celebratory occasions and get-together parties. Venuelook helps discover and book the right kind of venue using a combination of technology and domain expertise thus offering the Indian consumer a one-stop-shop solution for all their venue booking and event requirements.

Started from Delhi and first covering NCR, Venuelook has helped over 2 lac people discover the right venue for their events. Venuelook’s engine has also resulted in better fill rates. Srikant Sastri, Co-founder, Crayon Data commented

Our investment decision was influenced by the robust tech and execution capabilities built by Ruchi and her team which has resulted in a phenomenal growth rate of over 20% month over month in the last 1 year.

VenueLook’s founder Ruchi said

Venuelook has over 15,000 venues already listed, making us the biggest marketplace of event spaces in India. We plan to use the funds from the current round to replicate our success in Delhi-NCR to other major cities of the country. We have already put in place a team for Mumbai and are in the process of expanding to 16 other cities.

By making the most of technology and analytics, we will provide better value to both, our end customers who want a hassle free experience while organizing their events and venue owners, who can leverage our algorithm to improve their occupancy levels.

About VenueLook

VenueLook is a venue aggregation, recommendation and booking platform for weddings, social and corporate events. Since its launch, the company has served 2 lac+ real events and now has 15,000+ venue spaces showcased on the platform making it the biggest aggregator of venues [event spaces] in India.

Coworly, an online co working space reservation business, has announced the launch of its operations in Delhi-NCR region. Coworly aims to reshape the way professionals search for and compare co-working and alternative office space solutions.The platform allows professionals to make informed decisions by personalizing their office space search and providing them access to a deep supply of co-working company’s information and prices.

Image Source – CoWorking

Coworly enables its partners/advertisers to grow their businesses by providing access to a broad audience of professionals via its websites and app. As of December 31, 2018, Coworly has partnered with 55 co-working space providers serving more than 1000+ bookings per month. The platform currently provides solutions across Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida and aims to enter five markets in the country in 2019.

Speaking about the launch, Sandeep Singh, Founder- Coworly said

Coworly aims to help professionals and freelancers find the best solution for their office space needs. The platform brings together space providers and customers by giving them options according to their needs and in their budget.

Co-working sector has seen exponential growth in the country in past 5 years and with more than 350 operators looking to tap into the market, the customers have pool of options to choose from. We identified the need for a platform which will bring together all the players and make it easier for customers to compare and choose the best suited option in their budget. We plan to enter more markets like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad soon as these markets are seeing huge demand for such flexible workspaces.

Other than providing smooth experience in booking office spaces to customers, Coworly also helps their partners to manage their inventory and resources through its own SaaS based software.

About Coworly

Coworly is a flexible space as a service provider offering meeting rooms, conference rooms, training rooms.Launched in 2018 and serving more than 1000+ bookings per month.Our customers start from an entrepreneur to large corporations. 50+ space providers across India trust Coworly to accept bookings on their behalf and growing rapidly. It is a backed by a small team of 5 people, who are making Coworly a service loved by professionals to achieve more in less time. For more information, please visit Coworly

Indian Angel Network, Asia’s largest network of Angel investors, has invested Rs. 3.5 crore in Pune-based start-up SparesHub, an automobile parts start-up. SparesHub will utilize the funds for its geographical expansion and to strengthen its technology capabilities. The funding was led by Indian Angel members Neeraj Garg, Harsh Gandhi, and Ankur Agarwal.

Founded by Tapas P. Gupta and Arijit A. Chakraborty, the SparesHub team currently comprises 27 employees. It solves the problem of the unavailability of, and over-expensive, automobile parts which result in a significant loss of time, money, and efforts for car owners in India. Since its inception, SparesHub has been working to dis-intermediate and digitize the automobile parts industry in India.

To this end, it is introducing modern supply chain and logistics methodologies in the industry, and caters to B2B customers. SparesHub works with India’s leading car companies and part manufacturers to make OEM and OES parts available to its customers [multi-brand service centres, service aggregators, fleet owners and insurance companies]. Existing investor Holomua Group Inc, also participated in the investment round.

Padmaja Ruparel, President and Co-founder of Indian Angel Network, added

The decision to invest in SparesHub was taken after a careful assessment of the business, the team’s vision, and its strategy to achieve the same. The company has the makings of a modern tech-based venture, with a unique business model, a strong technological framework, a product that fills a major gap in the market, and of course, a strong team. We are confident that the team will continue to enhance its product and build its USP, and emerge as one of the leading players in its domain.

Tapas Gupta – CEO of SparesHub, commented

Our mission is to create a whole new level of customer delight by leveraging technology. SparesHub is challenging the traditional methodologies and bringing in global best practices in the automobile parts supply chain and logistics domain.

We are truly grateful for the funding from Indian Angel Network and the faith they have shown in our business model, and we hope for a long and fruitful collaboration with the Network.

Indian Angel Network is Asia’s largest network of angel investors that invests in early-stage businesses, which have the potential to create disruption. The members of the network are leaders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem with strong operational experience as CEOs or a background of creating new and successful ventures. IAN goes beyond the normal, informal, local club structure of angel groups to a larger institutionalized model because of its nimble but robust, standardized, and transparent processes that allow it to scale across geographies and a large number of members.

CropIn, a SaaS-based AgTech company, has made it to the list of THRIVE Top 50 Companies 2019 in recognition of its scalable and disruptive agtech solutions. The full-stack agtech company has expanded across Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe, and is generating more than 50% of its current revenue from its international markets.

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Listed among the top 50 companies this year, CropIn would be showcasing its technology at the annual THRIVE Innovation Summit scheduled to be held on 27th March 2019 at Santa Clara, Silicon Valley. Beth Ford, CEO Land O’lakes and other top leaders and investors in the AgTech and FoodTech space would be participating in the event. The summit is a platform for innovative organizations to engage with leaders of Fortune 500 food and agriculture corporations scouting for the latest disruptive technologies.

Commenting on the development, Krishna Kumar, CEO, CropIn, said

We are thrilled to be recognized as an innovative player in the agtech domain. The ranking corroborates the enterprise readiness and scalability of our platform, and encourages us to build more ground-breaking innovations for the agricultural sector.

CropIn has been actively doing some high impact work with a very diverse set of clientele and partners globally with the ultimate goal of making farming sustainable. So far, CropIn has digitized over 5 million acres of farmland and enriched the lives of nearly 2.1 million farmers, while managing 3,500 crop varieties across 30 countries.

CropIn has raised investments amounting to a total of $12 million till date, including Series A funding for an undisclosed amount from Singapore-based BeeNext in 2016 and $8 million in a Series B funding round from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Strategic Investment Fund [SIF] and Chiratae Ventures [formerly IDG Ventures] in 2018. The current institutional investment partners of CropIn are Ankur Capital, BEENEXT, BSP Fund LLC, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation SIF and Chiratae Ventures.

CropIn won the ‘Best Innovation in Digital Farming Technology’ at Agrow Awards in London for its flagship product, ‘SmartFarm’. A case study on SmartFarm is also published by IVEY for classroom training of management students. ‘SmartRisk’ was the winner at the ‘HDFC Bank Digital Innovation Summit’, for its capabilities that will make agri-lending and agri-insurance processes more data-driven.

About Thrive 50

The THRIVE Top 50 Innovation Showcase and report spotlights fifty growth stage companies from around the world pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology in agriculture. THRIVE Top 50 is part of SVG Partners’ corporate innovation program, which connects major corporate brands like Coca-Cola, Corteva, Trimble, Land O’Lakes, Wells Fargo, Heidenhain, EY, Forbes, National Pork Board, Driscoll’s Berries, Taylor Farms, and others with promising growth stage companies for custom pilots and partnerships. Top 50 startups are scouted for exemplary leadership, technology, and traction, and selected based on alignments with specific organizational criteria and industry pain points outlined by corporate partners. For more information, please visit THRIVE Top 50 Innovation Showcase.