Grand Challenges-Karnataka, an initiative under the innovative Start-up Policy of the Government of Karnataka, has launched its ‘Grand Challenge Call 5 and Call 6‘, to unearth innovative solutions to reduce traffic congestion in Bengaluru City as well as tackle the perennial water shortage.

Image Source – Startup Karnataka

The cherry-picked ideas will get access to funding and go through prototyping, testing & scaling up in Bengaluru. The last date to apply for ‘Grand Challenge Call 5 and Call 6’ will be October 15th, 2017.

Anyone from any discipline in India – from individuals, researchers and faculty in colleges/ universities/government/start-ups/not-for-profit organisations, etc. can apply for the Grand Challenge by logging onto Call 5 Impact Karnataka. ‘GrandChallenge Call 5’ will focus primarily on technology innovations involving last-mile connectivity, real-time info on public transport, ease of transition from one mode of transport to the other and innovative parking solutions.

More than three-quarters of Bangloreans commuting to work each day are driving by themselves. That’s a lot of empty seats on the road – and all that traffic and congestion has a large financial, environmental, and emotional cost. With Bengaluru among the fastest growing cities in Asia, the population has rapidly increased from 53 lakh in 2001 to 87 lakh in 2011. In fact, vehicle population growth rate is even higher than population growth rate and about 5 lakh vehicles are being added to Bengaluru streets every year. Various studies have pegged the economic loss of Bengaluru’s traffic gridlock between one to five billion dollars.

Priyank Kharge, Karnataka’s IT, BT & Tourism Minister, said

When we think of the future of transport, we have a tendency to picture a world in which people fly around on personal jetpacks and cars levitating down streets. In reality, the way we get around, in the short and medium term at least, will be a little less sci-fi than that. But it will still involve some truly revolutionary changes.

The future of your commute is unlikely to lie in any one big invention. Instead it will grow out of many new innovations which can be used alongside existing technologies. They will work within the context of increasingly smart transport networks that are able to respond quickly and efficiently to our ever-changing needs. ‘Grand Challenge Call 5’ is an attempt to create a big picture from small solutions.

‘Grand Challenge Call 6’ is a rallying cry to unearth innovative solutions to aide water conservation in Karnataka. The state government launched the ‘Call 6’ to generate and utilize real-time data on quality and quantity of water being utilized at individual level including water use in agriculture for predicting a potential water crisis.

Call 6 seeks crowd-sourced solutions for data generation and development of sustainable, feasible, scalable & low maintenance kits/mobile app/technology for monitoring water quality, etc.

Priyank Kharge, Karnataka’s IT, BT & Tourism Minister, added

Water may very well be the new oil. A finite resource essential to consumer, agricultural and industrial users and a vital component our economic growth. That’s why water as an investment has some compelling long-term investment appeal.

This creates opportunity for startups, who can contribute to creating a sustainable water supply and participate in investments likely to experience long-term growth.

During the first phase, five innovators will be eligible for testing the proposed solution for funding of up to INR 10 lakh for a period of six months. They will have to develop and successfully demonstrate three functional prototypes [in case the system involves prototyping a new device] or demonstrate the solution for at least 10 users [in the case the system is a service/software/ app-based solution] in two locations in Karnataka. The period of live demonstration is part of the six months allocated to Phase I.

Phase two will see one innovator being selected for a further funding of up to INR 50 lakh for a period of 12 months to scale-up. The idea will be tested for ability to define and demonstrate the product/solution as well as evaluated on stability, robustness and scalability of the solution through a sustainable revenue model. User validation will also be determined through feedback.

‘Grand Challenges’ are a set of initiatives by the Karnataka government to turn crowd-sourced data-driven innovations to prime opportunities to contribute to effective, localized, and measurable change to the challenges facing Karnataka. In the process, startups with game-changing ideas, will get the golden opportunity to channelize innovations for social impact, and also grow their business in the process.

The support provided under ‘Grand Challenges’ will be catalytic in enabling startups to test and scale their innovations in target locations across Karnataka. The programme will not only provide funds but also work with the awardees for the duration of their project and beyond, to ensure project implementation. It will also offer the awardees collective experience of mentors, resources and network.

The selection criteria will be based on parameters including alignment with the mandate of the cell, the potential impact, feasibility, sustainability, accessibility & novelty of the idea proposed as well as the execution capacity.

For more information, please visit Grand Challenge 5 Official Page

Espark Viridian Accelerator [earlier covered here and here], a startup accelerator for early and growth seeking startups in-association with Headstart Network Foundation, brings a unique opportunity for all the aspiring entrepreneurs- SmartUp 2017. SmartUp is a Pan India Business Plan Competition that could help win a cash prize worth Rs 1.75 lakh, entry to Espark-Viridian’s accelerator program, live one-to-one mentoring, potential to raise seed investment, network with all the who’s who of the business world.

Image Source – ESpark Viridian

Espark-Viridian in association with Headstart Network are committed to promote entrepreneurship in India. Early stage startups having original idea and clear business model with significant market research are eligible to apply. Top 25 startups will be shortlisted by selected jury members. The event would culminate with two full days dedicated to one to one mentoring from national level mentors followed by a pitching session to top rated investors wherein one could get a chance to raise a seed investment. The deadline application submission is 25th September 2017.

Vibhuti Channa, Director, Espark Viridian Accelerator, said

We, at Espark-Viridan Accelerator believe that India has tremendous potential and startups are the future of business ecosystem. This is a one-of a–kind business plan competition for budding entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality. Besides a potential to raising seed investment, the startups will get the opportunity for one-to one mentorship.

Amit Singh, Co-founder & MD, Headstart Network, said

SmartUp 2017 is Espark-Viridian and Headstart’s endeavor to identify and nurture India’s young entrepreneurs who have the aspiration and ability to solve big problems through their ventures. With Espark-Viridian’s enablement led program and Headstart’s country wide network -we seek to make mentoring and funding accessible to the early stage startups.

Individuals with an idea and passion for entrepreneurship need to register at SmartUp 2017  for participation.

About Espark-Viridian

Espark-Viridian is a startup accelerator for early and growth seeking startups. We offer an up-to 18-month multi-center, multi-sector accelerator programme through 5 centres spread across Bangalore, Chandigarh, Gandhinagar, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR. To know more, please visit Espark-Viridian

You have a path-breaking idea and willing to quit your job to start-up on your own, great! But depending on the idea and the market that you are targeting e.g. mobile, software, IOT, etc. you need to figure out whether you need to look out for external/institutional funding or continue being a bootstrapped startup [on the lines that you at least have an MVP ready]. If you are a hardware startup, you might also think of starting a Kickstarter campaign.

Wrike, a project management software products platform that is used by high-performance teams has come up with a very informative infographic titled 7 Ways to fund your startup. We liked the overall presentation due to which it can be an informative guide for a newbie entrepreneur or for someone who is willing to take their startup to the next phase.

7 Ways to Fund Your Startup
Infographic brought to you by Wrike project management software products

Do leave your feedback in the comments section…

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.

PayPal, the global leader in online payments have announced a shortlist of five new Financial Technology [FinTech] startups – Finbox, Neoeyed, Paymatrix, Scalend and Tybo as new entrants into its PayPal Incubator in Chennai.

The announcement was made after the final round of pitching during the 5th Incubation Challenge, where 10 shortlisted startups from 250 startups presented to an esteemed panel of judges including Guru Bhat, GM Technology & Head of Engineering – PayPal, Anupam Pahuja, MD – PayPal India and Rama Bethmangalkar, Venture Capitalist, formerly with Ventureast.

As a part of PayPal’s vision to transform and democratize financial services, the Incubator helps elevate and drive innovation across the FinTech industry with a focus on startups in financial technology as well as adjacencies like loyalty, machine learning, big data and logistics among others.

Guru Bhat, GM Technology & Head of Engineering – PayPal said

In its 5th year, the PayPal Incubator has received an overwhelming response with over 250 applications from early stage FinTech startups – a 150% growth from last year, reflecting both the need for an incubation program, as well as the FinTech industry’s potential. Our program is designed to help our newly incubated startups script their own success stories by facilitating access to PayPal’s expertise in cutting-edge technology and by enabling them to leverage PayPal’s market leadership around the world.

Launched in 2013 in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs [TiE], the incubator provides a conducive environment for early-stage startups to grow and evolve at PayPal’s Technology Center in Chennai. The program offers startups technology counsel and mentorship, infrastructure support and networking opportunities with both investors and customers. In addition to these, PayPal will also be picking up an undisclosed stake in each of the selected startups this year.

Shortlisted Startups

Finbox is a digital lending software as a service which enables lenders to digitize their user journey and underwrite using alternate data. FinBox’s platform combines multiple APIs to build various digital lending experiences across use cases. FinBox API’s enable lenders validate Identity, underwrite using data from traditional and non traditional sources and cross sell financial products to their customers. FinBox products integrate seamlessly with the lender’s mobile and web properties and also with the loan management system backend.

Neoeyed helps the businesses to generate more revenues and improve users’ security by simplifying the login and registration processes on mobile applications. Using mobile devices, Neoeyed can recognize users by collecting information about human behavior that allows them to login without effort, nothing to type, nothing to remember, nothing to do…Transparent, simple, secure

Paymatrix is an analytics-driven property rental management platform that streamlines rent payments and collections for tenants, landlords and property managers. The platform’s dashboard provides solutions for end-to-end rent management including tenant screening, credit facilitation for rent deposits, rent documentation, rent automation, renters and landlords insurance and also helps in better interaction between tenants and landlords.

Scalend offers a ready to use AI enabled customer insights platform for financial services companies. The platform combines proprietary AI models with Big Data – Hadoop’s unlimited storage and compute power to help BFSI & Fintech companies generate actionable insights around omni-channel customer journey, back-office optimization, in matter of weeks not months or years

Tybo is a cloud based omni-channel e-commerce platform designed for home based and small-sized businesses. It provides the merchant a single view of their evolving business across multiple sales channels. The platform is focused on easy set up, simplicity of use and customizable design to create a beautiful storefront. It also enables end-to-end integration with supplier system and saves time by importing products directly into their store with real-time inventory sync.

Bengaluru based Datasigns Technologies has raised USD 1.5 million Pre-Series A funding from SRI Capital, Beenext and Pravega. Datasigns Technologies, founded by Monish Anand, Rahul Sekar, Anand Barua and Tushar Patel, had earlier raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from Sanjai Vohra [former MD of JP Morgan], V. Bunty Bohra [Managing Director and India CEO of Goldman Sachs] and Peeyush Misra [Ex- Partner and MD at Goldman Sachs].

Image Source – Fund Raising

SRI Capital’s portfolio includes Fab Hotels, Healthify and Yellow Dig among others, Beenext has invested in – Droom, Citrus pay, No Broker, Faasos and Pravega Ventures has invested in Crofarm – an agri-tech company, Innovaccer – big data platform for enterprises.

Datasigns Technologies is a mobile first lending platform, which lends via their android application called Shubh Loans. Shubh Loans is a vernacular language app which builds a proprietary credit score and report for loan applicants, thereby helping them understand their credit standing holistically.

Sashi Reddi, Founder & Managing Partner of SRI Capital said

Proud to back a rockstar team, led by Monish Anand, in the consumer lending space in India. Many massive companies are going to be built in this space, finally being able to lend to the next 200 million consumers—Shubh Loans will be one of them.

Shubh Loans score is dynamic and changes with applicant’s financial and non- financial behaviour. Using the Shubh Loans app, users can apply for a loan of up to 2 Lacs with maximum 2 years tenure. Datasigns has partnered with multiple banks and NBFCs, helping them in building their loans books.

Monish Anand, Founder & CEO of Shubh Loans stated

We are excited to have these great investors on board, at the same time we are even more determined to stay disciplined and execute our plan well.

Rahul Sekar, Co-Founder & Chief Data Scientist said

The lending business in the country is at an inflection point, our focus is on creative and responsible use of data to bring financial literacy and credit to people who deserve it the most.

Shubh Loans takes pride in its aim to democratise credit by making it available to all and believes that an unserved customer doesn’t make for an unservable one. Shubh Loans has set its sight on bringing over 10 lacs people into the formal banking system as part of its mission 2020.There are currently growing at 50% month on month and have tied up with over 9 lending institutions.

Fintech Valley in Vizag, a sustainable global Fintech ecosystem have announced the establishment of government sponsored Fintech Valley Accelerator at Visakhapatnam in collaboration with ICICI Bank and Mahindra Finance as corporate partners and Microsoft as the technology & acceleration partner.

Image Source – Fintech Valley

Fintech Valley in Vizag created by APEITA [Government of Andhra Pradesh], is a self-sustainable global Fintech Ecosystem that focuses on converging finance and technology to create large avenues of growth through industry-enablers, world-class infrastructure, entrepreneurship and innovation.

ICICI Bank and Mahindra Finance have always leveraged technology to pioneer digital innovations and provide world-class banking experience to their customers. These institutions are focused on leveraging the current transformational trends in technology to bring value to their offerings. The first cohort of the accelerator program will have 10-12 startups working to develop solutions for ‘Financial Inclusion’, ‘Security and Fraud Prevention’ and ‘Customer and Risk analytics’ for a period of 12 weeks. This will be a resident program based out of Visakhapatnam and will provide selected Fintech startups an opportunity to catalyze their development through a combination of support, guidance and training.

The recruitment process for the accelerator has commenced, and the first cohort will start in first week of October. The program will conclude with a grand demo day in January 2018, in presence of corporates, mentors and investors from across the world. This is in continuation of the vision of the AP Government to bring ecosystem players together in the Fintech Valley and nurture a ‘fintectonic’ culture in the state that enables traditional models of business. The accelerator program aims to act as a catalyst in the growth of startups by connecting them to Fintech ecosystem players and develop the startup community in Visakhapatnam.

Mr. J A Chowdhary, Special Chief Secretary & IT Advisor to the Chief Minister – Govt. of AP said

The Andhra Pradesh Government and Fintech Valley Vizag is excited about the Fintech Valley Vizag is all set to converge finance and technology and create large avenues of growth. The accelerator program aims to act as a catalyst in the growth of startups by connecting them to the leading Fintech ecosystem players.

For application process and other details about the Program, please visit #FintechValleyVizag

The Indian School of Business [ISB] and SAP Labs India have entered into a collaboration to nurture technology-based start-ups in the social space, focusing on ventures which are working in areas that have relevance to national priorities.

Image Source – Jumpstart Social Enterprise Accelerator

Titled Jumpstart Social Enterprise Accelerator, the programme aims to identify and support 10 early stage and 5 growth stage promising ventures by providing guidance, mentorship and scaling up their technology solutions that can bring about a large scale impact in the lives of common people. Start-ups targeting sectors such as education, healthcare, water & sanitation, energy, agriculture, financial technology, infrastructure, livelihoods and others are eligible to apply for the programme.

Sharing ISB’s objective in promoting the initiative, Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, ISB said

ISB is committed to its goal of taking on a larger role of incubating and supporting entrepreneurial ideas as well as scaling up ventures that will potentially generate employment, foster economic and social progress and create significant social value for the country.

The ISB SAP Jumpstart accelerator programme is one such initiative to support promising entrepreneurs in thinking big and help scale their businesses to create impact in areas of national priority and help build a better tomorrow.

Dilipkumar Khandelwal, Managing Director of SAP Labs India & Executive Vice President, Enterprise Cloud Services, SAP SE said

We are pleased that the SAP ISB Social Enterprise Jumpstart program is growing to accommodate more social enterprises.  Through this initiative, we are supporting in creating investible and growth oriented social enterprises which can contribute to the economic development of our country.

The first cohort of this accelerator programme was launched in  July 2016 where ISB and SAP received 400+ applications from diverse sectors. Five early stage start-ups in the areas of financial technology, sustainable development & livelihood, agriculture and skill development were shortlisted and mentored. As a result, all the 5 ventures from the first cohort have scaled up their business operations, received funding or have been taken over.

How to apply for the Jumpstart Social Enterprise Accelerator

Start-ups will be short-listed through a nation-wide selection process based on their innovation, social impact and scalability. Shortlisted finalists would be invited for a business plan pitch and interview by a panel consisting of business experts, investors, faculty & members of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ISB, & SAP. To know more about the application process and criteria, click here