New Delhi: Dreams, raving lunatics, and nervous presenters—the six jury members of the 2008 TiE Canaan Entrepreneurial Challenge, the second edition of a national-level business plan showcase for early stage start-ups, saw plenty of those, and were hard pressed to pick three winners from some 140 business plans.
TiE, short for The Indus Entrepreneurs, is a global not-for-profit organization that seeks to provide mentorship and guidance to entrepreneurs, and Canaan Partners is a global venture capital firm.
“I see entrepreneurship in every nook and cranny of this country,” said Raman Roy, jury member and founder and chief executive of Quattro BPO Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a business process outsourcing or BPO firm, at the final award ceremony on Saturday.
“The surge of ideas, and energy—the spirit is definitely alive and growing.”
In no specific order, Chennai’s Equitas Micro Finance India Pvt. Ltd, a microcredit start-up; Druvaa Software Ltd from Pune, which provides data protection and storage services; and iKen Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a start-up out of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, that develops business systems powered by artificial intelligence techniques, took top honours.
The winners get access to investors from TiE, and the Indian Angel Network, a pool of angel investors who provide capital for start-ups at a stage between initial investment and venture capital investment.
The winners also receive mentorship from Nasscom (short for lobby group National Association of Software and Services Companies), Canaan Partners and jury members from the competition. A representative from each winner also attends a course at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. IKen Solutions was also shortlisted for the Microsoft Start-up Accelerator Program, which provides technical assistance to software start-ups.
The TiE Canaan award, according to P.N. Vasudevan, managing director of Equitas Micro Finance, “helps us increase our visibility in both the debt and equity capital markets”.
“As a non-banking financial company, we would be consistently required to tap both the equity market for maintaining our capital adequacy ratio and the banks and other debt players for our debt-raising programmes,” he added.
Access to a network of entrepreneurs and experienced businessmen ranked high for iKen director Rajendra M. Sonar.
The firm has roots going back to 2005 as a doctoral research project in IIT, Bombay.
That could be key, as Mahesh Murthy, founder and chief executive officer of Pinstorm Technologies Pvt. Ltd, a digital advertising firm, pointed out in a discussion preceding the awards ceremony. The lack of mentors, he said, meant more projects got stuck in incubation. “The gross number of plans that seem to be coming in remain the same,” he said. “But only a few stick the course—and that’s not enough.”
Pointing out that the average age of entrepreneurs was dropping in India, Saurabh Srivastava, president of TiE’s Delhi chapter, argued that the need for mentors was critical to address.
“We need people with experience to guide people with ideas, most of whom often have no managerial experience,” he said.