The second edition of Proto.in, a networking event for venture capitalists and technology start-ups, gets underway in Chennai on 21 July 2007. The event debuted in January this year and saw 27 startups showcase their ideas and product prototypes. The response from venture capitalists was muted though — just 7-8 VCs showed up at the event. Co-organizer Vijay Anand, who has been involved with Proto since its inception, spoke to Namitha Jagadeesh of Mint about the objective of the event, and what one can expect at the two-day show.
What is the big idea behind Proto.in?
Our aim is to encourage technological innovation at the grassroots level. We want to focus on products developed by Indian start-ups. Proto will put start-ups in touch with investors, industry analysts and experts to help them understand their business and the sector better. Proto is a showcase for startups, not necessarily for investors. In the last chapter, only 12 companies were actually looking for funding.
How many companies have been short-listed this time? What were the parameters?
Of the 112 entries that were nominated, we short-listed 25. We have a panel comprising experts from sectors such as telecom, consumer hardware, etc, who shortlist the companies. The basic criterion is that start-ups should have a product that they can demonstrate. The selection is made on the basis of the strength of the product as well as the maturity of the team, and whether they can differentiate themselves in the market.
What are the sectors in which you have most entries?
You will see a number of companies in areas related to online transactions, VLSI (hardware design) and some in the enterprise solutions space. The number of companies in the mobile space has reduced.
What’s the profile of attendees?
So far, about 25 venture capital firms have confirmed attendance. In addition, high net worth individuals looking to make angel investments have also shown a great deal of interest. Several of these are TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) members or belong to the Band of Angels. There will also be industry analysts and some entrepreneurs who are running successful businesses.
How will this edition be different from the first?
Last time, many of the attendees were not sure what to expect from the event. Also, there was not much interaction with VCs. The first edition was focused more on mentoring. This time, Day 1 is centered around building awareness for startups on topics such as how a company is valued and what VC’s expect from start-ups. Day 2 will be reserved for actual presentations by the 25 start-ups.