New Delhi: An air of confidence, tinged with nervousness and urgency filled a room of restless youngsters at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, or IIT-D, as they awaited their turn to showcase their business plans to a handful of leading venture capital, or VC, firms such as Sequoia Capital and Helion Ventures Pvt. Ltd, besides executives from search giant Google Inc.
In a way, this gathering, on a recent Thursday evening at the IIT-D campus, was a first for many. It was the first time that IIT-D hosted a business plan competition called Vishishth, that focused just on the IITs—seven across India—and the first time business consulting firm Bain and Co. co-hosted a competition like this.
The selection process was not simple. Each 30-page business plan that a team submitted had to answer a host of questions ranging from the uniqueness of the product, projected salaries, and patents.
The finalists were to be tested for their clarity and acumen in identifying a business opportunity and creating a plan to take advantage of it.
The organizers received some 150 entries from the seven IITs, of which eight teams, selected to present their business plans to VC firms, were vying for the first prize of Rs1 lakh.
The second and third prizes were for Rs50,000 and Rs25,000, respectively. But the real prize was the chance to get VC funding through IIT-D’s technology business incubation unit.While some teams were in urgent need of the prize money to grow their business ideas, for others, the bigger attraction was the opportunity to meet and be mentored by VC firms.
“We are not here for the money. We just want some feedback from the judges on how our product is and what we can do to improve it,” said Nikunj Jain, 19, who along with his mates, showcased his portal called myadvisor.com, that aims to provide simple tools or indicators based on technical analysis for the average English-speaking user to get a basic idea of future stock and share prices. The company did not win because “our plan and services were replicable.
The winning team from IIT Mumbai called Shuddh Technologies, which has water-treatment technology, is clear it meant business. The founders of this start-up are Yash Singh, 20, from Vadodara and Praveen Sarda, 21, from Nagaur in Rajasthan, who graduates next year.MySuraksha, a start-up from IIT Madras that won the second prize, presented a product to protect banks from what are called phishing attacks and is patenting three “low-cost” technologies. The one it showcased to the VCs was low-cost electronic card that will cost Rs5 or Rs10 and can be inserted into the computer when in use.
Hellointern.com, the third winner from IIT Bombay, runs an internship portal for engineering and management students and already has 60 recruiters such as Qualcomm Inc. Some 7,000 students have got internships through Hellointern. “This idea came from our own experiences as interns. We need around Rs3.5 crore for our start-up dotcom, where the biggest investments are in publicity and technology,” said Raviraj Jain, one of the founders.