Being a start-up is not easy—especially if you are vying for a spot on the annual TiE-Canaan Entrepreneurial Challenge. This year, more than 140 submissions poured in and after days of close scrutiny by the Canaan team and an eminent jury, eight finalists were shortlisted for the final round. All the eight finalists will be mentored by TiE-ENP (Entrepreneurship Nurturing Program) to refine their business plans for the presentation to the jury in Delhi on July 5. Three winners will be selected based on their potential to scale up, and become leaders in their categories.
At least one finalist will be invited to join the Microsoft Startup Accelerator Program where the young firm will get access to, and guidance and support on the Microsoft Platform as well as market development support from the software giant. In addition, a representative from each of the winning teams will be invited to attend, for free, a course at the Centre for Executive Education at the Indian School of Business. While a majority of the 140 applicants were in the broad area of enterprise software, the jury zeroed in on a mix of companies for its final selection, both in terms of the start-ups’ business and the background of the entrepreneurs behind these firms.
Software Gets SmartCompanies big and small invest in multiple IT systems to try and improve the efficiency of their processes and hopefully help them grow their businesses. Most of this software usually performs a specific role that it is designed for. But Mumbai-based iKen Solutions says its software products make existing software smarter and improve returns on IT investments. “Our customers don’t need to buy standalone solutions to get smarter with their software. We can build this capability using our products,” says Rajendra M. Sonar, founder of iKen and an Assistant Professor at IIT Bombay, who founded the firm with entrepreneur Siddarth Goel and PhD scholar Manish Godse. There’s clearly a meeting of the minds there.
Doctor HunterThere are literally hundreds of doctors and dozens of hospitals in Bangalore, but if you’re new to India’s IT Capital, you’ll probably be lost if you need to judge the competence of your neighbourhood doctor or the specialty clinic some blocks away. “There is very little transparency on the data available for healthcare providers,” says Dr Abhilash Thirupathy, a dentist by training who co-founded HealthcareMagic.com with Kunal Sinha a second-time entrepreneur. The portal, according to Thirupathy, is India’s first portal and call centre to provide medical advice and referral in real time. Doctors chat with patients online and provide initial medical advice. The patients are also referred to a specialist if needed.
Next-Gen GoogleJust as Google has become synonymous with web search, GoodMorningResearch.com hopes to become synonymous with people trawling the web for an assortment of research reports and other investor data. “We want to enable users to our site to tag specific rows or columns in an excel spreadsheet so that analysts can easily locate these reports or presentations,” says Arun Bhatnagar, co-founder of GoodMorningResearch.com.
Secure StorageBacking up data for disaster recovery is great, but there's a problem: it's expensive and time consuming. Druvaa Software, a company founded by a bunch of former executives from storage firm Veritas, has devised a distributed data duplication technology called SendUnique. "This technology cuts down on duplicate enterprise data across the network and only saves a single copy of important information, which dramatically increases the speed of back-up and recovery," says Jaspreet Singh, founder of Druvaa.
Small wonderIn 15 years, Prashant Lohia Has gone from consulting for SMEs to developing software for them, especially for the textiles and retail sectors. "Our software is ideal for small enterprises, which have a limited budget and can't spend many months on an expensive and slow implementation," says Lohia.
Recently, Anuj Gupta was trying to build a (Microsoft) Excel spreadsheet to track his father's multiple investments and ended up developing 11rupees.com with his IIT Delhi classmate Kapil Bharati, who worked with Sapient. "I live in the US where these tools are easy to get, but there was no such thing in India," explains Gupta, a former McKinsey consultant. 11rupees.com plans to offer (initially) free tracking of personal finance assets and build its user base before focussing on revenue generation.
Most companies building applications for the booming mobile phone and services market tend to focus their energies on the fast-growing consumer market. Not Infogile. "Companies are constantly looking for new areas of revenue and the mobile is one of them," says Rajat Harlaka, a co-founder of Infogile. Already, Infogile enables 2,500-plus retailers across 11 states to sell prepaid coupons and collect bill payments of all mobile operators. Harlaka is now eyeing at several new services.
Big Money, Small Places
We are the only MFI to provide A two-year loan tenure instead of one and we have also introduced a fortnightly repayment module based on customer feedback," says Vasudevan P.N., founder of Equitas Microfinance. He is hardly resting on his laurels, and has plans to increase Equitas's customer base 10-fold from 45,000 at present and aggregate customer consumption in areas such as health, education and groceries to get better deals for his customers.