I spent the last few days in Cochin, at the inaugural edition of TiECon Kerala. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure how much entrepreneurial energy exists in Kerala today, so I had some concerns about the event. The organizers of TiECon also did not have a clear sense of what to expect. Registration was at about 300 before the event.
Well, putting all our concerns to rest, 1100 people showed up and made the conference a resounding success. All the hard work of the TiE Kerala organizing team resulted in an event that created a tremendous platform to take Kerala’s entrepreneurship to the next level.
On Oct 26, I gave the plenary keynote address at the conference. I talked about a possible entrepreneurship development strategy for Kerala, not only in Information Technology, but also other sectors such as Tourism. Kerala has already had some success in tourism entrepreneurship, particularly in eco-tourism. In my address, I talked about Kerala’s opportunity to do what Bali has done with a focus on Ayurveda, nature, spices, and cuisine. Kerala’s great success in tourism entrepreneurship is the CGH Earth group of hotels, which we are experiencing now. I will write about that separately. It’s a fascinating story.
The same day, I also did a mentoring session with about 100 entrepreneurs, which gave me a good feel for the kinds of projects happening in Kerala. And later that afternoon, we had the 1M/1M pitch fest – 146th roundtable, judged by a team from TiE.
This contest, dubbed the White Knight, was jointly organized by TiE Kerala, the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, and the Indian Angel Network. It received 166 applications from student entrepreneurs around the country, out of which eight teams came to Kerala to pitch at this event. Let’s take a look at the pitches.
First, Raghuram Belur and Manish Khattar from IIM Rohtak pitched Blitzkreig, a mobile app concept for shopping while watching television. Today, advertisements, product placements, etc., that are shown on television do not have any direct possibility for converting into a sale. Tying TV and e-commerce through a mobile app is an interesting idea, although the operational challenges are significant. Getting access to product catalogs and detecting what is being viewed on TV will be challenging. Raghu and Manish have in mind a sound-based detection system that helps them identify the channel and the program. Let us see how this pans out. The judges awarded them a scholarship.
Next, Aditya Iyer, Ashwini Kumar Singh and Esha Shah from JBIMS pitched Rainmakers, an online commodities exchange for farmers to be able to sell their crops based on pricing forecasts. The exchange also deals with crop insurance. The entire concept is designed to help farmers get a better price for their crops, and also to be able to protect themselves against natural calamities. We liked the concept a lot, although, the risks of political interventions and disgruntled middlemen creating problems are all significant. However, we decided that the concept definitely deserves a chance to work out these issues.
Third, we heard from Siddhant Gupta, Akash Swamy, and Kalyan Chakravarty, who pitched EurekaMed, a medical device for helping patients with asthma and other pulmonary diseases to exercise their lungs, as well as cleanse out the phlegm. The team is from Manipal Institute of Technology. The value proposition sounds extremely compelling, and if the technology works, it could be a phenomenal success, given the abundance of pulmonary problems India’s highly polluted environment continues to create. TiE Kerala will be working with EurekaMed to help them figure out how to validate the technology.
Next, we heard from Amar K, Raj Kiran K M, and Sreenesh Bhat from XIMB Bhubaneswar, who pitched e-innovators, a mobile app focused on university campuses to help students check test scores, access information about placement office announcements, etc. The team has done a survey of the students in their school, and has come up with a price-point of Rs. 39 for the app. It’s a simple, useful concept, that can be bootstrapped effectively.
Then we had Manish Agarwal and Akash Agarwal, also from Manipal Institute of Technology, pitch Mastermind, a robotics technology. It was a fantastic demo of a robot operated by blinking eyes, and using neurological signals. The applications of the technology will be in the domain of wheelchairs for patients who are paralyzed or quadriplegic. There are business model issues in the presentation that need to be sorted out, but the technology has great potential.
The Comic Express
The sixth presenter was K Kumar Dhaka and Ankita Choudhary from Symbolia Entertainment Media who pitched an e-commerce concept called The Comic Express . They are already in business, and have revenues selling comic character merchandise online. They want to make the site a destination for comic lovers and fans. My read is that this is a web 3.0 business opportunity
Then we had Mandar Tulankar from Ramdeo Baba College of Engineering pitch Angel’s R&D, a cell-phone charger that works through motion and pressure, and is embedded in a shoe. So essentially, as you walk wearing a shoe that has this charger, you can charge your phone. With great energy and drama, Mandar demonstrated his product, and shared that he already has orders from three shoemaker brands. The presentation had the room spellbound.
And finally, we had Albert Paul, Bastien K. Ittyavirah, and John Jose from Loyola Institute of Business Administration, pitch LIBA Brainiacs. The concept deals with waste management, the transformation of municipal waste into electricity, and needs an investment of $35 million. We were not convinced by the economics of the business idea, and advised the team to switch gears. A different idea, perhaps, but they MUST stay with entrepreneurship.
The six winners of 1M/1M scholarships were Blitzkreig, Rainmakers, E-Innovators, Mastermind, The Comic Express, and Angels R&D.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with TiE Kerala on this event. TiE has done a phenomenal job of working with the Kerala government, the regional media, and the universities and colleges to create awareness about entrepreneurship. In subsequent months and years, this energy needs to be harnessed and developed into real revenue-generating, profitable companies.
1M/1M looks forward to continuing to work with TiE Kerala to help groom 1000 entrepreneurs to generate $1M+ in revenue by 2020 in the state.
As always, I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables, most at 8:00 a.m. PDT, on:
-Thursday, November 1, Kolkata 1M/1M Pitch-Fest, Register Here.
-Thursday, November 8, 148th 1M/1M Roundtable, Register Here.
-Thursday, November 15, 149th 1M/1M Roundtable, Register Here.
-Thursday, November 29, 150th 1M/1M Roundtable, Register Here.
If you want a deeper relationship with me, you are very welcome to join the 1M/1M premium program. If you have any questions about the program, please, first study the website, especially What to expect from the 1M/1M premium program and the FAQs. If you have additional questions, please email me, and I would be very happy to respond. Please note that I work exclusively with 1M/1M entrepreneurs.
I also invite you to join the 1M/1M mailing list for the ease and convenience of getting updates. This way we can stay in touch, and it will help you to decide if 1M/1M is a program for you.
This segment is a part in the series : Roundtable Recap