This blog is part a recollection of the events of the Pitch Day. And part a farewell post to those amazing 112 students who continued to surprise us till the last day at Innovate Delhi.
This Sunday marked the culmination of the intense three weeks of action happening at IIIT Delhi as a part of Innovate Delhi Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA). Where on one hand we have extended weekend based startup events happening in the country. IDEA could could be described as being on adrenaline, with more rigor, creative problem solving and the fun.
The day was a typical June summer in Delhi, by being slightly hot than what was comfortable. The past weeks saw nearly 40 teams working on their ideas, iterating and pitching leading upto the main event. Only the top five were to present that day. With the certificates of participation distributed, the focus was now on two major groups. The finalists who were presenting that day to the investors/judges were practicing with Randy. The others were setting in motion the open house.
With the judges comprising of a diverse and interesting mix. The spectrum ranged from Mr. Vinod Rai, the former CAG of India all the way to Dr. Pankaj Jalote, Director of IIIT Delhi. The sounds of healthy debates boomed across the hall with the judges talking to the teams. There were student groups working on their ideas even before they came to the program to others who pivoted on their ideas and names the day before. The variety ranged from an online wig platform called WigVanity to MyParking which helped people find parking spots in NCR.
With the open house being wrapped up all of us moved to real attraction of the evening, the top pitches. The welcome note by PK from IIIT Delhi was followed by speaker talks by Kiran Karnik and Sharad Sharma amongst others. One could see the hunger for knowledge and the collective wave of emotion in the student audience when Sharad quoted number and facts about the software and the startup industry in India. Celebrating the pride in our product startups.
We soon began with the pitches which made for the highlight of the evening. Weeks of learning for the final teams reduced to just five minutes. Which could make or break their odds of winning. With Surfing Couch taking the top honours for their idea of providing free community wi-fi, Shoutstr and Ripple followed close on the heels for a podium finish. Aegis (wearable for women safety) and ZapApp were the other two startups vying for the top slots.
The student testimonials on stage were a perfect example of the diversity and broke the stereotypical mold of the impression we have of an Indian entrepreneur. There were ‘students’ coming from remote Indian villages to others who were married. Talking of age, a very interesting observation came across. All the finalist teams had atleast one team member above the average age with atleast a few years of industry experience. What inference should we draw from this, I’ll leave that to you.
With the events of the evening concluding, it was not long before students had crowded around their favorite judges soaking in what wisdom they offered and asking them a lot of questions. Rem Koning had to be excused towards the end, with the Delhi weather taking the better of him. Students just loved Sharique Hasan, with requests for IDEA ’15 already pouring in. But the hands down favorite was Randy Lubin, and it was not long before he was posing for pictures.
After three weeks you could see the camaraderie in the students, now working on the details to execute their ideas in the real world. As members of the Indian startup ecosystem, we take so many things for granted. But seeing a batch of the next generation of builders, beginning their startup journey reminded many of us about why we started in the first place. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.
Acknowledgments: No event takes place without the healthy support from a huge set of unnamed workers. Special shout out two amazing people who helped with the creating the digital record for the Pitch Day.
With Inputs from Gurpreet Bedi,