The Startup Centre Goes Live with In50Hrs, its first idea-to-prototype event

26th Mar 2011
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Twenty-four ideas are in the process of becoming a possible product prototype

By 6 pm on March 25th, the stage was set for In50Hrs, the first initiative of The Startup Centre (TSC), where you build a prototype out of your idea using buddy network and mentor guidance. The crowd swelled and the atmosphere at the new office of TSC was electric. Dorai Thodla, CEO of iMorph, cofounder, TSC and one of the mentors at In50Hrs, started the proceedings by calling all the ideas and the men behind the ideas to come forward to pitch for 3 minutes. Wait a moment. Women had some representation too. There were four in all, two seniors who pitched ideas and two coders ready to go. Vijay Anand explained the concept behind the process.

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Then, one after another, the technology enthusiastists pitched their ideas that caught the fancy of the nearly 70 people present. Naru Narayanan, one other cofounder of TSC, moderated the idea pitches, keeping a tab on time, for some initial pitches. If one promised to give all info you need about stocks, the other showed you how to sort your tweets for meaningful information. One idea was even to bragg about yourself. Two students, V. Maheshwar and Ram Srivatsav, of course, stole the show. Their benchmate.in gathers notes from students that can be used by fellow students to prepare for exams. It is just a week old and they are here to refine their offering. Maybe this could become commerically successful – voice recognition software to be used by doctors to record their observations. OrangeScape led the pack with seven people participating while Rails Factory also brought in its team to try out a new product. To me, a non-techie, I suddenly felt a bit out of place. I did not understand the php, python, ruby rails language that these guys spoke and was just observing the enthusiasm of the presenters. Some were very articulate and some weren’t. But in the end, 24 ideas came up.

The 12 mentors carefully kept notes of all the presentations. They raised questions, sometimes incisive, to understand what the presenter was trying to convey. Once the presentations were over, they huddled together in a conference room to debate on how to take the process further. Brainstorming was intense during the discussions and then each mentor decided to take two ideas for guidance. In all seriousness, the mentors were focused on the outcome. They wanted to give all their experience to the enthusiastic ideators that had seasoned Balaji Sowmanarayanan, Amazon Web Services consultant and Mani Doraisamy, CTO of OrangeScape.As the mentors were busy closeted in the discussion, teams already began to take shape. Like-minded people joined together to form a team around the idea of their interest. The participation was across sections – students, entrepreneurs, and people in a job already. One person on condition of anonymity said he did not want to disclose that he was here, as his organization might not view it kindly. But he has built a product and he wanted to use this opportunity to see if it works. If it does, then he would quit his job and start on his own. Vasudha, a young final year MCA student from SRM University, wanted to hang around the whole night to help as many projects as possible. Once the mentors decided their two groups to mentor, they got into the job straightaway. It was just an hour away from midnight when this started. The mentors spent around 15 to 20 minutes with their group, trying first to understand the problem and then to give directions. Senthil Nayagam, co-founder, Rails Factory, one of the mentors, found it exciting to work with Balaji Sowmyanarayanan. I asked Vijay Anand about the quality of presentations and then posed the same question to Suresh Sambandam, OrangeScape founder. They both felt about 10 ideas are nearly good. “You will be amazed when you see the final outcome on Sunday,” Vijay said. It is likely that TSC will incubate some ideas that have the potential. And the startup activity has begun in the right earnest. This is a unique event in that you had 20 seasoned entrepreneurs coming together to incubate fresh ideas coming out of nowhere. This confluence of diverse set of people is the very basic characteristic of TSC. It seems as the ecosystem is slowly developing around startups in India, TSC has made a great move. Such ideas born out of nowhere could help TSC to reap rich dividends later. –Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Chief Evangelist, YourStory

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