Startups' Own Country
Kerala goes by the sobriquet God's own country and it's got all the right reasons for it too -- lush greenary, beautiful backwaters, scenic ghats, good food and hospitable people. But today I want to share with you, the story of a new Kerala that I experienced during a recent two-day trip to Kochi. The experience makes me believe that Kerala will soon have a new name - Startups' Own Country, if you don't believe me, read on.
Sijo Kuruvilla George, co-founder of Mobme, a venture started in 2007 in Trivandrum, knows what it takes to build a venture amidst constant struggle and challenges. MobMe is today a success story from Kerala, and Siju and his co-founders decided to make things relatively easy for other startups in the region. He had two choices; one was to work hard and carry on with the much deserved success of Mobme and the other, to do something completely different.
He chose the latter and went about creating a new ecosystem for student entrepreneurs from Kerala. As luck would have it, Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder, Infosys (a tech legend and a native of Kerala) also believed in this plan to herald something new and different for students planning to startup. Things fell in place with DST and TechnoPak Trivandrum supporting the effort, and the result of all the hardwork was the birth of Startup Village.
March 2013, and here I was amidst lush green surroundings at the Startup Village. And though I am not much of a romantic, there is no way you can escape the positive energy when you enter the place. So was it a trick my mind was playing on me after a long bus ride from Bangalore to Kochi? Or was it for real? I decided to check it out.
It was definitely real, when I met a roomful of young girls waiting for me to inaugurate the Women’s E-cell at Startup Village. These young girls were brimming with shy but an innate confidence to do something meaningful with their lives, and now have a champion in Startup Village to give wings to their dreams. What was interesting is that, the Startup Village team had invited mothers and family members of these young girls to give them a firsthand experience of women entrepreneurship. And from that time, I felt I was on a booster shot of adrenalin, and met some very bright student entrepreneurs. If you want to experience the new India, a young and driven India filled with hope and confidence, I strongly recommend you visit the Startup Village.
Meet Wowmakers, a team that is restless and driven to provide you with the best brand experience through their tech-led Design studio. They constantly ask - what's next and how to get there.
Meet Ovoid and its founder Arun Chandran. Though he has limited resources at his disposal, he wants to build a global gaming company and he is working hard at it.
Meet QEDGE, founders Jibin Jose and Nithin George, who are trying to crack the next big mobile application and setting hacking records on the sidelines.
Meet RHL Vision and Rohil Dev, who’s thinking big and working on touchless computing.
Meet lieve.tv and founders Amit Subodh and Geno Jose. With their low cost live streaming platform they are working towards building a strong market traction.
Meet Backbench Studios and co-founder Anand S Nair. Who’re making world class animations and believe sky is the limit.
Meet Mashinga and co-founder Nijil Y, who proudly show their multi-touch table, built in-house, capable of showing powerful interactive content.
Meet young college kid Akash Mathew who has built a crush calculator app and already has 16 people hooked to it! He wants to build other apps through his venture, CIED Technologies.
Meet Cat Entertainments (CAT stands for Cinema and Technology), a media-tech startup. CAT is a productions company that uses cutting edge technology to make compelling videos and are raring to make a mark in the global marketplace.
Meet 4thAmbit and their social circuit, which is trying to give you a new social networking experience.
Meet Elveera and Vibhin Varghese; if you are looking for next-gen tech application work, they are ready to give you the best.
Meet Bransense and co-founder Anniina Karvinen (an intern at Startup Village), who decided to startup herself along with Anees Ahmed and wants to bring global design/brand sense to India.
Meet Profoundis and their business development manager Nivas Ravichandran. Besides priding himself on not taking the usual corporate job and working in a cool startup, he is eager to bring the best opportunities for his juniors in all engineering colleges across Kerala.
Meet SectorQube Technolabs and co-founder Sabarish Prakash, who has built a venture that uses Android to power electronic goods through their proprietary technology "MAID". They’re working day and night to deploy this product for a consumer durable venture.
Meet Linways (learning management software venture) and co-founder Bastin Thomas. His hard work and humble demeanour is seeing a steady expansion of his venture.
Meet MindHelix (enterprise interaction platform), proud of their Startup Village association and looking to make a mark globally, selected for the renowned Alchemist Accelerator, currently finishing the programme at San Francisco.
Meet iTraveller, Shiju Radhakrishnan and his co-founder (who’s also his wife) working dedicatedly to creating the next big travel venture.
There are so many more whom I have missed to capture here. My next post will have them all.
A point to remember is that all these startups employ many more dynamic, young people from Kerala and outside, in the process adding their bit to the building of a thriving and self-sufficient eco-system.
Ask these young entrepreneurs, why they’re not at a regular high-paying job, after all most are equipped with solid engineering degrees. And pat comes the answer, "we want to make a difference, we want to build the best products out of India and we can do it". Now, this is the harbinger of a new India.
Behind this is the StartupVillage team, working relentlessly to make this a meaningful place for all the startups.
Sijo, an entrepreneur himself whose drive is to make Kerala the new startup capital of the world and ensure that the engine of Startup Village runs nonstop and gets bigger and better to accommodate all the student startups coming up within the state.
George Paul, a soft spoken yet determined guy who is making use of his international marketing degree to help startups market themselves in the best way possible.
Zacharias Manuel is the knowledge architect in the team and the go to man for all the tech support.
And Gokul KS is the hustler, who’s been selling different kind of stuff since childhood (from tomatoes to videos). He keeps talking to the startups about his failures to help give them a firm footing to deal with the challenges they may come across in their journey.
While we keep talking about Silicon Valley and Y Combinator as the aspiration, it's time for us to appreciate our unique successes, our own startups and our very own Startup Village. I can easily say that if this passion and momentum continues, very soon India will be an inspirational place for startups from across the world.