MIT Accelerating Information Technology Innovation (AITI) 2013 Mumbai round of demos concluded earlier this week. While the winners were not declared at the demo day, the young group of enthusiasts who presented their ideas were all charged up about their ideas. Some turned out smartly in formal attire to talk about the ‘startup idea’ – giving the event a very corporate feel, while others looked equally comfortable and smart in their jeans and sneakers.
So what do you get when you put a group of smartest minds in the planet together for 6 weeks? The result is some good, some nice and some not so good ideas. Mumbai had 12 business ideas demoing at final day of MIT AITI at IIT Bombay. Besides participants and their families(who came to cheer them us), we also saw some of the startup fraternity like Kanchan Kumar from TiE Mumbai, team from GSF Accelerator and Anand Lunia, founder, IndiaQuotient at the event. Jason Norris from MIT was the lead for the Mumbai event.
We asked Anand what he thought of the quality of participants demoing at the event. “The ideas were mostly college /student quality ideas, barring a few which were quite good and have the potential to scale up to real businesses,” said Anand. His personal favourites were MetroMeet, CloubLabs and Curry’s, which he thinks has the potential to do well in real life as well. Some of the ideas that were trying to solve problems with auto rickshaws, Anand thought was very ambitious. “It is difficult to get autowallas to work with you. The discipline and commitment that a new business requires is not possible when you have auto unions and political parties involved. We all know what happened with Meru cabs in Mumbai,” said Anand. We agree with Anand, while the idea of getting an auto when you want, at your convenience is attractive, the ground realities of tackling the hardnosed guys driving the vehicle will be an uphill task.
The event was set up to allow students to pitch to prospective investors, advisors and the entrepreneurial community in Mumbai. It was publicized through MIT, IIT and Google’s personal networks. A total of 200 applications was received for the Mumbai program and finally 31 students were selected. The criteria was high academic markets, a high level of coding experience in a variety of languages and a base level knowledge of entrepreneurship. Over the course of 6 weeks, the students worked exceptionally hard to prototype their products, develop business plans and pitches.
However one thing Anand pointed out is food for thought. “A program like this gives these guys the taste of doing something of their own, building their own enterprise. So they may get placed into big companies after they finish college, but I would say atleast 60-70% of them will turn entrepreneurs after a couple of years,” said Anand confidently. Another advice he had for other startups were to look at this young lot as potential employees. “These guys can be great product managers and they are already interested in entrepreneurship, so all that remains now is to talk to them and get them onboard,” suggests Anand.
So all ye startups who are looking for some good fellas to come aboard, you now have another avenue. CloudLabs won the first place, MetroMeet came second and Curry’s and Automate were tied for the third position. Here are details of the teams who demoed at MIT AITI at IIT Bombay. We wish them all the best for their future.
Cloud Labs: This application can be used to perform modeling and simulation experiments using an android device from a remote location, delivering results in real time. It can be used by university labs seeking to use remote servers or even by lay people looking to perform their own computer-driven experiments.
MetroMeet: Metromeet is a location-sharing app that lets you coordinate hassle-free meetups. You can set a defined meet-up place and share your location within a closed group of friends for a short period of time. Location-sharing is automatically deactivated when everyone reaches the venue.
Curry’s: This is a micro-rating application that offers customers the opportunity to rate not only places of interests, such as restaurants, but also to rate specific qualities of a place, such as restaurant dishes, service, or ambience. In particular, this app will offer the user different ways to express their opinions, including by photo.
AutoMate: This application provides users a platform to locate and use available auto rickshaws in their area that are willing to go to the user’s destination. Using GPS enabled technology, this app would greatly reduce the waiting time of users, while also increasing revenues for drivers by reducing their unoccupied time.
CricDeCode: This coaching application enables cricketers of all levels to record, analyze, and improve their game. Players can share their statistics with coaches or peers, and this app provides a platform for concrete goal setting, progress monitoring, and personalized feedback for players.
Ignus: This is an education technology platform that enables coaching institutes and universities to offer courses online via mobile devices. The application will also include admission counseling advice and personalized academic feedback analytics.
Blue Cheque: This application facilitates online micro-transactions by providing customers without credit or debit cards a safe and convenient way to deposit funds into their online shopping accounts. Users can deposit funds to their online accounts through Blue Cheque coupons available at their local mobile recharge store.
FareShare: Using this application, you can coordinate with individuals in your area to share auto rickshaws or taxis as you commute to and from home and work or school. The application has advanced security and privacy features to ensure customers are able to commute safely.
Espress: This is an online platform that facilitates self-publishing of manuscripts and leverages market analytics and data mining to turn any manuscript into a high quality published book. Additionally, Espress has developed an e-reader specifically for mobile phones, offering a wide selection of popular novels and non-fiction works available easily on-the-go.
Read Startups: This is an application platform exclusively for entrepreneurs to promote their start-ups and post relevant internship opportunities. It will also provide information and local events related to entrepreneurship. Currently, the site receives 500 visits a day.
LinkedMed: This application offers patients and physicians a platform to keep track of medical histories, communicate lab test results, and easily ask questions, saving time and money associated with traditional doctor’s visits.
Unnati: This online portal offers young people the opportunity to connect with peers and mentors who share their interests in specific topics, such as technology, business, and education, and collaborate on special projects and business ventures with them.