What would one call a day that starts with an algebra-rap and ends with lots of selfies? Add a book launch, gyaan from successful entrepreneurs, and, of course, the announcement of the top 30 promising startups of Tech30, and you might call it a cracker of a day.
We at YourStory just call it a regular day at TechSparks!
As the millennials jostled for space, both physical and mental, at the exhibition area, it did not take a rocket scientist (and there were enough smart people to qualify as such) to figure that not Internet of Things, or even artificial intelligence, or some new app technology, but really the food space was the current and next big thing – evident from the crowds at Chai Point and FreshMenu’s stalls!
The Wishing Tree, installed at the centre of the courtyard for people to share their desires with others, was another revelation. From wishing for funding (what else) to someone wanting the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to make illustrations, it was interesting to read the wish list of the attendees.
On stage, the day started on an energetic note as Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO of Byju’s, rapped his algebra poem and essentially showed it was cool to have math as one’s first love. “The real fun is not making a million-dollar company, but changing the way millions think and learn,” he said summing up the core value of his venture.
His energy could only be paralleled by Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, who took the stage to launch her book co-authored with TN Hari, Head of HR at BigBasket and Strategic Advisor at Fundamentum. Shradha promised the book – Cut the Crap & Jargon: Lessons from the Start-up Trenches - was straight from the heart.
Explaining his mantra for a successful startup was Slang Labs’ Kumar Rangarajan, who said that to build a successful company, the starting point was a great team, followed by a great idea. Kumar took the audience through a brief on selling Little Eye Labs to Facebook and returning to the starting line with Slang Labs.
While one might be really forgiven for thinking the startup space is only comprised of people solving fancy problems like voice recognition and mobile phone battery consumption, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Founder and CEO of Xelpmoc, demonstrated how cutting-edge technology could be applied to help farmers with soil testing, to advise on what crop to sow or amount of fertilisers to be used. An 'eye in the sky' (satellite technology) and 'feet on the ground' (field data collection), is what helps Xelpmoc provide information to farmers.
The world’s problems are not all solved as yet, though, as evident from the discussion on technology and the future of jobs. The panellists, comprising Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Aarin Capital Partners, R Jaggannathan, Editorial Director, Swarajya, Rahul Matthan, Partner at Trilegal, Sameer Garg, VP Market Head New Economy Group at Axis Bank, and Sanjay Anandaram, investor and startup mentor, spoke on how technology and robots were taking over jobs, which would not only require a whole new learning, but also increase joblessness.
Chiki Sarkar, Founder and Publisher, Juggernaut, and Sagarika Ghose, noted journalist and author, talked about how new mediums were changing the paradigm when it came to an industry as traditional as publishing.
While speakers in auditoriums spoke subjects as diverse as customer devotion to internet for the next 500 million Indians, the mood in the corridors was a lot more busy as entrepreneurs networked with peers and investors. In fact, one entrepreneur claimed at the beginning of the day that she had already secured funding for her venture.
The highlight of the day surely was the Tech30, a group of carefully curated startups from 2500 applications across a wide range of sectors and from all parts of the country.
Vineet Kumar, President, Cyber Peace Foundation, spoke about the many facets of cyber-crimes and the need to seek out protection. “Today, about 450 million users are connected to the internet in India, and we estimate it to grow substantially by 2020. Simply speaking, we are in the era of the ‘Internet of Things’ and as much as it may have made our lives easier, it has definitely offered its fair share of security problems,” he said, highlighting the challenge.
Speaking about how her encounter with cancer changed her life, Samara Mahindra, Founder and CEO of CARER Program, recounted the time her mother was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive type of cancer. "After diagnosis, our lives came to a complete stop." Added to that, her attempts to make cancer treatment accessible to every Indian took a while to be accepted and how she altered her strategy, overcoming self-doubt. "If you have a limiting belief about yourself, you might want to think again," she urged. "Life doesn't happen to you, you are the creator of every moment of your life. You just have to choose."
Other sessions included a talk on omnichannel and Moritz Warntjen, the Founder of Bodylisteners, speaking on why he stopped dieting.
Patenting for startups and SMEs, fundraising mistakes to avoid, a Google workshop, unit economics of the sharing economy, importance of culture in a scale-up, and startups transforming manufacturing – attendees were spoilt for choice and I might add a bit overwhelmed too, as such learning in a day was perhaps last heard of in college.
There is much to talk about and share, but am fairly certain that if you were at TechSparks2017, you must be drained after the energy overload through the day, and if you were not, anticipation must already have you counting days to TechSparks2018!
It’s a wrap for this year. The curtains might have come down on TechSparks but the stories continue. Until next year then.
(Watch out for a bigger and better TechSparks 2018. Sign up for updates now.)