There are startup workshops and then are startup workshops. In a recent initiative by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German federal enterprise that strives towards international cooperation, and the Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA) incubator Marathwada Accelerator for Growth & Incubation Centre (MAGIC), Startup Weekend was organised in Aurangabad to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in small towns of India.
The intention of the Startup Weekend was to lay the template for future engagement between academia and industry to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in small towns in India.
Attended by over 50 engineering graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs, the event successfully achieved in providing a starting point to those thinking of starting their own venture without moving to the metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, or Bengaluru, where startup culture thrives.
“This was a good initiative,” said Pawan Rochwani, a participant who runs his own startup. “Usually, we have to travel to Mumbai or Pune to interact with entrepreneurs and mentors to network and understand the opportunities available to people like me,” he said.
Talking about Aurangabad, located in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, President of CMIA Prasad Kokil said it was part of the ancient silk trade route that went all the way to Rome, adding that the region has entrepreneurship in its DNA. Noting that the culture of entrepreneurship had declined since then, Kokil said the CMIA has been able to reignite it in its 50 years of existence.
move a step ahead, CMIA launched its incubator MAGIC to give a boost to tech entrepreneurship and innovation that could help the existing industries, especially auto industry in the region. He added that usually students have very good ideas but they mostly end up as college projects. “So there's a gap between the point where the ideas start and turn into a viable business opportunity. Events like the Startup Weekend will be able to bridge the journey between the idea generation and establishment of a business enterprise,” he said.
Aurangabad is a mature industrial destination and houses many large, medium and small-scale industries, including multinationals. The business incubator MAGIC thus liaisons with the industries for startup and innovation opportunities. The city has around 18 engineering colleges, and there is a lot of local talent available to make a good go of nurturing entrepreneurship in the region.
The three-day workshop in the first week of December was intensive and participants received hands-on mentoring and guidance on how to put their business ideas to work. There were sessions by entrepreneur mentors who spoke about how to pitch to investors, convince potential employees, and onboard customers. The hands-on work they did on the Business Model Canvas (BMC) tool aided by the mentors also made the most impact.
On the final day of the workshop, the participants pitched their ideas to the mentors. Among the three winning teams, the first prize was bagged by an agro-based solution that proposed to use data analytics from the health of the soil other factors to help farmers decide what crops to grow.
The second winning team Dextart presented their idea of a digital platform where artists, dancers, and actors could collaborate with individuals or corporates to provide part-time gigs.
The third winning team, ASGO, presented its idea of a customised gifting solution. They were quick to point out that they would target the industrial and business communities of Aurangabad to be their first customers.
Clearly, no better outcome of a three-day workshop than to see the participants think of solutions around them.