Work with one of India's fastest growing Media & Entertainment networks, Viacom18: Apply for VStEP 2.0


A Viacom18 initiative for the startup community, VStEP 2.0 (Viacom18 Startup Engagement Program) is inviting startups to co-innovate and offer solutions for challenges being faced by the media industry today. Apply Now!

Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats with the VStEP First Class startups at the Demo day

In the first edition of VStEP, five startups with unique solutions and value propositions conducted multiple PoCs with Viacom18 to solve business challenges. Three of these startups have become business partners of Viacom18 after graduating from the First Class of VStEP in 2018.

Following the successful first edition of VStEP, Viacom18 is happy to announce VStEP 2.0, inviting startups from across India to innovate and showcase innovative solutions and disruptive technologies for the company and the media and entertainment industry, at large.

VStEP offers aspiring and existing entrepreneurs alike, an opportunity to work with Viacom18 in order to build a strategic engagement. The program offers access to Viacom18’s extensive network and expertise to help startups find the right product/market fit. Dedicated mentoring and advice from Viacom18’s leadership team makes VStEP one of India’s most engaging corporate initiatives for the startup community.

The VStEP model

The program is a pilot-driven 3-step program. Once shortlisted, the startups are invited to work with internal business units at Viacom18 to understand the problem statement better in order to come up with solutions. They then go on to jointly deliver PoCs across various business units and functions. This format helps startups implement their solution in close tandem with the existing teams on the ground. Real time feedback and guidance helps shape the solution into a more mature and robust offering thus developing it into a sustainable and dependable business model for the industry.

Over 200 applications were received for the first edition of VStEP. Tessact, Karza Technologies, Entropik Technologies, Firmway and vPhrase were the startups that graduated from the First Class of VStEP in mid-2018.

Tessact, a Mumbai-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics startup has been closely working on a number of projects with Viacom18. Speaking about their experience, Apurv Gandhwani, co-founder of Tessact said, “Working with multiple teams in a big company can get exhausting for a nimble startup. But this hasn’t been our experience at Viacom18.”

Sidharth Kedia, Head - Corporate Strategy, M&A & Data Sciences & Dy. CCO, Viacom18

Speaking about a thriving culture of innovation in Viacom18 Sidharth Kedia, Head - Corporate Strategy, M&A & Data Sciences & Dy. CCO, Viacom18 who also leads VStEP said, “At Viacom18, we propel ourselves on the back of innovation to stay true to our brand promise of ‘Open new worlds’. Working with startups helps us address challenges and capitalise on opportunities in a fast-paced manner. It helps us stay close and embrace the wave of technological disruption which is impacting businesses across industries. VStEP particularly, is a huge opportunity for startups since it provides them an opportunity to work with an industry leader on actual business problems. The program certainly will help startups in India establish themselves as proven solution providers.

VStEP 2.0

Currently open for applications, VStEP 2.0 will introduce participation from angel investors, industry experts and the VC community. Once shortlisted, the product or solution will be presented to panels consisting of Viacom18 leadership team and the investors. Post these presentations, the VStEP 2.0 cohort would be formed and the startups would be engaged in live PoCs with different business units across Viacom18. On completion, these PoCs would be evaluated on certain success criteria and then taken forward accordingly.

Eleven 'Problem Statements' and seven 'Focus Areas' across various functions have been identified and outlined for startups to present solutions. While the 'Focus Areas' are broader aspects where the program seeks new suggestions and innovations from the startup ecosystem, the 'Problem Statements' are immediate and pertain to specific requirements of the businesses, and are best solved through focused solutions.

Existing startups with solutions that can be adapted for the Media and Entertainment industry are also invited to participate and apply for VStEP 2.0

Problem statements

  • Music/song detection and recognition
  • Competition summary using online public sources
  • Automation of competition benchmarking reports
  • Cash flow reporting
  • Treasury management system
  • Invoice scanning solutions
  • Technology-led database management system for influencers and media
  • Intelligent transcription and translation (speech to text)
  • Rate music and artists by analyzing data from multiple online sources
  • Analytics dashboard integrating multiple systems
  • Storyboarding for kids

Focus areas

  • Audience measurement and consumer segmentation
  • Monitoring and measuring ‘below the line’ marketing campaigns
  • Blockchain solutions for media and entertainment
  • Financial forecasting and control & operations
  • Customer retention solutions for digital platforms
  • Customer acquisition effectiveness for digital platforms
  • AR/VR for media & entertainment

Experts from Viacom18 and the external startup ecosystem will engage with startups on a wide range of topics from fundraising essentials, business development with corporates, talent acquisition, etc. The themes for these masterclasses will be chosen in consultation with the startups, to help them gain maximum benefit. The masterclasses will help entrepreneurs build solutions that the industry can benefit from as well as prepare them to build a successful and sustainable business.

Program timeline

Applications window – currently open

Pitch day – January 2019

Pilot stage – February 2019 – May 2019

Final demo day – June 2019

Applications open now

VStEP is your opportunity to showcase the tangible impact that your product or solution can bring, as well as tap into bigger business opportunities. The curated mentorship sessions and connects to investors and ecosystem players are some of the ways in which VStEP’s co-innovation opportunity is a sure win-win.

Startups interested in being a part of the program can apply here.


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