Wharton India Economic Forum to offer startups the chance to interact and connect with investors, industry

27th Dec 2018
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To be held on January 4, the 23rd edition of Wharton India Economic Forum will host the sixth Wharton Startup Challenge, where the top 10 startups selected from over 550 applications will pitch to investors.

The 23rd edition of the Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) will be held in Mumbai on January 4, 2019. WIEF is a student-run business forum established by Wharton School, US, in 1996 to focus on India. It is considered one of the largest India-based economic and business conferences in the US.

WIEF is co-chaired by Juhi Bhatnagar, Kartik Das, Khushboo Goel, Sonal Panda, and Swati Ganeti.

The Mumbai Conference and Startup Challenge will bring together influential personalities from across the country to discuss the challenges the Indian economy is facing. Besides Wharton and Penn alumni, leaders and entrepreneurs from across categories - policy, social impact, and technology - will come together to provide insights on Indian stories, opportunities, challenges, and insights.

Plans for the 23rd edition

The conference will have panel discussions on topics like 'Energy Outlook in India', 'Future of Mobility', and 'Investing in India'. Two fireside chats are also scheduled. One of them will have Vikram Limaye, MD and CEO of National Stock Exchange of India as the speaker. Naveen Jindal, Chairman of Jindal Steel and Power, will be part of the second.

The speaker lineup will include Deepak Bagla, Former World Bank and CEO of Invest India, Startup India; Shweta Jalan, MD of Advent International; Vishal Mahadevia, MD of Warburg Pincus India; UBER APAC Head Raj Beri; Richa Chadha, actress; Rajeev Masand; film critic and entertainment reporter; and other industrial heads and individuals shaping the India dialogue today.

Juhi Bhatnagar, Co-Chair of WIEF, said, “This year's incredible lineup of speakers, judges, and startups ensures a power-packed day for Indian audiences. I am very excited for interesting conversations and inspiring startup pitches.”

The Startup Challenge

The WIEF will also host the 6th Wharton India Startup Challenge (WISC) alongside the conference.

The competition started on August 19 with more than 550 applicants. After rigorous shortlisting, 10 startups will now contest against each other. Those shortlisted this year include GoComet, Nuo, LifePage, CashPositive, AGROWAVE, Reculta Solutions, My Petrol Pump, Wink & Nod, Credenc Web Tech, and ITILITE.

WISC has grown 20x since inception and has given a platform to companies like Ketto, Zostel, and BabyChakra. Previous winners of the challenge have raised over $50 million in funding from over 20 institutional investors.

The startups were shortlisted by Indian VCs - Sequoia, Omidyar Network, Lightspeed, LightBox, and others. The finalists will have to pitch on stage to a panel of judges and engage the audience for 10 to 15 minutes. Besides that, the top 22 startups will get to exhibit in the hallways of St Regis, displaying their ideas and products and interacting with the audiences.

Judges Padmaja Ruparal of India Angel Network; Siddharth Nautiyal of Omidyar Network; Priyank Swaroop of Accel Partners; Rajinder Balaraman of Matrix Partners; and Sakshi Kapoor Chopra of Sequoia will select the top three startups.

Top 3 startups will be receiving $20,000 in cash and prizes from Amazon, Digital Ocean, and Thinqbate, and mentorship from Wharton Mentors Network.

After the pitches, two master classes will be held by Dhiraj Rajaram, Founder and CEO of Mu Sigma, and Rahul Khanna, Founder of Trifecta. These master classes will be group sessions conducted in closed setting for the WIEF audience, to takeaway a skill, idea, or concept.

The session will also see the launch of WISEMENTORS (Wharton India Startup - Expertise, Mentorship and Engagement Network To Rising Stars). This is planned as an initiative for a special network for learning and supporting startups via the Wharton alumni network - faculty and industry leaders with entrepreneurship experience.

Kartik Das, Co-chair of WIEF, said, “Apart from WIEF being a thought-provoking event with a series of diverse and innovative talks from senior leaders, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, the Wharton Startup India Challenge has also grown from strength to strength each year. This year, we are extremely proud to have launched the WIEF podcast series.”

The series so far includes snippets from Bizongo (past WISC participants), Ravi Agrawal (Managing Editor, Foreign Policy, former CNN New Delhi Bureau Chief), Harit Nagpal (CEO, TATA Sky), Neeraj Roy (CEO, Hungama), and Mr Ankur Warikoo (CEO, Nearbuy).

“The goal of the podcasts is to inspire our listeners with nuggets of wisdom. WISC hopes to create a breed of successful entrepreneurs who will continue to get the impetus to grow and drive change,” Kartik added.

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