The second edition of the Maharashtra Startup Week, organised by the Maharashtra State Innovation Society (MSInS), focused on agriculture, healthcare, sustainability (water management, waste management and clean tech), smart infra and mobility, skilling and other miscellaneous sectors, with 100 startups making pitches to an eminent jury panel that comprised Sudhir Srivastava, Chairman, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board; Gunjan Shukla, CFO, Paypal India; Dileep Mangsuli, CTO, GE Healthcare; Aarti Wig, CEO & Co-Founder, Yunus Social Business India; Dr. Surendra Kumar Bagde, General Manager, B.E.S.T. and representatives from Intellecap, Bharat Innovation Fund, Omidyar Network, Acumen, among others.
24 winning startups across the aforementioned sectors emerged as winners and will be awarded work orders of up to Rs 15 lakh each by Government of Maharashtra. Over 1500 applicants applied to the Maharashtra Startup Week from across India.
The winning startups include:
● SatSure – The startup uses remote sensing tech, Machine Learning and Big Data analytics to ensure growth and security of food farmers.
● Earth Analytics India – The startup uses drone and satellite data to analyse changes in agriculture, forestry and infrastructure.
● Sansaavi Bioresearch – The startup builds handheld devices for pesticide residue detection and tests adulteration in farming.
● Jai Kisan – The startup provides small farm holders with low cost and timely finance for agricultural equipment, dairy equipment, etc.
● Impact Guru – The startup is an app-based medical crowdfunding platform.
● Ayu Devices – The startup creates low-cost digital stethoscope for better rural healthcare.
● Niramai Health – The startup has a portable screening tool to detect breast cancer at the initial stage.
● Print2Block – The startup builds infrastructure solutions to issue true digital documents on blockchain networks.
● CrossForge – The blockchain startup solves the problem of forgery of documents.
● OMiOM Cleantech - The startup provides tech innovations to help produce clean water, clean air and clean energy.
● Chakr Innovation – The startup recycles pollution by converting diesel soot into ink and paints.
● Recity Network – The urban development startup supports governments and corporate manufacturers in building solutions
for solid waste management.
● Urdhvam Environmental Technologies – The startup provides end-to-end groundwater management solutions.
● Gorgonian Tech – The startup designs and manufactures custom wind turbines for building wall surfaces.
● WEGoT Utility Solutions – The startup has a multi-channel system that provides critical information on Water, Electricity and Gas to urban households.
● Humble Shit – The startup monitors public toilets and improves their usability in urban spaces.
● Planys Technologies – The startup builds underwater robots for inspection of ports, dams, bridges & oil and gas.
● Minkville – The startup is providing digital payment solutions which can help tribals, illiterates and villager go cashless without internet.
● Phi Commerce – The startup is an omni-channel payment processing platform which processes digital payments at the doorstep.
● LetsEndorse – The startup works towards improving the quality of school education and learning outcomes of children from low-income communities in Ind.
● Ennoble Social Innovations – The startup identifies social infrastructural problems and develops low-cost product solutions for the underprivileged.
● Tisser Rural Handicrafts – The startup is a network supporting rural artisans who hand weave products and artifacts.
● Dimension NXG – The startup builds Mixed Reality solutions for healthcare.
● ScoutMyTrip – The startup is a community-driven road trip planning platform.
Besides the 100 sector-wise startup pitches, which were the highlight of the event, the event also included keynote sessions and workshops by renowned experts like Bharath Visweswariah (Omidyar Network), Ronnie Screwvala (UpGrad), Shri Jay Krishnan (SRI Capital, Ex-T Hub), Bala Girisaballa (Techstars & ex-Microsoft Accelerator), Vineet Rai (Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group), and others. There were also insightful workshops by Google on ‘Machine Learning’ and Lexstart on ‘Fundraising for Startups’.
Virendra Singh (IAS), CEO of MSInS kicked off the event by elaborating on the platform the Maharashtra government looks to create with the Startup Week.
He said, “The Maharashtra Startup Week provides a single platform where new innovators can get a further leap of growth. We believe that startups will help in a great way as far as governance is concerned. And, MSInS doesn’t just want startups to come together, network and scale up, but also takes care of nursing and training them, so that the overall climate for innovation in the state improves.”
Vineet Rai, Founder and Chairman of Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group, stressed upon the importance of investing in Bharat. He said, “Money and talent is a problem everywhere, but we have to build scalable businesses in rural India. That’s why we started a fund like Aavishkaar to fund rural innovation across the country. We have to follow an ecosystem approach and be ready to build ground up, create local networks, and use technology as a significant enabler. The human challenge can be overcome with tech.”
Rai further said that startups must think about building scale right from the start, and not at a later stage. “You must think about scale from Day 1 itself. The rewards will not come on Day 1, but you must carry on and attract the government by creating scale,” he said.
In perhaps the most inspiring keynote of the day, serial entrepreneur and Founder of UpGrad, Ronnie Screwvala told founders to stop consuming the media when they’re building a company. “Perception is never reality. Glorified stories in the media are just a tail remark. If you read just that, you don't understand the struggles of an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of resilience in the entrepreneur to believe that he is in here for the long run,” he explained.
Sharing perspectives on scaling, Bala G, head of US-based Techstars & former MD of Microsoft Accelerator, said: “We have to focus. We tend to do too many things. We can scale up when we focus on creating deep pockets, and be in places where you are part of your tribe. Each entrepreneur should look at creating shared value.”
The last day witnessed an interesting panel discussion on ‘Making Maharashtra More Attractive For Startups: Roadmap To The Future’ with Namita Dalmia, Principal Investments, Omidyar Network, Pooja Dhingra, founder, Le 15, Mayank Kumar, MD & CEO, UpGrad, Pranay Gupta, Co-founder, 91 Springboard. The panel was moderated by Virendra Singh, CEO, Maharashtra State Innovation Society.
At the Startup Week, MSInS also unveiled the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator, an executive development programme that seeks to build a global network of innovation policy entrepreneurs. It is funded by the Newton-Bhabha partnership through UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK along with Indian partners and is delivered by a Nesta-led consortium of UK organisations with local support from India’s Centre for Technology, Innovation and Economic Research (CTIER).
Janak Nabar, CEO of CTIER, said: “One of the strengths of this programme is that it enables the teams to be part of a global network of policymakers with access to best practices not only from the UK, but also from other innovation systems in Latin America and South East Asia.”
“I would like to congratulate the MeitY team for taking the lead in representing a team from the Centre, and the Maharashtra State Innovation Society for pushing for greater innovation not only in the private sector but also within government by sending and supporting the Maharashtra team on the programme,” he added.
The event also showcased VC Mixer/Expo where 38 startups and 40+ investors got a platform to interact and showcase their innovations to senior government officials, investors, and corporates.
After a successful Maharashtra Startup Week, the state is gearing for an innovative future. With 3977 startups and 16 incubators in their ecosystem, MSInS has several other initiatives like the District Business Plan Competition, a platform for innovators, students and startups across Maharashtra to pitch their ideas, and Hirkani Maharashtra Chi, an initiative for women Self Help Groups (SHGs) to showcase their innovations and entrepreneurial skills at the district and state level. With the government on the way to transforming Maharashtra, the good news is that startups are onboard the journey too.