Meet the stellar lineup of speakers at the 10th edition of TechSparks

At the tenth edition of YourStory TechSparks, we bring to you the poster children of the Indian startup ecosystem from Bhavish Aggarwal and Vijay Shekhar Sharma to Naveen Tewari and more.

The 10th edition of YourStory TechSparks, to be held on October 11 and 12 in Bengaluru, promises to be an unforgettable experience.

At India’s largest startup conference, we bring to you some of the best minds, top VCs from India and abroad, the poster children of the ecosystem, stalwarts from the industry, and top government officials. The conversations at TechSparks 2019 will focus on the next step - an Inclusive, Future-ready, and Intelligence-led India.

Like every year, this year’s TechSparks will bring to you creme de la crème of the Indian startup ecosystem. These are individuals with very distinct identities and whose achievements are something to be admired, learnt from, and to an extent, follow.

Take a look at some of this year’s speakers!

Bhavish Aggarwal – Co-founder and CEO, Ola

At only 35, this IIT graduate, from a small town in Punjab, has inspired millions. His venture, Ola, the ride-hailing app platform, is the first brand recall for any commuter across the country. In the last nine years, it has solved a major problem for Indian cities – mobility

As the founder, Bhavish boldly stepped into an unorganised territory of taxis and upped its ante by employing cutting-edge technology. Though ride-hailing was prevalent across major markets in the world, Bhavish attuned Ola to Indian requirements.

Today, the ride-hailing unicorn has expanded into markets like Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Now, the dream is even bigger as Bhavish wants to bring a similar revolution in the two-wheeler and electric vehicles markets. 

Vijay Shekhar Sharma – Founder and CEO, Paytm

Easily the rockstar of the Indian startup ecosystem, Vijay Shekhar Sharma has seen it all. His 18-year journey starting is marked with sheer grit and determination with engineering smarts.

Founded in 2010, Paytm continues to hold a strong pole position in the market despite fierce competition. Vijay has an innate ability to connect with the audience and give folksy wisdom, always putting the audience in splits.

The passion, exuberance and energy are all visible when Vijay takes the stage and the geeks, techies, budding entrepreneur are in rapt attention. 

Byju Raveendran – Founder and CEO, BYJU’S

Maths wizard and soccer fanatic Byju Raveendran is the founder of BYJU’S, India’s largest edtech startup. Always a teacher at heart, the teacher-turned-entrepreneur's classes were so popular that they were held at large arenas or amphitheatre-like surroundings. 

Today, BYJU’S is the undisputed leader in India’s edtech segment, having attracted the interest of marquee names like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan, Sequoia Capital, Naspers, Lightspeed Ventures, and Tencent. 

More recently, it also received investment from Qatar Sovereign Fund. There is a certain electrifying presence when this man comes on stage. So, never miss this opportunity.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy – CEO, Flipkart Group

As the head of India’s largest ecommerce platform Flipkart, it is very important to keep a calm mind while navigating through any crisis while spotting new market opportunities. Kalyan Krishnamurthy has steered Flipkart through various challenging times and is now the Chief Executive Officer of Flipkart Group

With a finance background, Kalyan entered Flipkart as a representative of Tiger Global. Since then, he has been credited with turning around things for the Walmart-owned company, solving external and internal challenges alike. 

Kalyan’s biggest achievement has been keeping the organisation together even after the founders’ exit, steadying the ship and also chartering a strong growth path. This media-shy individual prefers to remain out of the spotlight and hearing from him is one opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss.

Manu Jain – Vice President and CEO, Xiaomi India

Manu Jain has donned many hats but it is his unconventional approach, which makes him stand out in a crowd. This classic IIT-IIM graduate always did things differently.

After a four year stint at the prestigious consultancy firm Mckinsey, Manu started his entrepreneurial journey into the world of ecommerce and co-founded Jabong, an online platform for apparel. 

It was a success but he is not somebody to rest on those laurels. Striving for bigger challenges, Manu went onto to work for a Chinese mobile handset company when it was not a known brand in India at all. 

Call it marketing ingenuity or the ability to walk on the uncharted path, Manu turned Xiaomi into the undisputed market leader for mobile handsets in India. This is just the first step as he has embarked on creating the lifestyle brand of Xiaomi as well. 

Naveen Tewari – Founder and CEO, InMobi

Much before ‘unicorn’ became the buzzword for the startup community, InMobi achieved this status - in 2011 - when others in the ecosystem were still taking baby steps. 

As the founder, Naveen Tewari could be regarded as the original poster boy of the Indian startup ecosystem. He is one of those select few who understands the whole setup. 

Naveen also made his mark in the adtech space, even outthinking a global giant like Google. After the highs, when they hit air pockets, InMobi had to take certain course correction. Naveen did not hesitate to take tough decisions and successfully restored the vibrancy and the spirit of the startup. Today, he has turned InMobi into a global company with more than 20 offices

Munish Varma – Managing Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers

As the Managing Partner, EMEA and Asia, SoftBank Vision Fund, Munish Varma is always on the search for founders with the big vision. Munish is also bringing other connects in the ecosystem much needed for a startup founder who is looking for growth capital. 

This Manipal Institute of Technology graduate has an MBA from Cornell, and has worked with global banks like Nomura and Deutsche Bank. Now with SoftBank, Munish is always looking for what’s next in a startup.

As a father of two boys, he wants to inspire people to lead a life with optimism and integrity.

Thirukumaran Nagarajan – Co-founder and CEO, Ninjacart

Trading or selling of fruits and vegetables seems like a very mundane business. However, when somebody leverages technology for this business, it takes the game to a completely different level. Thirukumaran Nagarajan, or Thiru as he is more popularly known, is the co-founder of Ninjacart

This startup procures directly from farmers and supplies to various kinds of retail outlets. Thiru and his team bring the domain expertise and technology chops to create a seamless experience, handling lakh of kgs every single day. 

Thiru brings in the intensity for the operations and the ability to solve business problems with the aid of technology. At present, the startup is aiming for the national map.

Nithin Kamath – Founder and CEO, Zerodha

The dream of every entrepreneur is to build a business without a lot of outside interference. Here is an entrepreneur who turned every conventional wisdom on its head and made his startup the largest brokerage firm in India in just nine years. 

Nithin Kamath, Founder of Zerodha, was always interested in stock trading since his college days. And he turned this passion into a thriving business. The key point - he never had to seek outside money and the startup’s growth has been organic, a point of both envy and admiration. 

He is fond of saying that in today’s world, it is not the question of big beating small but fast overtaking the slow. This is amply demonstrated in his love for basketball and strumming his guitar.

Sameer Nigam – Founder and CEO, Phonepe

How does one make a mark for yourself when there is this looming presence of an established player with high visibility? It requires a calm overview of the entire environment and the business smarts to become that very credible player. 

Sameer Nigam, Founder of PhonePe, has delivered this to the T. As a part of the Flipkart Group, PhonePe did not ride on its big brother’s success but carved a niche for itself.

Today, it commands a valuation of nearly $8 billion and some estimate that it can go up to $14 billion in the medium term. Sameer has charted an ambitious road ahead for PhonePe where it will morph into a financial super app.

Sumer Juneja – Partner Asia, SoftBank Vision Fund

There is a rare breed of investors who believe in getting their hands dirty. In Sumer Juneja’s case, it was an individual who risked his stomach by checking the quality of food preparation at various outlets. The rest is history and Sumer hit the jackpot with his investment in Swiggy. 

This London School of Economics graduate has stayed in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Mumbai and is now the Partner and Head of India at SoftBank Investment Advisers. 

A prize catch for SoftBank, Sumer moved here from Norwest Venture Partners. With his global experience and understanding of different cultures, he is looking to hit another pot of gold within the entrepreneurial fervour in India.

Yashish Dahiya – Co-founder and CEO, PolicyBazaar

Yashish Dahiya, Co-founder and CEO, PolicyBazaar

Yashish Dahiya did not go for any placements after completing his MBA degree from IIM and instead, started teaching. With spontaneity and the courage to walk on an uncharted path, Yashish is known to be direct, honest, and one who does not mince any words on any subject.

With these defining traits, the entrepreneur built PolicyBazaar as a premier insurance startup in India. Always an empathetic leader, Yashish believes in leading from the front though he is also embarrassed with the unicorn status of his startup. 

Apart from work, this entrepreneur also finds time to swim, cycle, and run, even competing in the Ironman competition. 

Umang Bedi – President, Dailyhunt

Umang Bedi, President, Daily Hunt

Smooth and sophisticated with a penchant for designer goods, Umang Bedi is also a techie at heart who understands the business very well. In his very eventful career till now, he has headed the India operations of companies like Intuit, Adobe, and Facebook

In fact, he was all of 27 when was the head of Intuit India. Today, he is the President of Dailyhunt, a role steeped into the digital world. 

Sujeet Kumar – Co-founder, Udaan

In a company with outstanding achievements, there is always a group of individuals who go unnoticed or prefer to remain behind the scenes. Sujeeth exemplifies these traits as he was one of the few critical individuals who made Flipkart what it is today

Today though, one can rightfully say that he has got his place in the sun with Udaan. This startup made many sit up and wonder when it achieved the coveted unicorn status in a very short period.

It has been a long journey from a nondescript place in Bihar to reach IIT Delhi and become one of those stars for the startup ecosystem. 

Dale Vaz – Head of Engineering and Data Science, Swiggy 

His boyish looks and charm will certainly disarm many but beyond that lies a very mature individual with a massive responsibility.

As the Head of Engineering at Swiggy, Dale has to ensure that he manages millions of deliveries with pinpoint accuracy on an everyday basis. At the same time, he has to also look ahead to see what future technology to leverage to take the food delivery giant to the next step.

This needs a grip on technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data science.  For Dale, everything comes at scale from platform and innovation to technology.

William Bissell – Chairman, Fabindia

William Bissell took over Fabindia 20 years ago, and placed the khadi and ethnic product company on the retail footprint. 

Today, Fabindia is a fashion company to reckon with. William made the judicious inward vision for Fabindia by concentrating on the domestic market rather than lucrative exports. The gamble has certainly paid off as the company now has more than 100 stores across the country.

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)


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