[Startup Bharat] Kerala CM woos startups from across the globe to make God’s Own Country their base

The second edition of KSUM’s Huddle saw participation from over 1,500 individuals, 30 exhibitors, 40 speakers, and 1,100 startups.

Kerala has been paving its way to the startup map of India. Last week, the Kerala Startup Mission held the second edition of Huddle 2019, a coveted event in the tech startup ecosystem. The event was attended by all stakeholders from the ecosystem, including government officials, investors, mentors, and industry heads.

Inaugurating the second edition of ‘Huddle Kerala’ - Asia’s largest startup convergence - at Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said:

“The state welcomes startups from abroad and other parts of India to consider making Kerala as their base for India, Middle East, and Southeast Asia for business efforts.”

The two-day event, held on September 27 and 28, was marked with activities, including leadership talks, tech talks, fireside chat, beach side huddle, startup demo, as well as an expo.

The conference was attended by over 1,500 individuals, 30 exhibitors, 40 speakers and 1,100 startups. Christopher Issac Biz Stone, Co-founder, Twitter, also joined the meet through a video conference.

The speaker line-up included the who’s who of the industry, including Shruti Kannan, Head, Launchpad Startup Accelerator, Cisco; Anubhav Jain, Head of Lending, RazorPay Capital; Manish Daswani, Director, Business Solutions, India and South Asia, VISA; Varghese Cherian, MD and SVP of Builder.AI; Dilip RS, Country Manager, India Alexa Skills; Anil Joshi, Founder and Managing Partner, India Unicorn Ventures; Ajit Mohan, VP and MD, India, Facebook; Pooja Ravishankar, Head, Category Marketing at Bigbasket; and Saurabh Jain,Head, Build for India, Paytm, among others.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the inauguration session of Huddle 2019

The event was organised by KSUM in association with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The speaker line-up included serial entrepreneurs, investors, academia, government officials, and industry bigwigs from across the globe.

The event mostly focused on the emerging and future tech sectors, including blockchain, IoT, AI, big data, digital entertainment, AR, VR, drone technology, UI/UX and e-gov/ m-gov, among others.

Women in entrepreneurship

During the inaugural session, Vijayan also announced the launch of the Kerala edition of WING -Women Rise Together, an initiative by Startup India, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), for capacity development of women entrepreneurs in the country.

The WING programme will identify and support both aspiring and established women entrepreneurs in their startup journeys through workshops and access to incubation, investors, and various business support services.

“We understand the potential of mobilising the women entrepreneurs in the country. Through this Capacity Development Programme, we want to bring women to the forefront of innovation and support them with various benefits like incubation, mentorship, investments, etc. to help them grow,” said Anil Agrawal, Joint Secretary, DPIIT, during the launch.

The first four workshops have been planned in Thrissur, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Calicut in Kerala.

Platform for startups

Besides the knowledge sessions, 50 startups were also provided with a platform to pitch their ideas to a panel that included industry majors. Later, five startups were shortlisted to tie-up with major companies.

Startup RIOD Logic, an industrial IoT electronic manufacturer focusing on smart factory automation, condition monitoring, and predictive maintenance, tied up with footwear manufacturer VKC Group; Rent-a-car service provider Indus Go joined hands with TERGA, which uses AI, ML, and blockchain for enterprise payments and other related services.

DScribe.AI, which focuses on ML, AI, and Natural Language Processing, tied up with Perfit; and Codevector Labs, an AI software company that builds deep-tech products, collaborated with retail and fashion sector conglomerate Future Group.

Fostering startups

Christopher Issac Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter and an angel investor, announced during the inaugural session that he will be investing in Kochi-based startup, Sieve. While it is Twitter's first major initiative in the state, the funding amount remained undisclosed.

Social media major Facebook also took the opportunity to announce that it is planning to invest in tech startups in the country.

Ajit Mohan, India Head, Facebook, said:

“We now have shown willingness to make direct investments in technology startups in India. We are willing to spend our time and energy to tap the massive depth of engineering talent in the country.”

He also added that their first minority investment in India was in Meesho, which was able to bring around two lakh, first-time female entrepreneurs, online.

MoUs exchanged

Besides this, three major memorandum of understandings (MoUs) were signed between the KSUM and the startup ecosystem enablers, including Future Group, OPPO Mobiles, and Wadhwani Foundation.

An MoU was also signed between SpacePark, Government of Kerala, and Orbital Micro Systems for cooperation in building a ‘Global Earth Observation Centre-of- Excellence’ at Thiruvananthapuram.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)


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