[TechSparks 2020] Day 3 highlights: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman, Byju Raveendran, and more

Day 3 of TechSparks 2020 began with an exclusive keynote by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, followed by an important message by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Day three at TechSparks 2020 encapsulated a level of discourse in the startup ecosystem rarely seen before — we had policymakers discussing India’s ‘aatmanirbhar’ journey; CRED’s Kunal Shah spilling the beans on toxicity in the startup ecosystem and how to combat it; Sequoia’s Shailendra Singh talking about the few positives of the pandemic, and Byju Raveendran of BYJU'S encouraging more innovation in the edtech sector, among others.

We began the day with an exclusive keynote by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology, where he commended YourStory for igniting change through positive and inspirational storytelling.

He also spotlighted the role of startups in Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the potential of the new-age economy, and the importance of technology in driving innovation.

Union Minister for Electronics and IT, Law and Justice and Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also joined us for an inspiring fireside conversation, lauding the resilience of Indian businesses during the pandemic, and urged stakeholders to engage with the government and talk about what the government needs to do to further stimulate the economy.

“As young people of the country, tell us (the government) what is not happening. I, for one, will take this seriously. Do ask questions; we are here to answer. What is not happening is certainly something that I want you all to speak about," she said.

Sitharaman’s also commended the brawn and muscle shown by the business sector in shrugging off hits from the pandemic and standing up to say “we can do this”.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaking at TechSparks 2020

If you thought the pandemic is a bad time to take the entrepreneurial plunge, Puneet Chandok, President of India and South Asia at Amazon Internet Services, disagrees. In a riveting keynote, he elaborated on why this is the actually the "right time to start-up".

Then, in a virtual fireside chat with Shradha Sharma, Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO of BYJU'S, revealed that he would gladly spend $500 million on the edtech sector if he could.

“There has never been a better time to start up in this sector. If you’re passionate about the sector and want to make an impact, there’s a lot more to do. There are hardly any large companies in this sector and there are several opportunities and problems to be solved in this space,” he said.

Sequoia Capital’s MD Shailendra Singh spoke about building enduring companies in a post-pandemic world, and how, even though the pandemic caused several challenges, one bright spot was the way it boosted digital adoption and the startup economy.

As SMBs reel under the effects of COVID-19, Facebook has been assisting the sector in their digital transformation efforts and get back on their feet.

Archana Vohra, Director, Small and Medium Business, Facebook India, joined us at TechSparks 2020 and explained how the tech giant has taken several measures to enable SMBs to become resilient — such as grants, business resource hubs, brand incubator programmes, advertiser programmes, and more.

Next came second-time entrepreneur Kunal Shah, Founder and CEO of CRED, who dropped some much-needed truth bombs about the startup world. In a no-holds-barred conversation, Kunal spoke about the unglamorous journey of starting up and running a company.

“The system makes it extremely hard for young entrepreneurs to succeed. If, as a country, we keep ridiculing risk-takers, we will always be a nation of job seekers," he said.

Actor-turned-entrepreneur Kunal Kapoor then took the ‘stage’ to talk about the challenges of starting a crowdfunding startup, building a social-tech product, and why regular updates and transparency are vital to the success of a crowdfunding platform.

In an inspiring closing keynote, legendary venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande said that the real gift of life is when “you wake up in the morning and you are excited about the day”.

Desh categorised people into three kinds: people who are oblivious, people who complain, and people who are excited to find a problem. He believes the middle category is the one to keep an eye on.

“We need to slowly start changing complainers to entrepreneurs…because complainers will have problems and can be problem solvers,” he said. 

Tomorrow is a new day that will feature Ola’s brains and brawn Bhavish Aggarwal; the ever-so-humble PC Mustafa, Co-founder and CEO of ID Fresh; Licious’ Abhay Hanjura, and NPCI’s Dilip Asbe, among others.

For more information on TechSparks 2020, check out our TechSparks 2020 website. Sign up here to join the event.

TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta


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