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Gaming, fitness and AI: Here’s everything that happened on Day 1 of TechSparks Mumbai

With the who’s who of the startup ecosystem coming together to engage in important conversations, the TechSparks Mumbai edition has begun. Here are some of the important highlights from day 1.

Gaming, fitness and AI: Here’s everything that happened on Day 1 of TechSparks Mumbai

Thursday February 29, 2024 , 4 min Read

‘Yeh shehar nahi, sapno ki nagri hai’ (This place is not just a city but a city of dreams)

After Bengaluru and Delhi, India’s biggest startup tech fest—TechSparks, has now arrived in the business capital of India, Mumbai.

TechSparks Mumbai Day One saw a confluence of the vanguards of tomorrow from startups, corporates, and the investor community.

The day kicked off with an insightful session by the Fortune India 500 leader and FMCG veteran Harsh Mariwala, Chairman of Marico Limited, who spilled some secrets on building an everlasting business. 

He spoke about Marico Ltd's strategy to acquire direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, which has helped it grow massively. In the same vein, he highlighted the barriers present in the entry to consumer space.

“The first three to four years [of FMCG in India] saw very few new companies springing up. But with the advent of the digital revolution, we started noticing that the entry barriers in terms of distribution and the need to spend money on marketing are going down,” Mariwala said. 

Gaming, fitness and more

In another interesting fireside chat, Trivikraman Thampy and Bhavin Pandya, Co-founders of Games24x7, delved deep into how technology can be an enabler in levelling up online gaming startups. 

During the chat, Thampy also informed that the VC arm of the company, Games24x7 Ventures, is working with entrepreneurs who are building long-lasting companies.

The day also saw Sagar Daryani, Co-founder and CEO of Wow! Momo Foods, share his tips on building an iconic homegrown food brand.

Although edtech, AI, and web3 did capture most of the conversation, fitness did not leave the chat.

While Akshay Verma, Co-founder of FITPASS, emphasised the importance of founders investing in employee fitness, Mariwala highlighted that fitness has to involve a holistic approach that integrates physical fitness with mental, spiritual, and emotional wellness.

Next, CEO and Co-founder of KreditBee, Madhusudhan Ekambaram talked about providing instant credit for ‘middle India’, throwing light on the ups and downs the lending industry faced during the pandemic.

Sharing his thoughts on the growing regulatory action around unsecured lending, he said, "The RBI wants to stabilise the growth to see if there is any systemic risk since there has been a spurt in digital lending."

Artificial intelligence

Post lunch, artificial intelligence dominated the discussions as Amit Kumar, Director and Head of Digital Native Sales at Google Cloud India, elaborated on the potential of the technology. 

He emphasised that instead of viewing AI as a standalone solution, the focus should be on envisioning how it can benefit customers and contribute to achieving business goals.

Additionally, Aakrit Vaish, Co-founder and CEO of Reliance Industries-backed conversational AI platform Haptik advised entrepreneurs not to rush into AI without understanding its value.

“Think about the customer backwards: about the product I'm trying to build, who does it service, where are we going to make money and then build your startup," he advised the founders,” he said.

The elephant in the room: edtech 

Ronnie Screwvala—Chairperson and Co-founder of upGrad—shared some leadership lessons needed to sail through chaotic times as the edtech sector adjusts to its new reality. 

"No amount of funding can actually build a solid business if you don’t set out to build a business... That penny has to drop with everyone,” he said in response to a question about the turmoil facing the edtech sector, particularly BYJU'S.

He believes that edtech does not require funding but needs “frugal innovation.”

Taking the conversation about edtech ahead, Rajendra S Pawar, Chairman and Co-founder of NIIT Group shared his thoughts.

“For people anxious about this edtech up and down – this too shall pass. Ups and downs will happen, that's the nature of the world. There will be different players at different times, many will grow and there will be mis-steps. But it will pass,” he said. 

The day came to a close with a fireside chat with Gaurav Munjal, Co-founder and CEO of Unacademy who shared insights into the entrepreneurial journey, building ethical guidelines for selling edtech products, and highlighted the importance of focusing on profitability for long-term success.

“Raising capital is the best year for a startup. This is my 9th year and we want to pull off the best IPO in the edtech sector…Some very good edtech companies are being built and when one of us goes public in the sector, the faith is going to come back," he added.

Day 1 was action-packed, but hold onto your seats because Day 2 is packed with even more exciting and insightful sessions featuring the who's who of the startup world.

See you tomorrow!

Lastly, check out our amazing gifting partners: QUBO, Talentplace Ai, IRIS, True Elements, Pepitos Snacks, Snaqary, Natch Snacks, Sleepy Owl, Fearless Tea and Getknotty.

And a special shoutout to our sustainability partner, Beco.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti