As India marked National Startup Day on January 16 this year, the Rajasthan government continued ramping up its efforts to engage with the startup community in the state, with a number of events at Techno Hub, Jaipur and iStart Nest centres in various divisional headquarters.
Kicking things off in Jaipur, iStart Rajasthan — the state government’s flagship startup program — signed an MoU with JITO, Centre of excellence. This was followed by the Rajasthan chapter of TiE hosting their TYE pitching competition at the Bhamashah Techno Hub. The competition saw 410 registrations from 16 schools from across Rajasthan, the highest number across editions held so far. After entrepreneurship masterclasses and focused one-on-one mentoring by TiE mentors, the top 25 pitches were shortlisted who presented their business ideas to a jury. The top three teams — TAPMI, School Banking Association, and Orenth — received cash prizes of Rs 10,000 to build a working prototype for their ideas, while 20 other awards were also presented to teams in various categories to motivate them on their startup journey.
A fireside chat and interactive discussion on ‘Startup Ecosystem’ with Mandar Joshi, Executive Chairman, MStrategy Global and Sumit Srivastawa, Founder and CEO, Startup Chaupal was also organised, which saw a number of startup founders and entrepreneurs in attendance.
The iStart Nest in Bikaner, meanwhile, hosted three knowledge sessions for startups, on ‘Fundraising techniques’, by Anuj Ahuja, Founder, Studybase Tech Pvt Ltd; on ‘Company formation’ by Dinesh Sharma, C.A.; and another on ‘Tech development’ by Mr. Devendra Tiwari, H.O.D., CS Dept., BTU – Bikaner. At iStart Nest in Kota, a Startup Bootcamp was organised, with Luv Agarwal, WFC Venture Partner, BNI Kota Region Director; Vijay Johar, Certified Business Coach, Action COACH USA and Entrepreneur; and Vipul Paliwal – Certified Business Coach, Action COACH USA and Entrepreneur. An investor workshop with Nitin Jain, Chairman, JITO Jodhpur was also held at iStart Nest in Jodhpur.
More than 40 engineering students attended sessions at the iStart Nest in Bharatpur, along with startups founders, which included a talk on ‘Company formation’ by iStart mentor Deepesh Vishwakarma and a tour of the incubation centre. At the iStart Nest in Udaipur, attendees also participated in a session on Intellectual Property Rights by Brijesh Chauhan, Facilitator/IT Mitra.
While most sessions each venue covered a number of topics to help founders learn about the startup journey — such as fundraising, tech scaling, and more — the overarching theme across venues was the introduction and familiarisation of startups, investors, industry leaders, and other stakeholders with the Rajasthan Startup Policy 2022, that was launched at the Rajasthan DigiFest Jodhpur in November last year. The policy aims to promote Rajasthan as a hub for innovation and boost startup growth across industry verticals such as agriculture, education, healthcare, and fintech; increase job opportunities for and upskill youth; and encourage diversity and sustainability within the startup ecosystem.
The Rajasthan Investor Conclave was also hosted at Techno Hub in Jaipur on January 16 and 17, 2023, as part of the National Startup Day events. Organised in partnership with Jaipur-based virtual incubator and fundraising platform Startup Chaupal, the conclave is a common platform for startups and investors to network and find opportunities for partnerships.
Anuj said the response from the startup community for the National Startup Day events at Bikaner was ‘overwhelming’. “After the sessions, a number of entrepreneurs were inspired to register their startups. This is a way we can give back to the ecosystem. There’s definitely a connection with the startups for these kinds of events — when people see that others can do it, they feel they can do it too. Things are also evolving really fast and when they see companies from their own hometowns growing and scaling, it definitely inspires them. I wish these sessions were there when we were coming out of college as well,” Anuj shared.
Luv and Vipul, who led the startup bootcamp session in Kota, added that these events helped show that Rajasthan’s startups helped create real employment in the state, as well as helped people understand the startup ecosystem better. Vipul explained, “A lot of founders think that traditional businesses are different from startups — but both fields are governed by the same principles. The only differentiator is that startups usually grow faster, and aim for funding to save time before scaling, while businesses are mostly bootstrapped,” while Luv said, “When we’re trying to build an ecosystem, it’s important that the general public is also part of them. We as a people are very risk averse in general. But events like these can promote a healthy mindset of startups and the ecosystem, and also give people the idea of investing.”
About the importance of hosting such events for startups, Tapan Kumar, SA Joint Director at Rajasthan’s Department of Information Technology and Communication said, “Our burgeoning startup ecosystem is testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Rajasthan. While the government engages with startups on a regular basis throughout the year, by having National Startup Day-specific events it helps shine a spotlight on the various career and business options available for the youth of the state, and allows for the growth of an innovation-led ecosystem for sustainable development across industries.”