Presenters pitching their ideas to investors at the IIT Demo Day event, along with the emcee (l) at HPE Auditorium, in Palo Alto, Calif., Jan. 24. (All photos: Amar D. Gupta/Siliconeer)
The title says it all. Fourteen innovative startups pitching to a packed hall: VCs, Angels, and venture firms. Each pitch lasting for no more than four minutes, the founders had to ensure that they had articulated a compelling story about their business to the esteemed audience. The diverse portfolio of startups presented their case on January 24th, at the HPE Auditorium in Silicon Valley. Various areas such as HealthTech, Robotics, E-commerce, Fintech, and more were covered by the budding entrepreneurs.
Nutanix, Juniper Networks, and Sun Microsystems have one thing in common: at least one IITian has helped bring it into existence. In fact, thousands of reputable companies have been co-founded by a fellow IITian. After all, IIT alums are the 4th largest unicorn (billion-dollar startup) creators, behind Stanford, Harvard, and UC Berkeley.
Over 11,000 IIT alumni in the Bay Area and many of them being successful entrepreneurs, a chunk of these IITians created a coalition, IIT Startups, with a mission: educate and mentor the next wave of startups and unicorns by IITians.
“IITians are among the best with technology, but a successful startup needs much more,” said Monishi Sanyal, Founder and President of IIT Startups. “Our goal is to arm them with the entrepreneurial skills they need to attract investments and build a successful business.”
IIT Startups provides skill-building programs through a series of workshops and active mentoring. Workshops cover all business aspects of a startup’s journey, from concept to reality. Along with the workshops are 1-on-1 mentoring programs provided to a cohort of qualifying startups. The mentors are selected from a pool (currently 50+) of successful serial entrepreneurs. After a three-month period of rigorous coaching, unique startups are introduced to venture capitalists, angel funds, and influencers at Demo Day. Since its launch in January 2018, about thirty startups have pitched to at least one prominent figure at the IIT Startups Demo Day.
The most recent Demo Day hosted 14 innovative startups focusing on health, robotics, e-commerce, Fintech, transportation, sports, Cybersecurity, EdTech, and enterprise technology. Held at the HPE Auditorium, Demo Day witnessed about 300 attendees consisting of 50+ VCs, Angels, and 10+ Corporate Venture groups. IIT Startups’ Demo Day event gave startups a platform for the attention they were vying for. Each pitch lasted about four minutes and the entrepreneurs managed to articulate a compelling story about their business to the investors.
Kicking off the event with a keynote address by Consul General of India, Sanjay Panda. He spoke about India’s innovative initiatives. Following the address, were power-packed startup pitches and an evening of live demos.
With many startups focusing mainly on AI and Blockchain technology today, it was a welcoming change to see IITians think outside the box and solve problems that a South Asian in Silicon Valley faces today.
For example, going grocery shopping in an Indian store has become a tedious process, simply because of the time it takes to go to an Indian store, find the products, and then wait in a long line because everyone loves going there. Imagine a service where that could be eliminated, and the Maggi could come to you instead. Laying a platform for such a service, Grihsthi has created an ‘Amazon Fresh’ for the South Asian market.
One more entrant was Arevea, an integrated end-to-end event management platform that enables customers to create, plan, collaborate, find and book vendor services and invite guests for any type of Corporate event. Vendors can run their entire business operations on the vendor portal. Organizations can manage their users, approval workflows and access real-time event spend data / reporting. The platform can be used by Corporate customers, Event planning organizations/event planners, venues and vendors.
Others thinking outside the box include Invii: a personal companion for your family and GameLore: an assistant for sports training.
The event concluded with a networking session over cocktails and dinner.
IIT Startups has done a phenomenal job of creating a platform for aspiring IITians to gain publicity and connect with experts for potential success. Demo Days gives us a taste of what tomorrow holds for us and it is indeed exciting, as well as, unimaginable.
The next cohort of startups is open for applications and is due to kick-off in March. If you are an IIT graduate with a brilliant business idea or know of one, then reach out to IIT Startups at firstname.lastname@example.org for an opportunity to participate in the next Demo Day.