BENGALURU: The top-notch extravaganza of Conquest 2017, the 13th edition of BITS Pilani’s international startup challenge finally furled up on a high note at Hyatt Regency in New Delhi. With DCB Bank as the title sponsor, Conquest has been a paradise for startups, providing them with a chance to voice their ideas, network with industry leaders, and secure incubation and funding opportunities.
The Grand Finale concluded by bestowing its winner’s tag on ‘Recopro', which manufactures recyclable paper pallets which are cheaper, stronger, and greener than the traditional wood counterparts. The runner up position was bagged by ‘Incredible Devices’, which works on providing affordable treatment techniques for CVD, a disease with a fatality rate of 80 percent. Both the winner and the runner-up have been awarded Rs.250,000 and Rs.150,000 of equity less cash funding.
BITS Pilani’s International Startup Conclave, Conquest is an initiative incepted in 2004. The 13th version of Conquest unlocked a couple of revamped models and success stories with a lot more promise exuding from Conquest 2017. The edition, in association with Zoho, Accel, WNS, and PayU, raked in 1000+ startup applications and in partnership with Letsventure filtered the number down to the Top 50. The demographics and sectors of the registered startups were variegated in equal measure, making the competition pan-India with a few foreign applicants. The number was brought down to the Top 50 based on a rigorous scrutiny spread across 36 extensive parameters.
The top 50 startups were then mentored on a one-on-one basis in mentoring sessions held at Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. The networking sessions witnessed attendance from the likes of Meera Iyer (CMO, Big Basket), Ashish Goel (Head of Product, Zomato), and Suvonil Chatterjee (former CDO, Housing), and Flipkart. The secretary of the Technology Development Board and the Guest of Honor for the Grand Finale, Dr. Bindu Dey, emphasized the importance of commercializing the results of research, and the role played by TDB in the same while addressing the gathering.
Praveen Kutty, Head of Retail and SME Banking, DCB Bank, commented, “The experience has been brilliant as always. It is our third year of association with Conquest, and each year, the finalists have been splendid. We have actually started interacting and doing business with a couple of finalists from the previous editions. 'Conquest' is a remarkable event, and it is commendable what the team does to put it together”.
The itinerary consisted of two-panel discussions, a pitching around for the Top 10 startups in front of investors from over 25 investment firms and leading industrialists, a networking lunch along with the interaction of the jury with the audience in the Fish Bowl round. The Fish Bowl round was the most looked forward session where the students and entrepreneurs in the audience were given a chance to directly interact with the corporate leaders at the event by asking them questions in an open discussion. The session had discussions on topics ranging from the rise in popularity of Initial Coin Offering (ICOs) to the heated debate on Artificial Intelligence.
The first panel discussed nuances that a young entrepreneur should keep in mind. Some of the panellists who shared their thoughts on the topic were Nishith Rastogi (CEO & Founder of Locus.sh), Barath Shankar (Senior Analyst, Accel Partners), Dhruv Mathur (Co-Founder at Little Black Book), Abhishek Gupta (COO at Tlabs), and Sanjay Nath (Managing partner at Blume Ventures). The second panel, consisting of Vivek Khare (Director Strategy at LetsVenture), Abhiraj Bahl (Co-Founder at Urban Clap), Vikram Upadhyay (Chief Mentor at GHV Accelerator), Shantanu Mathur (Country Head at Knowlarity), and Sujit Panigrahi (CEO, Fitness 365), discussed the troubles of innovating in a risk adverse country like India.
With a cherry picked audience consisting of some of the biggest names among VCs and Angel investors, the top 10 start-ups in the country as well as students from the leading institutes of India, the Grand Finale of Conquest 2017 has lived up to its reputation of being a startup paradise and every startup enthusiast’s networking dream.
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