Friday, December 21, 2012
is a buzzword these days and If we look at the startup ecosystem in India, it’s
filled with lots of highly inspiring whiz kids and ventures, and many of them
are BITSians. Exotel, the cloud telephony startup, started in June
2011, has already secured INR 2.5 crores of funding from Blume Ventures and
Mumbai Angels. Disrupting the Indian healthcare system is Forus Health,
co-founded by BITS Pilani alums, which provides affordable medical technology
and solutions. The company recently raised USD 5 million from Accel Partners
and IDG Ventures.
When it comes to
entrepreneurship, BITS is a heralded name. One need only mention the innovative
giants like Bharat Forge, Redbus or Hotmail all founded by BITSian entrepreneurs.
From technology to healthcare to e-commerce, BITSians have impacted every
sector and achieved great success. Many in the BITS community are increasingly
taking the startup road, many of them in college itself. Startups like Framebench, TunePatrol, Photowalkrs, FoodKhoj are testimony to this. These stories have shown
how the young BITSian is rolling up his sleeves and building great products.
BITS Spark was launched early this year (2012) to boost the startup culture
among BITSians and provide an ecosystem to support the BITSian entrepreneur
through all stages of this exciting adventure.
BITS Spark, an initiative
of BITS Pilani Alumni along with strong support from the institute, intends to
nurture and accelerate startups founded by BITSians. It has created a lofty
vision, yet not unreasonable, to make BITS Pilani a top three institute for
entrepreneurship in Asia. To realize this ambition it has set up three
platforms to engage with entrepreneurs at various stages.
Spark Connect: Spark Connect kindles
the entrepreneurial spirit in the BITS community. For current students they can
engage through CEL activities, entrepreneurship courses or take up an
internship at a startup. For example, the CEL of BITS Goa recently organized a
startup conference called Agora which featured discussions and speeches from
several startup evangelists.
initiative, the New Venture Creation Course (NVC) program, is an innovative
course where alumni and faculty are remotely coaching hungry BITSian
entrepreneurs, entirely on Skype! This model is unique and works because
students are required to actually build their startups and engage with real
customers. In 3 years, it has graduated 24 startup teams, 5 teams have raised
funding and is now expanding to 3 campuses with the help of BITS Connect 2.0.
Meanwhile, aspiring alumni
entrepreneurs can start by attending a startup meet-up in their city. However,
the easiest way to get plugged into the BITS Spark community is by joining the bits2startup Google Group, which
is akin to a BITSian HackerNews community.
Spark Mentors: Spark Mentors is a
mentoring network for BITSian entrepreneurs who have already started their
journey and are seeking mentoring for their startup. This program helps BITSian
hopefuls connect with the right mentors for all kinds of startup advice ranging
from market sizing to legal issues and from fund raising to resolving team
conflicts. 3 workshops have been conducted this year: the first one in
Bangalore, then a virtual workshop and most recently a workshop in Delhi. There
has been an overwhelmingly positive participation with over 50 mentors on board
so far. Through
this platform, SharpEdge, an education startup has found close mentors to
help their business with fundraising and market strategy.
Spark Angels: This is an angel network
to invest in high potential startups at the seed stage ranging from 25 lakhs to
2.5 crore INR. To enable participation of BITSian angels from all over the
world, the evaluation process follows a truly unique approach where angels
evaluate prerecorded startup pitches on YouTube. The first such session was
conducted in April and it was remarkably effective in bringing all angels and
startups together. This is followed by thorough due diligence of the finalists.
50 angels have signed up
from 3 continents in less than 6 weeks! More than 20 startups applied to seek
seed funding. Exotel and FrameBench are two BITSian startups that have already
benefited from the angel network.
The angel network
functions with full transparency and is open to any BITSian who is passionate
about supporting BITSian startups. An interested angel can simply start by
emailing to email@example.com. It is amazing that several BITSians are
stepping forward in the spirit of creating several BITSian startup successes.
While the BITS Spark
journey has started just a few months ago, it is already off to a great start,
thanks to the efforts of numerous BITSian volunteers. Entrepreneurship has
truly arrived in India and BITS Spark is well positioned to lead from the
frontline. This rich ecosystem is about to catch flywheel momentum and there is
little doubt that it has more than a good shot at achieving its towering
aspiration and becoming a top 3 institute for entrepreneurship in Asia.
Come! Join as a startup,
mentor, angel, faculty or volunteer. Start by visiting http://www.bitsaa.org/spark and joining firstname.lastname@example.org
Impact by Manoj Saxena fund
The Manoj Saxena Fund in
association with Spark Connect has been pivotal to the success of the program.
This pre-seed fund has funded six startups in 2012 – PhotoWalkrs, TunePatrol,
Adhaar and Smartec from Pilani campus, EasyMontra from Goa campus and Trippin’
Unlimited from the Hyderabad campus.