Birthdays are a great time to reflect on the past and decide where one wants to go next. As we near the 71st Independence Day, aka the birth of modern Bharat, we have taken a hard look at where we want to go with InnoFest and InnoNation. We started as a fest with a successful launch, three years back on August 22, 2015. The first edition saw the participation of 1700 innovators, startups and entrepreneurs taking part in what was dedicated to ground level innovation in Bengaluru.
We replicated the success in a few other places like Jaipur, Chandigarh, Nagpur, Hyderabad. In all these regions, the local ecosystem came forward to support the event and helped us make it a success.
One of the key highlights of this journey for me has been the successful completion of the nation wide tour dubbed as Innovation Yatra which saw me travel from Bengaluru to Delhi by road and meeting innovators in their home towns. A glimpse of the journey here:
When we began the journey, India was ranked 86th on the Global Innovation Index (eventually it moved to 61st rank in 2016). Much of the entrepreneurial focus was about “copy paste models” that were successful elsewhere and glory was linked to funding. We wanted to change the narrative and celebrate the people and startups that were building products for local problems and most importantly tinkering with new ideas.
The journey did not disappoint as we found over 35 innovators/creators across 18 cities and towns from Bengaluru, Tumkur to Shedbal, Ichalkaranji. Many villages and towns that we have never heard of, though lacking in infrastructure, had these bright spots of people innovating and building products such as water purifiers, bullock cart breaks, industrial grade food makers.
As a result of this journey and the showcase events, a few things became crystal clear:
Firstly, we are growing rapidly and the aspirations of the country are at all time high. Such aspirations need a concrete support system that can not be simply met by cheerleading, celebration and information sharing. They need to be met by solid ground level support from all involved, i.e. government, industry and investors.
Secondly, the aspirations and energies of the innovators are better directed at the real problems than hypothetical problems of the global narrative. There are many brilliant young minds trying to solve distant problems which are better solved by people who are closer to that problem. With the growth of India, Bharat too has become a lucrative market.
Finally, we realised no one is providing the concrete support needed. That is why we decided to graduate from a fest to the platform while keeping the festive spirit intact. This is where InnoNation comes in. The aim is to provide support for end-to-end needs of innovators. This means more curation, more focus on “doing” and a greater connection with the real world of customers, investors and academia.
InnoNation, as the name suggests, is a platform for Innovators who need to make the hard journey of becoming Entrepreneurs. “Innovate for Bharat” will work on all aspects of Entrepreneurship such as finance, markets and technology, including the less talked about but highly critical behavioural psychology, a focus on “Innovation-led Entrepreneurship”.
It is an exciting but hard shift and one that will ultimately enable a needed change for Indian Innovators. Do sign up and be part of a new Bharat, this Independence Day.
Innovators/Startups/Makers – Apply to attend the InnoNation Bootcamp & Showcase by clicking here.