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Nagpur, or the orange city as we like to call it, tops the chart as one of the best cities in the country in terms of livability, greenery, public transport and access to healthcare. As per Swachh Sarvekshan 2016, the third largest city of Maharashtra also ranks high in the ‘clean city’ list. In September last year, Nagpur was awarded the Smart City status and has since emerged as the foremost smart city in India. And very recently, the city also became India’s first city to have an electric vehicle charging station. With a rich history that has seen the rise and fall of several mighty dynasties, Nagpur today is home to an industrious, cricket-loving population. Hailed as a major commercial hub in central India, the city has witnessed massive economic development and urbanisation in the last few decades. Riding on this growth, a large number of startups have also emerged in Nagpur in the recent times.

To bolster the fledgeling startup ecosystem that is taking root in this city, Inc42 in partnership with Amazon India recently hosted the fourth instalment of its localised meetup series – BIGShift on November 11 in Nagpur at Chaos Theory, a coworking space. The event brought prominent startup founders, influencers, investors, and ecosystem enablers together for a stimulating discourse about the importance of proper market research and the challenges of fundraising and team building.

BIGShift, for the uninitiated, is a one-of-a-kind series of localised startup events spread across eight cities. Inc42 and Amazon India have already successfully concluded BIGShift in Chandigarh, Kolkata and Indore. Through BIGShift, Amazon India and Inc42 are looking to support the startup ecosystem that is building up in cities beyond Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The aim is to help bridge the gap that currently exists between the ecosystems in tier I and tier II cities by making the essential resources available to fledgeling startups in these geographies. In the next leg, BIGShift will be hosted in Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Vizag and Kanpur.

So, Why BIGShift In Nagpur?

Boasting a GDP of $209 Bn, Maharashtra is hailed as the country’s wealthiest city. Its booming startup ecosystem rivals that of Bengaluru and Delhi. As per Inc42 DataLabs, between January 2017 and September 2017, Maharashtra-based startups raised more than $868 Mn across 135 deals. While Mumbai is seen by many as the Mecca for startups, other cities in the state that are slowly emerging as startup hubs include Pune and Nagpur.

To bolster the still-nascent startup ecosystem in these cities, the Maharashtra government has launched a number of startup-centric initiatives in the last few months. In an attempt to make buying/renting spaces for startups easy, for instance, the state’s government proposed to issue a 100% waiver to startups or incubators on stamp duty and registration charges on their first transaction and 50% waiver on their second transaction in April 2017. In its draft Innovation and Startup Policy, the Maharashtra state government also announced plans to introduce a range of funding concessions for budding entrepreneurs and SMBs.

According to the state’s Startup Policy, the government is aiming to attract more than $779 Mn (INR 5,000 Cr) investment for the growth of startups, developing at least 2,000 startups over the next five years and at least 1 Mn sq ft incubation space.

According to AngelList, Nagpur houses 100+ startups. Among them are crowdsourcing app Reacho, YourPhysio, on-demand hyperlocal services provider Somebuddy, Accelo Innovation, medical marketplace Curaa.in, digital media publication TechGenYZ, Kizora Software, Thingxol and healthcare startup Medinsta, among others.

The orange city is also home to a growing community of investors, accelerators, incubators and other ecosystem enablers. One of the most well-known investors in the Nagpur startup ecosystem is Shashikant Chaudhary. As the co-founder of Nagpur Angels and the former President of TiE Nagpur, Shashi has backed and mentored a number of local startups such as Shephertz.com, Mobikontech.com, CarIQ.com, LocationGuru.com, Medsonway.com, Genxhealthcare.com and Etext.inc.

Founded in April 2015 by Shashi Chaudhary, Jay Chopde and Ramakrishnan R, Nagpur Angels is an angel investor network that provides mentoring support, tactical as well as strategic inputs to startup founders, with the aim of preparing them for early stage investments.

TiE Nagpur is another important institution that offers funding support to fledgeling startups in the city. Members of the Nagpur chapter include Kamlesh Daga, Director of Plasti Surge Industries, Nakul Rathi, aXYKno Capital Services co-founder and CEO Ramakrishnan R, Kaloti and Lathiya Managing Partner Mayur Zanwar, among others.

Coming to incubators, Lemon Ideas is a Nagpur-based incubator that believes in “Innovation by Everyone”. Led by Deepak Menaria as the CEO, it claims to have incubated 10 startups incubated, backed over 30 startups and nurtured more than 500 entrepreneurs over the years. Through the Lemon School of Entrepreneurship (LSE), it offers mentoring and incubation services to startups. Additionally, Lemon Ideas also serves as a growth accelerator and investor that backs innovation-driven tech companies through Seed funding. The organisation is looking to nurture 1,000 entrepreneurs and facilitate the growth of 100 startups, primarily from tier II and tier III cities, by 2020.

Since its inception in 2013, the Centre for Innovation at VNIT Nagpur (CIVN) has incubated a number of tech startups with funding from the Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission (RGSTC) of the Government of Maharashtra. In July 2016, CIVN was selected by the Indian government for setting up a Startup Centre, as part of a $232K (INR 1.5 Cr) initiative under Startup India.

There is also an open Facebook group for startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs in the city called Nagpur Startup. It is a community where people brainstorm their idea, seek help to remove roadblocks, share articles, sort feedbacks and even get early adopters for their startups. Started in September 2013 by young entrepreneurs from the city, the community offers a platform for interaction, mentoring and support to the city’s growing startup ecosystem.

Now let’s take a look at all that happened during the BIGShift Nagpur Edition!

Session One: Building The Core Team And The Right Time To Fundraise

bigshift-nagpur-startups

The first speaker of BIGShift Nagpur has a wealth of experience as an angel investor, entrepreneur and innovator, with a career spanning over 30 years. A prolific entrepreneur who has co-founded five IT companies in the last few decades, Shashikant Chaudhary epitomises the resourcefulness and bravado of the people of Nagpur.

His first steps towards entrepreneurship were with ADCC R&C, ADCC Infocad, Eforum Systems and Computer Media. In 2000, long before the Indian startup ecosystem came into existence, Shashi co-founded a mobile technology company called Lambent Technologies. Over the years, he has also held several senior management positions, including Head of Department – Computer Tech at YCCE, Nagpur and most recently, MD India for GlobalLogic, where he was responsible for managing more than 4,000 engineers across the country.

His contribution to the Nagpur startup ecosystem has been multi-faceted. As the co-founder of Nagpur Angels, Shashikant not only backs regular startups but students startups as well. He currently conducts two courses on entrepreneurship at VNIT Nagpur. In his other role as the President of TiE Nagpur, Shashi is actively involved in mentoring as well as advising startups.

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In this day and age, most early-stage startup founders are more keen on raising funding from Day 1 than building a core team or attaining some kind of product-market fit. According to Shashikant, the focus at least in the beginning should be on gathering the best team possible with the available resources. Highlighting the best practices of team building, Shashi explained at a robust team is essential when it comes to developing a valuable product. During the session, Chaudhary also offered some insights into the right time for fundraising.

Session Two: Getting Your Market Research Right

dinesh jain-bigshift-nagpur

The second speaker gracing the stage was Dinesh Jain, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Aagami. With a career spanning more than three decades, Jain currently serves as an Advisor to pManifold, a Nagpur-headquartered management consulting company that applies creative modelling and go-to-market strategies to help build and/or scale up businesses.

As part of his session in BIGShift Nagpur, Jain delved into the right methods and techniques of market research. According to him, for a startup to succeed, it is absolutely necessary to determine the market for its products/services. Through this process, startup founders will be able to zero in on who the target customers are as well as what the competition is doing. Effective market research is often too expensive for startups without adequate funding. Jain, however, believes that it can be done efficiently, that too on a shoestring budget.

BIGShift is coming to Bhubaneswar (2nd December) and Vizag (9th December) next! To learn more about BIGShift and what it entails, click here.

Session Three: Moving Past Failure

aditya gandhi-startups-nagpur

For the concluding session of BIGShift Nagpur, Redwood Edutours co-founder and former co-founder of Purple Squirrel Eduventures, Aditya Gandhi, took the centre stage to share his insights about the art of standing up stronger after failure. With B.Tech as well as M.Tech degrees from IIT Bombay, Gandhi is a serial tech entrepreneur who believes in embracing technology to make learning more enjoyable.

He started his entrepreneurial journey in 2013 when he co-founded Purple Squirrel in Mumbai. Between 2013 and 2015, Aditya and his team grew the company into an established platform for industry visits and education travel, hosting more than 20,000 students from around 200 institutions. However, as is the case with a majority of startups, Purple Squirrel was shut down in May 2016 as a result of dipping sales and increasing cash burn rate.

Picking himself back up, Aditya dove into his second venture Redwood Edutours soon afterwards in September last year. Specialising in educational tours, the platform currently boasts a partner base of 750+ companies and over 150 startups and NGOs across 12 countries.

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During his career, Gandhi has had to deal with failures multiple times. This, however, has helped him realise that failure in entrepreneurship is inevitable. The true mark of a leader, he believes, lies in being able to identify the root cause of failure and move past it. The way to achieve that is to inculcate a “never give up” attitude.

4 Startups That Showcased During BIGShift Nagpur

The penultimate session of the day centred around a startup showcase, wherein four promising new companies were given the opportunity to put forward their ideas and business plans before a qualified audience of investors, influencers, seasoned entrepreneurs and other ecosystem enablers.

Let’s take a look at the four startups that are working on ambitious solutions to address problems unique to Nagpur:

YourPhysioYourPhysio

Founded in July this year, YourPhysio is a startup that aims to harness the power of technology to provide care in the most-patient centric approach. To that end, the platform offers physiotherapy consultancy services and skill development for physiotherapists. YourPhysio is currently working to build a network of physiotherapy and pain relief clinics across the country.

Boasting an area of 1,000 sq ft, each of these state-of-the-art facilities will be equipped with a range of advanced technologies, including electronic health records (EHRs), geared towards treating more than 240 health conditions.

Somebuddy.in

somebuddyEstablished in February, Somebuddy.in is an on-demand hyperlocal services provider that allows users to hire contractors across various verticals such as architects, interior designers, plumbers, carpenters, beauticians, fabricators, construction labour, event planners, caterers, glass workers and DJs, among others.

The company also provides B2B services to SME and MSME others, supervisors and purchase managers who are struggling to find qualified contractors within the specified budget. Somebuddy.in currently receives a fee of $2.2 (INR 150) per quotation.

Accelo Innovation

accelo innovationConceived by Arbaz Reza in February 2016, Accelo Innovation is an AI-based startup that utilises IoT to develop solutions for safer roads in India. The company’s driver assisting technology is aimed at enhancing accident response time management.

Its flagship product, MaMa Drive (Module for Accident Management and Assistance),  is basically a small device that fits on the car’s dashboard and pre-detects accidents, while also providing immediate assistance to the driver.

Curaa.in

Curaa.inCuraa.in is a medical marketplace that came into existence in February this year. It is a healthcare professional recruitment portal that connects doctors with speciality and multi-speciality hospitals and clinics across the country. The company has an extensive database of experienced doctors and other healthcare personnel.

It also offers short term and long term human resource solutions to employers. The CV enhancement service by Curaa.in is geared towards helping prospective employees meet their work requirements.

We would like to thank Chaos Theory for letting us host the event in the coworking space. Our ecosystem partners – TiE Nagpur and Chaos Theory, who helped us put together this wonderful event. And special thanks to Abhijeet Khandagale and other members of Nagpur Startup Ecosystem for their support.

BIGShift is coming to Bhubaneswar (2nd December) and Vizag (9th December) next! To learn more about BIGShift and what it entails, click here.

Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.