Since the launch of Startup India initiative in January 2015, by the central government – there has been a lot of activities pertaining to startups in the country. As 19 Indian states launched their startup policies in the past three years, the state governments in the country have left no stone unturned to walk the extra mile to support the startup ecosystem in their respective states and turn India collectively into a thriving startup hub.
Speaking of supporting the ecosystem, mention may be made of Rajasthan, wherein – the Honorable CM Vasundhara Raje and Shri Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary of Rajasthan government’s Department of Information Technology and Communication has been relentlessly making efforts to nurture the state’s startup ecosystem and has been attempting to turn the state into the heart of India’s startup ecosystem.
So far, the Rajasthan government is burning the midnight oil to adhere to the seven pillars of the Proposed Scheme On Entrepreneurship Development by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
After launching several policies to nurture innovation and improve ease of doing business in the state along with providing platforms like iStart, Rajasthan DigiFest and Rajasthan IT Day to help startup showcase their talent, the state officials have now turned to boost the startup culture at its roots – by imbibing the the young college students and the budding entrepreneurs into the ecosystem.
The Rajasthan government’s Department of Information Technology (DoITC) is now implementing a first-of-its-kind government initiative wherein the selected students from the local colleges will get a chance to travel to the Silicon Valley, US. The idea behind this step is to help broaden their vision and enable them to take a quantum leap towards their prosperous future.
The main aim of the programme is to encourage college students to take to technological innovations, to encourage them to come up with digital solutions to real-life problems and also to transform their ideas into successful businesses. To be a part of this programme, any student pursuing his or her higher education in any college of Rajasthan is eligible to apply.
What’s In Store For Rajasthan’s Budding Entrepreneurs At Silicon Valley
It will be a two-week residential programme. The selected students will have the opportunity to develop ideas over software products while learning from some of the world’s best startup professionals.
Up to 100 students will be selected for the all-expenses-paid trip to the US where they will be hosted at Menlo College in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley. Over the course of two weeks, they will be exposed to various aspects related to building a tech startup.
The participants will also work on building their idea into prototype products and will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to prospective customers and investors in the Silicon Valley for feedback.
In addition to the programme modules, the students will visit various companies in the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem and interact with successful founders and other key professionals.
Also, other than the top 100 students, the students have applied for the Rajasthan Student Startup Exposure programme but couldn’t make it to the top 100 list will be provided a three-month access to an online learning course. The content of the course will be the same as that offered to the teams selected for the Silicon Valley residential incubation programme.
The Selection Process
Interested students may submit the applications individually or in teams of a maximum of four members. There will be two rounds of selection interviews for the programme:
- Round 1: Applicants selected on the basis of the initial submissions will be invited for a Skype or video interview.
- Round 2: Those shortlisted in the first round will be invited for a final interview in Jaipur. In the final round, teams will present their idea pitch wherein the selection will be based on the overall performance of the individual or the team, their capabilities and the quality of their presentations.
The teams will also get additional points for their past projects, for having a core developer in the team, their participation in entrepreneurship events or similar activities in their colleges and communities, have open source contributions volunteering experience or for their participation in tech communities like Google Developers Community Group (GDG).
Also, the teams having a product at a prototype stage as well as the teams with female applicants will be given priority over the others.
Rajasthan: Placing Bet On The Booming Student Entrepreneurship Culture
Most recently, during the Hackathon 4.0 organised during Rajasthan IT Day 2018, an LPU student and his team won the first prize for building “AK Pal Robotics” that focusses on machine-learning and artificial intelligence and uses a new age technology to build a robotic arm locomotive platform.
The team of two won by coding non-stop for 36-hours and their solution will now also be implemented by the Rajasthan government. This indicates the passion and the energy that the youth of today possesses which if given the right direction with a blend of technology, can do wonders at any level of competition.
As Applyifi founder and founding partner of The Growth Labs, Prajakt Raut shared with Inc42, “The Rajasthan government is doing very meaningful initiatives to foster entrepreneurship. Exposing college students to the entrepreneurial eco-system in Silicon Valley will open their minds to a wider range of possibilities and opportunities. Given the need for greater job creation in our country, we need more states across India to adopt the kind of initiatives taken by the Rajasthan government to help create more job creators and improve the chances of their success.”
With India on the cusp of becoming the youngest nation in the world by 2020, the median individual in India will be 29 years of age, very likely searching for jobs, which again is a purpose served by encouraging entrepreneurship only.
While the Indian government has already established Atal Tinkering Labs at various schools with a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million Children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, for college going aspiring entrepreneurs, incubator programmes run by equity investors or the university startup cells are the only source of resources.
The recent initiative by the Rajasthan Government will certainly serve as a rocket booster for the students to pursue their startup dreams. This will not only add to the learning experience but will also motivate the college students to shun the lures of a corporate job and think more along the lines of being an entrepreneur. Rajasthan being one of the first state governments to implement something for the student-preneurs, and with programmes like these, and host of initiatives such as iStart, Bhamashah Techno Fund among others, Rajasthan has showcased its potential to become the top contenders for the DIPP state startup ecosystem ranking index.
The last date for the submission of application forms is May 20, the selections will take place in the last week of May and the inaugural edition of the residential incubation programme will be held in the Silicon Valley from July 10-28, 2018.