Kerala was the first state in India to report a confirmed Covid-19 case, but not only was it able to flatten the curve quickly, it also saw the rise of many innovative solutions, even during the pandemic. In fact, the example of Kerala has been used in international studies as well, with the MIT Technology Review also reporting on how the state can provide the blueprint to fight Covid-19 for other nations.
But that is not all, understanding the challenges and the hurdles for the startups in the current crisis, the state government and Kerala Startup Mission or KSUM, its nodal agency for startups, recently concluded the June series of its Big Demo Day, a virtual startup expo, as a part of its B4S (business for startups) project.
“Be it the corporates, startups or MSMEs, all the sectors have suffered a crippling impact due to the pandemic and the lockdown. Even with the Unlock 1.0 in effect, businesses are trying to recover from the huge losses suffered and are looking for affordable products and services. In the prevailing circumstances, and also in the foreseeable future, startups alone are in a position to meet this growing demand,” said Sawad Sayyid, business coordinator, KSUM.
Businesses are not only adopting innovative marketing strategies and embracing cost-cutting methods but also making a shift towards the digital landscape. And this is where KSUM believes its startups can help. KSUM’s B4S project seeks to create a mutually beneficial industry-startup interface, Sayyid added.
According to a McKinsey survey, more Indians are increasingly adopting and using new digital activities, since the advent of coronavirus. Based on these surveys on consumer behaviour across many countries, the research giant stated, “We have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.”
KSUM’s ‘Big Demo Day’ — held between June 25 to 30 — provided a platform for businesses and industries to leverage the products and services from the state’s vibrant startup ecosystem. It introduced innovative ideas from the tech-enabled hardware startups as well as software products and services startups from its wide portfolio to both MSMEs and corporates.
The registrations for its August series of the Big Demo Day are now open, apply now to connect with the right industries and corporates.
What Is KSUM’S B4S Project?
KSUM shortlisted startups based on the industry demand, focussing on the products and services that are already in the market and are easily scalable for all levels of businesses.
The project had a three-step approach to help the successful selection and penetration of the startups in the market — Reverse Pitching, Big Demo Day and Industry-Startup Platform.
KSUM planned a series of sessions for industries to present their problems before the startups. The pitches by the industries had to bring forward their demands, including software solutions and services.
KSUM then shortlisted the startups, for the Big Demo Day, with solutions focussing on the industry demands to help reduce the modernisation and digitisation cost.
Big Demo Day
The Big Demo Day allowed the shortlisted startups to pitch their products — through KSUM’s website — to corporates and MSMEs. The five-day programme focussed on a different sector each day.
- Day 1: AI, analytics, automotive, food and beverages, greentech education
- Day 2: Enterprise software
- Day 3: Healthtech, marketing, non-renewable energy, security solutions, telecommunication & networking
- Day 4: Fintech, retail, human resources
- Day 5: Robotics, hardware, internet of things (IoT)
Finally, the industry-startup connect platform allowed the startups to showcase their products to corporates and MSMEs and also get feedback on the showcased products “The platform not only provided the startups with an opportunity to work with high-level institutions but the startups with the best ideas could also bag financial support by various means such as crowdfunding, investments, and partnership,” added KSUM’s Sayyid.
Highlights From The Big Demo Day
The June series of the Big Demo Day was supported by organisations and bodies such as Gtech — a collaborative of IT companies in Kerala —, KITE — Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education —, North Malabar Chamber Of Commerce, Malabar Chamber Of commerce, KSSIA — The Kerala State Industries Association — and more.
The programme participation from around 70 startups, more than 20 investors and over 50 corporates. Amongst these were names such as:
- Indian Angel Network
- Chennai Angels
- Mumbai Angels
- IvyCap Ventures
- Ankur Capital
- YourNest Venture Capital
- Siana Capital
- Speciale Invest
- Venture Catalysts
- Tech Mahindra
- Kuttukaran group
- Aster MIMS and more
- Clootrack Software Labs
- Riafy Technologies
- Evelabs Technologies
- Inntot Technologies
- Farmers Fresh Zone
- Sastra Robotics
- VST Mobility
- Alcodex Technologies and more
KSUM told Inc42 that over five days, it saw over 2K online visitors, more than 300 live interactions, more than 400 virtual business card exchanges and over 600 brochure downloads.
Commenting on the success of the Big Demo Day, Sayyid said, “This is how Kerala is building a business ecosystem in times of pandemic for the startups. For the June series, around 70 startups from different domains presented over 100 products before more than 50 corporates and 30 industry bodies.”
KSUM is currently accepting applications for the August series of the programme, which is focussing on sectors such as fintech, edtech, enterprisetech, agritech and more. The last date for registration is July 25, apply now and showcase your products to the right stalwarts from your sector.