“iPitch is Villgro’s annual discovery platform which brings together the country’s top incubators and investors to gain access to India’s most innovative and impactful social startups. iPitch helps social entrepreneurs gain access to funding, incubation, and mentorship through a single application form,” – Srinivas Ramanujam, CEO, Villgro.
Villgro, the social impact incubator announced the launch of the fourth edition of its flagship event, iPitch. Through this platform, entrepreneurs working towards developing innovative and scalable solutions for the Bottom of the pyramid (BoP), will have a chance to receive seed funding and debt solutions upto INR 2 Cr each.
Across sectors, the platform seeks to discover social enterprises in the prototype stage and in early revenue stage with patient seed capital. Ramanujam told Inc42, “iPitch aims to ensure that innovative enterprises working towards rebuilding the economy have the necessary assistance they require.”
The applications for the programme are now open and the last date to apply is September 30.Apply Now
iPitch: What To Expect This Year?
Villgro along with the funding partners will be helping startups with grants as well as debt and equity funding. The funding partners include — Beyond Capital Fund, Upaya Social Ventures, Shell Foundation, Caspian Debt and Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter: Habitat for Humanity.
All startups that apply to iPitch will go through a screening process by the funding partners as well as the Villgro team and based on multiple parameters, startups will be shortlisted for the virtual pitch. These virtual pitches are based on the mandate given by each of the funding partners — basis what kind of entrepreneurs and solutions they are looking for and more.
The broad focus areas include agriculture, healthcare, energy and clean-tech, livelihoods and job creation, and sheltertech, amongst others.
This year, Villgro has redesigned iPitch to make the platform more inclusive and beneficial for a wider audience. For one, Villgro will be hosting an exclusive webinar for all iPitch applicants titled ‘Pitching to Perfection’. Conducted by industry experts, this webinar will help startups understand how to deliver a pitch that will attract the right enablers from the ecosystem.
The webinar will be conducted in both English and Hindi, to coach the shortlisted entrepreneurs prior to the final virtual pitches, “this is an effort from our end to put all entrepreneurs, regardless of their background or exposure, on a levelled playing field,” added Ramanujam.
Speaking of the efforts to make iPitch more inclusive this year, Jenaan Lilani Bhargava, head of diversity and inclusion at Villgro told Inc42, “Not only have we made concerted efforts to partner with women entrepreneur networks but also made simple design changes such as having our application form available in Hindi. We hope that being able to apply in one’s mother tongue will encourage more participation from smaller towns and cities.”
The winning startups will get access to:
- Capital: In the form of grant or equity funding between INR 15 Lakhs and INR 75 lakhs. Revenue stage applicants will be considered for grant, equity and debt funding between INR 35 Lakhs to INR 2 Cr
- Along with incubation, mentoring and access to a technical assistance programme
Covid And The Efforts Towards Startups In 2020
Since the advent of Covid-19, enablers and corporate giants alike have come together to help the country fight the resultant challenges and economic slowdown. Especially as the world struggles to find its feet in the current scenarios, social startups are gaining more prominence.
In the state of Indian startup ecosystem report 2020, Inc42 Plus has revealed that in H2 2019, the funding amount of the growth stage startups was $2.1 Bn, but come H1 2020, the number fell to almost half to $1.02 Bn. Plus seed funding has also slowed down as per the latest Indian Startup Ecosystem Report, 2020.
It is in this regard that initiatives such as iPitch — that are providing startups with a platform to showcase their innovative solutions and in turn, gain support and help for their capital requirements — are playing a major role.
In the past three editions of the programme, Villgro told Inc42 that it has deployed over INR 7 Cr to 23 social enterprises. Furthermore, it has partnered with more than 15 incubators and impact investors and received applications from over 64 cities from the country.
The last date to register for the programme is September 30, so apply now!Apply Now