“Something that starts just as a pilot may just grow into something that defines your business. So if you do have a crazy idea, go test it out in the market before actually discarding it.”
Prabhakar Jayakumar, country director, India, DigitalOcean, motivated a gathering of over 90 early-stage startups and budding entrepreneurs and helped them realise the key things to focus on while scaling up their startups. Jayakumar joined some of the most prominent names of the Vizag startup ecosystem at APIS as BIGShift concluded in the city on the 4th October.
The state of Andhra Pradesh has been very proactive in building an ecosystem that supports and promotes the growth of the many startups it houses. Thanks to these efforts, Vizag has seen tremendous growth over the years. To further uplift the city’s startups, Inc42 along with DigitalOcean, brought the BIGShift tour to a grand finish in this seaside city.
Building A Robust Startup Culture
The final leg of this year’s BIGShift tour started with a focus on what it takes to build a robust culture for the startups. Highlighting the efforts that have been made so far in the city and state as a whole, Veeresh Singh, general manager, APIS said the first pillar of the startup culture in the state is the development of human capital.
“We are building the human capital by engaging with educational institutions in the state, for the setup entrepreneurship cells. These aim to provide guidance and motivation to young entrepreneurs via bootcamps, technology workshops and more”, he added.
Learnings On Scaling For Early-Stage Startups
To help the gathering of early-stage startups in their scale-up journey, Jayakumar took the stage next. His session focused on insights and takeaways that have helped DigitalOcean expand its reach to over 510K active customers and a community of more than 3.5 Mn.
“If you discover or identify something that will compliment your business and add value to it, it cannot be a side project for you. You have to invest time and resources on it and build on it. There should be a dedicated team to help that project scale-up,” he said.
Startup Accelerator & Its Social Impact In Tier 2 Cities
Startup accelerators play a vital role in the growth and scale-up of startups, especially in Tier 2 cities, providing a budding entrepreneur with everything that would be required for starting as well as scaling his idea.
The next session on the role and impact of accelerators was held by Anand Govindaluri, CEO and founder, Govin Capital, Singapore and Startup Accelerator India, Vizag and Pune.
“Accelerators act as mentors and stepping stones for startups. They play a very defining role, especially in Tier 2 cities. Without mentors, there is no way you can develop a strong startup ecosystem.”
Overcoming Challenges With Starting Up
The session was to help the attendees in overcoming the challenges that they face in their startup journey. For the discussion, some of the most prominent startup founders came together to shed light on how they had overcome their challenges. The panellists, Krishna Mohan Gadiparthi, founder and president, Inspiredge IT Solutions, Sreedhar Kosaraju, president-designate, iTAAP and Tirumalarao Chamalla, president, Andhra Pradesh IT Society, were joined by Aditya Sabharwal, head-marketing and communications, ViS, as a moderator.
The discussion touched on various topics, from the importance of funding to the right focus and the right team and more.
“A startup should not go with just valuations. Your focus should primarily be on your product and then your team. Your team is what takes you to the next level, believe in your team”, Chamalla said.
From 0 To 100: Lessons From The Starting Up Journey
Fitting perfectly in the flow was the next session that had Amit Srivastava, CEO, Bio Valley Incubation Council, sharing insights on his journey and experiences.
Drawing from his experiences, Srivastava narrowed his learnings down to three major points; clarity, articulation and perseverance.
“There are just three pointers that I can share. Clarity, on the problem you are trying to solve and how you plan to do it. Articulation, if you are not able to sell it to your friends, you can’t sell it to anybody else. And then most importantly, perseverance, to keep going at it, despite the hurdles and the failures you encounter.”
BIGShift Pitch Vizag: The Concluding Edition
The last edition of BIGShift Pitch was met with a lot of enthusiasm in the city. Many early-stage startups stepped forward to display their innovative ideas and solutions and how they are making a difference in the community.
Utkarsh Sinha, managing director, Bexley Advisors and M P Dubey, joint director, STPI came together as the jury for the session in Vizag.
Here is a quick look at the startups:
Founded in June 2019 by Varun Beluguppa, Harsha Teja and Sonu Sharma, this startup is working towards improving the quality of education in India and the way it goes about it is by building an exclusive professional community for educators. This community enables educators to share knowledge, attend professional development sessions and find local jobs and opportunities among others.
This startup is for all the sports enthusiasts out there. Founded in April 2017 by Arun and Nagendra Medapati, I’mNotOut offers features such as searching other fellow players in your locality, exploring events around, networking, post sports updates, and many more to its users.
Founded by K Harsha Vardhan, Sai Verma, Vignesh and Arun Kumar in August 2016, this startup restructures how science is taught to students through practical demonstration kits named Scikits. In this, Grade 6 to Grade 9 science topics are selected, strategically grouped together and dynamic unique products are developed. All the designed Scikits are installed in the school campuses and Botclub’s instructors help and guide the schools in delivering the content to students.
Founded in April 2016 by Ramaseshu Botu, Venkatesh Botu, Sruthi Botu, Gills is a platform for improving indoor and outdoor air quality thought products such as masks, respirators and air purifiers. Its products include air purifying masks ranging from INR 300 to INR 1500 with a variety of SKUs targetting various demographics.
Founded in July 2017 by Ujwal Surampalli, this startup is built on the premise that practice and preparation are crucial for getting over your anxieties and fears while attending an interview. Interview Buddy provides you with mock interviews conducted by industry experts with an experience of over nine years of the interviewing sessions. Post that it has features such as interview scorecards and playback reviews which provide analysis and feedback of the session, hence helping the users overcome their doubts and concerns.
As the pitch concluded, the jury picked Teacherr as the BIGShift Pitch winner for Vizag, while all of the participating startups earned benefits such as a direct entry into DigitalOcean’s Hatch Program which offers infrastructure credits, priority support, training and access to the startup community.
“The participation that we saw in Vizag was once again overwhelming. Having seen the reception at Vizag during our last visit with BIGShift, we were sure that the turnout will be amazing and the response was beyond our expectations. Vizag certainly has the potential to compete with other regional hubs in the country and the last leg of BIGShift 2019 has proven that”, said Pooja Sareen, cofounder, Inc42.
Vizag was the final destination of the BIGShift 2019 edition. Stay tuned to know the top 10 startups discovered during the six-city tour of BIGShift in 2019.
Our ecosystem partners for BIGShift Vizag are Alcove Partners, IIM Vizag, TiE Amaravati, eChai Ventures, Startup India, APIS, Young Indians and Govin Capital.