Taj City’s Debut in B2B Tech Startups

It was their last semester (Jan 2014) pursuing Economics Hons @ Delhi University , when Siddharth  & Chaitanya felt an urge to start something of their own, create something that brought value to businesses around them and that’s when it all started !

Siddharth Vij, hailing from Agra – which apart from being famous for Taj Mahal is also India’s biggest footwear manufacturing capital, had this innate desire to revolutionize this industry. Chaitanya Rathi, hailing from a business family from Gwalior – which is known for the Scindia Fort & many other historical sites, had realized that there was a need to bring in technology to revoke the growth of local businesses and make them flourish beyond their current reach. The entrepreneurial juices had been flowing inside their nerves for some time now, as both had already set on that path much earlier. While Chaitanya was learning business & strategies from his endeavors at Economy Decoded (Core team member) , Leotaur (Founder), Media Is You, etc. , Siddharth was building management skills & social circles at University Express (Co-founder).

It was with all this amazing experiential learning and most importantly a TEAM of friends – Fashion forward Charuka Arora, Graphic designer & techology enthusiast Siddharth Rastogi, and Researcher & creative writer Aditya Madhusudhan, that the making of Agra’s 1st B2B tech Startup – Bizcrum began.

It was all well planned since the inception. They knew that what they needed to build is a platform where businessmen could connect, exchange & grow Glocally (globally + locally). It was not just the need of the market, but also the founder’s personal connect and the market scope, understanding of the domain, that led to the decision of choosing the Footwear Industry as the first segment to start with. Shoekonnect was conceptualized as a business social network for the footwear industry which aims to bring together component suppliers, footwear manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers on a single platform.

Wish to know how Shoekonnect can help

any footwear business grow?

WATCH this short video to know all about Shoekonnect.

The team started brainstorming on their ideas, doing everything beyond their comfort zone to get to the point where they had successfully validated their concept by talking to over 200 footwear business owners, understanding their needs, designing rough mockups of their platform & building strategies around the business model. They did not wait for help in matters of technology as they could clearly see a lot of ground work was required before even starting to worry about that concern. Instead, they created something which added more value to their future product – Biznista.com:  e-Magazine that delivers fresh news, trends, insights about the global footwear industry – Manufacturing  , Fashion , Brands, Retailers,Interviews etc.

Bizcrumteam_DSC_0920

The Bizcrum Team

[From left to right] Aditya M. | Charuka A. | Chaitanya R. | Siddharth V. | Sumat N. | Siddharth R.

It was already June 2014 by the time they had launched Biznista & the time had arrived when they were struggling to achieve their self-imposed deadline for their key product. Shoekonnect was ready to materialize from prototype to an actual product but there was a deep trough to be traversed to reach the crest. After meeting countless number of techpreneurs in Delhi, Bizcrum finally found it’s Kohinoor back home at Taj city. An old friend – Sumat Nanda, an assiduous & passionate tech entrepreneur joined the founding team and that’s when Bizcrum felt complete. Looking for an entrepreneur and that too with experience in technology in the small city of Agra, was almost like searching for a pin in a hay stack. But, as they say – “Those who believe, sure do achieve”.

Though it was tough but they continued to work during their final exams, only to realize that what came next was 3x tougher than that. College was over by June 2014 & it was the next 2 months when the entire team had sleepless weeks, field studies, meetings with businesses & some even had to take up jobs to support themselves and the technology infrastructure costs.  Building the product was one herculean task but creating awareness about it’s presence was much more and that’s where the entire team functioned like a well-oiled machine. While Charuka & Aditya took charge of Biznista.com, Sumat, Siddharth Vij , Chaitanya , Siddharth Rastogi ensured that they worked day and night to address all technology & business challenges faced by ShoeKonnect.

While parents supported the risks taken by these young entrepreneurs, prominent public figures/organizations such as – Rakshit Tandon (Cyber Security Expert), Puran Dawar – Chairman of Dawar Group (Leading Indian Footwear manufacturer) & AFMEC (Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber) etc. encouraged them by guiding & expressing their confidence in the product. The whole endeavor couldn’t have been grand without the help of seniors such as – GP Sharma, Ravi Saini & Rittwick Visen , the creative team of – Rishav Kumar, Varun Gupta & several bright student interns.

It’s been just a month since it’s launch in September 2014, and Bizcrum’s Shoekonnect has already on boarded 50+ businesses including some international users. Bizcrum also conducted events in association with NASSCOM’s 10,000 Startups (India’s most promising Startup Program) to spread awareness about entrepreneurship in small Indian cities such as Gwalior & Agra and has been covered by National & Local Media houses such as – Hindustan Times, Amar Ujala etc.

#Bizcrum became the fourth most trending tag on Twitter in India leaving behind Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber!

Bizcrum is a Business Social Network – a connection centric B2B portal that is created to facilitate communication amongst entrepreneurs. BizCrum derives its spirit from the word ‘fulcrum’. Fulcrum literally means ‘to raise’. Bizcrum aims to become the fulcrum for business enterprises which they can use to raise themselves to great heights.

LIKE BIZCRUM ON FACEBOOK

Going forward the team aims at building similar solutions for other industries so as to accomplish their mission of bringing the about the next big evolution in building & growing business relations as well as global commerce.

With immense belief, team work, hard work and little savings one can build a startup out of anywhere !

—————————————————————————————

As seen on Up Global Blog

Startups, Accelerators, Public Relations & the Social Media

I am a Startup baby, who has been learning a lot since she entered the world of #Entrepreneurs. Based on my observation so far, I have tried to put up some of my views regarding whats , whys & hows of – Public Relations, External Communications , #Social Media & #Marketing , especially around #Startup Accelerator Programs .

Now, I ain’t no expert in the media industry, but this is my sincere 1st attempt at understanding PR in this era of new age media and penning down the same.

————————————————————————————————

1. Public Relations 

PR according to me, should address the following needs / concerns :

-Understanding the notions that exist in the market regarding your Company, Offerings, Products / Services & designing effective strategies to ensure that what your intentions are rightly communicated

-Creating brand awareness & right public image

-Striking the right chord in the minds of both – the direct end user as well as the media

-Creating content that can be used as tools for building relations with different communities, marketing & advertising

-Earning the attention from media instead of paying for it

-Managing Crisis situations

————————————————————————————————

2. External Communications

A #startup accelerator needs to connect with various communities in order to ensure it’s visibility at all times. External communication can be through various channels

a. Online (Web) – Social Media, Promotional Emails, Blogs, Newsletters, eMagazines, Interviews etc..

b. Offline – Newspapers, Magazines, Press Conference, Talk-shows, Promotion Events, Launches, Posters etc..

        Content is the crux of these communications. This could be in the form of –

a. Informal / Direct – Story, Info-graphic, Short movie, Speeches, Call for applications, Response to inquiries/applications etc..

b. Formal / Indirect – Press Release, Articles, Statements etc..

The aim of maintaining external communications is to build awareness, grow audience, neutralize disasters, correct wrong notions , serve up to date information on a platter right in front of the targeted audience so as to ensure a long lasting relation with large communities.

———————————————————————————————–

3. Who should be targeted & How

Consider the case of a well-established, yet less popular startup accelerator. Following are certain ways to go about targeting, marketing and building public relations –

a. Students – Posters/Handouts/Guest Lectures/Events etc. @ Schools & Colleges highlighting Student Entrepreneurship Programs & Job enabling opportunities ( Region / Locality based information dissemination )

b. Entrepreneurs – Communication through Social Media, Events, Web digests such as F6S, HasGeek etc.

c. Start Ups – ‘Target the Problem’ as well as  ‘Full Package’ approach on Social media & other channels.

Example 1 – What I call ‘Target the problem approach’

The accelerator provides various solutions to the possible problems any Start-Up may face, we could create content for each  problem  and the concerned Accelerator Program as a solution for that.

Example 2 – What I call ‘Full Package approach’

Visual story, consolidating all problems and their solutions by the Program. Story of a start-up that has actually leveraged most of the benefits @ the accelerator.

d. Partners – Collaboration Invites, Conferences, Appreciation on Social Media & Other Public occasions to build a rapport apart from regular updates. Potential partners should be targeted for Accelerator Partner Program.

e. Media – Roll out exciting press Releases, Stories, Launch events to capture their attention apart from direct formal communications.

f. Investors – Provide Insightful content on the Funding Segment, such as statistics on Start-Ups in different sectors (Health Care, Ecommerce, IoT etc). Covering investor stories would make it a two way communication.

————————————————————————————————

Generic points:

1. Interactive & Directed Social Media communications could play a vital role in capturing attention not only for the specific segment but also for XYZ as a brand.

2. Open Call for Media Start-Ups to conduct a tour of the Facility could create a buzz.

3. Location based stories ; Usually, people in India (for that matter most countries) are interested in knowing more about which Indian Start-Up got funded, or enrolled in accelerator etc. and what was the story behind it.

4. Personally sending appreciative or encouraging messages on Social media channels helps build a good rapport and increases the probability of referrals.

5. Increasing the frequency of generating content on new age media such as Mobile Magazines, You Tube Channel could give entrepreneurs a glimpse of what they can really achieve through the Program(s).

The content above can be re-posted but only if the Author’s name & site link are mentioned as ‘Courtesy’ footnote.

Bangalore StartUp Meet + Pitch Event

My Blog Post for the recent event I Organized (on behalf of Weekend Ventures) end to end – Graphic Content Creation, Social Media Promotion, Event Management etc.

At Weekend Ventures we are constantly striving to foster entrepreneurship by ensuring that a disparate set of minds connect and grow together thereby contributing towards the evolution of the Start-Up Ecosystem.

We have been organizing various events to support Startups / entrepreneurs at different stages. Weekend Ventures 54Hrs (Build Startups in 54Hrs) , Meet Over Brunch (MOB) , Passian (a PaaS hackathon) are some of them.

On August 9th 2014, we organized a MOB – ‘Start-Up Meet + Pitch’ @ the most happening Entrepreneur’s Avenue – The 10,000 Start-Ups Warehouse, Bangalore. It was a brunch affair, and so most of our enthusiastic Entrepreneurs and Speakers were there by 11AM.

Santosh Panda, Founder & CEO of Explara, inaugurated the event with a very humble talk on his Entrepreneurial journey. Quoting Santosh –

“Two of my initiatives had failed. The dream to live hard, work hard but build a startup kept me motivated to try this ‘third attempt’ to launch a startup “Explara.com”. With 3 years of bootstrapping and then securing fund from renowned angel investors, Explara.com has served customers from 21 countries till now.”

Tej Pochiraju, Director @ Micrograce Solutions had moderated the Q&A on our request. It was a seamless conversation between the two followed by questions from the august audience that included various early stage Start-Up Founders, Director of Founder Institute – Mr. Naveen Lakkur, Sarath Acharya – Boutline, Tech & Social Entrepreneurs, Members of the Founder Institute, Founder of Routo from 10K StartUps – Edward Jose,  Representatives from – Tech Hub , Construkt Fest  & Corporates .

Around 12 in the noon, we took a short Networking break, wherein the audience was free to approach the Speakers, Investors, Accelerator representatives and fellow entrepreneurs. Post that we started off with an Investor Panel Discussion among Abhishek Gupta – Head of Accelerator TLABS, Prathibha Sastry – Operations Manager Microsoft Ventures,  Krishna Jha – Founder of ITFinity and Telnet Ventures & Sangeeta Devni – Deputy Manager 10000 Start-Ups. This discussion was around what their organizations offer, different kinds of funding, region based differences in the approach towards Tech & Non – Tech StartUps , followed by queries from the audience.

With another networking break, everyone settled to witness the most important session of the day. The Pitch round had around 18 early stage startups –  7 Square , Cash Kumar, Confirm Tkt, Alma Base, DAnovus, Kyash, Listo Ads, Mobile Gullak, Qbeeko, Mycrofto, Public Analytics India, Recruit Fresher, Scrollback.io , Townista, MatchUp Cricket & Video Stax . The teams hailed from various backgrounds and put up a great show for the audience in the limited time they had on stage.

Each team pitched with their Prototype/Live Beta/Mock Up/Video within 3 mins and it was a tough decision for the Judges (Investor Panel) towards the end. While the judges were toiling hard to decide on the winners, our famished participants had quick Brunch. With the hope that everyone filled up their tummies we headed off towards the final announcements of the day.

Winners –

Vishwa Krishna Kumar who has built the next Generation IM ( www.Qbeeko.com | Available on PlayStore) , bagging away the 1st Prize that gives his team a wildcard entry into final pitch round of a renowned Accelerator.

Dinesh Kotha & his team ( www.ConfirmTkt.com ) will ensure that we get confirmed train tickets no matter what! They bagged the 2nd Prize – 2 tickets to the upcoming Startup Launch/Demo Day event in their city.

Dhiren Makhija & his team ( www.CashKumar.com ) will solve Forex Conversion & Trading problems. They bagged the 3rd Prize – 1 ticket to the upcoming Startup Launch/Demo Day event in their city.

We also had a special winner Jipy Mohanty – Mycrofto , who was awarded a book called ‘ The Inseparable Twins’ by Mr. Naveen Lakkur.

We hope that we put up a good show for all and yearn to evolve based on the feedback we get from our dear Participants and Speakers. We are passionate about helping entrepreneurs and seeing startups succeed. Weekend Ventures intends to make their startup journey less lonely, more connected, and more meaningful.

Do connect with us for our updates about startup ecosystem in your city as well as major announcements.

Supriya Rathi

Organizer

Student Entrepreneurship: Bridging the Industry-Academia Gap

It is rightly said that – “Child is the father of Man” and the CEO’s in making at age 11 have proved the same.

The Start-Up Industry is growing leaps and bounds in our nation, comprising a huge talent pool from different age groups and backgrounds. Interestingly, this stream that looks so scary to experienced professionals with fat pay checks, is all the more lucrative and enjoyable for students who don’t over think and are driven by their passion. Good news is that Top institutes such as IITs, BITs, IIMs etc. are supportive of this choice made by the students and are taking measures to create scope for the same in the overall curriculum. For instance, most premier colleges have created an E-Cell (Entrepreneurship Cell) to conduct events or talks around careers at Start-Ups. Moreover, there is extended support directly coming from the top players in the Industry to ensure that students get a fair chance to demonstrate their talent and live their passion.

Few Industry Programs/Initiatives are as follows –

• Microsoft Academia

• Your Story Campus Evangelist Program

• Tata First Dot

• 10000 Start-Ups for Students

Though there are several initiatives that focus on – Student Hackathons , Technical Skill

Building , Basics of how to Start-Up etc. yet looking at the big picture gives an impression that there lies a gap that needs to be filled in order to closely couple Industry and Academia. Even though top institutes have certain provisions, they are not functionally as active as they should be in order to spread greater awareness on various options that students can avail as their career choice.

Based on the general response from students when they are asked about their understanding of ‘Entrepreneurship’, one can raise their eyebrow on the following –

Why should this be limited to premier higher education institutes?

Why can’t Entrepreneurship be a part of student curriculum and more so in a practical way rather than just theory?

Why can’t most educational institutes support incubators such as CIE ( IIIHT, Hyderabad ) or TBI ( VIT Vellore ) ?

Why can’t students have a reformed curriculum where at the end of every year they get to test their theoretical knowledge on their Ideas?

There are numerous such questions, some of which are being answered today by organizations that provide incubation, guidance and acceleration to budding entrepreneurs, but many remain unanswered.

One of the important factors is the difference in the mindset and understanding of a student as compared to that of a professional or even post graduate for that matter. There is a dearth of student focused initiatives starting from entrepreneurial education till the realization of an idea into a product or service. Students fresh out of college or even those in college, are high on energy and have great potential but lack maturity and the lessons that are learned from experience. They are highly flexible and can persevere hard to gain expertise in the technical skills required to build great products but, what they need to build a great Enterprise is guidance and soft skills along with strategic intelligence.

The solution to the aforementioned concerns could lie in the ‘Enhancement of the education system’ to start with. There has been a long felt need to revamp the Indian Education System but there may not have been enough and serious attempt by concerned authorities. The bright side though is that Start-Ups are taking a lead in this field as well. Start-Ups such as – EVOLVD are trying to make education something that one and all can enjoy and gain from instead of it being connoted as a yardstick for personality development.

Parental understanding of this whole new eco-system is of utmost importance so that no blossoming flower (idea) is nipped in the bud. Support from parents can take the Young Entrepreneurs of our nation to a whole new level as it will provide them the most important ingredient of brewing a Start-Up : “BELIEF” !

Let’s dream of an era wherein parents want their new born girl to be a ‘Pearl Uppal’ and boy to be a ‘Sachin Bansal’.