Bhopal Start-Up Conclave: Making The Right Pitch For Innovation

Ordinary people with extraordinary dreams tasted the ‘secret sauce of success’ at a start-up conclave for young entrepreneurs in Bhopal.

Top start-up founders of the country shared their success ideas for entrepreneurial ventures at the ‘The Future of MP: Start-up Conclave’ which was held on 29 September in Bhopal under the theme ‘Ordinary People, Extraordinary Dreams’.

Organised at B-Nest, the Incubation Centre of Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Ltd, the conclave served as an effective platform for the young entrepreneurs of Madhya Pradesh to exchange views with potential investors and for showcasing their products and ideas.

Students from outside Bhopal also participated. The students from IIM-Indore, IIIT-Gwalior, Ujjain Engineering College, SGSITS-Indore, Gyan Ganga Institute of Science and Technology-Jabalpur and Sagar University interacted with the panellists through video conferencing. This conclave can be said to be the start-up equivalent of the Global Investor Summit. It featured four informative sessions, and highlights included insights shared by panellists as well as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

The first session themed ‘Secret Sauce of Success’ had successful entrepreneurs and start-up founders of Madhya Pradesh share their views with students and aspiring entrepreneurs. Netlink founder and CEO Anurag Shrivastava said how giving priority to employee health is of paramount importance in a company. Pratap Snacks founder Amit Kumar Kamath and Carwale & Chalo founder Mohit Dubey echoed his views, saying that good ideas will always take the start-up ahead and how funding is readily available for good ideas. Flyrobe founder Shreya Mishra said that any potential entrepreneur should pay more attention to the execution of their ideas and should not be too stressed about them getting stolen.

The second session started with a talk by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant who announced NITI Aayog’s plan to set up 500 new incubation centres in Madhya Pradesh. He emphasised that to get 10 per cent gross domestic product growth, the contribution of start-ups and young entrepreneurs is of utmost importance. He appreciated the fact that MP became the first state to establish an entrepreneurship development centre. He also praised the state for having their maximum number of start-ups involved in crucial sectors of education and agriculture.

Kant asserted that the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation must be taught at a young stage and that is the motive behind NITI Aayog’s Atal Tinkering Labs. He reminded the audience that failures are part and parcel of every successful start-up. Kant expressed joy at the fact that many youngsters are willing to create start-ups nowadays instead of running after jobs once they finish education. He also claimed that 1,100 multinational centres have brought their R&D centres in India, giving jobs to 80,000 people. In his words ‘All these changes are happening because the world is noticing our young talent”.

The second session also consisted of a speech by the Chief Minister who recalled how about a decade ago, the word start-up was not even uttered in the state which was synonymous with the term ‘BIMARU’. Chouhan explained how his first responsibility on taking the mantle of the state government was to ensure the prosperity of the state’s predominant agriculture sector since 65 per cent of the state was dependent. Hence, his government decided to make agriculture a profitable business to boost the state’s growth. In order to do that, the CM decided to bring in modifications in methods of both cultivation and irrigation. He mentioned how in those days linking the major rivers of the state Narmada and Shipra was an innovative idea. This idea saved Malawa from becoming an arid desert.

Besides talking about agriculture the CM quipped about how many students of the state now have laptops whereas a decade back the state did not have enough electricity to charge them. Today, the state is producing 18,800 megawatts of electricity which has helped both farmers as well as the state’s residents. After fixing the basics of agricultural economy, the CM mentioned how he ensured that the youngsters did not face any problem in the field of education. For ensuring the same, the government decided to pay the higher education fees of students who secure 80 per cent or more in Class XII board exams in Central Board of Secondary Education and 70 per cent or more for the state boards.

For capitalising on the boom of start-up culture, the Chief Minister announced a Rs 100 crore start-up fund for promoting entrepreneurial activities in Madhya Pradesh. Chouhan praised the progress made by B-Nest Incubation Centre, which now hosts 30 start-ups from Bhopal. He declared that similar centres for promoting start-ups will come up in all the other smart cities -Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Sagar and Satna. The CM reminded the audience of his decision to help new start-ups without a prior track record, who are interested to work with the government. For them, amendments would be made to enable procurement of up to Rs 30 lakh without the process of tendering.

Chouhan emphasised his government’s commitment to help start-ups by giving innovators loans without interest. He urged the youngsters to come up with ideas and innovations to make Madhya Pradesh the number one state for investment in the country.

In the same session, Impetus Technologies founder and CEO Praveen Kankariya shared how those that are interested in start-ups should broaden their thinking and aim higher. RT Global Infosolutions founder and CEO Rahul Gupta mentioned three M’s that are important for start-ups – money, mentoring and market, with the latter two being the most important.

In the session on ‘Ease of Starting Up’ Deloitte Digital Partner Neeraj Arora insisted that upcoming incubates should get access to the market in order to avail the latest technology. In the final session, aspiring entrepreneurs presented a seven-minute pitch to the investors at the conclave. Overall, the conclave can be said to have initiated a process to make the state a focal point for future start-up activities. The success of this conclave will surely pave the way to make Madhya Pradesh the perfect pitch for budding entrepreneurs to bowl their innovative ideas.