If Massachusetts Institute of Technologys entrepreneurship competition is the worlds largest business plan contest,IIT-Bombays Eureka could well be Indias answer to it. The annual international business competition of IIT-B has this year received over 100 entries from the US,Japan,Australia,Ireland,UAE,Singapore,Nigeria,Thailand,Sri Lanka,Pakistan and Bangladesh among others,up from 45 last year.
Overall,5,800 entries will vie for a prize money of Rs 45 lakh. The event will be held in February next year.
We expect the number of entries to cross 6,000 by the time registrations close on October 8. Last year,the total number of participants were 5,300. The stakes go higher each year and the variety and number of foreign entries are a testimony to it. In 2010,there were only 20 international registrations. Eureka has consistently maintained good quality over the years and the fact that it is located in the commercial capital of India is an added advantage,as participants know that the exposure will be very good, said Arjita Kulshreshtha,student and media manager of IIT Bombays Entrepreneurship Cell,which organises the event.
The average age of the participants is 23 years and young professionals and college students form a bulk of the participants. Most of the entries come from places like Mumbai,Pune,Delhi,Chennai and Bangalore where the start-up culture is growing steadily, she added.
Experts said amid a difficult economy youngsters were increasingly focusing on creating own start-ups and Eureka gives them a platform to pitch business plans before investors.
A large number of youngsters are now keen to start their own venture. They have talent and good ideas and a platform like Eureka enables them to pitch their plans before investors,venture capitalists and industrialists from reputed firms. They also get an opportunity to be guided by some of the best from the industry, said a senior faculty member from IIT Bombay.
A majority of the entries this year are from service and web sectors,followed by IT,social,retail and manufacturing. Entries have also come from sectors like power,entertainment,consultancies,banking and telecommunication.
The experts added that increase in the prize money and introduction of various incentives over the last 14 years had also helped. From 50 teams competing for Rs 50,000 in the first year,the total amount is now Rs 45 lakh. Further,to promote young entrepreneurs,one-year-old start-ups are allowed to participate in the business track,while upto two-year-old businesses can compete in the social track.