To attract bright minds and innovative ideas from across the country, the Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) of IIT Bombay organised an on-the-spot funding event, the ‘10-Minute Million’, which enabled young entrepreneurs to raise Rs 10 lakh in just 10 minutes. The event, part of IIT Bombay’s Entrepreneurship Summit, was held on February 1 and six start-ups walked away with Rs 10 lakh each. Mihika Basu profiles five of them.
Mridang Lodha (24)
Named after the song “Qun Faaya Qun” from the 2011 film “Rockstar”, Faaya turned out to be a rockstar itself. Attempting to make “dressing fun”, this personalised dress-maker is an online platform where people get to design their own outfits and which is then custom-tailored to their measurements. “It’s an engaging 3D platform where you pick designs and change or add elements or design something from the scratch and get it made only for you, delivered to your door-step. Each design is unique and it is made only once,” said Lodha, founder and economics graduate from Delhi’s Sri Ram College of Commerce. The team directly engages with tailors and pays them 30 per cent more than what they currently get in the market. The firm currently caters to over 600 customers in over seven countries, and delivers across the globe. “It was my first public pitch and my passion for tailor-made clothing worked in my favour,” said Lodha.
Paras Batra (21)
It was during his research scholarship at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in 2014 that Batra decided to co-found a company to give back to the society. “I saw several start-ups in Singapore, which had started with the idea of solving problems faced by their country. I started the company in March 2014 with four others,” said the final year BTech student of IIT Delhi. It is developing a product ‘Guardian’, which is a smart, wearable security module, and can be worn as a bracelet or necklace by women. “You have to tap on the device and it sends an alert to your friends, family, the police and volunteers of the Guardian community, to alert them about your location. Prompt notifications are received by concerned people on their mobile phones and can be easily tracked,” said Batra. The product is in the user-testing phase and while it currently costs Rs 1500, the team is looking at bringing it down to Rs 500. The launch will be April 2015.
While e-commerce in India is thriving with more people than ever choosing to shop online, order food and recharge their mobiles online, the existing cash back sites manage to capture just 10 per cent of the e-commerce market, according to Kumawat. His start-up enables people to find cashback offers from over 300 e-commercial websites. “Dealwithus aims to target the remaining 90 per cent, with a fast, user-friendly website. In its first six months of operation, it has managed sales of Rs 1.3 crore without any capital investments,” he said. The website has features like automated link building, cash back meter, android app. “The mobile website is able to provide customers ease to use it in minimum time and get their cash back. Customers can use the cash back by recharging their mobile phones or transferring the money to their account from the Dealwithus wallet,” said Kumawat, a final year electrical engineering student with IIT Bombay.
Arul Murugan Palanichamy (27)
A 2008 graduate from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Arul worked for nearly seven years at a “food processing company and decided to launch his start-up snackexperts in August 2014, which manufactures and delivers “healthy, wholesome, nutritious and tasty snack options”. “Due to lack of time, we end up making poor eating choices, which invariably gets reflected in our waistlines. Hence, our focus is on healthy and tasty snacking,” he said. Each snack box, priced at Rs 699, is prepared fresh against order, and comes with five unique varieties of snacks that can be ordered via online and delivered at doorstep across India. “This field, however, is very competitive, involves a lot of capital and supply chain difficulties. But I was passionate about creating a model through e-commerce, which connects preservative free snacks direct to consumer,” he said.
Arpit Bajpai (23)
A chemical engineer, Bajpai, who graduated in June 2014 from IIT Bombay, realised during his internship that he was not “cut out for a job” and knew that he had to venture out and start something of his own. And it was a risk he was willing to take. Hence, though he was placed in a company during campus placements last year, he decided to start CleverSharks, which aims to create a smarter student community, equipped with correct resources and tools, where everyone takes an informed decision about their career choices. The start-up is targeting at building a career platform in engineering. “It’s the first-ever initiative of providing a reliable and authentic platform to engineers. It provides them with reviews and personal experiences of a wide spectrum of students and recent graduates, to enable them to choose an opportunity that is not just acceptable but truly compatible and tailor-made,” said Bajpai.