‘Eureka’ moment for budding entrepreneurs at IIT-B

The award for the best entry in the business category — with a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh-went to a venture titled ‘Zostel'.

Mumbai | Updated: February 6, 2014 11:30:56 am
The award for the best entry in the business category went to ‘Zostel,’ a backpacking youth hostel chain. The award for the best entry in the business category went to ‘Zostel,’ a backpacking youth hostel chain.

Aspiring to “do something meaningful”, a former student of IIT Bombay (IIT-B) along with two former students of IIT Gandhinagar have started a social entrepreneurship venture called ‘Tinker Tank’ to help poor women, who live in slums and make incense sticks, earn their bread and butter by automating the business and enhancing their production.

The start-up, which was formally registered as a company a few days ago, got a fillip Sunday when it was adjudged the best entry at ‘Eureka,’ IIT Bombay’s annual international business plan competition. It was the winner in the Eureka-social category and got a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

Of 5,800 b-plans, 70 semi-finalist teams were mentored for a month and 20 were selected for the final round. The finals were held during the Entrepreneurship Summit Sunday, organised by the Entrepreneurship Cell of IIT Bombay.

Overall, it had cash prizes worth Rs 45 lakh. The competition was divided into two tracks — the business track for all start-ups and a social track for those ventures looking for quantifiable social returns.

“Drudgery comes with the job and the women also get exploited by middlemen. We have made a low-cost machine, which is cheaper than the solutions available today, to automate the process, reduce the time taken for production and thus increase the output,” said 24-year-old Keshav Giriyatnavar, a former student of IIT Gandhinagar, who started the venture with his friends Adnan Ansari, an alumnus of IIT Gandhinagar and Abhishek Rathi, a former student of IIT Bombay.

“Athough they are cheaper, the machines will still be unaffordable for these women. The idea is to form community groups of 20-25 women each and seek funds from micro-finance companies to purchase the machines. The community groups can sell directly to the market, thus eliminating middlemen and increasing profits,” said Keshav.

The award for the best entry in the business category — with a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh-went to a venture titled ‘Zostel,’ a backpacking youth hostel chain in the country. The six-month-old company, started by seven, already has properties at Jodhpur and Jaipur, and is looking to expand to 10,000 beds across India in the next few years.

The runner-up award in the social category, a cash prize of Rs 50,000, was awarded to a mobile and web-based platform where citizens, NGOs and civic bodies can come together to solve civic issues.

There was also a separate youth award for college students and recent graduates that went to a venture titled ‘Abhiruchi,’ which is a company proposed to be involved in the development of pro-biotic products, that can lower cholesterol levels in the body.

mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com

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