The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards conducted by Entrepreneurs Organization aims to recognise and reward entrepreneurial instinct across campuses in India
I remember my time at college; there was the phase of discovery, figuring out what you liked enough to make a career out of it, figuring out who liked you enough to be BFFs with and other such pursuits. Recently, there was an event held in the city which took me back to college and made me realise how today’s students are making college a more meaningful experience, they’re brainstorming ideas and building companies from scratch, companies with solutions to real problems across diverse industries.
Recognition and reward
On March 12 2016, Chennai hosted the national finals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) conducted by the global business network, Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). Student entrepreneurs participated in preliminary zonal competitions to reach the finals and presented their business cases to a panel comprising V. Shankar, founder of Computer Age Management Services, Ullas Kamath, founder of Jyothy Laboratories and Gautam Jaggi, director of o3 Capital. The business ideas spanned a wide range of industries from wireless technology to pipeline inspection technology to food and nutrition at schools and the entrepreneurs faced the judging panel with a sense of ease as they answered questions posed on challenges faced, strategic decisions taken and growth ambitions charted out.
The national winner gets to represent India at the GSEA global finals in Bangkok, Thailand and stands a chance to win a cash prize of over US$ 20,000. As the evening unfolded, the panel adjudged Fizzible Technologies (Pratik Magar) as the winner while DeTect Technologies (Daniel Raj David and team) was the runner-up and Amruth Foods (Vijay Raj) bagged third place. Magar, a final-year student of MIT Pune’s Computer Science department, is humbled by the win, given that his company was up against some stiff competition. When asked about his preparations to compete in the GSEA global finals, Magar says, “It will be a challenge to compete with participants from 49 other countries as every idea is unique and has got limitless potential. We are excited about the opportunity and are looking to put our best foot forward while representing our country in the international forum.”
As K. Chandrasekhar, GSEA director-South Asia, says, “Identifying the next generation of idea makers, job creators and influencers is truly a nation building exercise.” That does ring true when I look at these confident, young hopefuls who are ready to take on the daunting task of running a business in the real world, away from the warmth of their incubators or the shelter of their campuses.
Fizzible Technology – Winner – GSEA Awards (India)
Fizzible Technology was founded by Pratik Magar in 2014 with the objective of extending the power of positioning technology in an indoor environment. With people becoming accustomed to navigational tools like GPS, which has limitations in an indoor space, Magar and his team sought to address this need and came up with Fizzible’s IPS. While other indoor positioning technology such as WiFi, fingerprinting and Bluetooth do exist, they provide an accuracy of less than 1 metre, whereas Fizzible’s technology is independent of manufacturer or make, and provides an accuracy of nearly 25 metres. Autonomous vehicles, aviation, warehouse automation, inventory management, crowd management, these are just some of the many applications of this technology. “We were working on a robotics project and each and every time we needed to find components for it, we had to use existing solutions like buzzer. It was quite a challenge to do that for 50+ items, So, we made our own system,” explains Magar on how Fizzible Technologies came into being. Today, the company is gearing up for its product launch and has client deals lined up.
DeTect Technologies – Runner-Up – GSEA Awards (India)
DeTect Technologies was founded by Daniel Raj David, Harikrishnan A.S. and Karthik R., with the idea to create a technology that would aid in inspection of pipelines mainly in the oil, gas, nuclear and power sectors. Its flagship product, GUMPS, is a state-of-the-art technology that does real time defect monitoring for any pipeline system. In early 2014, Reliance Industries Ltd. invested US$ 100,000 for product development of GUMPS through IIT-Madras and in November that year, it held its first successful field trial at the world’s largest refinery in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India. Following two more successful trials of GUMPS, the founders incorporated the company in January 2016 and the company received funding from IIT-M’s incubation cell to the tune of Rs. 10 lakh.
David credits his institution, IIT-M, for being encouraging of entrepreneurship while stressing on the important role mentors have to play in a budding entrepreneur’s life. “We students are brash and do things our way as we are not exposed to the outside world. There should be knowledgeable mentors who are able to guide students in making business plans, looking at practical aspects, seeing if the idea is actually viable and getting in the right connections to serve specific purposes,” he says.
Foodly Nutrilive India – Second Runner-Up – GSEA Awards (India)
Founded in 2014 by H. Vijay Raj, Foodly Nutrilive India partners with schools to provide nutritional support and products to children. The company works with nutritionists who plan daily meals for children keeping in mind their individual requirements. In the upcoming academic year, Foodly Nutrilive India is looking to launch its services in schools and has already signed on five schools. “We are still in our initial phase and through marketing strategies, we would like to bring 3,000 children under our programme in this year,” says Raj while adding that the company aims at bringing on board 20 schools this fiscal. A student of PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, Raj is grateful that his college allowed him to juggle classes and start a business with a fair amount of ease. Ask him about the challenges of working this space and he says, “There are two challenges, one would be managing the workings of a business and arriving at operational efficiency, pricing, unit economics and other calculations and two, convincing investors and customers alike to sign us on,” he says.