Launching The Startup50 Awards

Imagine a world where our fellow countrymen in rural India have access to high-quality kindergarten education for their children? What if there was a startup that could prevent blindness through affordable eye screening solutions for all? How about a platform that empowers artisans across the country – both rural and urban – to sell handmade Indian products to the world? How about a robotic solution to perform biopsy procedures to treat cancer? And, last but not the least, what if the next big web company is made in India?

Over the last five years, we’ve had box seats to witness firsthand the entrepreneurship boom that has swept our nation. From impact-focused ventures to revolutionary startups that are now large companies, we’ve had the privilege to interview and feature some of India’s most celebrated entrepreneurs. Additionally, there are several others who work from behind the scenes at these startups, to solve some extremely tough challenges.

This entrepreneurial boom was much needed. After the IT revolution that started off in the 1990s, and picked up steam in the 2000s, we needed another revolution to boost up job creation. The startup world has played a crucial role in shaping this up. If somehow, manufacturing and agricultural sectors were also revived, we’d be well on our way for another growth run.

Keeping this entrepreneurial boom in mind, at The Smart CEO Magazine, we wanted to launch an awards property to recognize and honor 50 startups from across the nation, from diverse sectors. While there are numerous awards that recognize startups, we thought our entrepreneurs deserved one more; one that recognizes a larger set of people, and would further spur the ecosystem. We studied several ‘lists’ including the Forbes Rich List, Thinkers50 List for management gurus and the Fortune 500. While the Forbes and Fortune lists are based on hard facts like net worth, market capitalization and revenues, we knew such specific metrics wouldn’t work for the startup world.

Finally, we drew inspiration from Thinker50, where 50 of the world’s top management gurus are recognized for their ideas and contribution to the world of management. In 2013, Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen led this list for his work on disruptive innovation. The Thinkers50 List was well respected in the academic community, inspires more idea generation by the gurus and we wanted to create something similar for the Indian startup ecosystem.

Thus was born The Smart CEO-Startup50 Awards. We assembled a top notch jury comprising of Krishnakumar Natarajan, co-founder, MD and CEO of Mindtree, Krishnan Ganesh, four-time Serial entrepreneur, Partner at GrowthStory and Chairman Portea Medical, Kumar Shiralagi, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital and Investor in Myntra and Snapdeal, Senthil Kumar, Director of the family office of Infosys’ SD Shibulal and CEO of Tamara Coorg and Naganand Doraswamy, President of TiE Bangalore and co-founder SPAN Systems.

Till date, we’ve received over 100 nominations from ventures across the country. In early August, our jury will be analysing these nominations based on a preset criteria and the final Startup50 List will be announced in a gala awards night on August 28th, 2015 at Taj West End in Bangalore.

If you want to nominate your company to the Startup50 Awards, please visit

And, stay tuned to this space to hear back from us about the final list of 50. Additionally, a big thank you to our sponsors – Valmark, IDA Ireland, Shriram Capital, The Tamara Coorg and Veda Corp and a special mention about Venture Intelligence for their support.

Hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.

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