When Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “There should be no district, no block in the country where there isn’t a startup”, he outlined a vision of an India that nurtures entrepreneurship. It was also a challenge to the industry to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and startups to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), has risen to the vision with its flagship ‘Startup Mentorship Circle’ that was launched today Western Region in Mumbai, a unique platform to mentor startups, connect them to the global marketplace and their think-tanks for them to scale up and succeed in an exponential way.
Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman, CII WR Entrepreneurship & Startup SC and MD, Bajaj Finserv, talking about the impressive line-up of mentors ahead, said, “These are mentors who have been there and done that, who have made mistakes and who can help startups by evaluating ideas, helping get customers form CII network and maybe even fund opportunities.”
Israel as a nation is small but is buzzing with entrepreneurs that have created businesses with size and scale that go beyond the size of the nation. This was done by the government itself getting into Venture Capital and funding young entrepreneurs.
Highlighting this David Akov, Consul General of Israel said that sharing of experience, methods and ecosystems between countries is one of the most important elements to promoting growth. And as a consulate, he is looking forward for new ways of cooperation and sharing between the two countries.
“Israel is relevant to India because we have problems that are similar and thus might have the same solutions. We can work together to find new solutions to existing problem. Traditionally the two countries cooperated in agriculture and water management but it is time to do so in high-tech ecosystems, technology and academia,” said Mr. Akov adding that his consulate endeavours to help relevant startups get the ‘first connection to an international interaction’ and to connect the businesses of the two countries together.
Jordan Reeves, Consul General of Canada said that these were exciting time for Canada-India relations as trade between two countries is up 50% from last year and there is an unprecedented rise of Canadian equity investment in India. “Canada and India are two of the most innovative countries in the world right now and there’s a lot they can offer each other, stand together.”
Canada, Mr. Reeves said, offers a unique collaboration between research, business and industry. He highlighted the key areas of cooperation between the two countries as being: health, water, infrastructure, clean technology and ICT. He also informed of the special facilities and tax sops provided to startups to begin joint ventures in Canada.
Sudhir Mehta, Chairman, CII WR, Chairman & Managing Director, Pinnacle Industries Ltd. laid down the opportunity available on the day when he said, “We are the fastest growing large economy in the world and are a country of young people buzzing with entrepreneurship. We are at a cusp of historic growth and are looking at opportunities that are absolutely unprecedented. Next two decades will be India’s time and we can do something very special.”
He explained how with 8000 direct members and 200,000 indirect members, CII provides perhaps the largest network for startups to leverage on and is determined to “create magic by bringing together three different constituents: the network of experienced entrepreneurs who have created multiple companies, passion of the young startups to solve important issues and talented academic institutions.”
A ‘Speed Meeting with Mentors’ became the highlight of the day. Dozens of startups got the unique opportunity to chat up with successful industry mentors who had come especially to objectively asses their plans and weaknesses, challenge them and help fine tune their business plans.
This mentorship was conducted by the captains of the Indian industry including: Pradeep Banerjee, Executive Director – Supply Chain, Hindustan Unilever Ltd., Pramod Sant, Vice President , Head of Import Export, Siemens Ltd., Padmaja Ruparel, Co-founder & President, Indian Angel Network, Naveen Surya, Managing Director, Itz Cash Card Ltd., Vandan Shah, Executive Director, Veena Diecasters & Engineers Pvt Ltd., and Anjali Bansal, Senior Advisor, TPG among many others.
Ninad Karpe, Deputy Chairman, CII WR, MD and CEO, Aptech Ltd. succinctly summed up the event when he said, “We were inundated with number of requests from startups and today has ended up being a truly historic day. We have mentors who have come from outside Mumbai just to spend time mentoring people. What we hope to achieve is a first step, be a platform to bring together different types of expertise and we hope to only go stronger from here.”