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Making ideas work

It is the first time that Aurangabad has witnessed a Startup Weekend. An initiative by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German federal enterprise that strives towards international cooperation, and CMIA’s incubator Marathwada Accelerator for Growth & Incubation Centre (MAGIC), the Startup Weekend was intended to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in small towns of India.

As many as 50 students and aspiring entrepreneurs had signed up for this intensive three-day workshop, from December 1 to 3, where they received hands-on mentoring and guidance on how to put their business ideas to work.

As a local innovator, it was only natural that Anerao was exposed to this in the hope that connections could be made and his story taken to more people.

Tasvvar Ali, the GIZ representative in Aurangabad, has a knack for spotting talent. He has been striving tirelessly to promote local innovation in the town’s many engineering colleges and create a bridge between the academia and industry.

Tasvvar Ali (centre) advising participants

He offers to help Anerao by making a formal presentation for his innovation and introduce him to various forums and associations that award local innovation. This is a big step.

Speaking at the Startup Weekend event on igniting entrepreneurship, Rajeev Vaishnav, a startup evangelist, who is associated with industry bodies like TiE, said, “Unless we connect the smaller towns, the vision of Startup India will not be fulfilled.”

The story of Aurangabad’s Startup Weekend is thus crucial to understand how the various stakeholders right from academic institutions to local industry and government bodies to the industries themselves can achieve the vision of Startup India.

Among the 50 young participants, it was heartening to notice a fair amount of girls at the workshop. In the three days, they patiently heard speakers give them an overview of the entrepreneurship world at large, inspiring them to think big.

Participants discuss their business model

But the best, as many of them told me later, was the hands-on work they did on the Business Model Canvas (BMC) tool aided by mentors, who are entrepreneurs themselves, that made the most impact.

Igniting a spark

Nikhil Jois, Co-founder of Eventosaur, Mahendra Pyati, Co-founder of Aao Hostels, and Hemanshu Jain, Co-founder of Diabeto (acquired by Livongo), are no strangers to mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs, and have often been ‘partners-in-crime’ (if you know what I mean) with YourStory, travelling around the country to inspire youngsters to dream big.

Nikhil Jois

According to Mahendra, “The spirit of entrepreneurship is in the air across the country and everyone wants to do something — small or big. I think replicating some of the already successful models – small scale or social enterprise – will go a long way specifically for places like Aurangabad.” Hemanshu added, “It should be easy for them to even get an early acquisition from a big giant in that case.”

On the final day of the workshop, the participants pitched their ideas to the mentors. Though there were three winners, there were other pitches as well that impressed the judges. “I’d have to go with the locally made solar panels as my top pick outside the winners,” said Nikhil. “A couple of other memorable ones include – healthier home-cooked meals delivered in an easy-to-cook format, and the online nursery that delivers plants, flowers, manure etc., inclusive of a subscription model-based gardener package,” he added.

Mahendra Pyati (left) interacting with a participant.

(Photos by R Raja)


More: Yourstory