Introducing Ray Newal, Managing Director of the First Techstars Accelerator Dedicated to Emerging Markets Entrepreneurs

It is an honour to be offered the opportunity to establish Techstars Bangalore, which will be our first mentorship-driven accelerator in India, focused on supporting emerging markets entrepreneurs.

Techstars Mentorship-driven Accelerators are not new to Indian entrepreneurs. Just ask the founders of ClassPass, Kinetic, and Stasis Labs. In fact, almost 5 percent of applicants to any of the 40+ Techstars programs around the world hail from India. The Techstars community now includes more than 10,000 mentors, and through our mentorship-driven accelerators, we’ve invested in 1375 companies from more than 40 countries. We believe that great mentorship can make exponential leaps possible for early stage startups, and the experiences of thousands of founders that have gone through Techstars accelerators around the world confirm this.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that founders from India and surrounding countries will now be able to access the world’s best accelerator program in their own backyard. This is not only a validation of the importance of the Indian startup ecosystem, but also of tech startups addressing emerging markets problems throughout the world.

About Me:

In 2009, I left a career in corporate tech in North America to build a mobile video company in India. Why would I choose to build a startup in India? I felt at that time, that the people who were to receive the greatest positive life impact from the internet, were yet to come online. If we could find a way to get these people online in India, we could re-apply a lot of this knowledge to serve the remaining 4 billion people in the world that were still ignored by the internet. Overcoming accessibility issues to stream rich content over poor networks would be our path to bringing these people online for the first time, or so the thinking went.

Before I arrived in India, we had already invested more than a year developing the product, go to market strategy, and had even secured a partnership with a large Indian digital media company. However, upon my arrival in 2010, I realized most of our assumptions of the market were way off.

Those first six months in India would completely re-inform the way we saw the challenge. Largely through relentless focus on understanding the pains felt by our target market, and navigating the complexities of connecting with an audience that is poor, and out of reach of most app stores, we managed to define a strategy that resonated with local investors. Over the course of the next few years, as one of the top apps on Nokia feature phones, we would end up streaming some of India’s top TV shows and films to millions of first time internet users.

Why India is the right place for this:

India is home to 1.2 billion people, of which 600 million are under the age of 25. The number one occupational aspiration of most of these young people (females and males alike) is to become engineers. Government initiatives such as the India Stack, will ensure that every one of India’s citizens will one day be able to transact without a wallet, signature, or cash. Through one part of the stack called Adhaar, Unique Identification Numbers are already linked to the biometric data of 1.2 billion people. As the largest open API in the world, India Stack is available to developers who regularly participate in government initiated hackathons. This national fascination with building hardware and software, combined with a willingness to adopt next generation technologies at extreme scale make India the perfect proving ground for emerging markets startups.

Perhaps this is also why India is one of the most popular hubs in the world for Global Innovation or In-house Centres (GICs) of multinational corporations, one-third of which are based in Bangalore. Thousands of engineers working at these modern day R&D facilities shape and execute the technology roadmaps of global leaders such as Boeing, Shell, Walmart, and Goldman Sachs among many others. In total, 1150 multinationals have GICs that employ almost 800,000 people across the country. As India grows to become one of the largest consumers of MNC products and services in the world, it makes sense that future innovations are ideated and developed here.

What we’re looking for:

Over the course of my startup journey, I recognized the brilliance of many local Indian entrepreneurs that had deep and sometimes orthogonal perspectives about serving segments of the Indian market. Not only did they hold unique insights that would ultimately unlock whole market segments, but their life experiences had left them with an unshakeable tenacity and resilience.

These entrepreneurs are not unique to India, but can be found in any developing country. Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and founders in places such as Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Philippines have lived through times of incessant need.  

As Managing Director of Techstars India, it’s my passion and purpose to find and support these brilliant entrepreneurs by helping them to connect with mentors with the ability to bring step change improvements to their startup journeys.

As is standard among all of its programs, Techstars will invest $120,000 USD in 10 chosen teams. We’re looking for companies from around the world that are applying technologies including AI, Blockchain, AR/VR, Robotics, IoT and Big Data Analytics to solve core-India or emerging markets specific problems across the areas of food tech, agriculture, retail, banking, healthcare, manufacturing, urban planning, public sector, transportation, and logistics.

The Techstars Bangalore Accelerator kicks off on February 4th, 2019 and will culminate on Demo Day, May 2nd.  Applications close October 14th, 2018 so please be sure to apply before the deadline.








Announcing Techstars Bangalore Accelerator

India is fast emerging as a startup nation. In just over a decade, it has become one of the top 20 ecosystems in the world, sports unicorns and has startups developing solutions that are not only used in the local markets, but also used worldwide. It is a global hub attracting startups, corporates, investors and government bodies to create innovation for the world.

Techstars Bangalore

To support the startup and innovation ecosystem in India, Techstars is launching the Techstars Bangalore Accelerator. Techstars Bangalore will support innovative startups across many sectors, stages and business models (B2B/B2C).

I am excited and looking forward to working with innovative startups and founders who are building next generation solutions for the local and global markets.

As the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, we believe we can help realize the potential in India by connecting with our global network of mentors, founders and investors.

Applications are now open for Techstars Bangalore. Apply today.

Sign up for updates on webinars, news on the application process.

India is not just a country, but an innovation gateway for the next 5 billion!

India is not just one country but a mini continent. And technology is helping the country leapfrog and positively impact the socio-economic landscape. Startups are the center of this transformation. To understand this a little more, consider the fundamental shifts happening across the country.

Demographic Shifts:

India is a country of 1.3 billion people, with around 900 mil of them experiencing the “mobile only” world for the first time. This provides a rich and diverse canvas for innovation as India is not just one country but a mini continent. There are 22 official languages, and 400-500 regional ethnic sects. In this environment, “scale” has a very different meaning. The template for innovation here is unique and different, and India serves as an innovation gateway for the next 5 billion people who are leapfrogging into the technologically connected world.

Economic Shifts:

India has about 150-200 million (3/4th of the US) people who are globally mobile and live in the cities. They have the same preferences and habits as any in the western world. Alongside this, there are 300-400 million (a little over the size of US) who live in Tier-2 cities. They understand English but prefer their local languages. They are aspirational and fast embracing mobile and internet. They are the mobile only users who are driving online consumption and next generation models. Next to them is another 700-900 mil (twice the size of the US) people who live in the rural villages and have started getting access to technology in the past three years. This segment of the population lives in a highly constrained environment with lack of access to healthcare, education, financial systems and have limited social and economic mobility. Technology and innovation have the potential to dramatically impact this segment and shape a better future.

Ecosystem Shifts:

India has a unique combination of domestic corporates, over 1000+ Fortune 2000 multinational companies, global system integrators, and government bodies looking at partnering with startups to accelerate innovation.








Techstars in India – Namaste India!

I moved back to India from the bay area in mid 2000s. At that time, the Indian startup ecosystem could have easily fitted into a large conference room. In a short span of 10 odd years, it grew significantly.

Having built multiple startups and mentoring many more in India, I believe that we have solved the question of volume of startups in the ecosystem – there are over 5000+ tech startups with 1500 being added every year. There is a positive mindshare around startups, and good supporting ecosystem of investors and ecosystem players.

The constraint, however, has now shifted to “value” – which can be characterized as:

Path to market – There is limited access to local, regional and global markets. Startups find it difficult to build traction.

Product depth – Startups need to focus on building innovations that are narrow but go significantly deeper to solve a problem than light-weight solutions that stitch something together in a novel way.

This is where Techstars can really help the Indian ecosystem. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. It can bring its decades of experience helping startups and founders globally in 100+ countries. Its 1500+ founder network, 10,000+ mentor network and corporate partnerships bring a powerful ensemble that can help Indian startups up level – both in terms of path to market and in building world class quality.

And in this process, Techstars too will gain in understanding how next generation entrepreneurship works. India is a gateway to innovation for the next six billion users in emerging economies. Innovation in this environment of constraints, cultural diversity and scale is unique and requires a different approach.

This complementary synergy – that of Techstars global experience combined with India’s massive canvas of innovating for the next six billion is powerful.

This is why I’m pleased to be joining the Techstars network as President of Techstars India. I believe that we are embarking on an exciting journey together.

Techstars India will be innovating in areas aligned to startups, corporates and talent.

India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is unique in multiple ways

This ecosystem is now one of the top 20 in the world, sports few unicorns and has solutions that are not only used in the local markets, but are also used worldwide. Entrepreneurs’ confidence has grown from building solutions that are adaptations of models elsewhere, to building unique and relevant solutions to the problems and opportunities of India.

Tech Resource Scale: Over one and half million engineering graduates come out of colleges every year. With a young demographic (the median age is 28), the headroom for talent availability is significant.

Developer ecosystem: Over three million developers (second only to the US) are available and this number is growing.

Corporate ecosystem: There is a strong mix of software R&D, system integration, and startup companies, creating a unique opportunity for collaboration to create innovative solutions.

Large (open) domestic market: With over 1.3 billion population, it has a large and growing domestic market. Over 700 million people are getting technology access via smartphones and data, making it a fast growing market for tech enabled products and solutions.

Global startups: India also has a growing pool of startups going global. Almost 40% of all new startups are focused on selling globally.

If you are interested to know more about any of the programs in India or if you would like explore partnership with Techstars, please connect with us at techstarsindia@techstars.com.








Techstars Expands Entrepreneurial Opportunities in South Asia, Establishes Techstars India

Techstars and ANSR Create Joint Venture to Expand Entrepreneurial Opportunities in India

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, announces a joint venture with ANSR, a leader in Global In-House Centers, to further expand Techstars’ worldwide network in India. Formally named Techstars India, the fully aligned partnership will connect India’s entrepreneurs and corporate leaders with the Techstars network. Techstars India will explore numerous entrepreneurial opportunities in India such as Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships.

Techstars India expands the reach and access of the Techstars entrepreneur network to India. Techstars India will enable India’s entrepreneurs to make connections and access the resources of Techstars’ worldwide network that they need to succeed. The Bangalore region, where Techstars will be located, boasts a growing entrepreneurial culture, a wealth of Fortune 500 company sites, a supportive government, and increasing availability of financing – key ingredients to a successful and empowering startup network.

Techstars has had a long and productive presence in India, beginning with Techstars Startup Digest in 2010 and quickly expanding to Techstars Startup Weekend in 2011. Techstars has run 133 Techstars Startup Weekends throughout India, building startup entrepreneurial networks in tier-one metro cities like Delhi – NCR, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata. In addition, Techstars has focused on democratizing entrepreneurship across smaller towns and cities across 22 Indian states by inspiring them to start enterprises in Kashmir (North) to Kerala (South) and by creating entrepreneurship opportunities from Rajkot (West) to Imphal (East).

Of the numerous Techstars Startup Weekend editions organized across India, the events have focused on specific themes such as Women, Youth, Education, Makers, Design, Mobile, Health & Wellness, Governance, Social Innovation, Tech, Financial Inclusion, UNI, Construction, Innovators, FinTech, Anti-Human Trafficking, Healthcare & Analytics, Music, MedTech, Kids/ Youth, and AI.  One notable startup, RidingO, was started at Techstars Startup Weekend in Bangalore in 2012 and went on to be acquired by Carzonrent.

Techstars has 10,000 Techstars Startup Digest India subscribers with Techstars Startup Digests covering Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Visakhapatnam, and India as a whole. Techstars India will be scaling and adding local staff to to support the Indian expansion.

Led by Lalit Ahuja, ANSR has partnered with more than 20 companies to advance their transformation agenda by establishing Global In-House Centers (GICs), research and analytics centers, and startup engagement programs. Each of these building blocks has resulted in massive impacts for Fortune 500 companies and their growth and business transformation strategy driven by the power of global talent resources and accelerated innovation.

“It’s no joke when Techstars says that they like to do more faster,” said Lalit Ahuja, CEO of ANSR, “Once we struck on the idea of a joint venture with Techstars, David Brown and David Cohen moved at the speed of light to dig in, form plans and we are excited to partner with them.”

About Techstars:

The Techstars Worldwide Network helps entrepreneurs make the connections and access the resources they need to succeed. Techstars Startup Programs inspire, educate, and connect entrepreneurs. Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs invest in founders to help them do more faster. Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships help corporations supercharge growth by accelerating innovation and cultural transformation. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,000 companies with a market cap of $9.9 billion.

About ANSR:

Backed by Accel Partners and Infosys and headquartered in Dallas, TX, ANSR is a global leader in establishing, operating and optimizing Global In-House Centers ‘GICs’ and provides end-to-end solutions to enterprises across the GIC life-cycle. Through Kyron, its innovation arm, ANSR also operates Innovation / Corporate Accelerator Programs. Since its inception in 2005, ANSR is credited with establishing and operating some of the best managed GIC’s in India. ANSR’s 27 GICs have cumulatively hired over 40,000 resources and invested over $1B in India.

###

Joanie Kindblade
Director of Public Relations
Joanie.Kindblade@techstars.com
(303) 562-6230








10 Countries. 10 Startup Weekend Communities. 10 Stories Across Borders.

We’re celebrating Techstars Startup Weekend’s 10th Birthday! On July 7th, 2007, the first Startup Weekend was held in Boulder, Colorado with 80 entrepreneurs. In 10 years, we’ve grown to:

  • 13,837 community leaders in 153+ countries
  • 4,531 Startup Weekend events
  • 363,000+ Startup Weekend attendees
  • 45,375 Teams
  • $410M+ in funding secured

Techstars Startup Weekend is now 10 years old, and we’re just getting started in the South & Central Asian region with 130+ India events since 2011, 50+ in South Asia (excluding India) & 20+ in Central Asia.

We’re also excited to announce that we will be bringing the first Startup Weekend events to Maldives and Uzbekistan in late 2017.

To celebrate the impact of our entrepreneurship programs with our worldwide community and teams around the world and I’m honoured to share with you my favorite stories and memories of building startup communities.

Thank you to everyone who has played a part in building this startup community and shaping this global entrepreneurship movement. Check out our Thank You video!

As an Indo-Asian startup innovation Community Architect, I am responsible for the cultivation and sustained growth of vibrant startup ecosystems in India, SAARC nations and Central Asian countries. I’m always excited to welcome thousands of new entrepreneurs every year through Techstars Startup Weekend, and honoured to have facilitated over 30 Startup Weekends across Asia.

  1. Startup Weekend India

The Startup Weekend India community includes over 20 States — SW Rajasthan, SW West Bengal, SW Kerala, SW Gujarat, SW Goa, SW Odisha, SW Delhi, SW Tamil Nadu, SW Manipur, SW Uttar Pradesh, SW Telangana, SW Karnataka, SW Punjab, SW Haryana, SW Uttarakhand, SW Andhra Pradesh, SW Telangana, SW Maharashtra, SW Jammu & Kashmir, SW Himachal Pradesh, etc.

1st Startup Weekend Noida (Uttar Pradesh)

  1. Startup Weekend Pakistan

Startup Weekend Lahore, Pakistan (March 2015) #SWLahore

  1. Startup Weekend Bangladesh

Startup Weekend Dhaka, Bangladesh (May 2017) #SWDhaka

Startup Weekend Dhaka (Nov 2015) #SWDhaka

  1. Startup Weekend Bhutan

#SWBhutan community from 1st, 2nd and 3rd Startup Weekend Bhutan in Thimphu (2016–17) #SWThimphu

  1. Startup Weekend Afghanistan

Building Afghan Entrepreneurship at first Startup Weekend Kabul, Afghanistan (March 2016) #SWKabul

  1. Startup Weekend Sri Lanka

4th Startup Weekend Sri Lanka in Negombo #SiliconBeach (May 2017) #SW Negombo

2nd Startup Weekend Sri Lanka in Colombo (Oct 2016) #SWColombo

First Startup Weekend Sri Lanka in Jaffna (June 2016) #SWJaffna

  1. Startup Weekend Nepal

9th Startup Weekend Kathmandu (Greenovation) in Nepal (Nov 2016) #SWKathmandu

  1. Startup Weekend Kazakhstan

Startup Weekend Astana in Kazakhstan (Oct 2016) #SWAstana

  1. Startup Weekend Tajikistan

First Startup Weekend Tajikistan in Dushanbe (Nov 2016) #SWDushanbe #SWTJ

  1. Startup Weekend ASEAN (10 Countries in One ASEAN)

Startup Weekend ASEAN 2015 was organised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (video), where entrepreneurs from all over South-East Asia collaborated in Generation Startup Weekend, an effort by Techstars Startup Programs and its partners at MaGIC (Malaysian Govt.), YSEALI, and the U.S. State Department.

First of it’s kind — Techstars Startup Weekend ASEAN in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Aug 2015) #SWASEAN

Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. Reach out to me if you’re interested to bring Techstars Startup Programs to your community!

One of my favourite Startup Weekend picture, kicking off the first SW SriLanka #HappyBirthdaySW

We want to say thank you again, from everyone at Techstars, for all the hard work and time that you give to support your entrepreneurial community!

This post was first originally published here at Anurag Maloo’s medium blog here. 








Entrepreneurship – Global Startup Week

Logo-with-GSB-_-TECH-STARS

The first time I heard the word “Entrepreneur”, it was said by a fairly older gentleman, who frantically walked on the stage, waved his arms about and kept saying the word like it was a sort of mantra. We all laughed, my friends and I. Frankly, we never had the intention of paying attention that morning.We just found him to be someone we could point our fingers and laugh at. That was 12 years ago and I didn’t know it back then, but astoundingly, I find myself in a similar position the man on the stage was in. Figuratively, I find myself trying to convince a sceptical audience of the concept of a start up or an idea, and figuratively, the criticisms and questioning feels like the audience pointing a finger and laughing at me.

I suppose I can finally understand what the old man was on about. The feeling of bringing an idea to life is an exciting prospect. It’s a promise of a dream you can provide yourself with and an intangible sense of purpose that is finally, potentially, attainable. But beyond all the ‘fairy-tales’ and ‘lofty ideals’, start-ups aren’t a very novel concept obviously. The fruition of our imagination and our ideas is one of the fundamental characteristics of our species. The man who invented the wheel, the first farmer and the first carpenter could all be considered entrepreneurs. Being entrepreneurs is who we are. We are living in a wonderful time, full of challenges that need to be addressed and full of problems waiting for ingenious solutions. While the industrial revolution and the software bubble were the great start-up generators of our recent history, never in our collective memories as a society, have we faced the scale of challenges we face today, challenges that have the potential to affect every single person’s life. As potential entrepreneurs we are the answer to these challenges.

At the Global Start-up Week, we will provide entrepreneurs with every resource they need, expose them to ideas from across the world, have veterans put their ideas to the test and eventually select the team that may have the answer to questions we may not have even thought of yet.

As a potential entrepreneur, you will have everything you require to leave your mark on this world. All you need to do is use your imagination.

– Anirudh Valluri.

Startup Weekend Hyderabad (GlobalStartupBattle) will be held on 20th – 22nd of November, 2015 at T-Hub, Gachibowli. To participate, please register at www.swhyd.co.in








Startup Weekends are…

Startup Weekends are 54­hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non­technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events are centered on action, innovation, and education. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos to a panel of potential investors and local entrepreneurs.  Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like­minded individuals outside of their daily networks.

 

Who you’ll meet at Startup Weekend:

Startup Weekends attendees’ backgrounds are roughly

● 50% technical (developers, coders, designers)

● 50% business (marketing, finance, law).

 

Why people come to Startup Weekend:  

29% of Startup Weekend participants attend an event to network,

20% attend to develop/build a product

13% attend to learn how to create a new venture.

 

After the conference is over, roughly 80% of attendees plan on continuing to work on their

startup after the weekend.

 

What you’ll get out of the event: 

1. Education: Startup Weekends are all about learning by doing, whether you’re learning a new skill or a new way of thinking.  Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go.

2. Co­Founder Dating: The people who come to Startup Weekend are serious about learning how to build and launch startups.  Create relationships that last long past the weekend.

3. Have fun: During the weekend working alongside awesome people who share your ideas. Startup Weekend is meant to be fun and entertaining so enjoy it.

4. Solve local problems with your ideas. Do you think that one of your idea can change your town or have a positive impact in your group of people? Bring your idea notebook with you and start making a positive change in your local community.

5. Build Your Network: Startup Weekend works hard to recruit high quality, driven entrepreneurs­ like you!

6. Learn New Skills: With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow, Startup Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or give marketing a try.  With nothing to lose there’s no reason not to step outside your comfort zone.

7. Learn How to Launch a Business (and Actually Do It!): Startup Weekend is the epitome of Lean Startup Methodology.

8. Mentorship: Local tech and startup leaders participate in Startup Weekends and give feedback to participants. Interact with the movers and shakers in your community.

9. Get Access to Valuable Startup Resources: By participating in Startup Weekend you are given instant access to great products and tools. No one leaves Startup Weekend empty handed! Click here to learn more about some of the offers our Global Sponsors provide during the event.

10. Save Money: Startup Weekends are affordable (typically $99, only $50 for students).  Your ticket includes seven meals, snacks, and all the coffee you can drink.

Join our community!

We’re a non­profit on a mission! Startup Weekend has hosted events in countries all over the world. Join us!








How One Entrepreneur Is Fighting Sex Trafficking In India.

Initially setting out to solve India’s education problems, entrepreneur and philanthropist Casey Allred found an entirely different issue in the process – now he has 30 days on the internet to save India’s trafficked girls.

Risking all professionally and personally, Allred is turning to Kickstarter.com to finish a film on the untold story of sex trafficking victims. Giving a voice to the victims of India’s trafficking trade, he has 30 days to gain support from the online community and fundraise the project. Watch the trailer below.

Stolen Innocence Trailer

Starting August 7th, the project has until September 7th 23.59 PST reach the goal of
$100k. If the full amount isn’t achieved, the film gets no funding. This all or nothing
approach is risky, but keeps momentum high.

Allred notes, ‘It is scary, but it’s the best platform for us. We have faith that people will support this cause and help us save these girls’.

Allred’s international story starts in 2010, when he set up Effect.org, a non profit providing education to India’s children. The problem was dire, with India home to 38% of the world’s illiterate people. Whilst in college, Allred and a small team successfully built a school in north India. The school has over 100 pupils and functions well to this day. With the intention of scaling his business model and increasing schools, Allred noticed a troubling trend – a decrease in numbers of female students.

He learned that schools and families were losing their girls to the sex trafficking trade. With the world’s largest trafficking ring operating in India, the problem was substantial.

UP Global, Stolen Innocence

UP Global, Stolen Innocence

The issue quickly became personal to Allred. Learning that education is the best proven way to prevent trafficking, bringing these issues together was crucial. Allred teamed up with award winning filmmaker Chris Davis to give the girls of the sex trafficking trade a voice, with a documentary spanning India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

However, fighting for the exploited has not been easy, even stateside. A Rigby, Idaho native, Allred has self-funded the project so far, and risked homelessness by moving to San Francisco for the cause – the best location for fundraising. When filming in India, exposing this industry presents constant risks to Allred and Davis’ safety, as well as deportation from a country they love.

When asked why he’s doing this, Allred responds, ‘We all have the power within us to save these girls. Bringing this film to the masses is a step toward achieving that. Helping just one girl would make it all worth it’

In conjunction with the kickstarter campaign Stolen Innocence is using #giveheravoice on Instagram and Twitter to share stories of worldwide female injustice. Those interested in supporting the film can learn more and view the trailer here: www.stolendocumentary.com








How Entrepreneurs in India Are Using Data To Influence Government.

In an increasingly metrics-driven world, data is everywhere. Our information, decisions, and purchases are being recorded online, our opinions on products and politicians are regularly collected, and bureaucratic offices have growing physical and virtual troves of records. Without a doubt, large amounts of data collected is sitting ignored, locked away in overstuffed file cabinets or forgotten excel sheets.

Enter Startup Weekend New Delhi, Governance.

unnamed

This past weekend’s Startup Weekend in New Delhi, India, where all teams worked on projects related to the theme of governance, saw a number of projects focused on using data to create change. Team Juicy Visualizer, first-place winners, created a stunning tool for visually represented scattered data. Their app and website allow users to input data from any source and then automatically generates beautiful visuals that will allow users to better understand, analyze, and draw inferences from their existing data sets.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

The weekend’s third place winners, Happy Grievances, also worked on liberating existing information from the abyss. They designed a portal to take information from government grievance departments and make it easily accessible online, tying up with Juicy Visualizer to present it in a digestible format to politicians, academics, NGOs, and other interested citizens. This service has great potential for high-level analysis on trends within the country.

PinDrop, which took second place, is a system for connecting citizens to their local politicians to place complaints  – which, if ignored, are then automatically escalated to a higher official. Their app also allows users to visualize complaint data on a map. Similarly, team Reality Reporters created an app to report city issues by users’ geographic location. In the couple of days alone they had already spoken with a couple of government officials in the northern state of Punjab who expressed interest in using their technology. Both teams’ products are working on methods that will help data collected be seen and, ideally, responded to.

Other impressive projects took a slightly different focus. HopQ developed an app that allows metro-riders to input their route and automatically generate a corresponding QR code. When they reach the station, they can walk past the ever-long lines, scan their code, and receive a metro token – hopping the queue. Team iTeach, entering with an interest in improving education, worked on an online platform for connecting and assisting teachers. With the social network designed around their needs, teachers can exchange resources, share ideas, and receive online training. Team Cleanvertising tackled a difficult issue – trash. Through their model, businesses would sponsor trashcans and in return their advertisements would be prominent on the bins – a win-win in working towards cleaner cities.

We loved the ideas and products that came out of the weekend and were also impressed with the participants – who, it’s worth noting, remained focused and hard at work despite the neon Startup Weekend traffic-controller vests we were all wearing (you can get an event t-shirt anywhere, right?). Thank you Adianta Institute, SW Governance judges, mentors, speakers and of course participants for a great event. We will be following your projects and hope to see a good number being actualized. Your ideas and the impact they could create are big!

Also by Rachel: India’s Largest Election Inspires Entrepreneurs To Make Change.








India's Largest Election Inspires Entrepreneurs To Make Change.

This post is written by Rachel Eilbott, Organizer for Startup Weekend Delhi Governance which took place Friday – Sunday, April 11th-13th. 

Today marks the third stage of voting for India’s 16th Lok Sabha elections – a national race held in nine stages across the country.

tumblr_static_india_header

Over the next five weeks, voters from New Delhi and 91 other constituencies are coming out to make their voices heard.

This race is huge for India in a number of ways: literally (this is the largest democratic election in the history of the world, with over 814 million eligible voters) and for a number of firsts as well. The incumbent party in power for the past 10 years, Congress, is, according to opinion polls, facing serious opposition by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, featured below).

Startup weekend, UP Global

And both of these two main parties are challenged by the newcomer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP, featured below), whose anti-corruption platform was a shocking success in Delhi’s December elections.

Startup Weekend, UP Global

This race has involved more spending and greater use of technology than ever seen before, voters now have a “None of the above” option on ballots, and transgender voters have for the first time been recognized with a third option when denoting gender.

Big things are happening (click image to enlarge). 

startup weekend, UP Global

On the day of the election, the city is buzzing with political discussion. Some are excited, some are nervous, some are indifferent – “I’m voting, but there’s really no point,” someone says, “it’s already over.”

Today, tomorrow, next week – you will cast your vote, and in a little more than a month’s time we’ll have results. Some of you will be relieved, or maybe excited – others disappointed, upset. Stop and think for a moment, however: what do you want to see change from these elections? What is your hope for the present and future of the country? And, most importantly, what will YOU do to work towards a better India? Your vote counts and by all means don’t waste it, but also don’t let the end of elections also mean the end of the conversation, enthusiasm, action.

No matter what the results of this election are, you still work towards the India that you want to see. Maybe your candidate wins; help them work better. Maybe your candidate doesn’t; go out and fight for what you believe. What do you want to change?

Feel that elections aren’t transparent enough, or that candidates may be hiding important information? Professors from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad did, and so created the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in 1999 to monitor elections. Because of their work, candidates are now required to disclose criminal, financial, and educational records when running for office, information they compile and make available to the public. ADR has worked with National Election Watch to run Election Watches on the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections as well as nearly every state election since coming into operation – helping promote more honest elections and candidates.

Feel like pulling your hair out after a frustrating day at the passport office?  Kuang Chen was inspired during his PhD research on low-resource organizations to create Captricity, a service that can capture information from any document type, including handwritten forms, and transform it into workable data. For frequently under-staffed, overworked bureaucracies, the time- and money-saving potential of such a service is enormous.

Feel that MLAs are out of fresh ideas or wish that your great ideas could be heard? Rwitwika Bhattacharya envisioned a way to address both points. She launched the Swaniti Initiative in 2009 to link some of the best young minds in the country with elected officials to work together to solve problems and improve society. Now Swaniti Fellows work with MPs, MLAs, and Cabinet Members across the country to create, implement, and scale programs to create sustainable social change in their constituencies.

Feel that there isn’t enough money on the table for some of the most important government initiatives? The founders of Citizinvestor saw the opportunity to leverage the power of crowdfunding to serve the public good. Through the US-based platform, local governments or their partners can request funds for projects, allowing citizens to directly take charge of the programs that matter most to them.

Feel that proposed government policies are confusing? The founders of Outline are developing a platform to simulate what effect government policies will have on local economies, allowing citizens to understand how proposed decisions may affect their lives, such as being able to see by how much their taxes may increase.  By helping citizens to understand policy, Outline will lead to increased communication between decision-makers and their constituents.

All of these initiatives started as an idea someone had – a grievance or gap a person identified and then found an innovative way to address. What gaps do you see with governance systems? How can you solve them?

Come to Startup Weekend Delhi Governance this Friday through Sunday, April 11th-13th, to work on an idea or develop a new one. Held at the Adianta School for Leadership and Innovation in Chattarpur Enclave, Delhi, you will have the course of the weekend to pitch ideas, form teams, gain access to skilled mentors, develop your idea into a workable model, and pitch your project to a panel of judges. What will you create?