The Startup Konnect was a full-day event organized in San Jose, California, on the sidelines of PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley in September 2015. The aim of this event was to showcase India’s innovation ecosystem to the world. This event was organized by three entities (a) the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), (b) The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), and (c) IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE). All these three entities came together to put together this unprecedented event, selected the cohort of companies, and brought together the speakers for the panels, apart from organizing the logistics of an event that was to host the PM.
The Konnect comprised of a few different sub-events: (i) an exhibition of around 40 of Indian and Indian-established innovative startups in these sectors, including a pitch session for them catering to investors in the Valley; (ii) panel discussions on what the Indian innovation ecosystem can learn from the Valley’s experiences; and (iii) the PM’s speech on policy for startups in India, which included a few announcements for cooperation between entities in India and US. The PM launched a new impact fund called Bharat Fund, which will be managed by the CIIE.
The Silicon Valley was chosen to showcase India’s startups and innovation ecosystem because it is the Valley that has put structure to the framework of how mentors and venture capitalists support innovators. Their successes have changed the world, through global majors like Google, Facebook, Amazon, PayPal, LinkedIn, and many more. India has been able to demonstrate some similar successes through companies such as InMobi, Flipkart, and a few others. The event also hosted LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman, who spoke to the select audience on
Beyond the IT and e-commerce sector that India has been globally known for in the recent few decades, the emphasis at this event was to show how India’s startups and innovators are also now discovering and scaling up solutions in areas such as healthcare, cleantech and agriculture.
Recognizing CIIE’s position as a leading incubator and thought leader for innovation and entrepreneurship in India, CIIE was invited by the Prime Minister’s Office to host this event and select innovative startups for the exhibition and pitch event.
The Prime Minister addressed this international crowd on his government’s commitment to support innovative startups. He laid out his vision for how startups can disrupt many industries, even comparing his own electoral campaign to a startup! Founders of ‘unicorns’ such as InMobi, PayTM, and Snapdeal shared their vision and experience of setting up technology-enabled firms in India, in a panel session. Indian partners from the government and the technology sector also shared the steps that the government is taking to support this sector in the country.
Organizing an event to host the PM was an amazing and unprecedented experience for CIIE. Scaling up at a short notice, CIIE worked with new partners and was able to bring together a group of around 30 Indian companies (and 10 American companies founded by Indians), and an audience of more than 400 people.
As CIIE sets out on a journey to support India’s innovators through its new Bharat Fund, it hopes for your continuous support and guidance.