Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Microsoft’s $100K India Startup Challenge Grant
At this week’s One Million by One Million roundtable, we announced our collaboration with Microsoft around a $100,000 grant that they are offering to four Indian entrepreneurs as follows: A $40,000 grant each to two entrepreneurs, one in Mobility and one in Cloud Computing; and a $10,000 grant to two entrepreneurs, also one in each of those two categories.
1M/1M will be working with Microsoft in helping entrepreneurs prepare for these grants. I will be traveling in India in April, and doing live roundtables in three cities: Chennai (April 9), Mumbai (April 16), and Pune (April 17). Girish Joshi, from Microsoft, will be attending the roundtables, and scouting companies for the grants with me. I will be reporting back on the companies we see on this column from the road.
At today’s session, first up, Ramkumar RS from Chennai, India, presented Mango DVM, an innovative solution to turn vendors of illegal, grey market music to legal distributors using a combination of mobile apps and media server technology. Ramkumar has made certain pricing model and delivery model assumptions that are yet to be validated. We brainstormed about the risks of those assumptions. However, only the market can tell to what extent those assumptions will hold true.
Next Jigar Doshi, also from Chennai, India, pitched 3gSimplified, in effect, a comparative shopping solution for mobile plans, which are apparently quite complex in the Indian market. As for business model, Jigar wants to sell services like refilling cards.
3gSimplified is a very early concept that has just launched, and the market feedback will be rolling in over the next few months. Our discussion today was around prioritization of the next few critical steps around customer acquisition and validation.
Then Balaganesh S., from Chennai, India, as well, discussed Report Bee, a data visualization solution for schools around report cards and student performance. Report Bee has two paying customers, and we discussed segmentation issues around where to focus for the early market penetration strategy. Clearly, affluent schools that can afford to buy technology, and also parents who have access to computers would be the best early adopters.
Janardhan Swahar from Salem, India, presented Swayam Foods, a health food company that is focused on the Indian palette across snacks, quick-to-prepare items, etc. The company has distribution through about 50 retailers in Chennai, and is looking for ways to market their product through online channels. We discussed guerilla p.r., product reviews through blogs, as well as SEO, blogs, and social media marketing.
Last up, Rahul Mishra from Bangalore, India, pitched Promedik, a “decision support system” for physicians. I wasn’t convinced about the assumptions of the business – there are too many gaps and flawed assumptions around the source and the cost of the data upon which the product is built. I advised Rahul to study Epocrates as a model. I believe, trying to offer a reference manual may be better than trying to offer a decision support system, which is a much more complex value proposition that requires expert systems to implement.
Before I end, let me also point you to an interview we’re running on my blog with Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList, which you may find enlightening.
Also, some of you have asked me questions about the 1M/1M Premium Curriculum, which I have addressed on the blog.
Next week, the 1M/1M roundtable will focus on entrepreneurs in East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. You can register for the next roundtable here.
You can also listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here and select the business you like best through a poll on the 1M/1M Facebook page. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here.
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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