Nishant Malhotra Founder of Middle Road OPC Pvt Ltd & The middle Road platform on the evolving Sustainable Finance sector

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PuneConnect Start Up: Mini Silicon Valley; Milieu of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

PuneConnect, Pune’s startup showcase event, is now in its 5th year and is one of Pune’s most important events for IMG_20151128_094605_HDRstartups. This is an event for startups to showcase their products and services to larger companies in Pune, VCs and angel IMG_20151128_125029_HDRinvestors from all over the country, and others from the ecosystem. PuneConnect 2015 is on 28th November 2015. It is a half-day event where selected startups in Pune can find customers, mentors, business partners, affiliates, and investors amongst Pune’s established companies, successful senior entrepreneurs, and angels and investors from all over the country. Left Pic: Organizers of PuneConnect

Benefits to selected startups include:

  • Exposure to Pune’s top companies, potential customers and potential mentors.
  • Exposure to Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors who are being invited to the event.
  • Press and media coverage before and after the event.
  • Winners of the event get automatic entries to other country-level events.(e.g. those organized by NASSCOM)


IMG_20151128_095149_HDRSilicon Valley in Pune: The event turned to be a cathedral for showcasing talent, creativity & innovation of wannabe entrepreneurs & technology start-up ventures in the parlance of our times. A mini silicon valley in Amchi Pune, PuneConnect was started by Gaurav, a Partner in a Private Equity Company about 5 years back. Gaurav is a highly motivated and educated entrepreneur who has done his bachelors and masters from Stanford. The Dude spoke to him about his vision and motivation in the video below.

PuneConnect 2015 included address by some notable speakers from the industry as well as demonstration of business ideas by shortlisted start-ups. The event had many sponsors from the technology industry who used the opportunity to showcase their companies. There was raw energy and positive anticipation among all with a mix of exuberance I had personally not seen for a long time. PuneConnect took place at Westin, Koregaon Park, Pune in two halls: one for start-ups to showcase their business ideas while the speakers addressed the audience in the other. The corridor joining the two halls had many companies marketing their products. IMG_20151128_095304_HDR

There were 26 start-ups shortlisted for the first round. The range of ideas was dazzling which included ventures in artificial intelligence & robotics, social media, social work, sports, alternative technology, food etc.

IMG_20151128_111839_HDRLets start our journey, I met this very interesting Dude from Assertion, an creative start-up in Telecom with a very catchy line: X-Ray your telecom network. I had already liked the venture even before getting to know about it. Assertion looks to secure data networks of large telecom companies especially Fortune 1000 and 2000 companies for fraud, configurations analyzing enforcement of policies and rules. It’s a bit complicated so lets stick to English.   The company has registered for 9 patents Pradeep, a Maverick like myself, had worn many hats in his professional life including that of a journalist and is a physics graduate. Pradeep’s wife is a yoga teacher and we had a very interesting conversation on life and technology. Video coming up.

IMG_20151128_112817_HDRPrime Holdings Four Global Dudes: I came across four young dynamic Dudes who have come together to DEVELOP an app and portal to help advertise on hoardings around Pune and Mumbai. I almost missed them because they did not have any banner and gave a sermon on marketing. Guess it turned out one of them was working in Mckinsey and had taken sabbatical to pursue his own venture. Haha giving a  marketing sermon to someone from McKinsey. It turned out they did not have time to come up with a banner. Fair enough. Anyways all four of them were friends and one of them had also take a sabbatical from work in America to pursue his dream along with his friends. This is a great idea since they would charge the hoarders and the customers would get a hassle free way to advertise right on their mobiles including ability to negotiate for prices.

I was wondering if  ANYONE working for an Indian company had gone to their bosses and said…

E: I want a sabbatical…B: Why?…E: I want to start my own venture…B: What you mean? You want to become an entrepreneur…E: Yes…B: What the…What the…E: Smile…B: Please give in your resignation…E: What the..What the…The story ends here…( E for employees and B for Boss). Please take it on a lighter note and enjoy this video

I am sure some companies in India have very liberal employee policies but this is something many Indian companies should look at to boost entrepreneurship. It is called best HR practices since many of these budding entrepreneurs will always stay loyal to their former employees and never forget the opportunity given to them.

It’s difficult to cover all the start-ups in detail so some of the banners are attached below.


One for Sports Lovers: The Football Mind 

IMG_20151128_114310_HDRI came up to one of my favorite start-ups. A very innovative start-up specializing in soccer.  Please watch the fun video with the promoters discussing their product ideas. I found them enthusiastic with infectious passion for their venture. It’s great to fuse passion with work especially using technology as a catalyst. They are fun guys and sure they will do great in life.

IMG_20151128_104538_HDRA very creative and popular start-up with everyone will be Jobhash. I guess everyone in the world is looking for either a job or a change in the job. Ask me. I have a vivid history in looking for a job and this app turns out to map people with the help of a unique algorithm to customized jobs. Sounds similar…Remember Google with its one and only algorithm for job search… The start-up is headed by Hemant along with Deepti who is an IIT/IIM alum.

IMG_20151128_103928_HDRTalking about travelling in cabs, LOCO is an app which helps you to compare various rates and times of all the cabs present near your vicinity. This was wonderful since you got a more holistic view about rates as well as the type of vehicle the company would give ranging from hatchback, sedan etc.

As I walked around the corridor quenching my thirst by drinking bottled water, I came across a stall on Big Data. Interesting update on big data by the enterprising woman in the video, it would be prudent we understand what is the core competency of her company, Inteliment.

I came across Protostar Consulting, an authorized Google Apps for Education (suite of software apps to make a college/school fully digital and smart) Partner and market their products to schools and colleges around Pune.

There were a few companies advertising about their products in the corridor and lobby. Pic from left: A robotics company called India 1st Robotics which uses robotics for knowledge management, TiE, a regular feature on VC circuit. I got involved with TiE when I was in Singapore in 2012 looking for a job  and finally a company leveraging Raga i.e. music for therapy. Wow India is truly rising…


I also spoke to an investor Pooja, who not only personally invests in start-ups but also arranges investors for wannabe entrepreneurs. She shared her insightful views and gave a very interesting take on the industry. The video exclusive on Nishworld Facebook page. Like the page for exclusive videos

Drop Box of Contacts: Intouchapp

This is tantalizing tech app which is the world leader in managing contacts across different platforms. I spoke with Sarang, who is the owner of the company. Here is a snapshot

Microblogging with a difference: Indian Twitter

I took a break and went back into the hall to meet more entrepreneurs. I soon discovered an Indian Twitter. Mooshak is an Indian micro-blogging site which uses greatest of 400 characters to tweet and wants to focus at cities where people want to communicate predominately in Hindi and other regional languages. Mooshak plans to target tier 2 and Tier 3 cities which is not the market for Twitter which has limited presence in India. An interesting analysis shared by one of the founders was that 90% of the population in India does not speak English. Thats correct but then most of them don’t have a smart phone. Taking the analysis further if 900 Mn  of population in India does not fluently communicate in written English, the potential  market for Mooshak is huge. Micro-blogging is very interesting since I myself relatively new to it although I had a redundant Twitter account. The idea looks appealing and Mooshak already has many users especially from Northern Part of India. I could not find pic which I had taken and will revert on this. The team is headed by very dynamic people and one of the founders of Mooshak is an academician with PhD from an Ivy league university in US. Remember Maggi ad…its different yaar

I met some interesting people around the hall and corridor. Clockwise from top left: A group of friends with a budding entrepreneur (he has designed an app which will deliver food from food court to your seat in the movie hall during movie break…man India has really come a long way. How people in India now are commercializing even the smallest of opportunities to make money…I call this American effect , a talented young dude discussing drones (this is not the drones used to deliver bombs but to deliver value, cool dudes from , two techies displaying their idea, an app for customized Pooja  i.e. it will arrange for any type of Pooja incl. Punjabi, Bengali etc. and last but not the least a website dedicated to kids well-being.



IMG_20151128_134444_HDRI almost missed the best of the lot in my humble opinion. While I was roaming around the hall, I had come across NetaG. I initially skipped the stall and this is where all of us make mistakes…We assume and assume things usually wrong with limited data and this leads to biases and bubbles. It turned out someone gave an eulogy of the idea that would even make Donald Trump proud and so I went to investigate further wearing my Sherlock hat. . Krushnaal, a young engineer had developed an app to escalate social issues to politicians. The app had mapped all the wards in Pune including linking up with number of politicians so you could escalate  issue to many politicians (elected and otherwise inducing a peer performance among the politicians) to highlight  I loved it on two factors. First, he used the technology decisively to bring about a positive social change in the society and second do so without help is superlative. People who are leaders and passionate always lead from the front. Krushnaal had done better than me. He had used coding skills to develop an idea and economized the concept in a spectacular way. He had cemented his place in the Dude fall of fame so lets listen to what he has to say about NetaG. This would be my personal favorite and I sincerely hope he gets funding and succeeds in his holistic venture. I hope all of you succeed in your business plans. Video coming up…

IMG_20151128_123247_HDRThere were many more start-ups with well thought business plans which I couldn’t cover in-depth. There was a start-up which sold high quality meat online, a portal which served as an expert on car maintenance. One which caught my attention had a very catchy line: Snap deal of behavioral diseases by VIVIFII. Opened by a Canadian, VIVIFII employees counselors who are experts in their field of therapy to deliver online solutions to client. Trendzlink is India’s first customized Online Newspaper started by Rohit, is another promising venture. There are other niche start-ups like Tech Story and roboeasy which sound interesting.  I am sorry I could not cover all and this is the best I can do for the time being. If I left out anyone it was not intentional.

IMG_20151128_094636_HDRSO WHO ARE THE WINNERS. Ultimately 10 start ups were shortlisted but in my opinion all were winners. All the time while I was in the start up festival, Today, young entrepreneurs have so many options with the mindset to economize their ideas. Looking back I remember when I was graduating from my engineering college, we never thought of becoming entrepreneurs at least not in the immediate future. Sure technology has changed so much and is continuously evolving.Some of them them will surely become successful and hopefully encourage best human resources practices in their ventures, generate well set jobs and add both economic and social value in the economy. Values which will nourish creativity, foster growth, harmony and well being.

IMG_20151128_105409_HDRThe event is a paragon of success for start ups since seed funding in India is still at a nascent stage but then things are changing, evolving and this event is a major catalyst for that change…a change for the better. I met many entrepreneurs, wannabe entrepreneurs and there was a milieu of innovation, exuberance and in the end Confidence. Mr Modi’s government had in less than 2 years brought about a change…a change for the better…has nourished an environment of entrepreneurship, innovation and success.

PuneConnect is a fabulous success…a success of hope…a success of science & intelligence…a success of innovation & creativity…a success of knowledge…a success of youth…a success for all kind…

So lets see what did Gaurav and his team do about 5 years back. Gaurav: Accepted the lack of funding opportunities for start up ventures…He Adopted by arranging angel investors…Reinvented the wheel by opening a forum which act as a platform to bring the start ups and angel investors together…The REST the market will do…INNOVATE with new business ideas on an evolving basis…Its good we might find our very own Bill Gates, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg among many others.

Much Appreciated & Deeply Obliged…

To wrap up what would the Dude say about today’s event

He came, he was awestruck, he learnt, he mingled, he innovated and he economized… 

Whats is sad that there was very limited media coverage of the event which should have got national coverage by many media channels. What more can I say…This is what India wants to hear…

The hallmark of any country’s economic progress is the entrepreneurship spirit, for entrepreneurship spirit leads to innovation and innovation enhances productivity and creativity. As an economy enhances productivity, it evolves… evolves and evolves. As an economy evolves it manifests and branches into new dimensions. Dimensions which few people could have envisioned. Dimensions open new perspectives…New perspectives which change the demand and supply curve in an economy taking it to a new level…

Other videos and pics exclusive on Nishworld Facebook Page.




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