Ketto, Asia’s largest crowdfunding platform, won the Wharton India Startup Competition and took home $30,000 as prize money. In addition to the cash prize and 150 hrs of legal advice from Khaitan and Co., Ketto will get an opportunity to present and pitch to a significantly larger international audience in Philadelphia, USA planned for March 25, 2016.
Ketto, which stands for Key To Tomorrow, was founded in 2012 by Varun Sheth, Kunal Kapoor and Zaheer Adenwala. It helps non-profit organizations to raise funds for supported and listed causes by connecting them to companies and individuals.
“With this award, we hope to get a marketing push,” said Kunal Kapoor, Co-Founder. Added an excited and beaming Zaheer Adenwala, Co-Founder, "It feels gratifying to win the grand prize award. We look forward to going to Philadelphia which will give us a great platform to reach out to investors in America."
The winner of People choice went to Kheyti, an agri-tech startup, which got $5000. Kheyti provides greenhouses services to farmers. The only dhoti-clad entrepreneur to make a pitch at the finals of the Wharton India Startup Competition, Sathya Raghu, Co-Founder was passionate as he talked about the start-up. “We have designed a technology -- low-cost modular and a hi tech greenhouse -- which uses just 10 percent water and increases farmers’ yield by seven times and incomes by 12 times.”
Ranjeet Pratap Singh, Pratilipi, was muted about his victory. Pratilipi, Amazon’s kindle Direct Publishing for Indian languages, won the powerhouse award of $25,000. “We haven’t participated in a competition in a long time. It is nice to be recognized. We are happy with the inputs we got from several experts at the event,” said Singh.
Bushera Bashir -- the only lady entrepreneur finalist at the event, runs an ethnic label, Trebene (a Kashmiri word for three sisters). She won the Powerhouse award of $15,000. Bashir termed the award as a `good financial support, adding, “We are at the next level of growth and it is a good forum to network.”
The judges for the competition were Kirthiga Reddy - Managing Director, Facebook India, Sasha Mirchandani - Founder and Managing Director, KAE Capital, Ravi Gururaj from Nasscom, Sandeep Murthy - Partner, Lightbox Ventures, Pravan Malhotra - venture capital investor, International Finance Corporation, Rajan Mehra - Co-Founder and Managing Director, Nirvana Venture Advisors and Sri Peddu - Founder and Managing Director, Powerhouse Ventures.
Commenting on the contest, Reddy said, ‘the diversity of start-ups presented was phenomenal. We had a lengthy debate on the start-ups and the beautiful thing that happened was that eventually we converged on a single set of winners that had both a strong business and social impact. This happened organically in our judge discussions.’
The competition was held for the first time in India as part of the 20th Wharton India Economic Forum (WIFE). With more than 3,000 tech start-ups, India is the fourth largest base for young businesses in the world. It is expected that by 2020, the base will increase to 11,500 tech start-ups.
The aim of the Wharton India Startup Competition is to provide new-age companies a platform to showcase their idea.
The event, held in Mumbai, was packed with sector experts from the industry, investors and entrepreneurs. The atmosphere was crackling with expectation. The final round of the start-up competition for the 10 finalists were held interspersed with media sessions from established and well-known entrepreneurs and investors.
Some of the start-up entrepreneurs who pitched for the final round spoke with much confidence, while some seemed understated while outlining their plans. At least two founders were honest about admitting that their model was still being `perfected’.
Industry heads threw light on various segments. Ronnie Screwvala, Founder, UTV discussed the current state of entrepreneurship in India, Harsh Mariwala, Chairman, Marico spoke on wealth creation and social impact, while Neeraj Kakkar, Co-Founder and CEO, Hector Beverages, famous for its Paper Boat label of natural drinks, had a discussion with VT Bharadwaj, venture capitalist on the relationship between an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist.
The WIEF is an annual student-run India-focused conference hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Vikram Arumuilli, one of the co-chairs of WIEF 2016 and a second year MBA student of the school, believes the competition will provide not just the required nudge in the right direction but also enable entrepreneurs to scale up businesses and reach their potential. "The world today looks at India as an innovation hub. By giving them a platform so rich, we hope that the winner and all applicants become inspiring examples for the global world of start-ups," he said.