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Modi set to ignite a start-up brainstorm in Silicon Valley

india Updated: Sep 23, 2015 08:13 IST
Suveen Sinha

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a function in Varanasi. (PTI)

Flights from India to the United States these days have a younger, braver tinge. Several start-up founders are on their way to California’s Silicon Valley for a half-day session on September 27 that will culminate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking the stage.

In all, the Prime Minister will spend an hour at Hotel Fairmont in San Jose, the heart of the Silicon Valley, with nearly 35 start-ups from India and an equal number from the Valley, apart from fund houses.

There will be three panel discussions and a concurrent exhibition at Fairmont, starting at 10 in the morning and ending at two in the afternoon. And there will be a ‘pitch’ session where some founders will get a few minutes each to present their start-up idea to the audience.

The learning from the event is likely to feed into the Start-up India, Stand-up India campaign. “When we heard the PM from the Fort, we were like bingo! We are glad he said yes to the event,” said Rajat Tandon, who runs Nasscom’s 10,000 Start-ups programme, just before taking a flight to California. He is one of the organisers of the event along with Kunal Upadhyay and Mudit Narayan of IIM Ahmedabad’s start-up incubator.

The PMO’s pointman is Hemang Jani, OSD, knowledge and innovation.

One panel at Fairmont will have India’s unicorns, an epithet for start-ups valued at more than a billion dollars, including the founders of Snapdeal, Paytm, Zomato and InMobi. The highest valued, Flipkart, has not yet confirmed . The second panel will have Valley start-ups and fund houses talking about The Valley Way – how they have grown and how people should look to expand. The third panel will have India’s government officials including the secretary to the department of industrial policy and promotion and members of the NITI Aayog.

The concurrent exhibition will have 30 Indian start-ups with background in innovative social impact. The Silicon Valley chapter of TiE, the entrepreneurs’ body, is a partner at the event.