Getting ahead of big players, the young and innovative entrepreneurs of Punjab are getting their recognition and their reward — free office space along with internet.
A survey revealing that cervical cancer killed a woman every 7 minutes prompted three young women — electrical engineer Shwetika Kumar, oncologist Karuna Ganesh, and genetics engineer Suma Jaini — to put their heads together and develop a non-intrusive cervical cancer detection kit. On Thursday at the Progressive Punjab investors’ summit here, the kit won the first prize for innovation. The winners get a year of free working space at the Software Technology Park of India (STPI) here along with free bandwidth from Startup Accelerator Chamber of Commerce (SACC).
The kit costs less than $5 (Rs 325) and women can use it in the privacy of home. “Women keep the issues concerning their reproductive health on the back burner. Only 5% of women in the developing countries have ever been screened for cervical cancer. Our study at Kishangarh village near Chandigarh while working on the kit suggested that the woman are aware of the health issues but hesitant to speak up because of the taboo attached with reproductive-health diseases,” said Shwetika Kumar.
The team is even looking for a tie-up with the government for mass screening of women with the help of accredited social health activists (ASHA workers). Shwetika Kumar studied in the US and returned to India to work on her own venture. Her two partners are based in New York, with the company registered in Boston and many health-sector giants keen on funding their idea.
Costly auto-rickshaw fare in Chandigarh motivated information technology (IT) graduates Sachin Bahal and Navdeep Nandal to come up with the idea of internet-based application Let’s Ride. “Residents can sign up online to hire two-wheelers — Honda Activa and motorcycles — on hourly basis,” said Bahal, who works at IT Park in Chandigarh. His group’s idea won the first-runners-up award for innovation at the investors’ summit, and gets six months of workspace and bandwidth at the STPI.
“We will offer pick and drop facility as well,” added Nandal, who is looking for an initial investment of Rs 50 lakh.
Missing home-cooked food, Jashan Gupta and Aman Arora, quit their secure jobs, and their friend Nitin Singla gave up the idea of pursuing masters from the US to develop Bento Tiffin, a mobile application where all tiffin services will be listed and customers will be at liberty to choose.
“In spite of large volume of transactions, the tiffin sector is unorganised. This app will tap its potential,” said Jashan Gupta. The team wins the second runners-up prize at the invetors’ summit and gets four months of co-working space along with bandwidth at the STPI. “This platform will also give business opportunity to the housewives to start up tiffin services,” Gupta added.
The Progressive Punjab investors’ summit offered 16 student teams from the state a launch pad for their big business idea. Venture capitalists judged the concepts during the two-day event. In a first-of-its-kind start-up ideas competition in Punjab, 90 students tried to sell their innovations in a 54-hour marathon from October 23 to 25 at the Chandigarh IT Park.
Auto-lacing shoes: Feeling lazy to tie shoelaces, a first-year student of Thapar University, Ojasvi Yadav, invented ‘auto-lacing and auto-unlacing’ shoes that will help elderly and dyslexic people. “Nike is yet to come up with own variant, and it will take the global giant until 2016,” said Yadav.
“To tie this shoe, simply put your foot inside; and to untie, all you need to do is move your foot left and right and then point the toes towards the floor. You don’t need to bend down. It is aimed at helping people with motor-skill disorders, paralysis and dyslexia; or in my case, if you’re just plain lazy,” said Yadav.
Banana.com: The Indian Institute of Technology-Rupnagar’s one-stop website to guide budget travellers about the hidden destinations of India.
Spring-up healthcare: IT professional Prerna’s idea of collecting and storing people’s health records for nominal price, in a tie-up with standard pathology labs.
Friendlaundromart.com: Chitkara University proposal to offer complete laundry and ironing services with pick-up-and-drop facility, for less than Rs 500 a month.