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Greenhorns in limelight: Meet the stars among startups

The third edition of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) conference at Indian School of Business was brimming with it.

punjab Updated: Mar 09, 2018 13:26 IST
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
startups,The Indus Entrepreneurs,Capt Amarinder Singh
(From left) Vishad Tomar, Lakshit and Ayush Pahwa at TieCon Chandigarh at the Indian School of Business in Mohali on Thursday. (Keshav Singh/HT)

Who says we lack entrepreneurial spirit? HT bones up on some young startups from the region:

‘Wendors’ of the future

They are the youngest entrepreneurs at the conclave. The three final year students of Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, created quite a stir when one of them told Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh about their cashless vending machine ‘Wendors’.

“It’s got a simple touch interface. Select the product you want and then use a QR based payment system (read paytm or Bheem) and you are done,” said the curly-haired Lakshit, a student of computer science. Machine is already operational at J hostel in their college. The lanky Ayush Pahwa, a software student, laughs as he tells how it was their post-midnight hunger pangs that set them thinking about this venture.Vishad Tomar, a student of instrumentation, feels the government can benefit from the machine by using it for public distribution system of susbsidised ration. The users, all Aadhaar card holders, will only have to flash their fingerprints to get their quota of ration, says Lakshit. “This will plug the leaks.” “All retail will get automated in the next 15 years. Imagine the customer insight you will get with the data,” gushes Lakshit.

Their Big challenge: Funds for the hardware

In the business of data

Ankush Sharma and Neeraj Rajput are running a startup ‘Data to Biz’ and want to create employment and a community of data scientists. ( Keshav Singh/HT )

It was last year that Neeraj Rajput, 27, and Ankush Sharma, 25, decided to use their intellectual capital to set up a business of their own. Sharma, who has done BTech (computers) from Guru Nanak Dev University, and Rajput, an MSc in computer science, met while working for an IT company in Chandigarh. “We both felt that a lot could be done with data,” says Rajput. Today they are running a startup called Data to Biz from an incubator in a private university.

Their first client was a job portal based in Singapore. “We are building a recommendation system, which will help both job seekers and employers find the perfect match,” says Rajput. The two believe data crunching can help solve problems ranging from client loyalty to attrition.w

The innovators, who work 12 hours a day and love every second of it, say they want to create employment and a community of data scientists. Their main challenge: to convince people about their ability. “We know we have the skills, but how do we convince the clients?”

A ‘stack’ of IT learning

Navdeep Singh Gill’s platform got TiE product of the year award. ( Keshav Singh/HT )

It’s a company that provides a stack of IT services, ranging from cloud computing and big data to artificial intelligence. But presently, the 35-member team at the Mohali-based Xenonstack is most excited about Nexa Stack, their recently launched self-service platform for developers, which has bagged the TiE product of the year award.

Navdeep Singh Gill, a 2003-batch graduate from Guru Nanak Engineering College, is excited about his plans to launch virtual computer labs and lessons for all schools and colleges of the state.

“Our curriculum is not in sync with the fast-paced technological changes. Artificial Intelligence is creating new jobs, but our students lack the skills.”

Gill plans to bridge this gap with his proposal. His team, meanwhile, is excited about a product that will forecast stock market movement.

His challenge: Getting the Mohali chapter of the Software Technology Park of India to say yes to his proposal.

Cutting a good deal

Amit Mittal’s app offers discount coupons. ( Keshav Singh/HT )

The red poster invites you to stop and look. Dealzuzu is the name of the new business venture by brothers Amit and Sandeep Mittal. The two, who launched a subscription-based app that offers discounts coupons in fields as varied as food, transport, electronics and grocery to medical clinics this January, say they have already tied up with over 100 businesses.

“Who doesn’t like a discount,” asks Amit, an electronics engineer, telling there are over 61 million users of discount coupons in the US.

Their goal: To make discount coupons a pan-India business, and to transform the app into a one-stop shop.

The big challenge: Getting good marketing managers and more government support. “We pay Rs 9 per unit for power while others shell out Rs 5 per unit. Why are IT services not considered part of the industry?”

The power of a vacation

Sushma Paul wants people to make vacations a part of their life. ( Keshav Singh/HT )

Sushma Paul and Deepak Verma joined hands last year to customise vacations for people in the region according to their budget. While Paul, a single mother, handles destination holidays, both domestic and international, Verma works in the great Himalayas.

“We are sitting at the base of the Himalayas, yet treks are still not that popular here,” tells Verma, whose USP is adventure with safety.

Though Paul and Verma work out of one office, their companies retain their separate names ‘Holiday Cellar’ and ‘Yo! Buddy’. Their goal is the same: to make people start a bucket list, which would encourage them to make vacations a part of their life. As Verma puts it, “We encourage people to get out and explore the world, the vast nature, and come back refreshed.

They get their clients through word of mouth. The tricity, they say, is waking up to the joys of traveling. “With more international flights on the way, we will go places,” promises Paul.

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 13:25 IST