The inaugural StartUp Mumbai Challenge, with the theme, Forever Planet”, held earlier today at the iconic Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) as part of the Mumbai Festival 2024, witnessed enormous enthusiasm from the city's vibrant entrepreneurial community. Powered by Turbostart, the challenge focused on concepts prioritising eco-friendly living and environmental preservation.
This transformative initiative signifies a bold step toward nurturing early-stage startups, specifically concentrating on sectors crucial for the city's evolution - sustainability, entertainment, media, sports, and lifestyle enhancement. Ten startups and entrepreneurs showcased their groundbreaking ideas, contributing to the festival's mission of advancing Mumbai's identity as a global centre for innovation, during the grand finale of the StartUp Mumbai Challenge.
While assuring the Government’s partnership with sustainable ideas, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra said, “In celebrating the vibrant culture and innovative spirit of Maharashtra, we recognize that sustainability is not just a concept but a collective responsibility. Maharashtra is at the forefront of fostering new business ecosystems. By transitioning to distributed solar power in agriculture, we not only empower our farmers but also cultivate a new ecosystem of opportunities. In the face of climate change, our collective innovation is the key to ease of living and a better tomorrow.”
While setting the stage for the Start-Up Mumbai Challenge, Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairperson of the Mumbai Festival Advisory Committee, said, “Connecting with startups is a legacy from my grandfather, who began in Calcutta with minimal resources but astutely moved to where the streams of opportunity flowed as he recognized the growth potential. Today, as we explore startups, I am thrilled by those not just driven by profit, but by a noble vision to enhance our world. In an era where our focus extends beyond market indices, Mumbai, the city where dreams come true, and now the fourth-largest capital market in the world, is the ideal stage for acknowledging and supporting these transformative endeavours."
Supported by the United Nations India, the Mumbai Festival has embraced the UNSDGs and Global Goals, finding inspiration for themes and execution across various initiatives. The StartUp Mumbai Challenge, organised by Wizcraft Entertainment Agency as a part of the Mumbai Festival 2024, aligns with environmental goals, focusing on businesses and ideas contributing to a planet-friendly future through the "Forever Planet" theme.
The panel discussion Breaking Barriers, Building Sustainability: Thinking Beyond ROI, moderated by Ayesha Faridi, National Editor ET Now, featured the eminent mentors, Ronnie Screwvala, Chairperson and Co-Founder, upGrad; Vikas Agnihotri, Director, InMobi and GlobalBees; Kaustubh Dhavse, Joint Secretary and OSD to the Deputy Chief Minister, Govt of Maharashtra; Harsh Jain, CEO & Co-founder, Dream11 and Dream Sports; and Venkat Raju, Global CEO, Turbostart. The three winners of the StartUp Mumbai Challenge were Xovian Aerospace, Kabadiwala and Livprotec.
In this panel discussion, the focus shifted from startup challenges to a broader exploration of India's evolving entrepreneurship landscape. Shedding light on the government's startup initiatives, Shri Kaustubh Dhavse, Joint Secretary and OSD to the Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra, said, "In response to the ever-evolving startup landscape driven by new technologies and ideas, government policies must remain dynamic. Through the Maharashtra State Innovation Society, we have introduced a Rs 100 crore startup fund, recognising the significance of supporting startups lacking essential access. While our fund aims to benefit every deserving startup, its predominant focus lies in reaching out to startups in tier two and tier three cities, providing them with the necessary impetus and mentorship.”
Detailing his entrepreneurial journey from ideation to implementation, Harsh Jain, CEO & Co-founder, of Dream11 and Dream Sports, conveyed, "In the trajectory of our startup, we too grappled with numerous challenges. After navigating through 3 to 4 years of pivoting, we eventually discovered our path, and since then, our trajectory has been one of continuous scaling. As an entrepreneur, a profound passion for your work is indispensable."
Vikas Agnihotri, Director, of InMobi and GlobalBees shared his perspective, “In the realm of startups, the present scenario is more favourable than in the past; the current ecosystem is significantly improved. We now witness early-stage founders with immense talent contributing to the landscape. Furthermore, a noteworthy trend is the increased willingness of seasoned founders to invest time in supporting and mentoring emerging startups and entrepreneurs, facilitating valuable guidance and networking opportunities."
Reflecting on the evolution of the startup ecosystem, Venkat Raju, Global CEO, of Turbostart, said, "Over the past decade, I've observed the dynamic phases of growth and saturation within startups. What holds significance is not just the quantity but the quality of startups —entrepreneurs and their ideas, particularly the emphasis on originality, steering away from replicated concepts borrowed from the West or China. The key is aligning with the unique needs of India. Notably, there's a rising trend of startups dedicated to supporting sustainability in the ecosystem."
On the occasion of the StartUp Mumbai Challenge, these illustrious mentors and key dignitaries ceremoniously rang the bell at the Bombay Stock Exchange, symbolizing the triumph of the StartUp movement in Mumbai.