i2I-2008 contest offers $2.5 Mn for business start-ups

Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 05:46 Hrs
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New Delhi: Driven by the Indian Institute of Managament-Calcutta (IIM-C) and supported by a host of big names, a new contest for aspiring entrepreneurs offers $2.5 Million in seed money for starting new business ventures.

The i2I-2008 contest "promises to provide a sustainable platform for budding entrepreneurs with access to 1 crore (10 million) in equity apart from getting in touch with the people and ideas that matter," IIM-C said in a release Sunday.

"The event will be seeing students and professionals from across India pitching forth their business plans. The focus for i2I-2008 is not only on assessing the business concept, but the team's sincerity and seriousness as well," the release added.

The event, the first of its kind, will go through three rigorous rounds, the first of which started Saturday. The best ideas and teams will be selected by a detailed procedure starting with the submission of a business summary with a team profile and statement of purpose, followed by a "pitch" to a panel of investors/judges in each of the four zones of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bangalore.

"The top 10 teams from all over the nation shall be mentored by experts and the process will culminate in a grand finale in Kolkata Feb 1, 2008, with a panel of seed investors looking to make deals," the release said.

i2I-008 is being held in partnership with the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), and Seedfund, "taking the competition to a different league of its own in terms of scale, scope and seriousness", the release said.

Founded in Silicon Valley in 1992, TiE is arguably the world's largest not-for-profit organization promoting entrepreneurship. The California-based Wadhwani Foundation has promoted NEN to encourage entrepreneurial start-ups in India. Seedfund is an Indian venture capital fund that operates out of Mumbai and Bangalore.

"i2I moves away from the traditional business-plan competitions that end up reducing to essay competitions with the rush for the cash prizes and no inclination to really start up," the release noted.

"By divesting it off a potentially academic character and ushering in serious business, i2I-2008 is open to students as well as working professionals. Given these specific considerations and entries from students/alumni from premier B-schools and engineering institutions including IITs and IIMs and working professionals, i2I is sure to generate wide attention and attract serious entrepreneurial aspirants," the release added.

According to Anand Lunia of Seedfund, even start-up plans now only on paper stand a chance to get funded, so people in jobs thinking of leaving to start-up, as well as students seriously looking at starting up after their education can take i2I as a serious opportunity.

The Bangalore-based NEN, with its prominent presence across 282 member institutes across the nation and relationships with corporate leaders, is going to be extensively involved in increasing outreach as well as providing access to jury and mentors and other experts for the contest.

"NEN is delighted to partner with IIM Calcutta for i2I, one of the leading business plan competitions in India," Executive Director Laura Parkin said.

"By offering winners the chance to receive investment funds, IIM Calcutta has taken business plan competitions out of the classroom and into the real world, thereby creating a valuable platform for new entrepreneurs.

"NEN is delighted to be supporting this unique initiative alongside TiE and Seedfund," she added.

The finale is slated amidst a two-day entrepreneurial conference and TiEger Awards ceremony held by TiE Kolkata.

"We're instituting the TiEger Cub awards for young aspiring entrepreneurs from the West Bengal region towards improving the entrepreneurial culture in the state," said Shoummo Acharya of TiE, Kolkata.
Source: IANS
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