Venture Pitch competition invites early-stage startups

Collaborative initiative by iSPIRT, Dalberg, India Stack, Bharat Innovation Fund, Omidyar Network and Unitus Seed Fund; Flexible, insight driven, funding of up to $6,000 for early stage, innovative models

Dalberg and iSPIRT in collaboration with Bharat Innovations Fund, Omidyar Network and Unitus Seed Fund launched #BuildOnIndiaStack – a venture pitch competition for early-stage startups, building on top of the India Stack, a set of open APIs released by the Government of India.

The competition is open to all innovations that leverage the India Stack to unlock new business models and/or reach previously underserved, new customer segments across diverse sectors such as financial services, education, healthcare and others. Some core focus areas for the competition will also include digital lending and supporting activities, such as alternative credit scoring; sector specific digital services such as health insurance or education loans, skilling and certification, property registration agreements, patient-centric healthcare management; and SaaS platforms “as a service” that support the development of other India Stack based innovations such as Digi-locker or e-sign providers.

The startups that will qualify will be in teams of minimum two to maximum four members, including the founder. They will also have to be early stage startups that have received only seed or limited angel funding.  Further, they need to meet the three point criteria of being tech-enabled, leveraging India Stack platform and serving the underserved.

Chief Innovation Officer at Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (IIM-A), Sanjay Jain said, “India Stack adoption across all APIs is growing exponentially. Looking forward to see innovative new applications come up.”

Dalberg, a global development consulting firm believes in the potential of India Stack and is spearheading this effort. On this occasion the Partner and Head of Financial Inclusion at Dalberg Advisors, Varad Pandey said “We are delighted to partner on this initiative. As a mission-driven strategy-consulting firm, we are constantly looking for platforms that amplify social impact through market-based models. India Stack is exactly that kind of a platform – by transforming transaction-based services across sectors, it will drive innovation and inclusion throughout our economy. This competition is a starting point to support disruptive innovation, especially for the non-affluent ‘Bharat’ consumer.”

Shortlisted ventures will pitch to some of the leading investors and thinkers in the Indian start-up ecosystem, including the Bharat Innovations Fund, Omidyar Network and Unitus Seed Fund. The investor group will provide strategic business support to their investees. The network of investors will also provide mentoring through their specialists and experts. The ventures also stand to interact with select India Stack network of investors and operators, entrepreneurs and technologists, designers and engineers, academicians and policy makers, with the singular mission to solve some of India’s toughest problems. The group of investors is looking forward to solutions that go beyond the confines on conventional and are path-breaking.

Roopa Kudva, who is a Partner and India MD for Omidyar Network said, “The time and cost benefits associated with the India Stack can enable a new wave of entrepreneurs to reach out to previously excluded sections of society in a wide range of sectors including financial services, education and healthcare. We therefore want to support businesses that use the Stack to empower individuals in a secure, cost-effective and privacy-enhancing manner.”

United Seed Fund’s Partner, Srikrishna Ramamoorthy said, “For more than a decade now, the Unitus group has pioneered financial inclusion in India and globally through its work in microfinance investing. At Unitus Seed Fund, we’re continuing to build on this strong legacy – we’re looking to invest one-third of our current fund  in startups that can disrupt the way financial services is delivered to and accessed by the masses.”

Startup India and Let’sVenture are the outreach partners for this initiative. For information about how to apply, visit Deadline to submit an online application is August 14th, 2017.

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