Investors gather at Australia’s first ever Bollywood-style Pitch Fest
Photo: (L-R) Dr Suba Dravida, PhD (Transcell Biologics), Anmol Saini (Virangana Project, Strategic Partnerships), Aditi Balbir (V Resorts), Sukham Saini (Virangana Project, Creative Director), Rajlakshmi Borthakur (TerraBlue XT), Ruchi Rastogi (Hunar Foundation), Devika Srimal Bapna (KANABIS), Priyanka Gupta (Indian Angel Network)
Bringing six of India’s most innovative women entrepreneurs together in Australia’s first ever Bollywood-style Pitch Fest, the Virangana Project is continuing to create strides in the world’s start-up community. For more information about the Virangana Project, click HERE.
Featuring pitches from a variety of startups, the event saw some of Sydney’s biggest investors come together at the Sydney Startup Hub on Wednesday October 24, 2018 as part of the city’s Spark Festival.
Sticking true to the ‘Bollywood’ theme, the Pitch Fest also featured colourful performances from talented local Bhangra and fusion dancers, as well as an array of delicious Indian snacks and a traditional pooja, or prayer, to give well wishes to those in attendance.
We’ve summarised each of the start-ups below. Have a read to hear some of the inspiring business ideas from some of India’s most amazing female entrepreneurs.
When her son was diagnosed with epilepsy, all Rajlakshmi “Raji” Borthakur wanted was a solution to let them know what was happening so she could provide him with the correct care. Unable to find anything, she set out to find her own solution.
Raji and her company have created a smart glove that collects signals from the palm and provides information to the patients’ caregivers and hospital, so that an epileptic attack could be addressed, averted or aborted on time.
“There are about 50 million people with epilepsy around the world, and many of them, about 70 per cent, live in developing countries where there is no access to neurologists or the required diagnostic equipment,” Raji explained.
“Seventy per cent of this population with epilepsy could become contributing members of society if they are diagnosed on time and receive the care that they deserve, and we believe we have the solution.”
After working in a not-for-profit that addresses sexual and reproductive health and rights of underprivileged women from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries, Ruchi Rastogi knew she had to further help these women.
She realised that despite them being so skilful, they were living a life in poverty and were totally dependant on their male counterparts. The Hunar Foundation works to hone these ladies’ skills to help them become financially independent and break down the cultural gender inequalities.
“We train less privileged women in handicrafts, groom them with softer skills, support them for their health and education, and give them a goal to pursue,” Ruchi said.
“These women are now working wonders.
There’s an abundance of potential in my country, and by nurturing this potential, we are developing a self-sustaining model for our organisation.
With a passion for animals and the environment, Devika Srimal Bapna set out to create comfortable and ethical footwear for all women. With exclusively designed shoes, KANABIS offers a range of styles at an affordable price.
The hook? It’s PETA-Approved Vegan, which means all the products used in the making of the shoes and their packaging are free of any animal by-products, including leather, fur or silk.
“In India, although you may have heard cows are a sacred animal and it is illegal to slaughter cows for leather, it’s still done, which really makes my heart ache,” Devika said.
Everything we use is ethical, sustainable and organic.
“The shoes are also tested in a lab for abrasion resistance, skid resistance and flexibility, so, it’s extremely premium quality.”
Despite now living in Australia, Namrata Sequeira still feels a need to help the vulnerable in her motherland. Throughout the 25 years she lived in India, Namrata never truly felt safe. So, she came up with a solution.
Trioog may appear to be just another smartwatch, but its GPS and recording capablities gives power back to those who need it during tough situations.
“If anyone is in danger, all they have to do is press the external SOS button on the watch and within five seconds, a text notification with the person’s exact GPS location will be sent through the Trioog app to a preloaded emergency contact,” the Trioog Co-Founder said.
“In 30 seconds, audio, video and pictures will be captured in an in-built camera on the watch and this will stop people from feeling helpless.”
Aditi Balbir and V Resorts are creating long-term job opportunities, skilled manpower and local markets by bringing in tourism to beautiful towns where this may have not been previously possible.
Beginning in a small town called Sattal in 2014, V Resorts has now grown to over 150 properties across India, which are managed by people in the local townships.
“TripAdvisor ratings have soared, occupancies have increased in the last three years to 70%, and customers are really coming from word-of-mouth, which means the cost of customer acquisition has fallen to zero,” Aditi explained.
We want to scale this to another 5000 destinations in the next five years, which would mean tremendous job creation, a lot of income for vendors and local products, and of course a huge impact for the environment.
Dr Suba Dravida, PhD is the founder of Transcell, a biotech startup created for the discovery and development of targeted cure options for neurological ailments, specifically addressing Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.
It’s not science or a breakthrough to understand that there are neither treatments options or a cure for either Alzheimers or Parkinson’s.
“Through stem cell research, we discovered new molecules which have been behaving like drugs on some of the well-known pathological conditions in the neurodegeneration,” Dr Dravida said.
“Essentially, our solution, is a tailor made mixture of multiple drugs that are specific to the patient’s neurological condition.”