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It couldn’t get hotter than this! Over 350 startups from across the country nominated for TATA NEN Hottest Startups in its first month

A startup working on combating the tiniest of cancer tumours. Another manufacturing a device that can stop profuse bleeding in two minutes.

A startup leading the Second Generation Outsourcing wave. A BPO for rural India. Mobile applications that converts your low cost cellphone into an action-packed gadget.

A team that prepares youth of small towns for big jobs across the globe. A couple rekindling the love for Maths in over a lakh students. A company that lets you up your karma rating.

A young company that delivers a surprise to any place, any time. Two people who makes a writer out of you. An internet startup ensures that you never go hungry.

Revolutionary, visionary, passionate, practical or plain good fun - The TATA NEN Hottest Startups has space for every genre of startup. Presented by National Entrepreneurship Network and the TATA Group, in partnership with Helion Ventures, Seedfund and Mint and a number of associations and other groups supporting entrepreneurship, the contest launched on August 27. The contest is showcasing high-potential, high-growth startups on a national platform.

Over 350 nominations were received in the very first month of launch, reflecting the variety, diversity and uniqueness that exist in the entrepreneurial world today.

Not all of these startups belong to metros like Mumbai or Bangalore or Delhi, the oft-cited bustling grounds of entrepreneurship. Breaking this myth are exciting startups from smaller towns like Trivandrum and Udaipur who have made it to the Hottest Startups hot list.

As hoped, Hottest Startups isn’t only about IT either. From art, to cleantech, to even cane juice – fascinating examples of business enterprise are being shared, commented upon and hotly debated over at the TATA NEN Hottest Startups website. Over 6,000 people have cast their votes for hottest startups, even as nominated entrepreneurs are using SMS, blogs and websites in interesting ways to gather votes for their startups.

According to Laura Parkin, Executive Director, National Entrepreneurship Network, Hottest Startups, since its launch, is trying to engage people in the identification and appreciation of startups through processes like nomination and voting. “Our intent is to get people thinking about their own regions, their own cities, their fellow alumni from institutes: has someone they know started a great company? In a sense, nomination can provide a deeper connection with startups than voting. We feel it is important to reach smaller cities, as well as reach the startups in major metros. Therefore, we are working with different groups: associations, Chambers of Commerce, NEN student e-cells, to reach out across sectors and areas,” she reveals.

Hot Facts
130 nominees are from smaller cities like Jodhpur, Raipur, Muzaffarpur, Raichur, Meerut, Bikaner, Bhopal, Indore, Jaipur, Durgapur, Dehradun, Imphal, Haridwar

61 nominees, or 17%, are in their early 20s

269 nominees, or 77%, are first generation entrepreneurs

242 startups, or 69%, are funded by personal savings

57 nominees, or 16%, studied abroad

119 nominees, or 34%, are serial entrepreneurs

(Total Pool: 350 nominees, as on September 23)

Datelines
  • Nominations open till: October 22, 2008
  • - Each nomination will be reviewed and rated by two Expert Judges. The number of Public Votes and Experts’ Ratings together determine the shortlist.
  • Voting closes, and shortlist of 30 startups declared: November 6, 2008
  • Campaigning and voting for Top 5 Winners begins: November 6, 2008
  • Announcement of Top 5 TATA NEN Hottest Startups 2008 winners: December 23, 2008
Criteria for Participating Startups
  • 5 or fewer years old
  • Headquartered in India
  • A stand-alone venture (not a subsidiary or division of a larger company)
  • Should be innovative, growing rapidly and have the potential to reshape their industries

Samir Kumar, Managing Director of Inventus Capital Partners, who has reviewed and rated some of the nominated startups as an expert, is optimistic about the quality of young companies today. “Most of the startups featured in Hottest Startups have mature teams, address good marketing opportunities, successfully differentiate their products, and hold potential to become large companies in future. It is exciting to witness the new generation of startups in India,” he feels.

Amit Grover of Mumbai Angels and Hottest Startups expert looks at Hottest Startups as a unique opportunity for startups to network, share and learn from each others stories, irrespective of which sector they belong to. “It is more of a community building exercise, and not just a contest. It provides a platform not only for IT and telecom-related startups, but also those from manufacturing, real estate, hospitality, education and other diverse fields as well,” says Grover.

Parkin agrees with Grover. “We have structured Hottest Startups as an open contest in order to provide value to every single nominee through visibility and engagement. And we’re happy to see that it’s starting to work. I think the general excitement to learn about all the nominees – regardless of the nominees’ votes, expert reviews or rankings – shows that people understand that this contest is not just about the handful of winners, but rather a showcase of the amazing entrepreneurial energy in India today.”

“In fact, we all know that the path from startup to large company is fraught with challenges, and no one’s success is guaranteed. But these Awards, and indeed the entire contest, are a celebration of the spirit shown by these entrepreneurs and their teams, in taking the first steps on that path. And in that way, each and every nominee has already succeeded,” she shares.

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