In a unique four-week acceleration program, iB Hubs Startup School, young startups from all across the country learned, evolved and were empowered by industry professionals and their counterparts. These six startups shone ahead of the lot as the acceleration program drew to a close. Here’s what they are and what they had to say about their ventures
Acoustic Tales, Founder: Vishal Kumar
Acoustic Tales wishes to make audiobooks a trend in India and hopes to convert all the non-readers into avid consumers of audiobooks. It rides on the concept of bringing back the age-old tradition of storytelling. “My college is two hours away from my home so every day I have to travel to and fro from college,” narrates Vishal adding, “I felt like I could do a lot in this time so decided to read books. After a few days, my eyes started hurting and I had a headache, it is advised not to read anything in a moving vehicle and I learned it the hard way.
So I decided to go for audiobooks, the narration was nice but when I wanted to go back to a certain section of the book it was difficult to navigate. I found a pain point and I decided to bring the good from both in a single platform.” In the existing market solutions, you have the option to either read a book or listen to an audiobook Vishal opines. Acoustic Tales takes the best of both worlds and enables users to read and listen to the book simultaneously. The users also get access to an exclusive interview with the author on what inspired him/her to write the book.
Knode, Founder: Balu Naidu
As a business owner, I believe I have only two responsibilities. One of them is to bring value to the customer and the second one is to keep the team happy,” says Balu Naidu, founder of Knode. Knode believes in solving problems that don’t receive much attention. The company’s goal is to finish its MVP and start testing with its initial batch of customers, take their feedback and improve upon it. They believe that accelerators like iB Hub play a vital role to young startups especially the ones founded by students, just like theirs.
For them, entrepreneurship is solving problems and building things is something they enjoy doing. “The thought that the things I built are solving problems and helping a lot of people in the process is something that excites me much,” says Balu. What’s unique about their business is that they find out the problem, and ask the customers how they want it to be solved keeping the community engagement at maximum. In the next five years, they want to be a team of great culture and products, to improve the lives of customers.
ZConnect Founder: Akhil Kamat and Lokesh
ZConnect a hyperlocal social media network is trying to connect like-minded people locally. “With current social media platforms people are able to connect with people globally but don’t know people they are living with. We are doing the last mile connectivity,” says co-founder, Akhil Kamat. “You have a circle of people around you but they are not like minded. In social media you have like minded people but they aren’t around you. ZConnect gives you both,” explains Akhil.
As AKhil and Lokesh are both from a technical background, both of them handle that end together. On the other hand, Akhil tackles marketing, publicity and designing while Lokesh handles team-building and expansion. ABout their future plans he says, “In the next five years we see ourselves as the emerging hyperlocal social network across various communities across India. We also see people using our services to make apps specific to their hyperlocal community and benefiting them. We are currently identifying one pain issue that caters to all.” They also have a suggestion based on what they learnt at iB Hubs to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Build something that really matters to the customer. Be flexible to their needs.”
Darrang Eco Works
Founder: Kankana Dev
Darrang Eco Works a production unit of bamboo-based furniture and building equipment in Mangaldai District, Assam has the goal to be the only enterprise in India with the complete range of products and implement post disaster shelters. The great resource of bamboo in Assam and working a business around it with a diverse range of products and housing services is what makes it unique. The initial priority, at least for an year or two, of the startup is to establish a women oriented manufacturing unit based on bamboo and later take up construction projects across India. Darrang Eco Works is the first step towards sustainable self empowerment in rural Assam.
When asked what made them choose this type of business, Kankana Dev said, “The drive to work with a material so closely associated to our culture in northeast India needs to be brought to the mainland. As an architect working on the post disaster project, helped me come out with the Deco Shelter kit model, which is easy for user assembly within an hour. The founder suggests all the aspiring entrepreneurs to be rigid and patient throughout the journey.”
Filmloop, Founders: Vishnu and Shyam
The founders of Filmloop, a customer-centered business, Vishnu and Shyam, have realised that there is a lot of untapped potential in this world, and this needs entrepreneurs to bring it out. “We have grown up watching movies and see it as flashy and fun. But behind the scenes, there are a lot of problems that can be solved.
This is what makes us more excited with regard to our startup,” said Vishnu. In the next five years, they want to expand their product all over India and help the movie industry through this. Startups have a lot of impact on our society. And taking this as an inspiration, Filmloop wishes to connect the different parts of entertainment industry and allow talent to meet their destiny.
The founders of this startup have chosen this field as they are fond of actors like Mohan Lal, Mammootty in Malayalam and Shah Rukh Khan in Hindi movies. With the help of accelerators like iB Hubs, the startup has come across new concepts and helped to develop entrepreneurial mindset and the necessary skills required for it.
Founder: Daxeel Soni
Startups are started with the aim to earn money through invention or innovation. Daxeel Soni, from Stayo, says that he chose to be an entrepreneur as he was always passionate about solving problems without any restrictions or boundaries. He is excited about the “Scope of innovation”, a startup offers. The company’s goal is to provide a niche based data solutions to the hospitality industry.
Stayo is into data analytics for hotels which helps them deal with problems and improving operations for the best guest experience, and thats what makes it unique. Soni says, “ Accelerators like iB Hub can be game changers to the founders as they receive help from experienced mentors”. According to him, one has to deal with tons of other things apart from core skills, for being a startup.
Developing a product after understanding customers and knowing their point of view is important. Soni takes inspiration from his father, who was also a businessman and learnt to be strong in tough circumstances. He had chosen this business to add value to the hospitality industry in India.