New Delhi: BITSians successfully hosted the 17th edition of Conquest, India’s first and largest student-run start-up accelerator. Backed by Canara Bank VC and Icertis, the 6-week accelerator program culminated in a high-impact Demo Day on 1st August. The event provided promising start-ups with incubation possibilities, networking with industry leaders, and funding opportunities to navigate a highly competitive and challenging start-up environment.
Conquest Demo-day is a celebration of all start-up industry stakeholders coming together in one place and creating a collaborative and encouraging atmosphere. With distinguished industry leaders such as Anil Agarwal (Additional Secretary for Startup India & the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade), Rajeev Misra (CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers), Kunal Bahl (CEO and Co-founder of Snapdeal), and Anirudh Singla (Co-Founder & CEO of Pepper Content), as keynote speakers, the Conquest Demo Day concluded on an awe-inspiring high note.
During the final stages of the accelerator program, top-10 start-ups pitched their ideas to a decorated jury composed of VCs and industry experts. After a meticulous process, the top-three winners were given a whopping INR 10 lakh equity-less cash prize. Newsreach, an Ahmedabad-based digital media tech start-up took the winning Conquest 2021 award home. The brand enables local content publishers in rural regions to go online. It is emerging as a new-age news-publishing platform that empowers local reporters and news publishers to go digital and expand their reach. Earlier this year, the platform raised USD 300,000 from JITO Angel Network, ShuruUp Ventures, and FAAD Network to head strongly towards the future.
The runner-up was Ecovia, a progressive, sustainable packaging company revolutionizing the packaging industry. Likewise, the second runner-up award went to Backyard Creators, an innovative tech start-up addressing environmental, social, and medical problems, specifically health care and disability sectors. Backyard Creator’s advanced adhesive non-surgical hearing device, Impulse, is specially designed for patients with total hearing loss by birth or otherwise. In addition, Valerio Electric, a one-stop center for future-ready EV charging solutions, took the BITSian Track award home.
This year, it is pertinent to note that 30 companies were chosen from a total of 1,000 registrants to attend one-on-one mentorship sessions over a week, meeting industry professionals in design, UI/UX, product management, growth, operations, sales, and marketing.
Conquest 2021 was an ideal launchpad for emerging entrepreneurs, with investment, mentoring, and extensive networking possibilities all in one place. With eminent industry experts such as Anirvan Chowdhury (Investments, Blume Ventures), and Brijesh Bharadwaj (Director of Product, Dunzo), as mentors, entrepreneurs could share/discuss their ideas, queries, and scope for the future directly with the pioneers who have been there, done that.
Aritra Guru, CEO – Conquest, said, “We are delighted to provide a platform to the start-ups dedicated to bringing disruptive innovation and propelling them towards success. This year’s event was a resounding success, and we saw several of the industry’s brightest minds convene to share their mantras for success with aspiring entrepreneurs. It has been a delightful experience, and we look forward to the next edition of Conquest as we continue to empower and inspire many more business owners.”
The event featured Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) sessions with established YouTuber, content creator, and influencer Ankur Warikoo (Founder – Nearbuy and Groupon). Leveraging his vast experience as a leader and content creator for blooming start-ups, Ankur shared nuanced insights about the initial growth of modern-age start-ups. The session was hosted by Ayush Wadhwa, the founder of Owled Media.
Simultaneously, a competitive pitching session was also organized for the Top 15 start-ups to help develop their pitching skills. Representatives from India’s top VCs, including Arali Ventures, Antler, and Stellaris Venture Partners, graced the session and shared their in-depth knowledge and comprehensive experience with entrepreneurs. They asked start-up owner’s hard-hitting and relevant questions to prepare them for real-world business challenges.
Over six weeks leading up to the Grand Finale (demo day), Conquest organized multiple panel discussions on a wide range of topics with front-running members of the ecosystem. Distinguished personalities such as Richa Kar (Co-founder of Zivame) and Shradha Sharma (Founder & CEO of YourStory) attended a discussion on the Evolution of the start-up ecosystem. Since the topic was closely related to the contemporary entrepreneurial world, it had in-depth insights and industry-centric perception.
In addition, Conquest, a unique bouquet of start-up tailored initiatives, brought India’s top Venture Capitalists Rishab Malik (Venture Partner at Jungle Ventures), Sameer Brij Verma (Managing Director at Nexus Venture Partners), and Rajesh Raju (Managing Director at Kalaari Capital) on a single table. They shared visionary ideas about the current Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) race, economic fluctuations, and start-up trends.
Launched in 2004, Conquest was initially a B-plan competition within the institute. However, the students gradually realized that Conquest’s current functionality and methodologies are limited and not adding real value to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2011-12, BITSians started brainstorming and came up with a thorough roadmap. On the back of out-of-the-box thinking, ideation, and planning, the program gradually began connecting established industry players as mentors with up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
In 2018, BITSians decided to add actual value to this mentorship venture and transformed Conquest into a full-fledged accelerator program. This gave rise to funding opportunities, as Conquest became a space where entrepreneurs could find co-working and co-living spaces. By 2019, Conquest had revamped itself as a shining beacon for new-age entrepreneurs. It wasn’t a eureka moment that brought Conquest where it is today, but the years of blocks put together as a comprehensive and continuous learning process.
It’s a testament to the Conquest accelerator program that numerous notable start-ups rising from here have seen tremendous growth and impacted millions of lives across India. This includes Social Cops (an avant-garde data intelligence company), Vadoo (an ultramodern video solution mitigating buffering and latency issues), Gamezop (computer game start-up), JoGo (health and wellness start-up), and Trell (India’s largest lifestyle social commerce platform).