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It was a power packed day as investors, entrepreneurs, founders, policy makers and industry stakeholders came together to network, deliberate and exchange knowledge on a common platform on the concluding day of Antha Prerna 2021, a Startup Conclave and Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by the Startup Promotion Cell, Government of Goa in collaboration with AIC-GIM (Atal Incubation Centre- Goa Institute of Management) and Info Tech Corporation of Goa Limited

Through the day-long event, one thought echoed through the various sessions – Goa is an ideal state for the startup ecosystem to flourish and thrive.

Tej Kapoor, Partner, RZ Capital explained how he has witnessed unicorn founders wanting to move to Goa. Several established companies like 91 Springboard and others have already made the shift. Drawing a parallel with Silicon Valley he said, “Goa can be another Silicon Valley. The cost of living is considerably lower in comparison to the metros, the quality of life is better and one is able to attain a sense of balance. The state is setting up new infrastructure in terms of an airport and better road connectivity. The future seems bright.”

Anurag Agrawal Partner, Aavishkaar Capital agreed but added that a key ingredient to be able to scale up and grow is availability of skilled talent. He said, “While the state is attractive to startups and venture capitalists, one needs access to talent. There is a severe skilled talent shortage across the globe. Goa has a well developed education system. It has the potential to develop a talent pool of skilled professionals. For that Goa needs to make the state attractive to talent so that it can be a hub.”

Parixit Pai Fondekar, Founder of FIERCE Kitchens, India’s only culinary incubator spoke at the session where he articulated the potential the state has in the culinary industry. He said,
Goa is a tourist hub. The state has a vast skilled workforce in the hospitality sector, many of whom are working beyond the state.

Now is an opportunity for some of them to return and start a venture of their own. The pandemic also saw the emergence of foodpreneurs across verticals.”

Culinary as a business is not capital intensive, one can start off right from their own kitchens at home he explained. “With culinary, one can start simple. What’s key is

innovation. I see immense potential in Goa. I forecast that the next 2 years will witness an even bigger boom in foodpreneurs. With AICGIM’s expertise and support FIERCE Kitchens is going to be mentoring some path breaking, innovative culinary ideas, “ he added.

The last day also witnessed a live speed pitching session where 20 shortlisted entrepreneurs from incubators across the state pitched their ideas to 12 angel investors. The elevator pitch had to be conveyed in 120 seconds before they moved on to the next investor

Gautami Raikar, Founder of The Legal Capsule, a legal tech company who works with SMEs and large scale enterprises to automate the contract management process, said of the speed pitching round “ It was amazing to be part of this pitching round at the summit and to get an opportunity to interact with prominent investors as well as networking with peers in the community.” A virtual incubee at AICGIM and CIBA, Gautami who hails from Verna is confident of being able to source funding for her business idea.

Reacting on the speed pitching sessions and networking with startups during the event Tej Kapoor spoke about what investors look for when making the decision to invest at one of the sessions . “The prime focus is on the tenacity of a founder and the founding team. That’s central to decision making”, he explained.

Bhavena Bhatnagar, Co-Founder, We Founder Circle agreed. “In addition to the founders we look at what problem they are looking to solve and why they choose to solve that problem. Their attitude is an important factor. And finally there is an element of instinct.”

How tech is integrated into the business model and easy exit options are other factors that play a deciding role, said investors.

On a parting note, Vinod Keni Growth Partner, Artha Venture advised incubators to assist startups in gaining more exposure, confidence and the ability to be able to articulate their ideas better. Advising startups he added, “oftentimes investing and fund raising is overhyped in startup circles. As an entrepreneur if you can run a successful business and scale up without investment please do it. There are many who are running profitable businesses without seeking investment.

The Startup Conclave and Entrepreneurship Summit was hosted by the Startup Promotion Cell, Government of Goa in collaboration with AIC-GIM (Atal Incubation Centre- Goa Institute of Management) and Info Tech Corporation of Goa Limited. The summit was an effort to bring together the collective ecosystem of entrepreneurs,

innovators, investors, startups, educationists, the government and policy makers converged to create synergies that will empower and facilitate a robust startup ecosystem in Goa.