Campus Fund, India’s first and only Dorm Room Fund investing in student-led startups and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have launched the first edition of the Grand Challenge – a unique pan India Competition to recognise the most innovative student-led startup.
The challenge aligns with government initiatives like Startup India, and Make in India to boost the country’s startup ecosystem. It also aligns with the recently-released National Education Policy 2020 which emphasises the need to enable and promote student entrepreneurship to fulfil India’s ambitious goal of ushering in an entrepreneurial revolution. Through the Grand Challenge, AWS and Campus Fund aim to contribute to transforming India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and help make starting a company an attractive and achievable path for enterprising students.
The challenge is open for startups whose founders are currently students or have dropped out or graduated in the last three years. The startups must operate in any of the following six categories – Mobility and AutoTech, AgriTech and CleanTech, Robotics, EdTech, FinTech and Mental Wellness.
Applications for the programme close on October 12, 2020, following which there will be three elimination rounds. Startups in the first shortlist will get a chance to participate in a 15-minute elevator pitch with the Campus Fund team. Based on this, the second shortlist will be decided. The selected startups will then be assigned a mentor, who will understand the startup in greater detail and provide feedback and guidance. Startups on the final shortlist will get to pitch at Demo Day, wherein the jury will select one winner across each of the six sectors and one overall winner of the Grand Challenge 2020.
The Demo Day is scheduled for December 10 and is being chaired by a high-powered jury consisting of business leaders instrumental in shaping the early years of India’s startup ecosystem and those who are shaping it today. The jury includes leaders like Sriharsha Majety, CEO & Co-Founder Swiggy; Raghunandan G, Founder TaxiForSure; Phanindra Sama, Founder redBus; Gaurav Arora, Head, Startup Ecosystem, APAC-Japan at AWS; Gaurav Chaturvedi, Partner at KAE Capital; Dev Khare, Partner at Lightspeed India and Tom Hyland, Co-Founder & Advisor, Aspada.
As part of the challenge, winners will have access to the AWS Activate program which provides resources, mentorship, and promotional credit support to help founders build and scale a business quickly. Winners in each category will receive one-on-one mentoring on AWS Cloud technical architecture best practices from AWS Solutions Architects. All six category winners and the overall winner will be fast-tracked to pitch to the Investment Committee of Campus Fund scheduled for December 11 and 12 for an investment of up to Rs 50 lakh. In addition, the top 60 startups selected in the first shortlist will be mentored by members of the AWS Super Angels programme in India that brings together the country’s leading angel investors. Students applying for the Grand Challenge can also apply for AWS Educate programme benefits through their college email ids. AWS Educate is Amazon’s global initiative to provide students and educators with resources for building skills in cloud technology.
The programme is being supported by several industry players, including HDFC Bank, Career Launcher, AGNIi (a Government of India Initiative), Wadhwani Foundation, TiE Bangalore, and YourStory among others.
In short, the Grand Challenge provides a unique opportunity for student-led innovative startups to get access to much-needed support and recognition to power their startup journey.
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