Deshpande Startups, India’s largest business incubator successfully organized ‘Startup Gravity’, a path-breaking event for over 1000 innovative, socially conscious, talented and relentless young entrepreneurs who are hungry to transform India’s socio-economic growth. In addition to the entrepreneurs, over 200 industry leaders and HNIs, 100+ academicians and experts, and 50+ VCs were a part of this event.
Luminaries such as Indian IT industry’s stalwart, Mr. Narayana Murthy, Founder, Infosys, Deshpande Foundation’s Co-Founder, Dr. Gururaj Desh Deshpande and Mr. N.C. Murthy, Serial Entrepreneur graced the event. They also inaugurated the MAA Food-Tech Centre (N.C. Murthy Aahaar Avinya Food-Tech Innovation Centre), a first-of-its-kind ecosystem built to support an integrated zero-waste food cluster in North Karnataka after a successful pilot in Sirsi, Karnataka.
With almost 50% of its startups coming from the agri-tech sector, Deshpande Startups is committed to taking steps to make the food system in India more resilient. Through this effort, they are able to provide innovative solutions to reduce food wastage, increase a farmer’s income and create entrepreneurs at every step of the value chain, particularly among women.
Inaugurating the event, Dr Gururaj Desh Deshpande, Co-founder, Deshpande Foundation, said, “Despite the pandemic and the economic turmoil faced by the world, India has continued to achieve economic growth that is higher than almost all other leading economies in the recent years. This resilience has been created by the ‘young and hungry’ population of startup founders and student entrepreneurs. There is a need to continue driving awareness and build an incubatory ecosystem where the talent is nurtured, guided and empowered to move forward in the right direction. That’s a goal we endeavour to achieve through Startup Gravity, and various other initiatives and programmes conducted by Deshpande Foundation and Deshpande Startups.”
Adding further, Dr Aravind Chinchure, CEO, Deshpande Startups, said, “At Deshpande Startups, we are witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime shift of approach brought about by young students and startup founders who are from Bharat and building products and technology for Bharat and Beyond. The trajectory clearly points to the fact that ‘India is the Future’, and we are dedicated to ensuring that deserving startup founders are provided with all the knowledge and ecosystem support that they need to create winning enterprises. This will not only resolve the social challenges prevalent but also pave the way for a highly developed, financially stronger and socially equitable society. We are extremely happy to witness the launch of the MAA Food-Tech Centre today. It is a world-class innovation centre and a true testament to the potential of student and women-led start-ups in finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. We thank Mr N.C. Murthy for his generous donation of $1 million. This donation has bolstered our confidence and provided resources to truly realise our aim of promoting entrepreneurship at the grassroots level. We are proud to name the centre after him.”
During his address, Mr Narayana Murthy, Founder, Infosys said, “Each time I attend an event organized by Deshpande Foundation, I see revolutionary ideas coming to life. It is truly remarkable to witness the launch of the technologically advanced dehydration machine built by the Deshpande Startups Infinity Studio team. It showcases the successful use of using scientific ideas to reduce costs, improve productivity and enhance livelihood. An entrepreneurial mindset can go a long way in helping solve common issues faced by society. Entrepreneurial thinking is key to tackling social issues, and great leadership simply means leading by example – something that was showcased here today. I extend my congratulations to all those involved in this successful gathering!”
Giving his address, Mr. N.C. Murthy, Serial Entrepreneur said, “Deshpande Foundation’s mission to create an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship is truly inspiring. I am happy to be given the opportunity to work with them to provide the right kind of support, resources and mentorship to budding entrepreneurs, particularly students and women which in turn empowers them with the confidence to stand on their own feet. I feel privileged to be a part of such an amazing organization. The MAA food-tech centre is truly revolutionary and will help in improving access to high quality produce at the lowest prices while also providing a livelihood to women in rural areas and creating better income opportunities for farmers.”
In addition to fireside discussions, keynote speeches, and panel discussions, three main events were held as a part of Startup Gravity.
The event also saw the launch of an indigenous food dehydration machine built by Deshpande Startups very own Infinity Studio team. The machine will help make the North Karnataka food cluster self-sustainable and is a low-cost and effective solution that completes the food-value chain cycle.
The four key themes on which panel discussions were held include Make in University; Art & Science of Disruption; The golden era of the Indian Startup Ecosystem; and Decoding Startup investments for 2023 & beyond.
A large number of enterprises and government partners including StartupIndia, Startup Karnataka, Deshpande Foundation, Deshpande Skilling, Karnataka Digital Economy Mission, Google for Startups, and the Indian Institute for Information Technology supported the event.
Additional Notes: Some dignitaries and rising stars of the Indian business, startup, and social/sustainability sector who participated in the event included Mr Rajesh Jog, (Managing Partner, NexStage Ventures), Mr Anil Joshi, (Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures), Mr AmeyMashelkar, (Head, JioGenNext), Ms Rupa Kumar*, (CEO & Investor, Purple Quarter), Mr Anirudh Sharma, (CEO, Digantara), Mr Hemant Sahal (Founder & CEO, CallPoll), Mr Suhas Motwani, (Pepsico, The Product Folks), Ms Anuja Dhawan (Co-founder, Dubverse.ai), Mr Rishav Agarwal (Founder Picxele, Angel Investor), Ms Richa Bajpai (Founder, Campus Fund), and Mr PremnathVenugopalan (Head, Venture Centre).
Rural India forms the backbone of the nation. Focusing on its socio-economic growth would ensure holistic development. Since 2007, Deshpande Foundation (DF) has constantly worked towards recognizing and addressing the challenges of rural and semi-urban India.
Interventions in rural India are largely made in the areas of livelihood, healthcare, education, and policy-making. Our approach to rural transformation involves enhancing livelihoods and creating sustainable economic prosperity for rural communities. DF focuses on creating better, faster, inclusive and economical solutions in the areas of Agriculture, Micro-Entrepreneurship, Skilling, and Startups.
We believe in navigating a unique path as a social enterprise, harnessing a blend of business excellence and compassion of not-for-profits. While the goal is to eventually create tangible impact at the national level, we have begun our journey with a step towards rural transformation.