WIEF Startup Competition: Who wants to book the coolest hostel room in India?

By Sarabjeet Singh WG’15

Want to rent a self-drive car in Bangalore or book an affordable hostel room in the heart of India’s culturally rich desert state of Rajasthan? Zoom Car and Zostel can help you do exactly that. They are just two of the five exciting start-ups that the Startup Competition organized by the Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) and sponsored by Wharton Entrepreneurship, is showcasing as finalists at this year’s conference on February 22, 2014.

The WIEF Startup Competition, launched this year, is a first of its kind competition aimed at promoting entrepreneurship in India by building a robust platform that encourages idea exchange and collaboration across top schools and alumni network in the US and India.

The competition received 60 entries over two tracks, a ‘Proof of Concept’ track and an ‘Idea’ track. Investment managers at leading venture funds in India were asked to be “Pre-screen judges,” who reviewed all entries and shortlisted semi-finalists across both tracks. Informal chats were then conducted with pre-screen judges and semi-finalists in order to determine the finalists.

‘Proof of Concept’ finalists:

  • Qlicket: Provides free internet sessions (in over 200 locations across 40 cities in India) in high traffic establishments by leveraging a patent pending ad focused technology
  • Samaan: Provides basic health services to under-privileged and marginalized people in far flung areas of India through mobile medical vans
  • Targeting Mantra: Delhi-based startup that offers a personalization platform to online businesses and helps increase ROI by delivering more relevant customer experience
  • Zoom Car: Offering a self-drive car rental service in Bangalore, India (founded by Penn alumni Greg Moran and David Back)
  • Zostel: India’s first chain of backpacker’s hostels that is working to connect young travelers with private rooms, lounges, scenic balconies, private room showers and more interesting affordable stay options.

‘Idea’ finalists:

  • Ambitioni: Web portal that offers analytics on career paths and access to career planning resources (founded by current Wharton MBA students Neha Mittal and Sagar Pagare)
  • Level Counsel: Platform that offers unique form of higher education counseling services targeted at the Indian student population (founded by current students Aditya Gathwala, M&T, and Banruo Zhou, Wharton undergrad)
  • Travel Gourmand: Aims to connect American travelers with local foodies in India who will act as their food tour guide
  • V Help: Online/mobile marketplace in India to outsource ad-hoc errands (founded by current Wharton MBA student Khushboo Jha)
  • Wish Guise: Collaborative consumption model for designer Indian ethnic wear (founded by current Wharton MBA student Tanvi Chopra)

The final pitches are at the 18th Wharton India Economic Forum on February 22 in Philadelphia, where finalists will present their companies ideas to a panel of elite judges and a live audience to compete for cash prizes of up to $10,000.

The panel of final round judges includes Alok Kejiriwal, CEO and Co-Founder of Games2Win, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Founder of Naukri.com, Mukund Mohan, Head of Microsoft Ventures – Fund and Accelerators for Asia, Rajesh Sawhney, Founder of GSF Accelerator and Kartik Hosanagar, Professor at Wharton and serial entrepreneur. For more information, please visit the website at http://www.whartonindia.com/startup-competition.php.

The excitement has just begun!

Sarabjeet Singh Profile Picture Sarabjeet Singh is a first year MBA candidate at Wharton. Before Wharton, he worked with Seedfund, a leading early stage fund in India, on investments in internet, media and retail. Sarabjeet ran an online college news network (Let Me Know), which he started during his undergraduate studies. He has a bachelors and masters in Mathematics and Computing from the Indian Institute of Technology. He recently coordinated the official Wharton trek to India and is a member of the Wharton India Economic Forum and the Wharton Journal teams.