05 Oct 2021 22:49 IST

BITS hosts 17th edition of ‘Conquest’ start-up accelerator

Many industry frontrunners came together to share their success mantras with aspiring entrepreneurs.

BITS Pilani hosted the 17th edition of Conquest, a student-run start-up accelerator. Backed by Canara Bank VC and Icertis, the event provided start-ups with incubation possibilities, networking with industry leaders, and funding opportunities to navigate a highly competitive and challenging start-up environment.

This year, 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.

Winning start-ups

Newsreach, an Ahmedabad-based digital media, tech start-up, took the 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 $3,00,000 from JITO Angel Network, ShuruUp Ventures, and FAAD Network.

The runner-up was Ecovia, a progressive, sustainable packaging company.The second runner-up were Backyard Creators, an innovative tech start-up addressing environmental, social, and medical problems, specifically in the healthcare 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 centre for future-ready EV charging solutions, bagged the ‘Track award.’

During the final stages of the accelerator programme, top 10 start-ups pitched their ideas to a jury of VCs and industry experts. After a meticulous process, the top-three winners were given a ₹10 lakh equity-less cash prize.

Spirit of collaboration

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 industry leaders such as Anil Agarwal, Additional Secretary for Start-up India and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade; Rajeev Misra, CEO, SoftBank Investment Advisers; Kunal Bahl, CEO and Co-founder, Snapdeal; and Anirudh Singla, Co-Founder and CEO, Pepper Content; were the keynote speakers.

With industry experts such as Anirvan Chowdhury, Investments, Blume Ventures; and Brijesh Bharadwaj, Director of Product, Dunzo as mentors, entrepreneurs could share/discuss their ideas and queries.

The event featured ask-me-anything sessions with established YouTuber and influencer Ankur Warikoo, Founder, Nearbuy and Groupon. Leveraging his vast experience as a leader and content creator for start-ups, Warikoo shared nuanced insights about the initial growth of modern-age start-ups. The session was hosted by Ayush Wadhwa, founder, Owled Media.

Simultaneously, a competitive pitching session was also organised for the top 15 start-ups to help develop their pitching skills. Over six weeks leading up to the finale (demo day), Conquest organised multiple panel discussions on a wide range of topics with front-running members of the ecosystem.