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WhatsApp announces five winners of startup challenge

WhatsApp India has announced the five winners of ‘Startup India – Grand WhatsApp Challenge’, which was created in collaboration with Invest India.

The total prize money was $250,000 (Rs 35 lakh), which was equally divided among all the winners.

The five winners chosen were:

Gramophone: A platform which provides agronomic intelligence to farmers and assists with all agricultural input needs. It claims to reduce cultivation costs by 25-20 per cent and raise production by over 30 per cent.

Javis: An Artificial Intelligence-based platform which aims to solve business problems through the use of algorithms. It uses AI to predict the best course of action for companies as well as budget optimisation for promotions.

Melzo: A virtual reality service provider, Melzo is a cloud-based platform which looks to simplify the creation, discovery and sharing of Extended Reality (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality).

MinionLabs: It helps businesses in reducing electricity costs and enhancing productivity through the usage of real-time device level electricity consumption insights delivered on its analytical platform.

MedCords: It connects and encourages simple access and sharing of data between patients, doctors, pharmacies and laboratories and removing the hassle of maintaining hard copies. MedCords also provides consultation services through insights using data science.

According to WhatsApp, there were approximately 1700 total entries, out of which 70 per cent were just-born startups who were under three months old.

“The entries were evaluated for their innovative thinking, the scale of impact and the ability to solve real problems faced by Indians. The shortlisted 10 entries were then given a chance to pitch their ideas live to a mix of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs,” the messaging platform said in a statement.

A Social India contacted two of the winners, Javis and Melzo, to discuss what winning the competition means for the startups and the digital world in general. Both stressed the importance of the prize money.

Javis founder and CEO Partha Sinha stated: “We are putting the prize money into developing vernacular AI capability for the Indian market. That will enable our products to have more broad usage across the market.”

Melzo’s plan of action is a bit different. Its founder Hardik Desai revealed that deep tech companies have very few sources of revenue to rely on during the early stages. The fact that it’s based in Surat made it even harder since it’s not one of the top three exports for the city.

“This funding not only sets us up financially to be able to expand without worry but also gives us some much-needed coverage to be able to break out and establish on a greater stage,” he added.

Predicting the future of social media and the rapidly developing technology, Sinha expressed his belief that businesses are aspiring to build a direct connection with their customers (both B2B and B2C) and social media platforms can help their cause.

“We strongly believe that WhatsApp in the Indian market will take a lead on this. It has a huge user base and incredible stickiness- a perfect platform for businesses to set shop,” he said.

Desai felt the same. “We have absolutely no doubt about it. As technology evolves, how we interact and connect will evolve too. Further evolutions will bring us further together, connected at an unprecedented level both emotionally and technologically.”

Going forward, Javis aims to rigorously build its already established hold on WhatsApp and have 50 enterprise customers by March 2020. Melzo wants to help the internet evolve from 2D to 3D through its expertise in Extended Reality.

(Feature image source: Pixabay)

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