An idea exposition hackathon on “Innovations in Agriculture, Sustainable Environment and Ecotourism” was organised by the AIC-SMUTBI (Atal Incubation Centre Sikkim Manipal University Technology Business Incubation Foundation) in collaboration with IKP, Bangalore and funded and supported by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) Regional Innovation Centre (BRIC) on January 22 and 23, 2021.
From a pool of 15 startups, 6 startups were shortlisted for the finals, which were put on fast-track mentoring and funnelled through the final pitch during the 36-hour hackathon.
Padma Shri Awardee of 2020, Trinity Saioo, who heads the Lakhadong Movement in Meghalaya, was one of the Key Panellist who spoke on "The struggles of founders in Agri startups and what not to do." Trinity, a mother of six children comprising of three sons and three daughters and five grandsons, lives in Mulieh village in West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya. Her village, a nondescript village comprises of 230 households and practising traditional agriculture. What is unique about this village though is the fact that all the household here now grows the prized Lakadong Turmeric because of the innovative and hard work of one lady farmer, who led from the front with exemplary and steadfast leadership. Her story of working with 800 farmers at the “Ieng Skhem Spice Producer Industrial Co-operative Society” for the production of Lakadong Turmeric and making it a commercially viable product was an inspiration to many.
Startup success stories sessions were delivered by Reena Rai, Founder, Maato Studio and Karma Thutop and Pintso Gyatso, Co-Founders of ourguest.in (Topview Pvt Ltd). Reena Rai highlighted the need for intervention of younger minds in bringing new and innovative business idea which otherwise were considered unconventional in the region.
Karma Thutop and Pintso Gyatso presented their struggles and pain points faced by them during their early days and the dark side of a startup after raising capitals from Institutional Fund.
The Shortlisted startup founders were mentored by Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CEO, IKP Knowledge Park, Jyoti Saroop, GM, The Unati Co-op. Marketing-cum-Processing Society Ltd., Tej Chingtham, CEO, AIC-SMUTBI and Manish Kumar, Manager, IP & Licensing Services, Bharat BioTech.
The two winners of the hackathon are: CAS Collective LLP (Lagtsal) and The Chakras Farm Pvt Ltd. The founders of the two startups Ms Chimi Bhutia and Mr Pranay expresses their gratitude to the organizers for bringing in innovative ways of fast track mentoring for growth hack of businesses in Sikkim and North East. The two startups were awarded a grant of Rs 50,000/- each.
“It was a struggle when we had to work till 1:00AM in the morning to get the business plan right but in the end, it paid off”, says Chimi Bhutia, Co-Founder, CAS Collective LLP (Lagtsal).
“Some of the opportunities that were only seen in bigger cities have started coming here now, we no longer have to travel to cities to validate our business plans and sincerely appreciate the efforts of AIC-SMUTBI for bringing such events closer home”, says Pranay, Co-Founder, The Chakras Farm Pvt Ltd.