The TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards announces 2008 winners


activecubes solutions, Lakshya, StarAgri, and The Loot make it to the final 5
Six months of heady campaigning culminated in a suspense filled evening where India’s first people’s choice awards for startups– the TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards 2008 were announced. Five innovative & high potential startups made it to the top - activecubes solutions, Lakshya, StarAgri, and The Loot.
The TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards, the world’s first people’s choice awards for new startups attracted around 600 nominations covering a wide range of sectors and geographies -- with startups from over 40 cities covering nearly 20 industry segments, making it India’s largest startup contest. For the first time the public was invited along with over 250 top experts, including distinguished entrepreneurs, investors and industry representatives, to help select the winners. The contest fired the imagination of public engaging over 2 lakh voters in the very first year of its launch. 
The 5 Winners of the TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards 2008 reflect the diversity and dynamism of today’s entrepreneurial India – the winning startups cut across education, legal & IT consulting, agriculture and retail. In addition, the winners represent a unique blend of cities– with two of the five winners located in tier two cities: Patiala in Punjab and Kota in Rajasthan, thus mirroring the entrepreneurial revolution happening across India. Interestingly, four of the winning startups are self funded.
The Winners were announced at an awards ceremony on Friday, February 27 at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. An esteemed gathering of successful entrepreneurs, VCs, industry heads and professionals graced the occasion. Delivering the keynote address at the awards ceremony, Dr. JJ Irani, Director, Tata Sons, said, “The spirit of entrepreneurship forms the core value of our organisation. And a platform that recognizes, fosters and encourages entrepreneurship resonates very well with our vision. I congratulate the winners and urge them to continue striving towards innovation and enterprise. This requires drawing upon one’s capability to be visionaries – a defining characteristic of an entrepreneur.”
The ceremony was preceded by a series of roundtable discussions, which were facilitated by top industry experts to discuss the entrepreneurial challenges in current economic environment. Designed exclusively for the 30 finalists, the roundtable discussions were kicked off following an opening address by Ms. Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head & CEO, HSBC.

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Romit Chaterji, Senior VP, Corporate Affairs, Tata Group, said, “The Tata NEN Hottest Startups Awards reflects the Tata’s strong belief in entrepreneurship as a driver of business growth in the country. We are thrilled to bring the first ever Hottest Startups Awards program to a successful conclusion along with NEN.”
Laura Parkin, Executive Director, NEN, said, “It has been an exciting journey and we are thrilled to announce the winners of the TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards. The success of these Awards has been fuelled by the support from Tata and the entire entrepreneurial community; the response has been tremendous – hundreds of experts reviewed the nominations, and during the contest over 2 lakh voters engaged in supporting their favourite startups. The results are striking: the Finalists and the Winners showcase the drive and opportunities in today’s India.”
Quick snapshot
The contest was launched on August 27, 2008 with the goal to provide visibility for startups, engage the public and improve support for startups -- thus improving ecosystem & driving economic growth. The 5 Hottest Startups were chosen from among a shortlist of 30 finalists, who in turn, were selected based on a combination of expert reviews and public voting. Major Partners in this initiative include Helion Ventures, Seedfund and Wadhwani Foundation. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and The Gateway Hotel provided support as Special Partners.  Ernst & Young as the Official Tabulator of the Awards, advised on procedures and auditing practices for the contest.
Awards for Winners
The 5 winners are entitled to a host of exciting awards, including:
  • TCS Small & Medium Business (SMB) Group -- A 3 year software service subscription to all five winners, free of cost for select business applications. 
  • IIMA’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) – 1:1 consultation with leading faculty member associated with CIIE; identification of and input on support areas and introductions to various experts in the IIM-A network across industry and academia. 
  • IIM-B’s N.S. Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) -- Free admission for 2 representatives per winning startup to any one of the short-duration NSRCEL programs 
  • Mentoring consultations -- Exclusive business support sessions to enable winners to benefit from the best minds in industry and academia, featuring an open exchange of ideas and strategies in a fully confidential manner.  
  • The Gateway Hotel, a new brand of contemporary hotels from the Taj Group – awarding special rates and free nights stay for the five winners at any Gateway property across India
Special Awards
In keeping with the premise of the contest, to provide value not just to final winners but also the shortlisted finalists, the knowledge partners of the TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards stepped forward with three ‘Special Awards’ that were handed out at the Awards ceremony, including:
  • The ‘IIM Ahmedabad-CIIE Mentorship Award’ awarded to the Chennai based firm, Ennovasys.
  • The ‘IIM-B NSRCEL Incubatee Award’ awarded to Bangalore’s Wyn Brands, and Belgaum’s Vayavya Labs
  • The ‘Microsoft BizSpark Award’ awarded to the Noida based firm, ITCONS e-Solutions
About the winners:
  1. activecubes solutions, a technology consulting based in Bangalore, founded in 2007, helps firms harness information to understand customers better and differentiates itself by using the power of analytics to find solutions for clients.
  2. Lakshya Institute, located in Patiala, is an educational institute that focuses on test preparation. It was started by four IIT graduates to prepare class X and-XII students for school and college entrance examination. It differentiates itself through the use of interactive digital content and working with schools to eliminate the need for external coaching.
  3. The Loot, is a branded apparel retail chain, headquartered in Mumbai. The Loot sells branded clothing at discounted prices throughout the year across its 45 stores. The company makes profits through a differentiated business model that allows it to source inventory at far lower costs than original price stores, so it can sell them cheaper.
  4. Star AgriWarehousing and Collateral Management, is in agriculture warehousing located in Kota and Jaipur. It provides end to end solutions in procurement, warehousing and collateral management of agricultural commodities. A process driven management approach in an unorganized industry differentiates it from peers.
  5., based in New Delhi, is providing legal, financial & management consultancy. The company provides solutions to different corporates through Information Technology, while helping demystify the regulatory environment.
About Tata Group
Tata is a rapidly growing business group based in India with significant international operations. Revenues in 2007-08 are USD 62.5 billion (around Rs. 251,543 crores), of which 61% was from business outside India. The Group’s Net Profit for 2007-08 is USD 5.4 billion (around Rs. 21,578 crores). The Group employs around 350,000 people worldwide. The Tata name has been respected in India for 140 years for its adherence to strong values and business ethics. The business operations of the Tata Group currently encompass seven business sectors - Communications and Information Technology, Engineering, Materials, Services, Energy, Consumer Products and Chemicals. The Group's 27publicly listed enterprises have a combined market capitalisation of around US$ 26 billion and a shareholder base of 3.2 million. The major companies in the Group include Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Tata Tea, Indian Hotels, Tata Teleservices and Tata Communications.
About NEN
A not-for-profit initiative of the Wadhwani Foundation, National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) works to inspire, educate and support the younger generation of entrepreneurs in India. Currently NEN is working with more than 376 top-tier academic institutes reaching over 3 lakh young people across 30 cities of India. The NEN community alone has 55,000 entrepreneurship cell members. The organisation was co-founded in 2002 by leading Indian institutes, including IIT-Bombay, IIM-Ahmedabad, BITS Pilani, SP Jain and IBAB. NEN’s advisory board includes eminent experts such as Kiran Mazumdar Shaw – Biocon; Naina Lal Kidwai - HSBC; Arun Seth - British Telecom and Prof Howard Stevenson - Harvard Business School to name a few.

First Published: Feb 28 2009 | 6:14 PM IST

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