Social Entrepreneurship – the next big opportunity in India (Startup Saturday May 2010)

With so many unique business models and success stories getting discussed – Social Entrepreneurship seems to be the new gold mine for startups. It has opportunity for new ventures and a clear and measurable social impact. But until recently if you didn’t knew what Social Entrepreneurship is and what it can be, well there were 2 ways to do know about it. The dull way was to Google it up and get confused with so little to learn. Whereas the other super active way was to attend the May Startup Saturday and ignite your grey cells with the opportunities that this field has to every entrepreneur! For those who missed the event (and those who would like to reiterate) here are we with a roundup of the same.

May Startup Saturday was themed around Social Entrepreneurship. It had showcases and Lightening Pitches from Entrepreneurs who were confident and innovative enough to ensure success not just for their ventures but for the society as a whole. You would have already known the agenda from here, this post will try to re-live the magic discussing what was up at Startup Saturday May 2010.

The Lightening Pitches

First and foremost the LPs – The Lightening Pitches started with Culture Aangan which promotes rural tourism and banks on the experience it provides to foreigners and tourists. The soul behind such a venture has to be the pride in how things are in rural India and zeal to showcase the real India to tourists, both of them were aptly visible in Rashmi’s presentation. Taking real example of villagers of Pingolee and their story from being a spy for Shivaji Maharaj for ages; to being the tourist guides of today, Rashmi kept the audience well engrossed in the pitch. If you would like to experience the real rural life – Culture Aangan is something to look forward to.

Next was a pitch by Annkur from Annkur presented a new service – OG Price Search, where visitors can get the latest and best price for any Gadget or electronic appliance before buying. This definitely helps all the value and bargain hunters get the best out of their negotiation. This service is available in various ways (Online, SMS, and social media updates). What started with a help to a good friend via twitter is now taking shape of a business model of its own. Finally finding pain areas and solving them is what entrepreneurship is all about.

My Entrepreneurship Journey – by Dr Velumani

Post the two pitches was a session that soon became the highlight of the day. A journey led by Dr Velumani from Thyrocare which made every listener realize that though it is not easy taking the plunge and reaching the stars, it even is not impossible. Velumani has his own style of communication. The zeal with which he conveys can easily make you question yourself whether is he really a 51 year old business man or is he a college pass-out in an old man’s body. Velumani discussed all the challenges that he faced but he precisely termed them as ‘decisions made’ rather than ‘adjustments done’.

His courage to perceive his goals and witty humor to explain how decisions shape your fate was a big take away of the session. He advised Entrepreneurs that adjusting for your dreams is an investment and not an adjustment (Don’t put the cart before the horse). At this age too he was motivated to learn, to change and to innovate every other day. He described how he perceives his vision to provide best services at costs never thought before. A witty quote he said was “Every entrepreneur should spend well. I was bound to value money, that’s why they call me Velumani”. Finally one thing that all repeated even post the session (and tweeted about) was his concept of – Plan to Fail, and you will never fail! It was one of those sessions which will keep aspirants motivated for years to come. Hats off to Dr Velumani!

Showcase – by Jenny from Metta Foot Spa

Post the ignition from Velumani, was another great session by Jenny from Metta Foot Spa. Where in one session the speech by Velumani shook our souls to get started right there, Jenny’s presentation touched the audience’s heart with her journey into social entrepreneurship. For those who are not aware Jenny (Joanita ) is the owner of Meta Foot Spa, a place where you can get affordable massage from visually impaired masseurs.

Jenny who started her career as a nurse and later transitioned into training yoga had seen a very successful journey across years. She discussed about her desires then and how she managed to fulfill them. Jenny as part of her regular trainings got an opportunity to train Blind children and this was when she realized how good they were in the art of foot massage. With a long treasured desire to give back to the society still left unfulfilled, Jenny soon realized that this was an opportunity to empower the blind students to earn their daily bread with pride and self confidence. With this started Metta Foot Spa, where Blind masseurs provide you the best in town foot massage at a price every senior citizen can afford. Jenny discussed the issues she faced in training and operating these employees at the spa and how the blessing of many needy seniors took the Spa to where it has reached today.

We know how professionals have taken this country to the next level and made us a service economy the world looks forward to. If every professional empowers others who are needy, like Jenny did, there will be no word called down trodden in the dictionaries any more. Great going Jenny.

Social Entrepreneurship LPs

Once the Showcase was complete the session continued with the remaining lightening pitches. Next was from Karon who gave a pitch about Idobro. She took the discussion ahead from where other people left and discussed how her venture is looking forward to provide a platform to other ventures in the Social Entrepreneurship and Green economy space to market their products. She took an approach of having just 1 slide in her presentation and discussing in detail about how the whole model works. All in all with international exposure this woman entrepreneur is all geared to raise the bar up.

Between the pitches was a small announcement from the Head Starters, a plan to host workshops for startups (dedicated to pre-decided topics). The idea seemed to have hit the right chords with the audience as there was lot of engagement from them. Once rolled out this will be yet another feather in the cap for the startup community!

Next was a presentation by Harsh from Harsh seemed very calm but aspiring in his approach and so is his entrepreneurial plunge. Zopte attempts to build an application where anyone can simply prototype the next Facebook. What this really means is that a user can use simple tools like we do in paint brush to paint a picture; Zopte can be used to build an application. Hit the export button on your application prototype and all you have is a ready to execute PHP/My Sql application. Post 2 years of development Zopte is currently under Private Alpha stage.

Last but not the least was yet another innovative product in the Social Entrepreneurship bouquet. Mukut from Distribution 2.0 explained how his team is targeting to sell financial products the same way shampoo sachets are sold at Kirana stores. Mukut believes that retail vendors have build a community of around 100 customers who shop on a  regular basis and policies like accidental insurance can be sold directly via these shops as they do not have much regulatory hassles. End of the day the aam aadmi gets an accidental cover of Rs 50,000 just by buying a voucher of Rs 100.


With that yet another Startup Saturday concluded successfully, but what was more interesting was to realize the change in thought that the audience went through by attending the sessions on Social Entrepreneurship. It is neither about charities, nor about exploiting the down trodden; it’s an innovative business model where Business flourishes along with the society. Seems the motto of hosting the event was fulfilled largely. Social Entrepreneurship is still at a nascent stage in India and it definitely holds great opportunity for any one ready to take the plunge.

About the Author – Himanshu Chanda is a business blogger and a regular visitor at the HeadStart Saturdays. Apart from the event he also shares his views on his business blog

By Annkur Agarwal

Annkur P Agarwal is the co-founder of Pricebaba & SahiGST. Pricebaba is a product research engine that helps you research and shop consumer electronics. SahiGST is a SaaS platform for Indian SMEs to effectively manage their GST compliance.

1 comment

  1. Interesting, drives my adrenaline & reaffirms my decision to go solo after 17 years of being employed. Feel relieved about not having to report to work at 10 am everyday – keeps me going after reading what these entrepreneurs went through and capable of doing.

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