Proto: What lies ahead? Interview with Vijay, key organizer

Continuing with our earlier thread on Proto, here is presenting the second part of the interview with Vijay Anand, key organizer of the event. To set the context, Proto is just a week from now and most of the startups know the status of their nomination.
So even though ~75% of nominations won’t be able to make it to the “hot seat”, don’t lose heart. Proto is more than those 6 minutes of fame and read on for more details:

Vijay, please share the total no. of nominations received, and percent distribution for each sector (as well as early stage/growth stage).

We have gotten about 75+ nominations this time, and there is a good mix of every sector – consumer electronics, web, telecom, mobile, and a whole lot which I cant even figure where to slot under. I guess that’s a good thing.
Most, and I say most as in 98% of the companies are less than 10 months old. I am quite happy to say that Proto is getting very close to achieving what we set out to do a year back. What is most amazing is the level of maturity these companies are showing that early itself.

What is the criteria to select companies?

Team, Differentiation, Clarity of Thought, Vision, Commitment and perseverence. The guys who says “I dont need funding, but customers and revenue” gets brownie points from me ๐Ÿ™‚
Jokes apart, companies at this stage are very hard to pick and in some cases they are also the easiest when you realize after talking to them for fifteen minutes that there are things in this world that you still are clueless about and someone has identified it and is working out a masterplan to exploit it. Staying true to definition, isnt that what “entrepreneurship”, means quite literally?

What will be the format of the event – what will happen on day 1, day 2?

We are going with the same overall format, with the first day aimed at being a Startup School, with the investors and invited guests mentoring the presenting companies on one side, while the rest of them do get to hear from on-the-ground entrepreneurs as to how to make things work, and certain realities about bootstrapping a firm here in India. The lineup is impressive and I have been getting a lot of positive feedback on that.
There are some minor revisions to how day 2 is going to go, but overall the agenda is to give the 20 finalists to make an impact and help them succeed.

For companies who aren’t able to make it to the “chosen ones” list, whats in for them in Proto?’

Day one is a definite asset for them. It was the prime reason why the startup school was put together, and I believe you will get your answers for not making it there during the sessions.
I am seeing companies stay through the last two editions of Proto and now come up as more mature entrepreneurs and that is very heartening to see. I never thought I’d see an “impact’ in so short a timespan. Most of the nominations for proto were aspiring entrepreneurs in the last two editions. That is a statement by itself.

VC confirmations?

We have about 18 – 20 VC firms, and about 10 Angels who have confirmed. The updated list is on the website.

Anything else that you would like to add?

If you think that most conferences and such are showcasing nothing but web companies, you will be surprised what comes out of India. there are some definite and solid products that we are starting to see, with people starting to target and exploit the competition among retail houses and the media giants.
This edition of Proto is a milestone in many ways. We are also launching the network of jobs for startups and freshers to connect in alliance with our partners. And there are some bigger news coming soon. We are determined to be here for the startups and build this ecosystem. There is no doubt about that.

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