June 2018: IIMA Alumni at the UK India Leadership Week
The IIMA Alumni London Chapter was invited to participate at the UK-India Leadership Conclave held at the tranquil location of Latimer House in Buckinghamshire on the outskirts of London on the 20-21st of June 2018. At the venue were the who’s who from finance, industry and the legal industry from the UK and India, including ministers and members of Parliament. The conclave had significant participation from alumni from the UK and India in their professional capacities.
The Chapter organized a Breakfast session with the Vice Chairman of the Niti Aayog, Dr. Rajiv Kumar on the 21st of June, on the sidelines of the main conference. It was hosted by the Chair, Swastik Nigam (PGP ’08) and Treasurer, Ravi Topno (PGP ’03), and was attended by a few distinguished guests as well, such as Mr. Bahram Vakil, Founding Partner – AZB Partners, Mr. Ashank Desai, Founder of Mastek and Majesco and Dr Mohan Kaul, former Dean, IIMA in a select gathering of approximately 15 people.
Dr Kumar advised that under the current leadership, the attitude within the government’s think tank has changed. Moving away from an echo chamber, it now actively sources ways to affect change from a bottoms-up approach, by taking the initiatives back to the state level. It has created a flexible pool of advisors to assist with the PMO’s agenda. Additionally, it aims to charge the startup ecosystem through initiatives supporting Startup India and the Atal Incubation Centers.
To identify ways in which interested diaspora could contribute to Niti Aayog’s initiatives, Dr Kumar advised that a way forward would be to try to spend a couple of days in one of the 150 aspirational districts as identified by the Indian government and find ways to assist them. This may be best achieved through reaching out to the local authorities in those districts. He advised that the government is happy to receive all assistance, but one must not expect a special treatment for the diaspora, given the limited resources the government has. In summary, it was an extremely engaging interaction with one of the most influential members in the Indian Government, and a unique event, very different from the usual events hosted by the Chapter.
August 2018: The London Launchpad event
On Independence Day this year the IIMA Alumni London chapter organized the “The London Launchpad”, an event showcasing startups by IIM Ahmedabad alumni in UK, attended by 50 people including alumni and friends from batches across the years. The London Launchpad was one of the most anticipated events in the London chapter’s annual calendar this year for many reasons.
Firstly, it was the first event of the chapter aligned with the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Special Interest Group (“SIG”) that targeted entrepreneurs who could use this platform to showcase their startups, network with other like-minded entrepreneurs and at the same time leverage the IIMA community for prospective clientele, mentorship, communication channels or even fundraising. The 4 startups who presented in this event were all from different market sectors, started by alumni in different stages of their life with a different story & motivation to come up with the idea, and each startup had a unique ask of the audience specific to the stage it was in its lifecycle. Auro, an audio fitness app providing trainer led classes with curated music for the gym, outdoors or at home, was looking for additional acquisition channels, and to announce an impending fundraising. Rentbiddr, a countdown auction platform for the private rental sector, that ensures properties are filled quickly at the best price with vetted tenants in London, was looking for a technical partner. VT FinTech offers its technology platform Parity One to manage systematic investment strategies in the form of portfolios and bespoke benchmarks and would like to connect with alumni in similar field for guidance, mentoring, potential partnerships and funding. And Vyn SmartVideoNotes, a digital productivity platform for accelerating high value data into business systems such as Salesforce, was looking for referrals to drive further growth.
At the event, IIMA Alumni London also announced its partnership with the High Commission of India (represented by Ms Vishakha Yaduvanshi) and FICCI UK (represented by Param Shah, FICCI UK Director) for techXchange 2018. TechXchange will showcase 20 select Indian startups in a week-long immersion in the to explore the UK market for growth and funding. In FICCI’s Param Shah’s own words, “the idea is to bring together an ecosystem of Angel Investors, VCs, Funds and IIM alumnus and give an opportunity to these startups to source mentorship, funding and global access. CIIE (IIMA), which is one of the oldest and largest incubation centers for startups, is the knowledge partner for this partnership and helps close an important loop of FICCI-HCI-IIMA relationship by curating these startups for TechXchange.” The first TechXchange event will be held at the High Commission of India, London on 20th September.
And lastly but most importantly, this day marked the official launch of the IIMA Angel Network, a platform that will help provide mentorship, and assist with growing startups by leveraging the skills of the community. Swastik Nigam (Chair, IIMA Alumni London) announced that the network will be led Balram Pal and Somil Goyal, both PGP 1997 alumni. A charter for the IIMA Angels will shortly be released to the community.