Mumbai | February 5, 2014 Tanushri Gupte and Vinaya Bansal
Day 1 – Bootcamp
Rickshaw Rising Challenge is a joint effort by EMBARQ India and Shell Foundation that supports early-stage businesses and organizations operating to bring about positive change in the auto-rickshaw space in India, in the economic, social and environmental realms. Applications from 45 entrepreneurs were received after which 8 finalists were shortlisted and invited to a two-day bootcamp which is being held in Mumbai. The objective of this bootcamp is to prepare the finalists to present their ideas in the most effective manner to the jury, and also give them some key insights on various aspects including regulation, finance, and business development.
Day one of Rickshaw Rising Challenge Bootcamp kicked off with a welcome address by Judith Pollock, Deputy Director, Shell Foundation and Madhav Pai, Director, EMBARQ India. 30 participants, including the finalists and; members from Shell Foundation, Corporate Storytellers and EMBARQ India were present.
An ice breaker session was held by Vinaya Bansal of EMBARQ India which was an interesting exercise which helped the participants introduce themselves to everyone and learn about each other. This was followed by a 2-hour workshop by Neil Chakravarty and Santosh Pillai from Corporate Storytellers. The title of this workshop was “Telling Your Story”. Neil and Santosh spoke about the key elements of a good story, i.e., differentiating themselves from competition, persuading stakeholders emotionally and also effectively partnering with them. They also spoke about the areas which entrepreneurs should stress upon while pitching their proposals to interested parties. They advised that entrepreneurs should not only be fact driven but should also be able to tell an interesting story which includes their vision for their business. It should also highlight the risks they expect to face. They also spoke about the importance of connecting emotionally with the interested party so as to engage them effectively.
As part of the same workshop, Neil also engaged the finalists in a storytelling exercise. As part of this exercise, the finalists told the other participants their “story” and give brief introductions.
To help the finalists better prepare for their pitches, Corportate Storytellers spent time with each of the final teams to discuss their pitches. This proved very helpful for the finalists as they received valuable feedback pertaining to various aspects of their presentations, such as body language, speech.
Alongside the pitch rehearsals, two minute clips of each team were filmed by Corporate Storytellers. The clips were filmed in an interview format. The finalists were asked to talk about their business idea, their motivation behind starting it, key challenges faced and also some interesting anecdotes. They were also asked to talk about their expectations from Rickshaw Rising Challenge.
Simultaneously, the teams also had meaningful discussions about their business ideas with Judith Pollock, Jose Molina from Shell Foundation Madhav Pai and Alok Gupta from EMBARQ India.
The second half of day one of the Rickshaw Rising Challenge bootcamp saw Jose Molina and Judith Pollock from Shell Foundation sharing their expectations from the finalists. They emphasized that Shell Foundation is looking for ideas that can not only provide better service to customers but also improve the social environment for drivers and thus have a social impact. In addition to this, they reiterated entrepreneurs to have a scalable and sustainable business model. Judith stressed the need for entrepreneurs to openly share the key issues and challenges that they may be facing and the kind of support they need from Shell Foundation and EMBARQ India.
On being asked about the help EMBARQ India and Shell Foundation can provide, Judith provided insights on role they plan to play with the chosen entrepreneurs, which include support with business development, connections with stakeholders, working with regulatory agencies, and technical advice.
Day one ended with a talk given by Akshay Mani – Project Manager EMBARQ, who has been closely working in the auto rickshaw space for the last four years. Among other things, he gave insights to entrepreneurs on how their ideas and initiatives fit into the larger sustainable urban transport framework. In addition, he highlighted the importance for entrepreneurs to build an ecosystem of various stakeholders in the field of sustainable transportation. He also gave an idea of how complex the regulatory regime is and the number of government agencies involved in it from the central, state and city levels.
Akshay took the entrepreneurs through the work done by EMBARQ India in the field of Autorickshaw reforms, including implementation of fleet auto-rickshaw reforms in Rajkot, working with the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) on GEF5 and assistance provided to Tamil Nadu government on framing an IPT policy.
The day was packed for the contestants with back to back events, workshops and interactions. It was amazing to see teams working and refining on their ideas with so much energy and positivity. One thing that united all the entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and different ideas, is the conviction that a humble auto-rickshaw can actually become a solution to move cities away from clutches of ever increasing private automobiles and make our cities more liveable.