Meraki over the years – What has changed?

2020 saw the 9th edition of Meraki. Meraki is FIIB’s B-Plan competition that has been designed to provide entrepreneurs with a real-world experience to fine-tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding in order to successfully commercialize their products. This platform helps students to express exceptional venture ideas. 

Every year Meraki receives entries from top colleges of India and South Asia. From all the plans that are received, 10 teams qualify to present to an eminent jury panel comprising top entrepreneurs and VC’s of India Inc. We asked the Venture Capitalists who have been judging India’s biggest business plan competition, Meraki, over the years, on what changed in Meraki and what didn’t. Here’s what they said:

Mr. Amit Khosla, Founder, Valtrust Capital 

With his in-depth knowledge of the market and keen interest in fresh business ideas, Mr, Khosla has been judging Meraki for 8 years. He says that with every year, the quality of the participants has only become better. This year, the quality was the best so far.

So, what has improved in the B-Plans?

  • Plan to capture market share was made,
  • What is their differentiator is well explained,
  • The value proposition offered is clear,
  • Go-to-the-market strategy was implied and
  • Financial Models and Break-Even analysis were captured well.

There were several things that proved that their business plans were quite ‘mature’. Even the team that presented their business plans expressed a high level of maturity. 

  • Both team members were individually prepared about their B-plan,
  • Both knew their areas of expertise in the B-plan and answered all questions clearly, 
  • Critical questions coming from the Product Angle, Technology Angle and Finance Angle were answered with logic and effective examples.

So, overall it was a very good year and the business plans were of a very high quality. 

Manish Kheterpal, Founder and Managing Partner of Waterbridge Ventures

An influencing decision-maker and judge in his domain, Mr Kheterpal believes that the quality and the confidence of the participants was remarkable this time. In his opinion, such strength of quality can only come through the knowledge of what is happening around in the market. He was very happy to witness the enthusiasm and self-reliance around entrepreneurship. It is a matter of significance for him to see the blend of for-profit businesses and social entrepreneurial projects. The process that FIIB follows in selecting the best business ideas as well as for the registration are very polished. “Over the years I have seen Meraki evolve in a productive and positive manner. 

Ashish Jain, Partner, Waterbridge Ventures

He is highly observant and has a fine sense of the market. It does not take him much time to sense the challenges that might shake the market in the near future.  As a judge he was much impressed with the strategy, presentation style and the conviction with which the participants expressed themselves. 

The basic elements of being a successful entrepreneur in the volatile marketplace is to have:

  • Sound market knowledge, 
  • Financial models ready both in the scenario of a profit as well as loss 
  • The confidence to stand with the ideas. 

The participants were highly professional already as they knew when and how much to speak. Their calmness, composure and body language were relaxed even while answering tricky and critical questions.

The judges evaluate the teams and make sure to hold their hands till they become ‘Real World Entrepreneurs.’ Joining the Meraki winners with the early-stage investors and venture capital firms are done by the judges. The one company that the judges would like to invest in the most is ranked accordingly.