The Heart of Madhya Pradesh: Bhopal

Sanskriti Bhatnagar

27 Jan'21

State: Madhya Pradesh
Language: Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Gujarati, Sindhi
Population: 18,00,000 (2011)
Weather: Tropical and hot year-round
Food: Bhopali Gosht Korma
Places to visit: Upper Lake, Lower Lake, Bharat Bhawan, Raisen Fort, New Market, Birla Mandir
Industry Specialisation: Retail, Computer Science, Agriculture, Technology
Bhopal’s Own: Appointy

 

Bhopal, earlier known only as the city of lakes is now coming to be popularly known as a place where the young generation resides and dreams big. From agriculture to energy, healthcare to technology, Bhopal seems to now have it all. Slowly and quietly, it seems like a startup revolution is brewing in the city with the presence of immense potential and talent. Now seems like the right time to accept that we may have been ignorant about this small city that is now preparing to give tough competition to the metropolitan cities. Hence, here is our small attempt to give Bhopal a recognition it very well deserves.

Bhopal, The Ecosystem

Amongst other strengths and qualities that set the Bhopal ecosystem apart, one of them is how every startup and its people are ready to pitch in and help other businesses. They not only never cut each other off but the level of interaction amongst all the startups is something that other city ecosystems strive to achieve. Apart from healthy competition, there is no competitiveness amongst startups and they are always willing to collaborate and partner for the good of one another. Finally, what makes the Bhopal ecosystem unique is how everyone gets together and celebrates even the smallest of victories.

Much like most new startup ecosystems, the Bhopal ecosystem is not very well known. Bhopal is very new to the startup ecosystem, unlike metro cities where you have startups everywhere. Here, people have really good ideas but they lack the practical knowledge of how to capitalise on their idea.

The startups that have come out of this ecosystem have been absolute winners! They contribute not only to the growth of their ecosystem but also enables their consumers to be environmentally/socially conscious. The biggest startup to come out of Bhopal is the bootstrapped scheduling software, Appointy. Startups like The Kabadiwalla and KhadiJi urge their consumer base to develop responsible habits. That having been said, startups in Bhopal usually work in EdTech and Content Creation.

Read more about the Bhopal Startups that made it under the Forbes 30 under 30 lists:https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/meet-the-pathbreakers-from-bhopal-three-startups-in-forbes-30-under-30-asia-list/articleshow/68695053.cms#:~:text=BHOPAL%3A%20Three%20entrepreneurs%20from%20Bhopal,for%20’The%20Optimist%20Citizen’.

From traditional businesses to now a vibrant ecosystem of technology, Bhopal’s notable progress has put the city on the map- making it an ecosystem to look out for in the coming years.

Funding

Funding for Bhopal, like any new startup ecosystem, is very difficult to come by. That does not mean that they aren’t able to get any, it just means that investors can understandably be sceptical of investing. In the past few years, startups like Ondoor (USD $2 Mn), The Kabadiwalla (INR 3 Cr), HealthQuik (USD $250k), and My Child (USD $100k) have paved the way for new startups in the region who believe funding isn’t possible for them.

Realising the dearth of in-house investors, startup founders are turning to fill in investor roles. The Lake City has its own share of Angel Investors, although not too many in number. This could lead us to believe that either startups in the city bootstrap or are more often than not funded by out-of-state investors.

The general feeling among the startup ecosystem in the state is that the lack of mentorship and funding opportunities have been a roadblock on their path to innovation.

Incubators, Accelerators, and Stakeholders

There are many stakeholders in the startup ecosystem of Bhopal, with many working toward the growth of the ecosystem through nurturing the existing and budding entrepreneurs. One such stakeholder is Headstart Bhopal. In 2019 alone, Headstart Bhopal organised 10 Startup Saturdays, Headstart’s flagship event- a platform for networking, motivation, and knowledge. Their contribution to the Bhopal ecosystem has been undeniably huge- impacting 250+ lives. If you’d like to reach out to our team in Bhopal, email us at bhopal@headstart.in

Read more about founders turning to become investors: https://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/bhopal-six-entrepreneurs-promote-startup-culture-in-bhopal

However, the incubators and accelerators make up for the lack of funding. Incubators and Accelerators in the city have been the driving force behind the momentum that the Bhopal ecosystem has gained over the past few years. One of the best governmental/academic incubators is B-Nest, run by the BSCDCL, or the Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. B-Nest provides startups with mentorship & other required assistance they need to grow. It has been extremely active, backing projects like The Kabadiwalla, HealthQik, Vizzbee, CollegeKhabri, Swaayatt Robots, and OfferLocation.

Some notable incubators in Bhopal include the Kalchuri-LNCT Group Incubation Centre, set up by the LNCT and Incubation Masters, the Atal Incubation Centre, and the IICE at IISER-B.

The Government

The Madhya Pradesh government has been extremely supportive of startups in their state for the past 6 years. They’ve been extremely accommodating and have tried to facilitate startups and their journey to as much as they can.

Just a few years ago, the startups in Bhopal had only started and now have come a long way to working in solace with one another.

Read more about how Bhopal aims to get support to grow into an incubation hub: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/bhopal-smart-city-incubation-hub-to-get-support-from-us-tech-co/articleshow/65325017.cms

Conclusion

If not any other city, it is the ecosystem of Bhopal that gives the startups a chance to pursue their dreams and attain their goals. The close-knit ecosystem is not only full of opportunities but also unlimited motivation and support. From a conventional setting to one of the most diverse ecosystems in India, Bhopal has entirely dedicated itself to entrepreneurship.

At the moment, on the top of each founders agenda is to bring about a positive environmental change in Bhopal. Apart from that, they plan to work towards experimenting with the laid back vibe of the city, committing to work even harder than they already have and setting more goals to achieve in a shorter period. With the founders already geared up to polish the existing ecosystem, it is going to be interesting to see Bhopal transform into a vast startup hub.

Meet Green and Grains & iMature, startups that embody the vibrancy of the Bhopal ecosystem here!

Contributed by:

Anoushka Chopra & Sanskriti Bhatnagar
Headstart Network Foundation

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