2 startups incubated at Venture Center win ‘ET’s Power of Ideas’ competition

The startups, Genrich Membranes and Heelium Sports, both incubated at Venture Center, are among 55 winners of this contest among over 20,000 applications from across the country


New Delhi: Two Pune-based start-ups have won the immensely competitive and prestigious ‘Economic Times Power of Ideas’ competition. Genrich Membranes and Heelium Sports, both incubated at Venture Center, are among 55 winners of this contest who will walk away with an undisclosed amount of seed funding/cash grant. This is India’s largest entrepreneurship launchpad and receives over 20,000 applications from startups across the country.

Since its inception in 2009, ET Power of Ideas has received over 60,000 ideas that have translated into 215 successful startups that obtained funding worth Rs 69 crore. Presented by Facebook, the initiative has been launched in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Centre for Incubation and entrepreneurship (CIIE).

Heelium is a sports footwear and wearables startup that pitched 2 of their products to investors at POI. Their flagship product, currently in development, is a high performance running shoe with a novel midsole technology that provides almost 5 times more impact protection than a regular midsole. The second product is a premium athletic sock made out of bamboo to absorb more impact, provide odour control and allow better perspiration. The product was launched in the market in December 2017, and is available on platforms such as Amazon.

Prateek Sharma, co-founder and CEO of Heelium, says ‘We are thrilled to be among the top 10 winners of ET POI. It was a wonderful program and the entire POI team was very pro-active in helping us perfect our pitches, scheduling relevant mentoring sessions, etc. We are particularly excited about our association with IIM-Ahmedabad and CIIE, and their amazing team of in-house mentors and industry experts we met during the contest. In the next few months, we hope to scale our sales operations and expand our distribution to more cities using the seed funding received”

Genrich Membranes is a social enterprise working on a simple, efficient, affordable and customized Oxygen Therapy solution for patients with chronic lung diseases. Dr Kharul, Director and CEO, Genrich says “In India, there are well over 50 million patients with respiratory problems. Moreover, almost 20% of all premature babies born in India die within 28 days of birth. The recent tragic death of 159 infants at Gorakhpur hospital highlight the gravity of the problem. All of these patients need oxygen therapy, which is not accessible to patients from rural, remote, and semi-urban areas and sometimes even cities. Thus, at Genrich, we aim to improve the life-style & life-expectancy of these patients using our method.”

The competition was held over four phases – from submission of initial business summaries, to award of funds. Ideas shortlisted in the first phase undergo group mentoring sessions, followed by Elevator Pitches. The second shortlist prepared post the Elevator Pitches receive intensive mentoring at a bootcamp at IIM Ahmedabad. Recounting his experience, Dr Kharul mentions “The faculty explained several aspects of running a successful startup using different case studies, followed by one-on-one mentoring and coaching with a distinguished mentor”.

Armed with mentoring from industry masters and fresh off the experience of interacting and meeting start-ups working on the best technologies, both Genrich Membranes and Heelium are raring to go! “I was amazed to see the kind of products/services that participating startups were working on. I won’t be surprised if we see some unicorn companies coming out of this batch.” Prateek signs off on an optimistic note.