Call it fusion of entrepreneurial impulses and entertainment. Soon, India will have its version of Shark Tank, the celebrated American reality television show that helped many an aspiring entrepreneur to find her suitable investor. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) will commence the screening process for start-ups wishing to participate in the show in a couple of weeks. The spectacle’s final round will be telecast simultaneously on Doordarshan and a private general entertainment channel.
“The whole idea behind the reality show is to promote a start-up culture in the country,” a senior DIPP official said.
There would be a round of screening and two rounds of evaluation for the start-ups to feature on the show. At the screening stage, around 2,000 applications would be shortlisted from an expected 10,000 and they will have the opportunity for pitch for investors in the initial round. Some 440 to be selected after this will take part in the second round which will trim the list of aspirants to 30-40 for the grand finale. These selected participants would have to compete afresh by hard-selling their ideas before a panel of potential “shark” investors, the official said, adding that radio and digital mediums would be roped in to allow greater reach and connect with both the urban and rural audience.
In the first round of evaluation, selected start-up aspirants would take part in offline events, which would be held in seven cities — Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Indore — where they would present their business plan to a panel of mentors and investors.
In the final round of evaluation, winners would present their plans before a panel of investors who will assess the business potential of their planned ventures and might choose to offer funding them in lieu of stakes in the firms. “We are also thinking of having a provision for the public to vote (on which contestant should get the funds,” the DIPP official said.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) will be the coordinating agency for managing the events, running day-to-day operations and for management of all deliverables and timelines. It will also interface regularly with all sponsors and partners in each of the regions.
The proposed partners for north, east, west, south and central regions are Ficci, The Indus Partners, Indian Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Parks and Business Incubator Association, NASSCOM, and Confederation of Indian Industry, respectively. “Most of the funds for the show would be met through sponsorship,” the official added.
According to the Finance Act, 2016, start-ups are eligible to get income tax exemption for three years in a block of five years if they are incorporated between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2019. To get these benefits, a start-up needs to obtain a certificate of eligibility from the inter-ministerial board of the DIPP. Given the fact that start-ups hardly make any profits in initial years and most of them even fail, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been pitching for greater tax support to start-ups.
– Surabhi Prasad