The maiden Economic Times Startup Awards, saw Ola- India’s largest cab aggregator bag the highest honour of being the startup of the year 2015. The Jury picked up eight individuals and companies to be awarded the white-hot sector’s top honours. The jury led by SoftBank Corp President Nikesh Arora and comprising the country’s best-known entrepreneurs and investors chose the winners of India’s most prestigious startup awards at a meeting in Delhi.
Joining Ola on the podium are Vani Kola of Kalaari Capital — who won the Midas Touch Award for Best Investor, Anu Acharya of MapMyGenome — who won in the Women Ahead category, Jaydeep Barman of Faasos in the Comeback Kid category, Forus Health for the top Social Enterprise, BrowserStack for the best Bootstrap Champ, Purple Squirrel Eduventures in the Best on Campus category and GreyOrange Robotics for being the Top Innovator.
“The central theme behind the decisionmaking was to identify companies with true potential,” said Arora, who presided over a three-hour-long meeting of seven jurors who picked the winners.The jury included Nikesh Arora from SoftBank, Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal; Rohan Murty of Catamaran Ventures; Rishad Premji of Wipro; Meena Ganesh of GrowthStory; Sharad Sharma of software products think tank iSPIRT and VG Siddhartha of Cafe Coffee Day. In a meeting that saw intense, yet always cordial, debate, the jury examined and debated five shortlisted candidates in each category, which had been winnowed from thousands of applications by ETand its knowledge partners Zinnov and iSPIRT. Zinnov curated the shortlist for seven categories while iSPIRT curated the Bootstrap Champ category.
Ola along with healthcare technology company Practo and Hector Beverages were thrown into mix by the jury which on its own decided to widen the consideration set of companies for the top award to even include firms that hadn’t applied.Ola narrowly beat Practo to win the favour of the jury, which took its decisions after votes in each of the categories. The three winners who had solid majorities or unanimous backing from the initial discussions onwards were Comeback Kid Jaydeep Barman, Purple Squirrel Eduventures, a Mumbaibased startup which connects college students to businesses, and BrowserStack, a software tools developer which is also based in Mumbai.Kola of Kalaari Capital very narrowly beat Subrata Mitra of Accel Partners, whose investments include Flipkart and Freshdesk Technologies. Kola, who is an investor in Snapdeal, Zivame and Urban Ladder, benefitted because the jury gave greater weightage to the fact that Kalaari is not backed by any big-name fund.