Bridging Startup Village and Silicon Valley

Kerala government gives wings to the dreams of five young entrepreneurs

Arvind Sanjeev, Jibin Jose, Vijith Padmanabhan, Akash Mathew and Nithin George Charuvila, all aged 22, are the first winners of the annual SVSquare ( project which was officially rolled out by Startup Village on 30 January 2013, offering an all-expenses paid trip to the Silicon Valley to five of the brightest student entrepreneurs at its facility.

The objective of the initiative is to provide the youngsters exposure to the renowned entrepreneurial culture of the Silicon Valley and eventually enable them to replicate the successes back home. Besides the Kerala government, SVSquare is supported by Ms. Asha Jadeja (a Silicon Valley super angel and serial investor) and among its official partners are Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) , Technopark, Vodafone, Intel and Amazon Web Services.The five winners, announced by Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri. Oommen Chandy at a Cabinet Briefing on

Friday, were selected from nearly 1,270 applicants. They are expected to travel to Silicon Valley in the first half of November and stay for around two weeks.

The first half of the programme will consists of site visits to some of the world’s foremost technology product companies such as Google to experience their work culture and function. The young men will also get to meet and talk to iconic tech entrepreneurs.

During the second week, they will get one-to-one time with at least five select mentors in their field of activity – including venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who, like them, started off very young – to help them take their companies global. The five will also be able to take part in activities of their interest and weekend events that take place regularly in the Silicon Valley.

Akash Mathew, the CEO & Co-Founder of CIED Technologies Pvt. Ltd, founded his company as a B.Tech student at Rajagiri Engineering College, Ernakulam.  Set up in July 2011, the company worked on service projects and industrial automation products for a year and a half, before their first technology product, a Facebook app called Crush, took off big.

The company switched their focus to tech products and Crush currently has a user base spread across 121 countries. Akash and his team are working to bring Crush to mobile platforms and are in talks to raise investments.

CIED Technologies is largely made up of 12 friends working together, all of whom opted out of campus placements.

Arvind Sanjeev the founder of ARS Devices pursued his B.Tech in Electronics and Telecommunications from the TocH Institute of Science and Technology. Passionate about electronics and robotics, he won the “Most Promising Innovator” award at YahooAccenture Innovation Jockeys event in Bangalore last year and is also a member of the Blackberry Elite.

He has also applied for a patent for his latest innovation, RideSmart, an app for car owners enabling keyless entry and remote control using a smartphone. Impressed by the technology Research In Motion chose RideSmart as the showcase app at the BlackBerry 10 launch in India this year and inducted Arvind into the BlackBerry Elite club.

Fellow Toc H student Jibin Jose set up the .Retail company which has developed a pioneering e-commerce application and is now in the process of raising investment.

Jibin is also a co-founder of QEdge Code Studios which was ranked one among the ‘Top 5 campus startups’ by a panel consisting of Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishanan. As part of the QEdge team he won the Blackberry Jam 2012 India and was chosen to represent the country at the Blackberry Jam Asia in Bangkok, Thailand. He is one among the top 10 developers selected from India to work in the BlackBerry Dreamapp factory.

Vijith Padmanabhan co-founded Dolojo Labs Pvt Ltd when he was just 19, before he completed his B.Tech from Model Engineering College, Ernakulam. Short for ‘Do, Love, Joy’, Dolojo develops applications to help people connect and interact online, personally, socially and economically.

Their maiden innovation is a solution for cloud bookmarking, the first version of which is likely to come out next month. Dolojo is now on the lookout for a mentor to fast-track their growth.

Nithin George Charuvila, a B.Tech graduate from the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology in Kottayam, is the co-founder and CEO of QPlay Tech Pvt Ltd, which started its entrepreneurial journey a year ago by winning BlackBerry Jam India 2012 and representing India at the BB Jam Asia 2012 in Bangkok. QPlay was also chosen as one of ‘Top Five Campus Startups’.

Nithin is among the youngest members of BlackBerry Elite, out of the 125 members globally elected by Orlando University, Canada for Research in Motion. As a fresher in college he also founded and chaired the first student chapter of the IEEE Computer Society in Kerala. A recipient of a number of scholarships and awards, Nithin has been invited as a speaker at the BlackBerry Jam Asia 2013 in Hong Kong next month.

As part of the ‘SV Square’ (Startup Village to Silicon Valley) competition, the applicants were required to upload on YouTube a video spanning two to three minutes on their innovative projects/ideas. An eminent jury chaired by Prof Anil Gupta of IIM-A representing academia and former NASSCOM president Shri Kiran Karnik, representing the industry, selected the winners.

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