This spirit of the city was palpable at the 50th meet of Coimbatore Startups, a forum of entrepreneurs from in and around the city, at the PSG College of Technology here on Saturday evening.
On seeing more than 200 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, it was hard to believe that the forum was almost informal and its organization fully flat. “We don’t even know who started the forum,” says Dhruv Suyamprakasam, founder of iCliniq, an online health portal and a facilitator of the forum. “We know the person is among us, but the person is magnanimous enough not to claim it.”
The forum, a voluntary meetup group, has been active for more than four years and conducting meetings on every second Saturday of a month. “We started at PSG Tech and then moved on to have meetings at friends’ offices. Now, we are back at PSG Tech for our 50th meet,” Dhruv said.
There have been meetings with just four people, recalls Sivaprasad Velayudhan, founder of Realworks Studios and a member of the forum. “There have been mistakes, but we have learned from them and we have survived this long.” Today, the forum has around 340 members.
Coimbatore Startups not only allows entrepreneurs and those aspiring ones to meet and network, but it is also a brainstorming space. If any member has hit a roadblock in his startup, he or she just has to throw the problem at the group and people would pitch in to discuss and offer solutions, Dhruv said. “While the city saw a leap in industry in the 50s and 60s, there was a setback in the knowledge flow in the 70s and early 80s. We are trying to bridge it.”
At the 50th meeting, three entrepreneurs – Senthil Natarajan, CEO of Kovai Pazhamudir Nilayam, Ashutosh Vikram, co-founder of Ninjakart and Suresh Sambandam, founder of KiSSFlow – shared their journeys with the gathering. While Senthil Natarajan spoke on how he tapped technology, customer data and innovation to import fruits and introduce exotic fruits such as kiwi to the local market, Ashutosh Vikram stressed on the need to kill one’s ego uncanny ideas to be successful in startups. Suresh Sambandam showed data to prove his point that Tamil Nadu was ahead of other states in several sectors.