Pune has always been my second home. I travel there more often than I can remember. It’s a place that has taught me how to differentiate between a tech-ready city and a tech-achieving one. Every trip I make here always leaves me with insights I would not otherwise comprehend.
I’ve attended a shit load of events. I’ve spoken at a few and met up with attendees from diverse sectors of the tech world. It’s always amazing to see such great talent under a single roof but nothing compares to PuneConnect’s insightful brilliance. It maybe a little late to say this now but when I was invited to the startup fundraiser this last year, I was a little overwhelmed knowing they would remember the rant I threw last year about how we should be diversifying the investment sector for startups. But in the greater scale of things, it felt great to once again be part of a group that converges together to achieve one goal – greatness.
Unless you happened to be living under a rock in Pune since the past few years, you’d know that PuneConnect is a SEAP organised startup conference and exhibition platform that annually comes together to help energise the technology ecosystem in Pune. It’s a brilliant event where emerging businesses showcase their prototypes and applications to investors and VCs, all with the hope that their funding can help change the world.
While most of the startups that presented here focused on application based models, there were a few that stood out in the hardware and physible sphere. My experience at PuneConnect was insightful and bullshitty at the same time. It gave me an opportunity to meet a bunch of enthusiastic young folk keen on changing the world but could not figure out how they could compete in the already existing cut-throat market. While funding is a race, what remains to be understood is that not everyone needs to win the race. Most entrepreneurs at the event had amazing products to showcase, but their lack of business insight made it impossible for them to get shortlisted at the round table conference. I truly believe that the only way these applications could make their way to the consumer market would be to bridge the gap between incubators and venture capitalists. But that yet remains to be seen.
Kunal Kumar, Municipal Commissioner of Pune and the guy behind Pune’s Smart City program shared some amazing fucking facts with attendees. His statistical findings were crystal clear in explaining what measures needed to be taken to ensure that the next big thing needs to be a greener vision towards the future. PuneConnect has always been great supporters of amalgamating environment and technology. While it did feel cheesy at first, I have to agree that the only way we can truly call ourselves a smart city is if we become smart people first. His session on next-gen convergence was then lead by Stephen Yarwood, the former Mayor of Adelaide and current Smart City Architect. That guy has some serious balls. I have to agree. He’s a brilliant guy with brilliant plans. Ive always advocated that if this country needs to survive we need to bring in people that are already doing this abroad. I’m delighted to know that Pune is leading the race.
With time, I sincerely do hope that we start working towards becoming smarter people. If there’s anything to learn here, it’s that we need more people coming to events like PuneConnect to show the world they’re gonna fucking change it.