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In less than two years, MyGov.in, which was launched as the citizen-government interface, has become an instrumental force in garnering actionable feedback not just from citizens but also from young entrepreneurs on the matters concerning innovation and inspiration through entrepreneurship.
Tapping into the startup revolution
We have our own ways of tapping into the creative genius of young entrepreneurs. For example, in Prime Minister Office’s app development contest in 2015, 119 teams participated to submit design wireframes of their apps whose members were college students who had made apps earlier and released in the market. So, when we talk about allowing young entrepreneurs to participate in whatever the government is doing, I don’t think we can have younger youth than them.
Similarly for the 98 cities selected under the Smart Cities Mission in August 2015, we received around 2.7 million responses suggesting solutions to the problems identified in different cities. But the question was how we should get this young crowd into working towards providing those solutions. For example, for Delhi we know there are problems in different parts of the city. So New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has just initiated talks with us and hopefully in next month or two, we will post certain challenges on mygov.in for young entrepreneurs to create solutions. Since those solutions will be developed under the aegis of the NDMC itself, there won’t be any issues like contracting, lowest bidder or minimum turnover or qualification.
Creating marketable products
We factor in market worthiness of the start-ups before selecting them, for example, in Innovate for Digital India challenge, we invited ideas around financial services, e-governance, education and healthcare which could be handholded and taken to the market. So They (start-up initiatives) are not just idea contests where we get ideas and stick the good ones on the wall and then forget about them. They
are about converting those ideas into marketable products immediately. We got 1,913 business plans for the challenge and helped the selected companies to tie-up with some companies to do marketing on their behalf.
First of all, as we have stated it formally, nobody is rejected. The remaining teams at Innovate for Digital India Challenge were advised to reach back to Centre for Innovation, Incubation and entrepreneurship (CIIE) to understand where they lacked in their ideas. I am being informed that several of them are in touch with CIIE and hopefully they will rework and come back to us in subsequent iterations of the program as we want this to be a continuous process.
Currently, we distribute ideas that we receive among as many people as possible including my own team at mygov.in, people from the sponsoring ministries or other government organizations involved in that program. For example, in case of Smart Cities Mission, we sent back ideas to respective cities so that they can pick the most relevant ones. Then we prepare an executive summary of most exciting ideas and send it to concerned ministry and government department. Nonetheless we send them the list of all ideas received earlier so that they can pick some good ideas in case we have them. Currently, it is a manual process, but it will be automated shortly.
(Comments from TiE Delhi NCR Urban Solutions and Smart Cities conference).
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (April 2016 Issue).