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Keen on deepening engagement with start-up ecosystem in India: WhatsApp

Messaging giant WhatsApp on Tuesday said it is focussed on deepening its engagement with start-ups in India to help them leverage technology platforms and scale operations to solve various issues.

The Facebook-owned company also announced the winners of its ‘Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge’, awarding a total of $2,50,000 to five start-ups.

“It’s five months into the job and one of my goals was to deepen WhatsApp’s engagement in India on multiple fronts. As a tech company, we can be a very important partner to the start-up ecosystem…we are going to deepen our engagement with the start-up and tech ecosystem,” WhatsApp India Head Abhijit Bose told presspersons here.

He added that the company will evaluate various routes to engage with the start-up community in India.

Interestingly, last week, Facebook had announced picking up a minority stake in Bengaluru-based Meesho that helps entrepreneurs set up online businesses via social channels.

Bose, who was the first top-level executive to be hired for the country that accounts for the lion’s share of its global user base, joined WhatsApp earlier this year from e-payments start-up Ezetap, where he served as the co-founder and CEO.

He pointed out that while the first wave of start-ups in India was around bringing business models from abroad and localising them for Indian audiences, start-ups are now working on solutions that are “India-first”.

“…what’s exciting now is that we are seeing innovative ideas that are India-first… The tech is in place, the platforms are there, and when you have an ecosystem that is building on top of that, it will scale very quickly,” he added.

The Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge received over 1,700 applications, of which five winners were announced on Tuesday.

The five winners – Minionlabs (helps businesses reduce electricity costs), MedCords (health-tech), Gramophone (agri-tech), Javis (converstional AI platform) and Melzo (affordable virtual reality content platform) – will receive $50,000 each.

Source: The Hindu