It was a sight to behold, as thousands of entrepreneurs, students, youth, and industry leaders walked through the halls of the Birla Auditorium in Jaipur, networking, learning about the startup ecosystem, and experiencing the latest technological advancements on display.
The Rajasthan DigiFest 2022, organised by the state’s Department of Information Technology and Communication (DoITC) on August 19-20, was a spectacular event that featured the best minds in the state showcasing the most innovative solutions and products across industries, and saw over 36,000 visitors at the venue over two days.
Engaging with the youth
The event’s most memorable highlights included Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s address, where he launched the Rajiv Gandhi Centre of Advanced Technology (R-CAT), a brand-new IT-focussed finishing school that would train youth in various new-age technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, and more.
The chief minister also launched the Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitra app, which compliments the government’s Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitra Internship Program for college students and youth.
Spotlight on startups
The Startup Expo at the DigiFest featured dozens of the brightest startups from across the state: from sports tourism pioneers travelOsports to creator marketing agency Socialveins; from wearable health-tech solution We Love Caring to edtech coaching platform Eduncle; all of them born in Rajasthan are set to become the next unicorns from India.
The showcase area also featured a number of startups that have been working with the Rajasthan government within the fields of healthcare, governance, education, and more.
A few steps away, the Startup Bazaar saw a number of SMEs and similar organisations put up stalls with a number of made-in-Rajasthan products up for sale at the bazaar. These included handicraft furniture from the Go Green Foundation, premium insulated cooler bags from Outer Woods, healthy snacks from O’Buddy’s, and organic farm products from Gau Organics.
Moving outdoors, the Drone Expo featured a number of high-tech drones, EV, virtual reality, and robotics solutions being built in Rajasthan, drawing a huge number of curious visitors interested in the interactive demos.
The DigiFest’s knowledge sessions — ranging from panel discussions and workshops to masterclasses and fireside chats — saw huge participation from the audience as they learned from startup founders and tech industry leaders.
One of the more exciting sessions from Day 1 was PhysicsWallah founder Alakh Pandey’s fireside chat with moderator Paresh Gupta, Founder and CEO of the Global Centre for Entrepreneurship and Commerce, on the theme ‘Teaching is still my first love’. School and college students in the audience hung onto every word spoken by Alakh. YouTubers Elvish Yadav and Amit Sharma’s session on ‘Influencer Mantra’ had an electric crowd in attendance as well.
Another interesting session in the second half of Day 1 was a panel discussion on ‘Developing Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ moderated by Manu Shukla, Head – Government Transformation at AWS, along with panellists Shivani D Malik, Marketing Director, Da Milano and Rosso Brunello; Yashodhara Bajoria, Co-founder, CAXpert and Director, Espresso Technologies; Dr Hemang Shah, Director of Engineering, Qualcomm India; and Anna Roy, Senior Advisor, Niti Aayog, Government of India. The panel spoke about the importance of nurturing startups to help develop the economy, and what Indian entrepreneurs could do to scale efficiently using public programs, such as Rajasthan’s iStart and NITIAayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform.
Day 2 kicked off with another exciting panel discussion with unicorn founders Alakh Pandey, Akhil Gupta, Founder and CTO, NoBroker; and Anurag Jain, Co-founder, CarDekho. Moderated by YourStory’s National Head for Local Languages Giriraj Kiradoo, the session followed the startup journeys of the three companies, along with advice for the auditorium packed with young and budding entrepreneurs. The session was followed by a power talk titled ‘Master the entrepreneurship Mind’ by life coach and author Gauranga Das.
A rewarding experience
On the sidelines of the conference a number of other startup engagements were lined up, such as an Investor Pitch session with 100X.VC, and the signing of MoUs between the DoITC and startups. Along with coaching for interviews and job applications to upskill youth, the DigiFest engaged with school and college students across the state with a number of quizzes and competitions.
The Rajasthan government committed to funding an amount of Rs 92.7 lakhs to 18 startups, and awarded Rs 41.15 lakh worth of prize money to 74 winners from the School Startup Program and the Rural iStart Program. The DigiFest 2022 certainly lived up to its promise of being the place to be for startups and youth.