Short Story: Episode 4, StartUp

The organizer is inviting each team one by one to present their idea before the selection panel in “Startup India 2015, Bangalore”. Already 5 startups have presented their products. Sowmya is feeling both happy and bore after watching the 5 presentations. Boring because 4 of those 5 are e-commerce related and she has no interest in those things. Happy because it gives their team a chance to be different and attract attention.

Sowmya, Ramesh, Rahul and Srinivas are going once again through the power point. Their team is the next one.

“Now I invite Mr. Rahul and Ms. Sowmya from RAKSHA to present their idea.” the organizer announced.

Rahul and Sowmya started to give their presentation. Rahul is explaining their invention for Low cost blood analyzer. A simple handheld device that can do almost 35 blood tests in minutes. These are the tests that used to take almost a day and most of the time patient has to collect the results the next day in any traditional diagnostic centers.

Even though Rahul is a very handsome man presenting a very different and very innovative idea, all eyes are on Sowmya. She is really beautiful even in her T-Shirt and Jeans. They are wondering her role in the team.

After explaining the market size and the potential of this device, Rahul yielded by saying “Now our engineering head Sowmya will explain the inner working of our device.”

Sowmya is topper in her batch in BITS, Pilani. No one is surprised when she got placed in multi national electronics firm in campus. Rahul and Ramesh are her class mates and Srinivas is friend of Ramesh. He is chemical engineer from NIT, Warangal. Rahul is the most energetic person and have very good communication skills. That is why the team decided to make him the CEO and Sowmya the CTO.

The product is the brain child of Sowmya and Ramesh. Ramesh is a very shy and never used to talk to girls during his college days. Infact he never had any direct conversation beyond “hi, how are you”, “I am good” with Sowmya in his entire graduation period.

Ramesh and Rahul got selected in big IT company. Only after working there for one year Ramesh realized that IT his not his domain. His engineering in Electronics is going to be a waste if he does not switch. But he got family commitments and need big salaries to fulfill them. IT companies are giving highest salaries. After working for 3 years, he sent mail to Sowmya because she is the only person working in electronics domain that any one remembered.

Sowmya was okey with her job as research engineer in multi national electronics company. She is never interested in starting the company or never thought she would do. Email conversations with Ramesh and her own experience with her fathers medical procedures gave her idea of doing something in that domain.

Ramesh invited Rahul and Srinivas to join the team. They worked in a makeshift lab created in 2 bed room apartment. Used to work around 2 hrs every day and mostly full day on Saturdays and Sundays. It took almost 1 year do come up with the working prototypes. Combination of Srinivas’s chemical engineering and Sowmya’s electrical engineering paved the way for them to successfully finishing the prototype.

Rahul is never interested in business. He is happy enjoying his job in big IT company. He said “Yes” when Ramesh asked him. He always wanted to part of something big. But he was so busy with his week end parties and road trips that he never gave a thought about what to do about it. Ramesh’s proposal and having Sowmya in the team made him believe that this is some thing big.

Sowmya finished explaining the inner working of the product. She also explained the chemistry is crucial component of their innovation.

“By simply changing the cartridge and swapping it with different cartridge each with different chemical components and electrical circuits we are able to do all the 35 standard tests.”

Rahul presented the closing note and it is time for questions from the panel. Q & A is a closed private session with the panel.

Every one in the panel are very impressed with the product and more than that they are impressed with the team. Some panel members asked about current funding status, accuracy of the test results, cost of the materials, and if they have taken any patents etc. The RAKSHA team has answered all the questions.

It is almost 4PM by the time they finished with Q &A. They have to wait until 5PM to get the results.  They went to have a coffee.

Sowmya and Srinivas went straight to sofas while Rahul and Ramesh went for the coffee.

Seeing the beautiful engineer sitting idle, 3 people have approached her to ask about the startup and their product. She does not have much energy to explain, but she did.

Rahul brought her the cup of coffee with some biscuits. He took over the conversation and Sowmya thought “thank god”.

Seeing the biscuits Sowmya remembered what happened last night. She was never as much afraid as she was last night. She thought Naveen missed the train. She remembered how she reacted when she finally saw him coming from other compartment. She remembered eating those 250/- biscuits. That thought brought her a smile.

Ramesh and Srinivas both noticed that smile in her face.

Ramesh asked “What?”

“Nothing” said Sowmya while still smiling. “Will tell some other time”.

As they waited for the results, she checked her Gmail account on the mobile to see if there is any mail. There are some spam and other mails. Nothing new. The one she expecting is not there.

While the results are being announced Sowmya prayed to her favorite god. They where expecting the funding for almost 2 crores.

It was announced that 3 leading investors in the panel are interested in funding their startup. They are invited to discuss this with each investor individually.


 

After heavy lunch and 2 rounds of ice creams Naveen is feeling almost sleepy. All of the guests invited for his sisters daughter’s 4th birthday party left. Some how they managed to arrange the party at home. Around 30 people have attended.

Naveen did not get time to sit after the party started. There is no place to sit. After lunch, his job was to drop the guests back on main road where they can get auto or cabs.

He sat on the sofa in the hall and about to go to sleep.

“Anna, where is Siri?” His sister shouted from Kichen.

“She is playing outside.” answered Naveen. Did not even try to open his eyes.

“Go get her, I have to change her dress”. she said.

Naveen got up and went out. Siri is playing in ground floor with some kids from same apartments. She is still in her birthday dress. Naveen managed to stop her games and bring her home.

While carying her, she took his phone.

“Careful, don’t drop it”. he said.

” Mama who is Sowmya?”

“Who?” He felt it as if he heard that name before.

“This one” Siri showed the mobile to him.

“Sowmya Guptha” and her email id clearly seen in contact details. After she entered the contact details, he did not touch the mobile till now. That is why the contact is still open.

“Oh, I met her in train” he said while coming into house.

“Met whom?” asked his sister and mom at same time. It is the first time they heard Naveen talking about any girl after 3 years. After his breakup with his girl friend 3 years ago this is the firs time.

“No one” he said. Handed Siri over to her mother.

Every thing that happened yesterday night came to his mind. His sleep is gone now. He connected mobile to wifi and searched in Google.

“Bangalore startup event”

In first link itself he got the results. “Startup India 2015, Bangalore”. He found the event website and saw the schedule.

It is already over, 5PM Results, and Investment discussions”. Even though he barely knows her, he wanted her to win.
He realized how silly he is being, wishing some one to win without knowing anything about them. He does not know her company name, product or why they deserve to win.

But, another part of the brain is still want her to win. He has never seen any woman engineer starting a company. May be seen in news, but never that close. Never who actually touched him. He wished, that she should win.

He opened twitter and searched “Startup India, Bangalore, Sowmya Guptha”.

He got many tweets. One says “Congrats to RAKSHA team Rahul, Sowmya, Ramesh, Srinivas for getting selected in Startup India, 2015. #IndiaInnovate, #startupindia”

Other one says “RAKSHA team Rahul Bose and Sowmya Guptha presenting at #StartupIndia2015″ with an image. Sowmya and Rahul standing on the stage and Sowmya explaining something”

Naveen felt very happy. He needs to findout more about her.

“Chinni, where is your laptop?” almost jumped out from the sofa.

“Check in bed room” said his sister.

[TO BE CONTINUED]