Facebook-owned and managed messenger giant WhatsApp has launched the “Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge”. Announced in October 2018 but launched on 31st January 2019, the scheme in partnership with Invest India will award the top five winners with a total grant of ₹1.8 crores ($250K).
“Ideas and business models capable of making a large-scale socio-economic impact and solve day-to-day problems have been invited to apply for the challenge by March 10. Entrepreneurs with highly innovative ideas, business models that solve for a local India problem, making a large scale socio-economic impact, are invited to apply,” said WhatsApp.
It seems that this is an attempt to persuade entrepreneurs and small business in India. WhatsApp has recently forayed into WhatsApp Business. Earlier this month, WhatsApp Business app marked one year since its launch. WhatsApp said its business app now has more than 5 million businesses registered on the platform.
In October 2018, WhatsApp partnered with Invest India in the presence of Commerce & Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu and Secretary of Industrial Policy & Promotion Ramesh Abhishek.
At the time, Minister Prabhu said “WhatsApp is a startup that has grown into a community and is an example of how an idea can grow to become an integral part of our day to day life [and]… that the Startup community is the future of India and will be the platform through which the millions of youth of this country will be gainfully employed.”
Startup founders and interested entrepreneurs can register for the WhatsApp Startup Challenge through their microsite. The registration is open till March 10 after which the startups will be evaluated by Startup India and the winners will be announced on March 24. Healthcare, rural economy, financial and digital inclusion, education and citizen safety startups will be given priority.
In the initial round, 30 ideas will be shortlisted which will further move to top 10 for the finals. The top five ideas will win $50,000 each. WhatsApp is expected to provide more details regarding the Startup Challenge.