In a global competition for the best business plan, Innoz, a company floated by students of LBS College of Engineering at Kasargode in the state, is the only Indian start-up among 16 such firms vying for a US$250,000 prize money. Co-sponsored by US based venture capitalist Draper Fisher Jurveston (DFJ) and networking and communications technology major Cisco, the competition is for university and business school students. In addition to the financial investment awarded to the winner, DFJ and Cisco will assist all the 16 finalists to take their projects forward.
The only other finalist with an India link is Husk Power, floated by students of Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. Their project relates to miniature power plants that cost-effectively convert rice husks into electricity, serving off-grid Indian villages. Since its founding in 1985, DFJ has backed over 500 companies including Hotmail (later acquired by Microsoft), Skype (acquired by eBay), Overture (acquired by Yahoo) and Feedburner (acquired by Google). The Innoz project is an SMS text messaging interface for trivia and other information for 300 million Indian cell phone subscribers. Innoz Technologies was registered last August, and in November, Ravindran and three other students launched the text messaging interface. Innoz is the first virtual incubated company in Technopark, the information technology park here. The capital for the company came from contributions of INR 1 lakh each from the four partners.