It was the 2nd year of QPrize when we applied for it. As the competition in itself was relatively new, we didn’t know much about the benefits of it or the kind of leverage that the winners of the 1st edition got out of it. However, the fact that it had Qualcomm’s endorsement and significant prize money of USD 100K was exciting. Since we also had the right fit in terms of eligibility in the mobile and wireless space, we applied for the competition.
Being shortlisted as finalists and making it to the top 8 meant a lot to us. We knew that our vision had a large problem in its ambit that we were trying to solve. Despite the fact that our focus at that point was only the Indian market, being shortlisted as finalists was a strong validation of what we were doing.
The final pitch:
This was the first serious pitch we were making to a panel of very experienced judges with diverse backgrounds. Needless to say, we were extremely nervous. Although, in our minds we had made the best pitch, on hindsight, we realised that there were some very important information missing from it. By the time it was our turn to pitch we had already mingled with the rest of the shortlisted companies and knew about their business ideas. Each one of the shortlisted companies was very promising and most of them had much better market validations (some had customers too) than we did. The experiences of others made us even more nervous and perceive our chances much slimmer than we originally thought. Eventually, we made the pitch to our satisfaction, within the stipulated time and answered the questions from the judges, to our satisfaction. And then we literally forgot about it, giving ourselves absolutely no chance.
The moment of winning the prize:
This was the most awaited moment, but as I said earlier, we had given up and expectations/hope of winning was the last thing on our minds. The announcement was reserved till late in the evening, just before the dinner. We enjoyed ourselves networking with several people and just being part of the event. The announcement was made by very senior executives of Qualcomm. Honestly, we just could not believe our ears when we heard our company’s name announced as winner. The announcement, getting on stage after that, receiving the prize cheque, making an impromptu speech, endless congratulatory wishes, everything seemed like a dream, too good to be true. Honestly, it took us a few days even after the event for the entire reality to sink in. Winning QPrize remains one of the best and most memorable moments of our startup journey so far, and it will continue to be so.
The Prize/Grant money:
Prize money of USD 100K means a lot to any startup at any stage. It meant even more to us at a stage when our products weren’t even validated in the market and we didn’t have any revenue. Neither had we received any form of funding prior to that and were completely self-funded. The money was available to us in about a month from winning it and didn’t involve any elaborate formalities either. The best part of the grant money is its availability under very soft terms without putting any pressure on us in terms of returns. Therefore, we were able to maintain our focus on getting our products out of the lab to market and acquire customers.
Qualcomm’s engagement and involvement with us:
Post QPrize, Qualcomm ventures has lent great support to us and been available to us whenever we have needed their help. Both Karthee and Ashutosh have been great mentors and have helped us not just with feedback and suggestions about our business, but also with introductions to potential customers and investors. We have also had the advantage of access to Qualcomm’s business groups and have had the opportunity to license some of our products to Qualcomm, adding to our revenue opportunities.
Best thing that happened to Reverie after winning QPRIZE:
As a startup, we suddenly felt heard and were considered seriously by our potential customers and investors, without doing anything much different from what we did prior to winning QPrize. Over a period, that has translated into revenue through a few customer acquisitions and has given us the much needed impetus any startup needs at that stage.
Why should other mobile entrepreneurs apply for the program?
We derived the following key benefits by winning QPrize that any startup could benefit from:
a) Access to much needed funds at an early stage on terms that do not distract the focus of the startup
b) Serious validation through Qualcomm’s endorsement that open doors for attracting customers (including Qualcomm) and investors
c) On-going mentoring and support from Qualcomm ventures, including tapping into their network through strong recommendations
Entries for Qualcomm’s QPRIZE 2012 are open now, total USD 1M to be won! If you are a mobile or internet startup - Apply Now!
- Arvind Pani, Co-founder, Reverie Technologies