Destination Silicon Valley, Rajasthan Takes the First Step

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Destination Silicon Valley, Rajasthan Takes the First Step

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje wants Rajasthan to be more than just a tourist hub.

Jaipur:  An English learning app, a taxi aggregator service Hippo Cabs, a roasted snacks maker and a company that provides domestic helps, plumbers and electricians: The disparate mix share a common bond.  

These are among the 40 start-up companies from various fields that have come together to join Rajasthan's first start-up festival -- a stepping stone to reach Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's goal of turning the state to a start-up and investment destination.

Most of the participating ventures have found their feet.

Hello English has drawn an investment of $6 million from Tiger Global -- the company that invested in Flipkart and Facebook.

Hippo Cabs, which provides taxis between Jaipur and Delhi, is now running 90% to capacity, said its heads, brothers Sagar and Sahil Agarwal.

Priptos, which started last year selling nutrition based healthy snacks, already has a turnover of Rs 1.5 lakh per month.Bharat helpline provides electricians, plumbers and household services on call.

The state government says it needs more projects like this. At least another 500, for which it is ready to provide support -- Rs 55 crore over five years. Another Rs 500 crore will be raised in a public-private partnership mode.

"We believe this is the future. We need to just give them support to get going. If they happen, Rajasthan will happen," she said.

The state government's initiative came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave his Start-up India call on Independence Day and held showcased India's start-up potential at Silicon Valley during his recent visit to the US.

The state has pinned its hopes on students to make the initiative a success. Students with good ideas will be given government backing - including a year's break from studies, a Rs 10,000 stipend and support for the start-ups.

"They have the brains, but they don't have the money. So the government is supporting them. This way, we are also looking at creating 15 lakh jobs in 5 years," said state industries minister Gajendra Singh Khimsar.

Ms Raje's industrial promotion project -- Resurgent Rajasthan - which will be held in November is already on an advertisement blitz, trying to promote the state as more than a tourist destination.

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