Qualcomm has announced the short-list for its Qualcomm Ventures QPrize business plan competition. The startups shortlisted cover a wide range of telecom products, from Traffic monitoring and prediction, mobile based retail, education, video, classifieds, and a social network. Surprisingly, none appear to focus explicitly on the rural segment in India. The India winner of the QPrize competition receive seed funding of $ 100,000, and all eight business plans will be considered for incubation at Nadathur S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (IIM–B). The companies shortlisted:
— Capillary Technologies: An IIT Kharagpur incubated company from Bangalore, Capillary technologies provides mobile based loyalty programs for retailers. Their first product, In Touch, is an SMS based loyalty program with analytics for retailers, with analytics on the web, as well as campaign management and messaging tools.
They also provide SMS based event management for Events, College Festivals and Conferences, with registration, games, quizzes, schedule and event information
Retail might be the right segment to begin with, since there is a need to boost demand, but we wonder if any retailers will be able to handle campaigns themselves. Capillary might have to offer campaign management services, rather than a product. While they’re focusing on retailers, with mobile as a medium for a card-free loyalty program, we think there might be a greater opportunity in providing a loyalty program to telecom operators themselves, because with more and more telecom operators in the fray, retaining customers will be a challenge for telcos.
— Edutor Technologies: This Hyderabad based company has a portable learning device for e-learning, with university content, exam preparation guides. The Edutor can be connected to a computer for personalized curriculum material and other media. The website claims that the Edutor has content from professors across the world andfrom leading universities, provides access to notes and presentations, question banks, competitive exam info, e-books, a video recorder, audio content, an FM radio among others.
Frankly, we could glean very little from Qualcomm or Edutors website about the cost of the device, but if this is indeed about a device, then the Edutor has a tough task ahead of it, in terms of inking all those content deals they’ve mentioned, and popularizing the device. It claims to be an affordable alternative to laptops and PDA mobile phones, but doesn’t mention whether it is a connected device.
— Xurmo Technologies: though currently in stealth mode, is, according to Qualcomm, “an intelligent matchmaker which helps the users to connect with the right person in the network for specific transactions in real time. It constantly learns about the users, their relationships, interests etc.
— Optimystix Entertainment: This one’s a little strange. This Mumbai based television production company has been selected for a location based realtime classifieds product for the mobile. Founded in 2000, Optimystix has created Fiction and Non-Fiction shows for Indian Broadcasters – STAR Plus, Sony, Zee, Nickelodeon, Sahara, Sab TV, STAR One, Zoom, etc, including Khulja Sim Sim, Kismey Kitna Hai Dum, Indian Idol (Season 1), Yeh Meri Life Hai, Popkorn Newz etc.
— Virtual Wire Technologies: An IIT Delhi incubated company, Virtual Wire has been selected for a product that offers low power wireless system for short range High Definition video distribution. According to their website, their areas of focus include ultrawideband (UWB), medium access control (MAC) and mesh networking.
— Birds Eye Technologies: a Mumbai based startup has been shortlisted for a product that allows monitoring and prediction of traffic using GPS enabled vehicles. Birds Eye alredy provides data mining and analysis for telematics, for tracking fleet vehicles, routes traversed, vehicle start/stop activity, which help businesses reduce operating costs, increase productivity and manage their mobile workforce.
— Svara: according to Qualcomm, this Delhi based entity is not incorporated as yet and does not have a website. Svara it aims to addresses the issue of illiteracy in India by enabling access to books to a much larger audience. It makes the interaction with books via an audio system that could be standalone or using a pen.
Note: We’re expanding our coverage to include startups from the telecom and digital media space, based on several requests from our readers. The selection of startups that we cover will be subjective, so do bear with us while we find our bearings covering a space we haven’t looked at before.