Wharton India Economic Forum is the biggest India-focused forum discussing India’s evolution into a prominent global economic power. Its 23rd edition, held in Mumbai on 4th January, 2019, was attended by a crowd of 400 people comprising students, academics, professionals and industry leaders. The event was led and co-chaired by second-year Wharton School students Juhi Bhatnagar, Kartik Das, Swati Ganeti, Khushboo Goel and Sonal Panda. This year’s theme - ‘Innovate, Invest, Impact.’ – sought to explore India’s immense economic potential and the lessons it offers to other developing economies. Renowned speakers at the event ranged from backgrounds as diverse as finance, consulting, policy, economics, entrepreneurship and media & entertainment.
The panel discussions at WIEF 2019 covered several pertinent topics on the Indian economy, such as India’s energy outlook, future of mobility, investing in India, impact investing, healthcare and innovation in the film industry. The opening keynote was delivered by Deepak Bagla, MD & CEO of Invest India, who talked about the changing Indian economy and the government’s efforts in promoting investment in the country.
Fireside chats were also on the agenda. Niranjan Narayanaswamy (editor, Republic TV) discussed the growth of the National Stock Exchange with Vikram Limaye (MD & CEO, NSE), while Harbir Singh (co-director, Mack Institute for Innovation) engaged Naveen Jindal (Chairman, Jindal Steel and Power) in a conversation on the state of India’s steel industry. The day ended with a speech from Pankaj Munjal (MD, Hero Cycles) who charted the brand’s journey so far and elaborated upon its plans to bring safe, environment-friendly, and efficient transportation to Indian roads.
Alongside the main event, the sixth Wharton India Startup Challenge (WISC) was also organised. The opening keynote was delivered by Raj Beri (CEO, Uber Eats APAC), who spoke about the food delivery service’s outlook and future plans in India. The challenge, which has grown immensely since its first edition, received 500 entries this year. Ten finalists were given the opportunity to pitch in front of the WIEF investor panel, which included names such as Padmaja Ruparel of India Angel Network, Prayank Swaroop of Accel Partners, Rajinder Balaraman of Matrix Partners, Sakshi Chopra of Sequoia Capital and Badri Pillapakkam of Omidyar Network.
The winning startups were MyPetrolPump (an on-demand fuel delivery service) which received an award of $10K, ITILITE (business travel agent for corporates) which received an award of $6K, and Credenc (an edtech platform offering student loans) which received an award of $4K. In addition, the winners and finalists received credits and prizes from Amazon Web services, Digital Ocean, ThinQbate (a Mumbai-based startup accelerator) and LetsVenture (a platform for angel investing). Meanwhile, two masterclasses were also conducted at WISC, covering topics such as disruption (by Dhiraj Rajaram - founder & CEO, MuSigma) and debt financing (by Rahul Khanna - MD, Trifecta Capital).
Wharton India Economic Forum seeks to promote constructive dialogue on the current business and economic landscape of India. And like every year, this year’s edition, too, facilitated engaging and illuminating discussions with the experts from different fields.
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