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 $250,000 prize money Tuesday in a global competition for the best business plan.
The prestigious Global Business Plan Competition, co-sponsored by US-based venture capitalist Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and networking and communications technology major Cisco, 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.
'Clearly, global innovation doesn't stop for recessions,' said DFJ managing director Tim Draper in a statement.
'These promising candidates are reminding us that there are pioneering companies out there, even in difficult times, and we hope that one of these teams creates the next Skype, Google, Facebook, Baidu or Cisco.'
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.
'People without an Internet connection or a dictionary can send an SMS, GYANYOUR SEARCH WORD OR TERM to 09894974926. The answer will appear on the sender's mobile,' said Innoz co-founder and chief executive Deepak Ravindran.
'We will make a live presentation in a teleconference for 20 minutes from DFJ's Bangalore office,' he added. The judges will be in the US.
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 Rs.1 lakh each from the four partners.