(Seated from left) Shyamkanu Mahanta, Pranjal Konwar, Dr Sriparna Baruah, Gaurav Dasgupta, Arjun Vaidya and Aryata Agarwal

Guwahati: The second edition of ‘Brahmaputra Dialogue’ was organised on Thursday in association with Assam Startup, a venture of Assam government, with a fireside chat on Accelerating the Startup Ecosystem in North East India and the Future of Business & Trade in the South East Asian region’. The dialogue was held at Assam Startup: The Nest in Guwahati.

The event brought together a distinguished panel including Arjun Vaidya (CEO at Dr Vaidya’s, Forbes 30 under 30-Asia); Aryata Agarwal (founder, Jivika Foundation); Shyamkanu Mahanta (founder, North East Festival); Pranjal Konwar (COO, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, leading Assam Startup: The Nest initiative) and Dr Sriparna Baruah (head, Centre for Industrial Extension, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship).

The panel had an insightful discussion on how Northeast- and primarily Assam-based startups can scale and get access to market and funding opportunities, develop disruptive products, and the need for mentorship for startup founders from the region so that they can compete globally.

They also spoke about the challenges and opportunities of doing business in the region.

Founder of North East Festival, Mahanta spoke on connectivity infrastructure and how it can change the market and economy in the region.

He observed that after India partitioned Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1947, NE lost its port, the Chittagong port and that led to the downfall of the economy in the region, with only a chicken-neck to connect it with Mainland India.

Mahanta suggested the region must utilise its agri-horti resources and tap on ASEAN countries like Thailand, Myanmar to expand its market instead of trying to cater the mainland.

Vaidya, the CEO of Dr Vaiya’s, while sharing his entrepreneurial journey, remarked that NE accounts for 10% of its total order and a substantial chunk of it cannot be fulfilled as no delivery company agrees to deliver at those pin codes.

Konwar, leading the Assam startup, initiative elucidated on entrepreneurship, startup and its nitty-gritty.

Meanwhile, Aryata Agarwal spoke about social enterprises. She spoke on the lessons she has learnt through her experience and said, disruption can be brought about any field, and you just have to look for it.

Likewise, Dr Baruah elucidated on the need for solving local issues through entrepreneurship. She cited the example of Manipur and how the budding startups in the state are forming clusters helping it grow by solving the local issues. She remarked, “Instead of looking at what idea can be done, look at the existing opportunities.”

The event saw a gathering of more than 60 young leaders from different avenues. Moreover, selected 5-6 startups incubated in Assam Startup: The Nest had the opportunity to present their startup business plans during the event.

Brahmaputra Dialogue is co-founded and curated by Gaurav Dasgupta and Roshan Farhan. It is an independent initiative to provide a platform for leaders across all sectors to discuss, deliberate and arrive at outcome-based solutions regarding key issues concerning Northeast.

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