Kumbhathon5 innovators kickoff Kumbhathon5 with much enthusiasm

The morning began with 100+ innovators enthusiastically chanting the Kumbhathon mantra: “We are on, Kumbhathon; Kumbhathon, we are on!”

Sandip Shinde MC’d a rousing opening assembly, with presentations by John Werner, Head of Innovation, Dr. Ramesh Raskar, the leader of the Kumbhathon, and Pratik Shah, Research Scientist in charge of the Health Pavilion at the Kumbh Mela. Plus, all of the leaders from both Nashik and Cambridge were called on stage.

The Kumbhathon goals are to: work toward implementation, develop Smart Citizens, collaborate and network, and innovate. Ramesh underlined that it’s a buildathon which is different from a hackathon or a competition. The Kumbhathon is about teamwork and continuity, so work continues for at least a year, long after the week is over.

About 15 projects have been identified. During the week of the Kumbhathon, teams will be formed, and efforts will be made to scale the current projects.

John Werner gave a keynote on innovation describing the ways to realize your ideas and create real impact. He explained MIT's involvement in all four Kumbhathons to date and interacted with students to get them engaged and sharing their own reasons for coming to Kumbhathon. He shared the story of the REDx initiative which the group is now running in Mumbai and Hyderabad including a story of when Ratan Tata visited to meet the innovators and express his support of the initiative. He also explained corporate involvement with Kumbhathon to date and the groups work at the MIT Media Lab and encouraged the students to think outside of the box and take chances. "This is the time for the next generation to become innovative leaders and this platform will help you on your path." stated Werner. Pratik Shah and Ramesh Raskar followed with remarks on health innovation and Nashiks plan to be a smart city.

Everyone adjourned for lunch upstairs, with a team of mostly women baking roti bread from scratch on a fire on the floor of the auditorium.

After lunch we spent a couple of hours together matching teams, based on geography (we should have at least one person on each team), skills and interests.

After lunch we all reconvened in the main conference room so that the teams could spend time together. Ramesh asked them to write down answers to specific questions about their projects, including the purpose, milestones, status, and areas of disagreement among teammates. (The latter will become the business risks.) There was time for Q&A with the experts.

Beth led the final presentation for the day on Go-to-Market Strategy. The teams were asked to brainstorm each of the elements of the value proposition. With a unique value proposition for each major) target market, each project will have a clear message to use when approaching prospects, partners, and others.

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