Startups, who won first $1 million Global Startup Challenge Vizag Fintech Festival 2018 held at Visakhapatnam, were elated and had a sense of pride holding their dummy prize money cheques handed over by the Andhra Pradesh government last October.
Not anymore. The winners never thought that dummy cheques would remain a dummy even after ten months.
It has been more than ten months, and startups, who are from the UK, US and Isreal, have been still waiting for their prize money promised by the state govt.
In the concluding session of Fintech Festival, Andhra government, then represented by IT Minister N Lokesh, in collaboration with DCF Ventures and Bizofit had announced prize money worth $150,000 (about Rs 1.1 crore) each for first three winners and $100,000 (Rs 73 lakh) for second three winners.
Matisoft Cyber Security Labs, 3Bar Biologics and NeoEYED secured first prizes while Bee Hero, Desolenator and Lapetus Solutions were declared the winners of second prizes.
Besides, 25 finalists were also selected and promised to be given $10K each by the organiser.
“The state government had announced that the prize money for all the winners would be given away in the following months but there has been no communication from the govt in this regard for the past couple of months. We even hired local teams to start operations in Vizag but due to this delay we had to let go of the team thus denting the image of the company,” said founders of the startups to Entrackr.
Startups complain that instead of getting promised prize money, they had to shell out money to participate in the event.
“Every winner lost money, time and energy through this exhausting process,” they added.
However, after continuous follow-ups for six months, 25 finalists got $10K but with 30% deduction, which was not communicated to participant startups before the event. The participants opposed the deduction. In March, the Andhra govt representative, in written communication seen by Entrackr, assured that the deducted amount would be reimbursed.
But it never happened, said startups.
Entrackr has reached out to Anoop Singh, Principal Secretary of IT, who said there was a condition for these startups to start operations in the state, which they did not fulfil. However, startups insist that the condition was to start the operations after getting the prize money. NeoEYED had communicated this to Aneesha Chowdhary, in February.
The event was organised by the last government is also said to one of the reasons for the delay as the state witnessed a new government led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in May.
Entrackr has sent queries, asking reasons for the delay in giving away prize money, to Andhra Pradesh IT minister. The response in this regard is still awaited.
In the last couple of years, Andhra has emerged as one of many states in the country supporting innovations from across the globe through evolved startup culture. The state govt would not like to undo its effort and damage reputation earned over the years by not living up to its promises.