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Meet the jury of the Hot 100: Race to Grace 2017 Awards

This jury panel comprising some of the country’s most influential investors, analysts, entrepreneurs, CIOs, businessmen, and financial leaders will pick the 100 best tech startups of 2017.


Bharat Banka, Management Consultant and Angel Investor
With over 24 years experience in a wide array of fields including business, strategy, principal investing, M&A, post merger integration, capital markets, and CXO-level roles, Bharat Banka has had an incredibly celebrated corporate career. He is currently advisor to many marquee companies, including Sterlite Technologies Ltd and TVS Capital Funds. Bharat was the founding CEO of Aditya Birla Private Equity, raising approximately $200m in domestic funds to make ABPE one of the largest domestic managers of INR funds in the country. He also helped form India’s largest cement business, the $12 billion UltraTech Cement, and one of India’s largest GSM mobile player, the $10 billion Idea Cellular, and more, through a number of multi-billion dollar innovative acquisitions, capital market interventions, mergers and post-merger integrations.


Sanjay Mehta, Director, CORE Media
A prominent angel investor, Sanjay Mehta is an investor member at CIO Angel Network, Indian Angel Network, Venture Nursery, LetsVenture, and Venture Catalysts. The technology evangelist is a serial entrepreneur having made investments in over 60 startups including Oyo Rooms, Box8, LogiNext, PayTunes, BluBirch, Zippr, and more, with two successful exits till now. He’s a popular speaker at a number of forums on entrepreneurship and angel investments.


Ajeet Khurana, Angel Investor and Former CEO of SINE
An author, angel investor, TEDx speaker, steering committee member of the NASSCOM Start-Up Warehouse, ex-advisor to Kalaari Capital, and former CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator, Ajeet Khurana has played many illustrious roles in his long career. He’s led two solo entrepreneurial ventures in the field of education and web publishing, and has consistently invested his efforts and time in helping several startups with their go-to-market and raise investment. He firmly believes that small business owners need to be assisted and pushed forward as much as possible, as they are one’s driving change in the world. His keen insights, vast professional networks, financial acumen, and digital mindset have been immensely helpful to countless small businesses.


Manoj Chandiramani, Senior Vice President, Quatrro
With his practical approach towards marrying technology with business, Manoj Chandiramani is known for his innovative, cutting edge ideas. He has worked in various industry verticals, including petroleum, BFSI, travel, and education. Over the years he’s increased his storehouse of experience and handled the IT operations for all of Asia-Pacific at MF Global for a decade before moving to Quatrro. He believes in a holistic view of business, integrating technology processes and operations to drive significant growth.


Venkat Iyer, Global CIO, Wockhardt group
With over 30 years of experience in the US and India, Venkat Iyer has worked in diverse fields like solar and wind energy, pharma manufacturing (Pfizer and Wockhardt), office equipments (Canon and Xerox), IT services (IBM at Tata Steel), automotive (TVS Motor), and broadcast media(Star TV). Besides these, he has also worked extensively in Sales and Marketing, Digital Marketing, Business Process Design and Re-engineering, as well as Logistics and Distribution. He has a keen interest in improving business by using technology to drive change and growth.


Utpal Doshi, Senior Manager, Deloitte Haskins and Sells
A professional Chartered Accountant, Utpal Joshi is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), and brings with him over 15 years of experience. He has served as an advisor to countless multinational companies and Indian corporates on a variety of transfer pricing and international tax issues. A popular speaker on transfer pricing issues at several forums, he also regularly contributes to publications on the subject, encouraging dialogue on the topic.



Jignesh Kenia, Senior VP and Head, Business Development, Strategy, and Digital, Times Network
Jignesh brings with him over 15 years of experience in all aspects of auditing, accounting, and financial management, including direct experience with media and entertainment. He currently heads the Business Planning for the Times Network, and works closely with the Business and Leadership teams to achieve financial goals. Before this, Jignesh was with UTV Disney, where he handled various verticals, including Finance and Accounts, Strategy, and Commercial.


Amey Mashelkar, Mentor-in-Residence, GenNext Innovation Hub
Currently leading a startup ‘scalerator’ at RIL called GenNext Hub, Amey provides mentorship to global digital startups and helps them scale and achieve hyper growth. He has previously worked at Microsoft and Dishnet, in a number of roles including new business incubation, strategic partnerships, and program management. Amey joined Reliance after his startup was acquired in 2007. In winter 2016, GenNext provided extensive mentorship and support to more than 50 startups lead to their growth and success.


Muralidhara Kadaba, CMD, Moonbeam Capital
Murlidhara possesses over 25 years of experience in the banking industry, with proven expertise in product development, marketing, and general management across wealth management, consumer banking, consumer lending, and payment products. Prior to being an entrepreneur, he was the Group President and CEO of Financial Services at Reliance, as well as served as the Country Manager of American Express for India and Area Countries. Murlidhara is on the advisory board of Indian Institute of Learning Management (IILM), is an active member of YPO, and a charter member of TiE. Besides this, he is also a board member of Big Tree (, and Homeshoppe18.


Poyni Bhatt, Chief Operating Officer, SINE, IIT Bombay
Poyni started her career as a company secretary, but she turned to incubation by chance and has been helping entrepreneurs ever since. A founding team member of Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), the technology business incubator at IIT Bombay, she has been managing it since 2004, during which time she’s been involved with over 80 startups. Prior to SINE, she worked for over a decade in manufacturing and finance sectors, heading a variety of verticals including secretarial, legal and compliance departments. Having handled IPOs, private placements, rights issues, structured corporate deals, and interacted with a number of Indian regulators, she is currently a member of many government committees on innovation, entrepreneurship and incubation. Besides her involvement with SINE, she also mentors startups on her own, and delivers a number of guest lectures on entrepreneurship.


Paula Mariwala, Managing Director, Seedfund
Besides her involvement with Seedfund, a venture capital firm that invests in startups, Paula is also the Co-Founder and President of Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs India, and the Promoter Director of Hinditron Group of Companies, one of India’s oldest technology companies. She has over 20 years entrepreneurial and operational experience with technology companies in the US and India, along with 10 years of early stage investing, making her one of the most prominent names in the industry. Paula has been consistently involved with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India, helping discover, evaluate and mentor early stage companies, with a focus on education, healthcare and technology sectors. Being an angel investor herself, she has invested in nearly a dozen companies, and is involved with professional bodies like TiE, TiEStree Shakti, Indian Merchants Chamber, IEEE, Computer Society of India, and Stanford University Alumni Association.


Girish Gupta, Founder Director and CEO, Rajasthan Venture Capital Fund
Of Girish’s 35 years of experience in the industry, 20 years were spent in project finance and 14 years in venture Capital finance, especially in the SME sector. Under his leadership, Rajasthan Venture Capital Fund (RVCF) has raised three funds with combined corpus of over Rs 465 crore. Girish is on the board of various investee companies including some in healthcare, IT and logistics. He is a member of State Level Startup Committee of Rajasthan Government.


Amit Patni, Founder and Director, RAAY Global Investments
With over 25 years of experience in computer hardware and components market in India and abroad, Amit Patni is currently a Director at RAAY Global Investments, a Chairman at Nirvana Venture Advisors, a Partner at Elysium Investment Advisors Hedge Fund, a Partner in Hive-India, as well as a Director and Investor at Waterfield Advisors. He independently manages the implementation of Greenfield projects, setting up offices in India and abroad, utilising his vast experience in financial, marketing, and human resource development. Besides this, he is also very closely involved with the angel network, being an active member of TIE, IAN, Mumbai Angels and Venture nursery.


Dhanpal Jhaveri, Managing Partner, Everstone Capital Advisors
Having joined Everstone Capital Advisors in 2008, Dhanpal Jhaveri is currently the Managing Partner at the firm, and is responsible for taking care of the day-to-day management of the firm’s private equity business in India. In the 17 years before he joined Everstone, Dhanpal specialised in corporate finance and strategy, and had worked with Vedanta Resources as the Director of Corporate Strategy, ICICI Securities as the Head of Investment Banking, and KPMG as a partner.


Prakash Rane, Founder and Managing Director, ABM Knowledgeware Limited
Prakash is a first generation entrepreneur, who has carved a niche for himself in the e-governance space. He has conceptualised various pioneering and successful strategic solutions in e-governance that have become the benchmarks in the industry. He is the driving force behind ABM Knowledgeware Limited, a BSE listed IT Software Services company. He’s a member of the Regional Council of NASSCOM, helping in intiatives for the growth of IT SMEs.


Ayesha Mansukhani, Director, Adino Telecom
Currently serving as the Director at Adino Telecom, Ayesha is responsible for formulating strategy, financial operations, and business development for the company. An avid angel investor, she is a board member of Wow Express and a board observer at Wellness Forever, besides being the Manager of Upper 90, an angel fund based out of New York. Before Adino, she worked with Everstone Capital, an India focused investment manager to private equity and real estate funds, as well as at Goldman Sachs in London, and UBS in New York, where she specialised in managing mergers and acquisitions.


Parag Shah, Managing Partner, Mahindra Partners
During his 19 career, Parag has held a number of roles in the Mahindra Group, which has given him extensive experience in new building businesses, startups, turnarounds, and joint ventures, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Before his current role, Parag worked for the office of the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the company, taking care of new business development and strategy for the group. He is a member of the executive committee of various industry bodies including CII, FICCI, and TIE, and is a regular speaker at a number of international forums.


Madhukar Sinha, Co-Founder, General Partner, India Quotient
As part of India Quotient, Madhukar consistently seeks out promising companies that can deliver exceptional returns to investors while also helping them become long-lasting companies in the process. With an interest in companies covering financial technologies, social networks and content platforms, he invests across all sectors at the early stages, and has a fondness for companies that build products and services for the mass market and can scale capital efficiently. When he is not working, he likes to network with young entrepreneurs and promising professionals who have a dream to change the world.


Jayesh Parekh, Managing Partner, Jungle Ventures
While a Managing Partner at Jungle Ventures, Jayesh is also Co-Founder of Sony Entertainment Television. He is a board member of Milaap, Sanctum Wealth Management, and One Animation, and is on the Investment Committee of Aavishkaar India II Fund, a major social impact equity fund, besides being an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD. Having spent more than 12 years at IBM in Houston and Singapore, he was part of the core team responsible for bringing IBM back to India.


Dr Apoorv Sharma, Co-Founder, Venture Catalysts
A respected leader in early stage investment and startup incubation, Dr Sharma has been involved in early stage investment since 2002. He has established nearly 10 incubators and accelerators including Somaiya Incubator, IAN Incubator, VentureNursery, Amity Innovation Incubator, JSS TBI, EDII, and more. During his career he has been actively associated in establishing angel networks and has played a vital role in establishing JSS Seed Fund, Amity Family Office Fund, IAN Seed Fund and more. Dr Sharma also spends a large amount of his time mentoring early stage investments, and has success with startups like OYO Rooms, Invenzone, Circuit Sutra, Beardo and many more.


Anuja Shukla, Head of Venture Capital and Startup Business Development, Google Cloud Platform
In her position at Google Cloud Platform, Anuja works closely with Indian startups to help them harness Google’s core network and infrastructure. She spends her time helping early-stage startups, along with their investors and advisors, understand Google’s cloud strategy while providing business/technical mentorship and access to architectural support with the goal of increasing their velocity of innovation. She is also part of the expert mentor pool at Google Launchpad. She has over 15 years of experience in the industry, and prior to Google she was with Microsoft where she provided technology road maps for cloud computing, social enterprise and other technology optimisations on the Microsoft stack.


N Jayantha Prabhu, Group Chief Information Officer, Essar Group
As Group CIO, Jayantha is responsible for formulating and implementing Essar’s IT strategy, enterprise architecture, information security, project delivery, Green IT, and sustainability. The company’s top technology executive, he drives the organisations technical vision and leaders technology development in all areas. Under his leadership, Essar became an early adopter of transforming business processes through IT. He is in charge of providing IT transformation services to nearly 20,000 users spread over 98 locations and 5 data centres all over the world. Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, Jayantha started his career by initiating a startup dedicated to the people’s movement. He is a founding member of the CIO Angel Network and an active mentor to many startups. 

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