Uber began with a bright idea. What if we could push a button on a smartphone and get a ride? Six years on, innovation remains at the core of what we do, whether it be allowing people to share their journeys, order a self-driving car or – one day in the future – fly around town.
In October last year, we set out to out celebrate this by launching UberPITCH, a India-wide hunt for the brightest startup in the country. More than 5,000 entrepreneurs took up the challenge, way more than we expected. Of those, 100 were shortlisted and subjected to a grilling from a panel of expert investors, mentors and venture capitalists.
All were impressive, but we needed three winners. After a long period of deliberation, we choose SeekSherpa, LeanAgri and Ambee, companies spanning travel, agriculture and health. The passion of their founders and their thoughtful application of technology to real-world problems gave them the edge.
SeekSherpa is a digital platform for local people like chefs, historians, students, journalists, and photographers to market and sell unique experiences to travellers to Indian cities. I especially liked the way it celebrated India’s cities, something that we at Uber are also passionate about.
From the city to the countryside, LeanAgri provides end-to-end solutions to farmers to increase efficiency, productivity and ultimately earnings. It gives guidance and technical advice to farmers on soil and weather conditions and represents farmers as they sell their crops, ensuring good prices. It’s great to see a startup focusing on people in the countryside, where let’s not forget close to 70 percent of Indians live.
Finally, Ambee, which was set up to make ambulances reach patients quicker, saving lives At the push of a button, users are connected to network of hospitals and private ambulances on a single technology platform. It’s a prime example of how technology and the smartphone revolution is making a difference to people’s lives.
I’m thrilled to say that Uber will now invest US$ 50,000 in the winners and invite them to San Francisco, where they will get advice and guidance from top Uber executives and venture capitalists. I can’t wait to see how they get on.