Everyone will tell you that you can’t do it or that you’re going to fail. Don’t listen to them, just go & do it!

-Varun & Prukalpa, founders of SocialCops

An Idea not only changes your life but also changes the world around you. Over the course of 17 years, Eureka! has always served as a platform for all such ideas that hold immense potential to change the world for better and has helped various startups get their crucial fundings. From a competition in which 50 teams competed for INR 50,000, to a contest which sees over 8800+ entries competing for prizes worth INR 5 Million at with excellent networking opportunities in India and the Silicon Valley, Eureka! is now accredited as Aisa’s largest Business model competition.

Today we have among us the founder’s of SocialCops, Varun Banka & Prukalpa Sankar, winners of Eureka! 2013 Social track for a chat. SocialCops is a data intelligence company that empowers organizations to make better decisions through data. Let’s hear about their journey till date.

Many people associate an entrepreneur to someone who can provide an easy and viable solution to existing problems in society. What inspired you to start SocialCops?

Varun and I started SocialCops during our last year at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. The problem we wanted to solve: use data to confront critical global challenges. We had both been working in investment banks at the time, and realized how real-time data was used every second to shape both important and not-so-important decisions in the finance world. But what about other worlds? Worlds like healthcare, education, environment, crime – where data just wasn’t used in the same way. We wanted to use data to drive impact in the sectors we cared about.

Eureka is designed to emulate the process of the growth of an idea towards a full-fledged startup and every year we receive humongous registrations. How did you prepare for Eureka and what was your journey like before Eureka?

We had participated in about 10-12 business plan competitions while we were in university. The winnings from these became our seed funding for starting SocialCops. We had already been running SocialCops for 6 months full time before participating in Eureka! The intent of coming into Eureka! was not to win a business model competition, but was to figure out how to run a start-up. I think that was a critical aspect of our approach and is a testimony to how we won the competition. We knew a lot more about our company and could answer questions fully and honestly because we had actually spent significant time thinking about these kinds of questions.

You started off from winners at the E-Cell IIT Bombay’s Eureka! B-model Competition on to securing a seed funding of $320,000. How was your journey so far after winning Eureka! in terms of funding, team building, and expanding?

We are now 60 members strong, working with over 150 organizations across 7 countries on everything from health and education to disaster relief and female empowerment.

Much of our work involves collaboration with government at all levels — including the Government of India, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of Rural Development, Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana, Government of Guatemala, and the Malaysian Police Force. Our partners also include leading philanthropies and nonprofits — such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Tata Trusts, UNICEF, Oxfam India, Swades Foundation, Next Billion, Goonj, and Deepalaya — and large corporates like Unilever and BASF.

It’s been an extremely exciting journey thus far, but we’re just getting started.
E-Cell, IIT Bombay believes that entrepreneurship is the key that can unlock India’s latent inventive potential. And with this belief, we target to help in the development of India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by enabling easy and efficient. What is the importance/role of the small contribution of E-Cell in your success?

As students, when we started SocialCops, business plan competitions played an important role in bringing us in front of mentors who could help with networks and connections. Winning such competitions as Eureka! also gave us the much-needed credibility to be taken seriously right out of college.

Coworking space is the new cool in the startup ecosystem with the incorporation of a unique style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. How is the coworking space at SocialCops / What is it like to work at SocialCops?

We have an open office (not a coworking space) at SocialCops. We wanted to build a space where people can collaborate. We have engineers, entrepreneurs, economists, content writers, and operations folks all in one room. The people who find their way to SocialCops are driven by the desire to have the highest impact and find motivation in the team.

Today, our startup ecosystem is brimming with new, young, talented, and creative entrepreneurs. What is your message to these budding entrepreneurs?

Everyone will tell you that you can’t do it or that you’re going to fail. Don’t listen to them, just go & do it!