An Indian team won the first prize for the Windows Azure Challenge Prize as well as the Mail.ru connected planet award at the Microsoft Imagine cup finals held at St Petersburg in Russia. The winning team, the Y-Nots, is made up of two students from Hyderabad and one from Bangalore.
Abdul Rahman, Nawaz Dhandala and Anshal Anand came up with Zoik It, a social networking app that focuses on local activity among friends and friends of friends.
Nawaz explains: “I was on a flight from Bangalore and the incoming flight from Delhi was delayed. I was really frustrated, and didn’t know what to do with my time. I was looking at the people in the airport, and wondering which of them shared my interests. That’s where the idea for Zoik-it came up.”
The Imagine Cup is made of three competitions: World Citizenship, Innovation and Games. The first prize in each category is $ 50,000 (Rs. 30 lakhs). There are other categories – called challenges. These are contests for the most innovative projects in three areas: Windows 8 development, Azure (Microsoft’s Cloud Platform development) and Windows Phone development. In addition, there are also sponsored prizes. The mail.ru Connected Planet award is one of these.
After they had their initial idea, the Y-Nots went online to look for a mentor. They decided on Reiner Stropek, a serial entrepreneur and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) and sent him a message describing their idea, asking him if he would support them. Stropek agreed.
“I do a lot of mentoring locally – but this was the first time someone has approached me through the Microsoft site and asked me to mentor them. This was my first non-German speaking mentoring assignment,” he says. Stropek was a triple winner in this Imagine Cup. He is also associated with the Austrian team Zeppelin Studio, which took the top prize in the Games category.
The big prizes, for Innovation, World Citizenship and Games have been hotly contested. Microsoft corporate vice president and chief evangelist remarked to the British presenter and Doctor Who star Matt Smith, “This should make you proud,” as he announced that the top prize for innovation had gone to a British team, ‘Team Colinked’ for their app SoundSYNK.
Microsoft’s Ankur Prasad said that this year the focus has changed from the original science fair kind of showcase to something much more targeted towards startups.
Image Credit: ImagineCup