With 12,000 registered members, Pune OCC going strong since 2008



Pune is undoubtedly one of the cities with lot of startup activity. The city is home to noted startups such as TastyKhana, FirstCry and Druva Software.  In a recent analysis by transferwise.com, Pune is listed as one of the emerging tech hubs. It can be said beyond doubt, that Pune Open Coffee Club has a big hand in keeping up the spirit of entrepreneurship and creating a strong network of entrepreneurs. Started in 2008, the meetups are held once a month and are still going strong. Pune OCC also has a very strong online presence, with over 12,000 members including investors, lawyers, accountants and freelancers who work with startups.

The current team consists of Amod Bapat , Ashish Belagali, Jayesh Baheti, Nikhil Kadadi and Santosh Dawara. We catch up with Amod for a quick chat on Pune OCC activities. Read on!

When did Pune OCC Meetups start? Take us through the journey from 2008 to 2014 – how many meetups were organized and roughly how many participants served?

The Pune OpenCoffee Club ( POCC ) was started in 2008 with the initiative of several Pune-based entrepreneurs and startup founders. We host a monthly event, website and email group actively since 2008. Our average attendance is 40 attendees consisting of first-time and experienced entrepreneurs.

What kind of problems are most commonly faced by entrepreneurs, as discussed in the groups ? How does Pune OCC meets help solve the problem?

We serve entrepreneurs as a self-support platform. Entrepreneurs approach us for a range of activities including finding mentors, finding cofounders, strategic partnerships, legal and compliance guidance, seed funding, office space etc.
We help solve these problems in the following ways :
1. Inviting experts from the Pune OCC network to address the community. Our network includes Industry experts such as Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries, Venture Capitalists and successful entrepreneurs to address specific issues or areas concerning startups.
2. Expert panel discussions with experienced entrepreneurs who share real life cases and examples from their own journey.
3. Active and involving discussions are continuously happening on the online platform punestartups.org. This is the fastest way to reach out to the startup community for any help or for sharing experiences for the benefit of others.

Pune is one of the cities for thriving startup culture. How did it happen?

Pune is best known as a center for Education. Pune’s entrepreneurs were predominantly in manufacturing companies. Over the last two decades this culture has expanded Information Technology and other services. Now, Pune has emerged as the leading startup centre of India thanks to the combination of excellent education institutions, presence of large ITES companies, inspiration and mentorship available and also a unique lifestyle. At POCC, we try to weave all these factors together to create a healthy ecosystem for startups. We serve as an umbrella organization for local startup activities and partner with other organizations with the objective of nurturing entrepreneurship.

Any noteworthy incidents from the events in past couple of years?

Our previous calendar year’s events have been summarized as a presentation on slideshare.net.

Our first event in 2008 was memorable. You can find details captured as a blog post. Of the recent events another that stands out is the annual startup internship mela organized by a volunteer team together with the Computer Society of India. The objective is to connect startups and students seeking internships. Notable startup companies attended the January 2014 mela from Pune and drew over 1,500 students at the event.

How difficult it is to keep up the momentum and organize meetups consistently? 

All of us at POCC enjoy conducting the various events. It has never been difficult to organize them as we thoroughly enjoy helping the startup ecosystem. The key to organizing events and driving other activities is teamwork.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

Our underlying objective is to build a strong community of friends, mentors, advisors and everyone who wants to foster the startup spirit in Pune and India. We’re growing well and now have close to 12,000 registered members from Pune and all over the world.