The Viacom18 Startup Engagement Program – VStEP is an initiative by Viacom18 to collaborate with growth stage Startups to step forward together in the fast-evolving world of Media and Entertainment.

VStEP is a pilot-driven program wherein select Startups will get to work with internal business units of Viacom18 and jointly deliver innovation pilots across various business operations, verticals and functions.

Powered by Zone Startups India.



Startups will pitch to be selected for internal pitch day to be attended by the senior leadership at Viacom18. The pitches will be evaluated basis – relevance, uniqueness and scalability.


Selected Startups from the pitch day will work with internal business teams at Viacom18 to deliver high impact POCs for their offerings.


A successful pilot opens the window to potential long term strategic partnership with Viacom18.

Areas of Focus


VStEP has a novel 3-pronged mentorship program designed and customized to the needs of its portfolio of startups

On-ground Mentorship

Get exposed to the nuances of M&E business

Work with the business/ function leads to solve key business problems or bring in exciting innovations at Viacom18

Learn on the field working closely with the people running the real show at Viacom18

Discover and build new business use-cases for your solution at Viacom18

VStEP Masterclasses

Learn from the best of Viacom18 and Startup Industry experts

Mentor Talk

Success Stories

“Makkajai partnered with Voot to promote the All India Math Madness Competition to Indian parents & kids. We received unparalleled reach to our target audience across Tier I /II /III towns in India and huge gleaning of consumer behavior through the access gained!”
Abhishek Awadhani, Co-Founder, Makkajai www.makkajai.com
“VH1 Supersonic was an absolute roller-coaster. We pushed ourselves to innovate and deliver good results. In the process, we gained a lot of confidence as a unit. Thanks for the fantastic opportunity guys!""
Saketh Bhagavatula, Co-Founder Liminal www.liminal.in
“Viacom18 has been a great partner and customer for the last few years. The team at Viacom18 understands technology and its challenges, making it easier for us to create a tangible impact through our solution, equipped with all the necessary industry expertise.”
Rohit Gupta, Co-Founder Simplify360 www.simplify360.com


How does the application process work?

The application process begins online, with an application form where you can tell us about your team, your product, and the market you are in. The questions are geared to understand both the business and the founders. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interviews that can take place in person or remotely.

How do I apply? Do I need to submit a business plan?

You can apply through the Apply Tab. You don’t need to submit a business plan, just fill in the fields in the application form.

What types of companies can apply?

We are looking for innovative growth stage companies with compelling offerings in the areas of :
  • AI, Cognitive & Deep Learning
  • Content & Consumer Insights
  • Corporate Finance
  • Corporate Legal Practice
Additionally, if you have a great team, with a passion for-innovation, and a new product/ service with ability to impact the future of fast evolving M&E industry - we would love to receive your application.

How detailed does my idea need to be in the application?

In this initial application process, we ask applicants to describe the market opportunity, the team, the concept that you want to take forward and how you plan to execute it.

Is my age a factor in your selection process?

No, not at all.

Is there an equity stake component for participation in the program?

The program is free for the startups. Viacom18 does not commit any investment and is not affiliated with any investments arrangement made.

What guarantees can Viacom18 make to companies who get into the program?

Viacom18 will ensure that each pitch is duly evaluated by a dedicated team at Viacom18, supported by our partners Zone Startups. We'll support companies that are selected by providing expert mentorship, opportunity to develop a compelling POC and access to Viacom18’s extended network. You'll also have the collective resources of Zone Startups India, both during the program and afterwards.

Is a participating company's product or service guaranteed to be used by Viacom18?

No, there are no guarantees. It's entirely at Viacom18’s discretion as to whether or not we enter into any commercial arrangement with a participating company after the program.

How can I be sure that the information included in the application form are not shared with anybody else?

The information collected as a part of the application form is sourced to evaluate the startups and the offerings for the program. This information will be used by Zone Startups India and Viacom18 as a part of the selection process for the same. We take pride in our confidentiality policy.

Does Viacom18 provide travel and accommodation for the participants during the program?

Viacom18 will cover travel and accommodation up to a capped limit decided during the finalization of the POC

What kind of offerings/perks does the Startup benefit from during the program?

The key takeaways for the selected startups of the program include:
  • Opportunity to work with Viacom18 for a POC and build a strategic engagement
  • Access to Viacom18’s network and expertise to find your product/market fit
  • Dedicated access to onsite mentors & advisors including leadership team of Viacom18
  • Residency at the Viacom18/Zone Startups India during the course of the program
  • Access to industry experts through Zone Startups’ technology & mentorship networks

What is the duration of the program?

The Program timelines include:
  • Applications Window – 27th October - 26th November 2017
  • Pitch Day – Week of 11th December 2017
  • Bootcamp Stage – Week of 18th December 2017
  • Pilot Stage – December 2017 – February 2018
  • Final Demo Day – March 2018
Each pilot timeline will be decided based on mutual alignment between Viacom18 and the Startup during the bootcamp stage.

Where will the program be based out of?

This program will be based out of Mumbai, India.

Do I need to be on-site during the program?

No, you will not be required to be on-site throughout the program. However, a successful pilot will need a few in-person dedicated sessions with the BU Champions & Viacom18 mentors/leaders. Viacom18 shall strive to get the best support to all the selected startups -to ensure a successful pilot.

About Viacom18

Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd. is one of India's fastest growing entertainment networks and a house of iconic brands that offers multi-platform, multi-generational and multicultural brand experiences. A joint venture of Viacom Inc and the Network18 Group, Viacom18 defines entertainment in India by touching people on air, online, on ground, in shop and through its cinema.

About Zone Startups

Zone Startups is the global brand of technology accelerators and early stage venture funds, operated by Toronto-based Ryerson Futures Inc. Zone Startups operates its own startup accelerators, as well as, works with leading corporates in Canada and India, to set up and manage corporate accelerators and innovation programs. Zone Startups' programs are built on the pillars of validation, mentorship, industry connect and investor access.