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.


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

The VStEP First Class

The VStEP First Class was launched with 5 specific focus areas aimed at bringing innovative technology solutions to Viacom18 and help solve existing business challenges
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Areas of Focus

The VStEP Launch

VStEP Launched on 28th October in Mumbai with a grand event attended by more than 150 startups from Mumbai and Pune followed by roadshows in Delhi and Bangalore

The VStEP Pitch Day

12 brilliant startup were selected, after evaluating 200+ applications from across the country, to pitch to the senior leadership team at Viacom18. The founders also speed dated the Viacom18 leadership team 1:1

The VStEP Masterclasses

a novel mentorship program designed fully customized to the VStEP First Class portfolio of startups. Expert from Viacom18 and external startup eco-system engaged with startups on wide range of topics from fundraising essentials to business development with corporates.

The VStEP Demo Day

The D-day showcased the 7 high impact POCs the VStEP First Class startups built with multiple business units at Viacom18. The graduation ceremony concluded the VStEP First Class.

Success Stories

At Entropik Tech, our Emotion Intelligence platform Affectlab is intended to help Media Firms optimize content using Consumer's Emotional response to the media. Our engagement with Viacom18 through VStEP enabled us to learn the nuances of Media creation process and further look at the value proposition from the lens of Media Industry, thus arriving a crisp Product Market fit"
Ranjan Kumar (Founder & CEO, Entropik
“Working with Viacom18 during our Pilot was absolutely wonderful. The learnings and the cooperation we got from the teams led us to smoothly complete our pilots and reach to a point where we could implement our solutions. Under their guidance, we were able to shape our product in way that can be accepted by M&E Industry.”
Apurv Gandhwani (Co-founder, Tessact)
“VStEP is an excellent initiative to connect start-ups to Viacom18. It helped us in coordinating with all the stakeholders shortening our sales cycle and making us a long-term partner. The VStEP mentorship program was very helpful in giving us an insight on how corporates work and helping us understand the entire sales process across corporates. It also enabled us to understand the core areas of how to scale a start-up, through industry leaders.”
Prashant Gupta (Co-founder & CEO, Firmway)
“The VStEP program has been really productive for us. Working with professionals with deep experience in Media and Entertainment industry helped us understand the nuances of the industry and rene our solution to meet their business requirements. The program also involved workshops on various aspects of building a business which helped answer some critical questions for us. We are now looking forward to getting on-boarded as long term partners.”
Neerav Parekh (Founder & CEO, vPhrase)
“Viacom18's VStEP program for Startups has been a very unique experience for us at Karza Technologies. It helped us engage with the relevant teams across the Company, understand their problem statements and even get a go-ahead within 60 days. The team managing the program was helpful and result oriented which was something of utmost importance to us. Thanks to this program and the mentors, we are now exploring an entirely new market for our products. The program is a must-apply for all kinds of startups”
Gaurav Samdaria (Co-founder & CFO, Karza)


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.