How does NetApp Excellerator help startups ‘excel’ in their journey?
01/21/2021

How does NetApp Excellerator help startups ‘excel’ in their journey?

The pandemic has impacted several lives and business, but startups are especially feeling the pinch during this time. Startups are now trying to conserve cash or find alternative methods of cash flow. Some startups that work on new-age techs like AI and ML offer additional services to existing clients. This helps them generate cash. Similarly, several of them venture into the SaaS model to bring in some more revenue. Thus, they aim to aid their working capital management. However, B2B startups are faring relatively better despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Startups are now gaining some traction by participating in corporate accelerator programs. NetApp Excellerator is one such program that has been mentoring startups for almost 3 years. The program has recently onboarded its 7th cohort.

Read the story of the Excellator Program from Madhurima Agarwal, Leader, NetApp Excellerator and Director of Engineering Programs, NetApp. From how corporates and startups have joined hands to accelerate innovation in recent years, to how NetApp Excellerator helps startups to excel, Madhurima outlines the story of the program.

Describe the startups that have worked with NetApp Excellerator and highlight some of the successes of the startups from the previous cohorts.

As a global cloud-led, data-centric software company, NetApp through its Excellerator program aims to fuel innovation by partnering with startups that have a similar technology alignment. We foster deep-tech B2B startups that provide cutting edge solutions in the areas of cloud, AI, IoT, DevOps, Kubernetes, and data management. We have worked with over 40 startups across seven cohorts.

The success of our alumni is a testament to the value offerings of the NetApp Excellerator program. Over 70% of our startups have secured the next round of funding. Additionally, Adya, ArchSaber and VitaCloud have been acquired successfully. We have also seen startups from previous cohorts receive awards at prestigious events and forums. Just recently Securelyshare, CloudSEK, Myelin Foundry and Lightwing in 2020 received the Emerge 50 awards for the most innovative software products. SecurelyShare also won stage 2 of Nasscom’s DSCI grand challenge for the development of an automated system to enable privacy-preserving analytics and forensics. Instasafe was recognized by Gartner as a representative vendor for Zero Trust Network Access along with Senseforth named as the Gartner Cool Vendor in Conversational AI Platforms 2020.

What are the pain points in the current B2B startup landscape? What are the areas in which startups are looking for mentorship?

We started this program in 2017 to share our unique outlook in a landscape that was devoid of able mentorship for B2B deep-tech startups. Through NetApp Excellerator, we wanted to leverage our perspective and experience to mentor startups in the data domain and invest in solutions that will help enterprises through the new era of digital transformation.

The biggest challenge faced by B2B startups is access to customers and long closing sales cycles. While SaaS startups find it easier to reach a wider potential client base, being closer to a customer can cause scales to tip in favour of enterprise startups. Again, most enterprise startups face the challenge of proving their scalability to clients.

Funding in B2B has picked up in the past couple of years. We see a great interest in B2B especially B2C was the clear favourite. The recent NetApp Zinnov report highlighted the fact that B2B startups in 2019 received over $3.0 billion in equity funding. This is a 2X growth in average and median ticket size of funding as compared to the previous year.

Scalability to enterprise-grade brings its own set of product challenges and that’s one area where we are seeing a lot of demand for tech mentorship. Most of these startups are born in the cloud and not having a strong understanding and handle on cloud data security, migration and storage can cause performance to suffer. This is where NetApp mentors come in and share expertise to help startups find the right product-market fit.

What kind of training and mentorship does NetApp Excellerator provide to the startups?

NetApp Excellerator provides both technical as well as business mentorship to startups. The NetApp team, in collaboration with industry-renowned external mentors coaches the startups on cutting-edge technologies, platforms, tools, and business acumen. The startups also have access to top-class infrastructure. This includes NVIDIA DGX workstation at NetApp’s AI Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru. This workstation provides access to AI supercomputing power for deep learning at the convenience of a workspace. With the changing circumstances, the cohorts have evolved to become virtual in nature which only helped us strengthen the global outlook of the program as we see more participation from international startups. The program enables startups to experiment and tune their models, iterate faster, and deploy their work seamlessly. Additionally, we have also made our Cloud Volumes ONTAP license available to help optimize cloud storage costs and performance while enhancing data protection, security, and compliance.

The cohort duration also includes a mix of workshops involving coaching and mentoring as well as progress on the Proof of Concept (POC). We also create opportunities for them to increase visibility through various means such as webinars, conference participations, and one-on-one industry connects.

As a result, the startups can pivot and strengthen their technology solutions while becoming product-market fit. Meanwhile, they can also enhance the overall user experience. This creates significant business impact for them.

Describe NetApp Excellerator and highlight why/how it is the right program to help leapfrog a startup’s business

Simply put, NetApp Excellerator helps startups ‘excel’ in their journey. We are currently in our 7th cohort, set to graduate this month. Our program has been designed to help data-driven startups create revolutionary world-class products and solutions that are enterprise-grade and market-ready.

We help startups leapfrog their business in three ways – product innovation, customer insight and VC connect. As mentioned earlier, startups get global mentorship to build transformational products. Our experts also aid these startups in gaining insights into customer needs, understanding, and navigating through their requirements. The startups also train on how to effectively pitch their solutions to customers and investors. Through our vast investor connects, we enable startups to forge fruitful relationships with prominent VCs. These connections have had beneficial results for our alumni. After graduating, over 70% of the startups have secured follow-on funding.

We also provide the startups with a paid-for proof of concept (POC) opportunity. This enables them to generate revenue and validate their products before deploying them. With free access to NetApp infrastructure and licenses, the startups can test their products for a real-world scenario.

What are some challenges that you or the startups have faced in the duration of the program? How did you overcome the same?

Our program is demand-driven and is customized to the needs of the cohort; hence we don’t face many challenges. However, one challenge that we did face since the onset of the pandemic was adapting to a virtual system. There were fewer options to meet as a group. It wasn’t as easy to build the kind of connect that comes from an in-person meeting. Because, mostly in a virtual setting, it takes time for people to open up, to start working comfortably. However, we have adapted well to the virtual set up and seized the opportunity to onboard four international startups in our current cohort.

Can you highlight some of the interesting solutions that you have worked on/co-developed with the startups?

While we do not co-develop solutions, we have partnered with some of our startups to create joint offerings. E.g., we are working closely with one of our startups, ZScore, in the Australia market. Z-Score is doing some pioneering work around data-refining, to ensure that good data is separated from bad data. This is a critical need given the increasing dependency on data for making business-critical decisions.

We recently published a whitepaper with Curl Analytics, a graduate from cohort 5. The integration of NetApp® ONTAP® AI with the Paras AI solution from Curl Analytics unlocks an end-to-end AI value chain for users, resulting in time and cost efficiencies. This enables teams to build a deep learning solution in a couple of days rather than in a few months. It results in time savings by 15x for model development.

We are in touch with some of the early-stage startups we have mentored in our previous cohorts and we look forward to connecting with them when the time is right.

Blog Source: CIOL

NetApp Excellerator cohort 7 propels cloud-led innovations to the forefront

NetApp Excellerator cohort 7 propels cloud-led innovations to the forefront

NetApp has announced the completion of its seventh demo day for NetApp Excellerator, the company’s flagship startup accelerator program. The seven graduating startups are BlinkIn, Litmus Automation, CloudHedge, SynctacticAI, BrainSightAI, Arintra, and Sn126. These startups are set to disrupt technology in the areas of clinical AI, mental health, data management, edge computing, and remote customer service.

In keeping with the times, the cohort was managed virtually, which allowed four startups from around the globe to participate, giving this cohort a unique international flavour. Litmus Automation, CloudHedge, Arintra, and Sn126 are headquartered in the United States. A cloud specialist with a 27-year legacy of data, NetApp focuses on helping these startups pivot their technology and business models to benefit customers today as well as in the future.

Recent NetApp-Zinnov report highlighted the fact that 63% of the 4,200 Indian B2B technology startups work on enterprise technology for sectors like banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI), healthcare, retail, and automotive. SynctacticAI, a graduating startup, is a compelling testimony to the same fact. The company’s smart data science platform extracts insights from structured and unstructured data for verticals like fintech and retail. Similarly, CloudHedge uses artificial intelligence and machine learning, coupled with DevOps and cloud, to achieve enterprise-wide IT automation. The demo day offered the seven graduating startups the opportunity to showcase all these exciting technology solutions to their primary audiences – investors, customers, venture capitalists, and prominent leaders of the industry.

Speaking on the occasion, Ravi Chhabria, managing director, NetApp India, said, “This work with B2B startups applies our industry-leading expertise in data management to provide solutions that will help rewrite India’s economic roadmap, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic. This is an opportunity to develop new partnerships, new solutions, and new ways of working that are accelerating digital transformation. With access to our technology and business experience in hybrid cloud data management, the startups are better prepared to create a robust homegrown technology ecosystem. This is our inaugural batch of the initiative ExcellerateHER with two of our startups, Arintra and BrainSightAI, being led by women entrepreneurs. Both of these startups are highly relevant, with AI solutions applied to healthcare. From reducing clinical overload to providing advanced imaging and improving brain health, these women entrepreneurs are breaking into high impact areas.”

“This cohort is unique in multiple ways,” said Madhurima Agarwal, leader, NetApp Excellerator and director of Engineering Programs, NetApp. “After the success of a completely virtual program for the last cohort, we rode on the momentum for this batch as well. This has enabled participation from international startups, which has further validated the global outlook of the program. Our alumni partnerships continue to reap rewards. An alumnus startup, Kubesafe, is using our SnapMirror technology in the cloud to deliver Kubernetes backup and business continuity on AWS Marketplace and for on-premises deployments.”

The success of the alumni startups is a definite marker of the program’s effectiveness. Startups SecurelyShare, CloudSEK, Myelin Foundry, and Lightwing received the Emerge 50 awards for the most innovative software product companies. SecurelyShare also won the stage 2 of the Nasscom DSCI grand challenge for development of automated systems. InstaSafe was recognized by Gartner as a representative vendor for Zero Trust Network Access, and Senseforth was named as a Gartner Cool Vendor in Conversational AI Platforms 2020.

BlinkIn from the current cohort won the Global AI Startup Pitch contest at the Ignite Conference, Sweden. The startup was one among nine that participated in the contest during the Sweden Innovation Days.

Registration for the eighth cohort is now open for a 4-month program that offers a fully paid PoC, or an equity-free grant of $15,000. B2B technology startups with products in the areas of cloud, AI, IoT, DevOps, Kubernetes, and data management are invited to apply.

Blog Source: CRN, VAR India, Voice & Data, Technuter, CIO Axis, ELE Times, BISInfotech, India Education Diary, Business News This Week, Media Bulletins, Technology For You, Tech Street Now, Smart State India, NFA Post

NetApp Excellerator’s Cohort 7 startups to demonstrate what it takes to navigate change
01/13/2021

NetApp Excellerator’s Cohort 7 startups to demonstrate what it takes to navigate change

For SynctacticAI, a centralised data platform working towards democratising the use of data science, ML, and AI, 2020 was a defining year. The startup had its Beta launch in January. The pandemic struck soon after, which changed the whole scenario for the startup. Chethan Athreyas, Co-Founder, says, “From the very beginning we had one strategy – to build a domain-agnostic platform, because we believed that this would help us adapt to new opportunities. That said, we had solutions built for specific customer-centric and operation-centric use cases. When the pandemic struck, we were in discussion with potential customers from the travel and hospitality industry. However, soon after, many of those opportunities became non-existent and we saw a rebalancing of demand in the kind of use cases.” SynctacticAI adapted quickly to other industries like retail and financial services to make itself more relevant in the market.

Agility: The superpower

There are similar narratives from across the startup ecosystem. While the ecosystem did face the brunt of the crisis, it also emerged as the most resilient and adaptive sector by the end of the year.

Madhurima Agarwal, Leader, NetApp Excellerator, shares, “There were no existing playbooks from where the startups could learn a lesson or two. But, the startup ecosystem was quick on its feet. It was steadfast in overcoming the challenge of managing cash flow, reducing the burn, and remote working; even in a far-less cushioned environment. What stands out singularly is how startup agility suddenly became relevant more than ever before, and perhaps the most important growth driver.”

The year witnessed startups rethinking and revisiting their strategies and tapping into the opportunities that emerged even as the crisis was unfolding.

For instance, CloudHedge, a startup that enables enterprises to skip the lift and shift approach to cloud and to directly modernize their apps, tapped into the industry shift towards accelerated cloud adoption. For yet another startup, Sn126 – a platform that eliminates the need for humans to write tests by automatically learning test scenarios by observing the behaviours of existing software versions deployed in production; the acceleration towards the cloud also brought in new focus areas that led to new opportunities. Puneet Khanduri, Co-Founder and CEO, says, “While businesses which were previously reluctant to use SaaS products were demonstrating flexibility by opting for vendor-managed deployments, there was a greater focus on security.” He adds, “A recurring question from prospective customers was regarding data security. So rather than treating the customer’s security teams as an approver, we decided to turn them into a secondary user by creating fine-grained data observability and control mechanisms in our product.”

Navigating change and its growing relevance for the startup ecosystem

On January 20, the Demo Day of the seventh cohort of NetApp Excellerator – NetApp’s global startup accelerator program, will highlight how startups can steer through change and why this is relevant even more today as the ecosystem looks to move forward through the on-going global crisis.

The Demo Day will put the spotlight on three graduating startups viz.ing Sn126, SynctacticAI, and CloudHedge. The other four startups from the cohort are Litmus, Arintra, Blinkin, BrainSightAI. These seven startups that are fueling deep technology innovations, are the latest to undergo the four-month long business and technical mentorship program at NetApp. Of the seven startups, Brainsight and Arintra from the inaugural batch of ExcellerateHER – the Excellerator program inititaive dedicated to identify and recognize women entrepreneurs disrupting the technology space.

With ‘navigating change’ as the theme, the Demo Day will drive conversations on the need for change in a world where new developments continue to unfold at a fast pace.

2021: What’s on the startups’ agendas

SynctacticAI sees 2021 as the year for startups to deep dive into customer behaviour to get more users and customers and explore new markets. The startup believes that it will take a while for the market to stabilise; hence it will be pivotal for businesses to have multiple business models and be open to collaborate with large enterprises to keep the business moving forward.

CloudHedge is keeping a close watch on the opening up of other sectors after the reset and looking to further sharpen its sales strategies to accommodate opportunities in the HyperScales, e-commerce and telecom sectors. Sn126 will be focusing on increasing the breadth of languages and frameworks its products support to increase customer accessibility.

At the Demo Day, Sn126, CloudHedge and SynctacticAI, along with the four other startups part of the NetApp Excellerator Cohort 7, will deep dive into the possibility of DeepTech innovations, the opportunities that lay ahead and discuss what it will take for them to navigate change – a new normal constant.

Blog Source: YourStory

The 10 Hottest Industrial IoT Platforms Of 2020 – Litmus Edge
12/31/2020

The 10 Hottest Industrial IoT Platforms Of 2020 – Litmus Edge

Litmus Edge is an industrial edge platform for the collection, analysis, management and integration of industrial data from a variety of sources. The vendor, Litmus, said Edge is the only platform that can connect to “all industrial assets,” whether they be PLC, SCADA, MES, historians, ERP systems or sensors. This connectivity is provided out of the box, with no programming needed, thanks to pre-built and pre-loaded device drivers. The platform’s data capabilities include data processing, normalization and storage as well as the ability to easily share data between the edge and the cloud or with any enterprise system. The platform comes with several pre-built key performance indicators for things like asset utilization, asset uptime and downtime and capacity utilization, and it also supports real-time alerts based on pre-defined events. The platform includes an app marketplace that makes it easy to deploy and manage apps, whether they’re provided by Litmus or other parties.

Blog Source: CRN

From addressing mental health challenges to industrial IoT adoption, meet the 7 startups of NetApp Excellerator cohort 7 who are driving data-driven disruption
11/25/2020

From addressing mental health challenges to industrial IoT adoption, meet the 7 startups of NetApp Excellerator cohort 7 who are driving data-driven disruption

Since its inception in 2017, the NetApp Excellerator has become a key enabler for B2B startups in the areas of cloud, IoT, big data, and analytics, machine learning, virtualization, data security, data management, storage, and allied areas, looking to accelerate their journeys. Today, of the 35 startups which have graduated from the programme through six successive cohorts, more than 70 percent have successfully raised follow-on funding. With its fifth cohort in 2019, the programme opened up the opportunity for PoCs with NetApp. This resulted in nine impactful PoCs that enabled the startups to sharpen their offerings and also tap into bigger business opportunities. With a global reach, NetApp’s global startup program, NetApp Excellerator has been instrumental in fueling innovation in the DeepTech startup domain and further accelerating the growth and adoption of cutting-edge technologies.

“Today, more than ever before, businesses and organisations are witnessing the need to leverage cloud and data technologies as well as IoT, AI and ML, to develop long-term resilience to economic and societal changes and respond quickly to any sudden developments. To put it simply, today enterprises, governments and startups, understand the tremendous impact data-driven insights can bring,” shared Madhurima Agarwal, leader, NetApp Excellerator.

Earlier in July, NetApp announced the launch of NetApp ExcellerateHER – an accelerator programme for women entrepreneurs. It was announced that ExcellerateHER would run in parallel with the 7th cohort of NetApp Excellerator. And, of the seven startups part of cohort 7, two startups — Brainsight and Arintra — are part of ExcellerateHER. “We are excited about the start of yet another journey to create impact and showcase how diversity can propel the growth of deep tech in new directions.”

The cohort 7 will be the second cohort of NetApp Excellerator which is being executed virtually. While the four-month long business and technical mentorship programme is underway, here are more details of the seven startups that made it to cohort 7

Sn126

‘Software testing is hard. It takes 2.5 times the effort to write good tests than it does to write the code that needs to be tested. This prohibitive cost results in most software having poor coverage and software bugs constantly leaking into production,” shares Puneet Khanduri, Co-Founder and CEO, Sn126. He teamed up with his brother, Prashant Khanduri, to build Sn126 – a platform that eliminates the need for humans to write tests by automatically learning test scenarios by observing the behaviors of existing software versions deployed in production. The 2018-founded startup counts some of the biggest names in the industry as its clients, which includes companies like Twitter, Airbnb, Mixpanel, and Robinhood. The co-founders believe that the adoption of microservices and the growing aspiration to increase shipping velocity has significantly increased the risk of things breaking in production. “This creates a need for intelligent tools like ours that leverage machines to tackle problems that have scaled beyond the limits of manual human effort.”

SynctacticAI

SynctacticAI is a centralised data platform that is working towards democratising the use of data science, machine learning, and AI. Founded by Chethan K R and Ashish Koushik, the startup aims to empower citizen data scientists to contribute towards a company’s growth and build an overall data-driven culture powered through their platform. Founded in 2019, the startup counts Reckitt Benkiser, Grant Thornton LLP, Sports Mechanics, Conosh, Cube Monk among its key clients. Chethan, the Co-Founder, says, with SynctacticAI, organisations can obtain and deploy AI models in days, without relying on data scientists in the process. “SynctacticAI does not require any data preparation, engineering or prepossessing – it connects directly to raw data, and uses neural networks to automate the entire predictive process,” adds Chethan.

Litmus

Today several companies deploying an IoT solution are stuck in “pilot purgatory” for up to two years. Pilot purgatory happens primarily for one of the following reasons: deployment is slow and expensive, factory systems and data are complex, and/or the project lacks clear ROI. Founded in 2014 by Vatsal Shah, John Younes and Sacha Sawaya, Litmus solves all of these challenges. With more than 250 pre-built drivers, Litmus Edge connects to every data source to provide a complete data picture for Industry 4.0 use cases ranging from Smart Manufacturing to Industrial IoT and Machine Learning. From device health monitoring, to device deployment and configuration, to data and marketplace application orchestration – Litmus Edge Manager reduces device lifecycle management complexity. Today, Litmus powers IoT initiatives of a number of Fortune 500 companies including Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi.

Arintra

Physician-burnout is a fundamental problem in US healthcare costing the healthcare industry $4.6 billion annually. “Physicians are spending nearly 50 percent of their day on administrative and documentation tasks rather than on patient care.” explains Nitesh Shroff, CEO and co-founder of US-based Arintra. Teaming up in 2019 with Preeti Bhargava, fellow PhD from University of Maryland, the two designed Arintra, an AI-based ready-to-integrate solution that enables clinical and automated patient intake, faster chart review, and automated billable EMR notes. “Arintra’s medical AI increases the efficiency of medical consultations by: i) Asking medically relevant questions during patient intake, ii) Generates a summarized patient chart taking his/her medical history from across the EHRs and from today’s intake questions. iii) Generates automated EMR notes pre-populated with right billable codes. In effect, Arintra saves upto three hours everyday for the physicians. Arintra is integrated with several prominent EHRs and also has very robust medical APIs that can be used by other health-tech companies,” explains Preeti.

Blinkin Technologies

Founded in 2019 by a team of serial entrepreneurs and deep-domain experts, Harshwardhan Kumar, Dhiraj Choudhary, and Josef Süß, BlinkIn is empowering support engineers to deliver exceptional tech support anywhere, everytime. BlinkIn is an omni-channel platform, where users can chat, talk, and video call without having to download an app download or register on any platform. It also supports frictionless switching between live, synchronous and asynchronous channels. “BlinkIn will revolutionise the customer support domain by providing the first intelligent visual support solution powered by artificial intelligence and augmented reality,” says Dhiraj, the Co-founder and COO. He adds, “What makes BlinkIn different is that BlinkIn’s visual bots help to analyse a problem, guide people using AI and AR capabilities through the problem resolution, and visually validate and document the undertaken actions.” Blinkin is being leveraged by companies such as L&T Defence, Tata Steel and Wilo, with several other companies such as Skanray, and Huber & Ranner running pilots.

BrainSightAI

Founded by Dr Rimjhim Agrawal, a Ph.D holder in machine learning, neuroimaging, and psychiatry and one of the few people globally with expertise in the three key areas, and Laina Emmanuel, an industry expert in healthcare management, policy, and consulting, BrainSightAI is bringing artificial intelligence to neuroscience to enable greater precision in neurological and psychiatric investigation for accelerated patient outcomes.

The startup currently provides two AI-based solutions -Voxelbox and Snowdrop. Voxelbox provides clinicians with access to a world-class resting-state fMRI processing engine and machine-learning models for generating reports to aid clinical decision making. Snowdrop is a patient care app that enables compliance with treatment schedule and builds a holistic patient profile between visits with reports triangulated from patients, caregivers, and their AI engine. “Today at BrainSightAI we are working towards addressing one of the most fundamental problems in mental health – how does one form a complete picture of a mental health issue, including both the psychosocial and the neurobiological aspects,” shares Laina.

CloudHedge Technologies

While working on enterprise applications and their deployment on cloud, Abhijit Joshi, Sameer Karmarkar and Ameya Varade realised a lot of processes can be automated. “We also realised that there is a bigger challenge for enterprises. Over 80 percent of apps were still in data centers and business owners were looking to reduce their TCO while wanting them to be agile and scalable. Incidentally, that is when Docker and Kubernetes were portrayed as the future,” shares Abhijit, who is the co-founder and CEO of CloudHedge. The team then came together to start CloudHedge in 2018. “CloudHedge is the first and the only tool in the list of second-gen migration or modernisation set of tools. It enables enterprises to skip the lift and shift approach to cloud and directly modernize the apps through its patented and automated tools – Discover™, Transform™, and Cruize™,” explains Abhijit. CloudHedge’s tools discover and analyse applications for cloud readiness, and provide actionable insights and recommendations for CXOs and practitioners, thus making the journey highly predictable and efficient. Using machine learning, CloudHedge automates the applications assessment, transformation, and deployment on k8s within hours and days instead of months.”

A B2B accelerator programme with access to domain experts and business opportunities

The seven startups are excited about their induction into NetApp’s global startup programme.

Sn126’s Puneet Khanduri shares, “The programme is unique in how it provides individual attention to small cohorts. In addition to providing access to NetApp’s technical expertise, the programme opens up customer access by leveraging NetApp’s existing enterprise sales ecosystem. As a startup, lead generation and go-to-market are really hard problems to solve and partners like NetApp Excellerator can help make this part of the journey easier.” A thought that is shared by Litmus’ John Younes and Arintra’s Nitesh Shroff who say, “NetApp Excellerator is the only accelerator programme that is designed to help B2B startups with joint GTM, fine tuning their sales strategy and helping with customer and industry connections.”

For others, the domain expertise of NetApp is unmatched. Chethan from SynctacticAI says, “The NetApp Excellerator has a unique structure which focuses on the needs of data startups. We believe that it is very important to work with a company that understands the domain you are in. And, we couldn’t have found anyone else better than NetApp.” Having worked with NetApp in 2007, BrainSightAI’s Laina Emmanuel shares, “I understand the in-depth technical knowledge that the team here has. I think one of the prime reasons we applied to Netapp Excellerator was to be able to interact with highly-skilled engineers who can help us get high-performance computing to hospitals.” Early this year in July, NetApp also announced the launch of NetApp ExcellerateHER, an exclusive accelerator programme for women-founded startups where the selections would be made based on the common applications that the programme received. And, BriansightAI is among the first startups to be selected. Laina says , “I haven’t had the chance to interact with many women tech-founders. I have interacted with a lot of them in senior positions in established companies. But I think as startup founders, you are quite isolated from each other. I am super excited about being able to be a part of this programme, and learn from other women mentors.”

Blog Source: YourStory

How vanishing virtual boundaries are powering cross-border innovation
11/21/2020

How vanishing virtual boundaries are powering cross-border innovation

At Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020, panellists said global interest in Indian innovation was growing also because of the quality of startups coming out of India.

Over the years, the Bengaluru Tech Summit has played a key role in furthering Bengaluru’s position as one of the most sought-after tech destinations in the country. The roots of the event can be traced back to 1998 when Bengaluru became the first city in the country to host an IT event, followed by a Biotech event in the year 2001. These annual events finally merged in 2017 to become the Bengaluru Tech Summit as we know it today.

In its first-ever virtual edition, the event is hosting participants from more than 25 countries who will participate and attend several informative sessions, fireside chats and panel discussions on the issues that are impacting India and the world today.

In the context of a world where technology is the lifeline of every aspect of our lives, and with virtual borders blurring, cross-border collaboration and innovation is more significant than ever. The competitive advantage will go to firms that are able to out-innovate the competition. Companies will have to continually innovate, find new ways of doing what they do today to surge ahead. The importance of inter‐regional co-operation will be the catalyst for development.

Collaboration to solve the world’s challenges

This was in focus on Day 3 of the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020, during a fireside chat and panel discussion titled “A Global Perspective – Bridging Cross-Border Innovation Hubs”. The former was a discussion between Barrett Parkman, Director of Startup and VC Ecosystem, Samsung Catalyst Fund and Co-Managing Director, Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), Dr Madanmohan Rao, Research Director, YourStory.

Addressing the need for greater collaboration and how XTC is bridging that gap, Barrett said, “Today, the challenges that we’re facing as humanity are global in nature. The entrepreneurs who are setting out with innovative ideas to solve these challenges are global as well. However, resources are not evenly distributed So XTC serves to fill that gap by providing connections to investors, senior executives, and leading corporations, to help startups gain visibility, raise capital, get world class mentorship and position launch collaborations with large corporations.”

He said that 2020 XTC finalists, whose names were announced in May this year, had already raised over $50 million since being selected and that much of the funding had come from XTC judges and partners alone. “And all this is in the midst of a pandemic. So it’s very clear that cross-border knowledge and resource transfer is very crucial to enable startups to address global challenges globally.”

Barrett said that the nature of investing had also changed. “Venture capitalists often only invest within a short radius of their office, as they want to be able to fully support their founders. This made capital less available to those outside of those core tech centres. This further contributed to disparity in the availability of capital.”

He said that the pandemic and the increasing ubiquity of virtual meetings posed advantages and challenges. “Meeting a founder next door is not that different from meeting a founder on the other side of the planet. So I think this is challenging the traditional thinking of many VCs, I mean, no doubt, many VCs will continue their traditional thought, but at the same time, I think I see many VCs looking beyond their typical geographic focus,” he added.

The downside he felt was the difficulty in building virtual relationships. ”It’s easy to work on a project together and have an initial meeting, but virtual meetings were not the best platform to build really close relationships.”

He added that programmes like XTC facilitated relationships that could give greater credibility to entrepreneurs, and helped build connections between startups and leading local and global investors and corporations.

The evolving face of Indian innovation

The second part of the event saw Madhurima Agarwal, Director – Engineering Programmes and Leader, NetApp Excellerator; Julian Zix, Project Lead German Indian Startup Exchange Programme (GINSEP); and Smita Malipatil, CEO, IndiVillage, in conversation with Vishal Krishna, Business Editor, YourStory.

Smita, whose organisation is a leading provider of training data solutions for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning companies, with talent hired from rural India, said that while the pandemic had brought challenges, it also made us realise that the greatest problems that we have are actually best solved as a collective.

“Everybody from organisations to governments are having to reinvent themselves. When you look at innovation today it’s happening at an unprecedented level of connectedness, to the point where cross-border innovation has become a norm. It’s safe to say that the next normal is really cross-border innovation. All virtual boundaries have fallen, because the physical boundaries are so large now. When you can’t physically move you need to have cross border innovation,” she explained.

Madhurima said that global interest in Indian innovation was growing not only because of the number of startups, but also the quality of startups that we have seen coming out of India in the recent years. “Earlier, India was largely known for its B2C startups. Now there’s a lot of stuff that’s happening on the B2B side. In fact, of the 35 odd startups that have been part of our programme, most if not all, have gone on to global markets because they have a tech product.” She agreed that borders don’t really mean anything in the digital world.

“There’s so much focus on diversity, so why not cross-border diversity in the regions where these startups come from because it brings a different mindset, which ends up adding value for everyone,” she said.

Her opinion was echoed by Julian, who said that the world’s demand for India was growing. He said that since its inception three years ago, GINSEP has been working to strengthen economic ties between Germany and India.

“While Germany is known for its big corporations, the backbone of the German economy is the mittelstand (small and medium-sized enterprises) who are realising the importance of digitisation. This is where we will see Indian digital solutions from Indian startups play a bigger role. They are all over the world now. More Indian startups are coming over here, to either set up an office or even do business directly from India,” she explained.

Banking on ‘people capital’

Speaking about India’s key position on the global platform, Julian said, “When it comes to cross-border innovation, digital transformation has taken centre stage all across the world. It is no secret that you have fantastic talent in India and they are taking over worldwide.

Smita said that India’s advantage was its ‘people capital’. “We work with some of the leading tech companies, and employ rural people, and are working towards empowering women and children. More educated people are coming out of rural areas, and they move to cities and search for jobs. When the world sends work to India, what they haven’t really realised is they’re actually sending work to people who come from Tier II and Tier III towns.”

She also said that with many people moving back home during the pandemic, it was not only the local economies that were benefitting, but there was a cultural shift that was happening with mindsets changing and greater opportunities for women to participate in the formal economy.

Julian said that he was excited about working beyond the big cities in India, and seeing software hubs emerge in smaller towns. “Unfortunately, many are not well funded, and I have seen entrepreneurs working out of their cars, and I have been really impressed. They need the facilities and the support of fantastic excelerators like NetApp to give them a helping hand and to support them.”

“India’s strength lies in our software development hubs,” agreed Madhurima, adding, “I’ve seen global startups which have reached a certain maturity. They’re all coming to India and opening their coding centres or R&D centres in India. Every other row house or villa you see is actually an office for a global startup that people are sitting in and coding.The talent is available. It’s quality talent at a competitive cost, which makes a huge difference.”

Speaking about the way ahead, Smita said, “We have to focus on opportunity over outcomes. We have a real chance to be a leader in innovation. We’ve got exceptional research facilities, we’ve got great talent. This opportunity needs constant attention. It needs a policy framework and a culture that is open to global collaboration.”

Blog Source: YourStory

Gartner recognizes Senseforth.ai as Cool Vendor
11/18/2020

Gartner recognizes Senseforth.ai as Cool Vendor

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India – Business Wire India

Senseforth.ai, a leader in Conversational AI technology, has been named a Cool Vendor in Conversational AI Platforms 2020 by Gartner. The “Cool Vendor” status denotes a start-up that provides innovative, impactful, and intriguing solutions/products to empower users and fuel business growth.

Senseforth.ai has created a distinct identity with its unique approach to natural language understanding (NLU) and intent identification that simplifies bot building, improves accuracy, and reduces response time significantly. Intents are purposes or goals that customers express through their inputs. Senseforth.ai trains intents separately from entities to get a precise understanding of user intentions and map them onto relevant responses quickly and accurately. This has enabled the company to achieve industry-leading accuracy of over 96%.

“We are thrilled to be named a Cool Vendor in Conversational AI Platforms by Gartner, as we believe it reinforces our mission to build world-class Conversational AI solutions aimed at driving revenue growth,” says Shridhar Marri, CEO & Co-founder of Senseforth Inc. “This recognition further cements our position as a leader in Conversational AI technology.”

Senseforth.ai has been helping global enterprises increase revenue with AI-powered bots that address queries, resolve issues, perform tasks, make product recommendations, and even provide meaningful insights.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently granted Senseforth Inc. a US patent for its Conversational AI algorithms. Senseforth.ai has also won several prestigious awards including the ‘Most Innovative Product’ by Netapp,’ The AI Product of the Year 2018’ award by Frost & Sullivan, ‘India Emerging 20 Companies Award’ by London & Partners, and ‘Game Changer Awards’ by NASSCOM. Senseforth.ai is the only Conversational AI start-up to be featured in the top-10 of the Stanford Question Answering Dataset 2.0 (SQuAD 2.0), one of the world’s most authoritative machine reading comprehension (MRC) benchmarks.

Disclaimer: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

About Senseforth

Senseforth.ai builds turnkey, competitive Conversational AI, and chatbot solutions that help organizations automate conversations at scale between customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Trusted by 40+ leading brands in the US, Europe, and Asia, Senseforth.ai has 100+ live enterprise deployments handling millions of conversations every month. For more information: www.senseforth.ai/

Blog Source: LiveMint

A symbiotic relationship: Startups give even as they take
11/05/2020

A symbiotic relationship: Startups give even as they take

While reaping benefits from tie-ups with big firms, startups help reduce the former’s overheads as they find solutions to niche problem

By Srinath Srinivasan

Over the years India has seen large enterprises accelerating startups in cohorts, which solve niche problems and eventually get funded or acquired by some of the large entities. While these successful startups get the stamp of credibility that the market demands, they add great value to the large enterprises which have chosen them or work with them for the long term. In short, startups add value to large companies in their digital transformation journeys.

“Digital transformation is central to every large enterprise’s core strategy,” says Madhurima Agarwal, director and leader, NetApp Excellerator. “As large enterprises make extensive investments there is a clear preference for use of Big Data, analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) to protect existing business and find new growth strategies. Startups have proven to be a key enabler of digitalisation goals of large enterprises.”

A recent Zinnov-Netapp report suggests that by 2023, global digital engineering and R&D spends will touch $750 billion, with startups and tech giants as key drivers.

Currently, startups cover a range of capabilities from data analytics to AI in the digital world. As per the report, in the BFSI value chain alone, 90% of AI infusion use cases that startups are involved in are across operations, products and services. Several operate on the sales and marketing sides as well where the major chunk of the work is digital and metric driven. Similarly, mobility, healthcare, logistics and manufacturing industries have strong AI infusion.
“The Indian B2B technology startup ecosystem is growing rapidly. Not only do they constitute 44% of the total base, 43% of all Indian unicorns are B2B. The fact that three of seven unicorns in 2020 (YTD) are B2B startups reflects the rapidly maturing ecosystem,” says Agarwal.

A good digital infrastructure and a collaboration model between large enterprises and startups stand as key pillars for this growth. New-age infrastructure with hybrid clouds and powerful cloud-based processors play a major role in breaking the data silos. As a result, various use cases involving various data points could be efficiently brought together. While CIOs, CTOs are constantly working towards bettering this, the business folks around the world are experimenting with the collaboration models.

“We partner with startups to create joint offerings. We recently published a whitepaper with Curl Analytics. One of its solutions, Paras, an automated ML engine, was deployed at our AI Centre of Excellence in the Bengaluru campus. The integration of our data management software ONTAP with the Paras AI solution unlocked an end-to-end AI value chain for users, resulting in cost savings of above 80% over the cost of standard AI development and execution,” she adds.

Platform evangelisation, license or vendor agreement, joint go-to-market, co-innovate, equity investment and acquisitions are most popular. According to the report, ecosystem outreach, accelerator, partner program, corporate VC, mergers and acquisitions are the ways that technology corporations approach the above models. In 2019, there were 170+ unique corporates (12-15 y-o-y increase), 90+ investments (up 15% from 2018), 40+ mergers & acquisitions and over 60 open innovations, says Aggarwal.

The startup-corporate relationship needs several iterations to make it a suc- cessful partnership. Both the parties are on a steep learning curve, discovering hidden potential. “Large corporations tend to be complex and most of the times, departments operate in silos. With scarce budgets spread across multiple functions, it is challenging to paint the bigger picture that can drive ROI. Our strength has been the ability to engage across the enterprise to deliver an upfront ROI in just a couple of days,” says Suman Singh, CEO, CyborgIntell.

Enterprise leaders today expect the same speed of execution and reliability as what they experience as individual consumers, says Praphul Chandra, founder, KoineArth. “The appetite for custom projects which require large capital expenditure and months to deploy is low. Enterprises want ready-to-use solutions for which they can pay as they go. This is where they look at startups,” he says.

Different paces of working is a major pain point when two organisations of different sizes partner. According to Agarwal, a dedicated team with experience across both large organisations and startups can best resolve this.

Blog Source: Financial Express

11 startup incubators every innovator and founder should know about

11 startup incubators every innovator and founder should know about

It is close to impossible to launch a startup singlehandedly. Startup incubators can give your idea or startup the right support including finances and expert advice for a headstart. Here are 11 startup incubators every innovator and founder should know about.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Startup incubators help your startup idea get off the ground.
  • Startup programme help early-stage startup founders understand the whole process.
  • Incubators also provide essential resources like office space, mentorship, starting capital, legal guidance, etc.

Does your startup need a headstart to get off the ground? Ecosystems like startup incubators provide closed support mechanisms for founders to build their ventures rapidly with support from expert mentors and advisors.

True to their name, such programmes are built to insulate early-stage founders from market forces, while providing essential resources that typically include office space, mentorship, starting capital, legal guidance, etc.

Most importantly, incubation programmes offer networking and knowledge-sharing so that founders know what they are getting into and how they can engineer their startups for success.

India, as a rapidly emerging startup ecosystem, is home to several such startup incubators that each offers their own set of resources, network connections, and infrastructure. One of the major parts of an incubator’s offerings is effective mentorship; a guiding hand that nudges you and keeps you on the right track.

Most incubators in India too are characterized by strong mentor pools, and programmes to support founders in navigating the slopes of forming and running a modern-day startup. Some cater to multiple domains, others are focused on specific industries to help drive growth in niche groups, and all incubators are united with the objective of turning seed-stage startups into effective businesses.

We’ve put together a list of some of the top startup incubators in India that every early-stage founder and innovator should be aware of:

Electropreneur Park

Inaugurated and launched in 2016, the incubator Electropreneur Park (EP), Delhi, is managed by Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). Its partners are Delhi University and India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), to nurture ESDM (Electronics System Development and Maintenance) startups in India.
EP has completed six batches of incubation, with 32 graduated startups, and an additional eight startups mentored in other programmes.

Techstars

Having invested in more than 2,300 companies, Techstars is one of North America’s largest investors, with a track record of providing market leaders such as Sendgrid, PillPack, Classpass, Digital Ocean, and Salesloft with the tools to build hyper-scale businesses.
In their upcoming 2021 programme, Techstars Bangalore is going to provide 10 outstanding companies from South Asia with the tools and network to become market leaders in North America.

Supreme Incubator

Supreme Incubator has been active in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the past 2 years, organizing regular events and mentorship meetups.
With their Summer cohort, the programme has transitioned to a fully digital model where the 30 selected founders now get together on regular video calls to share progress, meet mentors or join workshops.
The mission is to make India the hub for entrepreneurial support, and for founders in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities to get the same level of networking and support opportunities as their counterparts in metro cities.
The programme of SI has received great reach with over 100 applications in the first cohort (Winter 2020) and 350+ applications in the second cohort (Summer 2020), currently, more than 700 entrepreneurs have applied to the programme.

Brigade REAP

Since its inception in 2016, Brigade REAP has been at the forefront of articulating the industry’s pressing problems and bridging the solutions gap by connecting with startups addressing those issues.
The accelerator has so far mentored 30 startups, of which 12 have received external funding. This includes startups like QwikSpec, Snaptrude, WEGoT, AKP, PParke, Renewate, Clairco, CREMatrix, PropsAMC, Exprs, Nanorama and PropVR.
The startups have won the confidence of top investors such as Accel Partners, HDFC Capital, GoFrugal, Pidilite, Better Capital, Angel List, Brigade Enterprises, besides architects, developers, and angel investors such as Mohandas Pai.

Hubli Sandbox

The Hubli Sandbox in Hubballi, India is an ecosystem launched by Deshpande Foundation that supports mission-driven individuals to come up with sustainable and scalable enterprises having a social and economic impact.
It’s a co-creation of Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Indian American venture capitalist and entrepreneur, and his wife.
Hubli Sandbox runs many programmes in the areas of education, student leadership, agriculture, micro-entrepreneurship, and maternal health.

NetApp Excellerator

NetApp Excellerator is NetApp’s global start-up programme that aims to fuel innovation by partnering with deep-tech start-ups.
Founded in 1992, NetApp specializes in helping its customers get the most out of their data with industry-leading cloud data services, storage systems, and software.

Indigram Labs Foundation (ILF)

One of the Key USPs of Indigram Labs is its host institution: Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP) which has set-up more than 1,800 agritech ventures through its ACABC programme and is currently promoting 250 FPOs.
The years of experience that ISAP brings with it helps shape the journey of agri-entrepreneurs through Indigram Labs even further.
At present, the company is incubating 15 companies and accelerating three more. The duration of the incubation period ranges from three to five years.

Catalyst by Societe Generale

Offering global exposure and mentorship, Catalyst, a 12-week innovation programme from Societe Generale’s global solution centre in India (SG GSC), is an incubation centre for enterprise-relevant fintech startups to co-create solutions along with business leaders for the future-ready and customer-focused bank.
Having completed six editions, the seventh edition of the challenge has identified 396 challenges from across Societe Generale’s units in India, Europe, and Africa.

NSRCEL by IIMB

With programmes specifically catering to entrepreneurs with profit ventures and social ventures, also student and women entrepreneurs, NSRCEL offers its support to various players of the startup ecosystem.
NSRCEL brings together startups, industry mentors, eminent academicians from its parent institution Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and researchers who thrive on continuous interaction of theory and practice.
NSRCEL is also the first incubator with a programme tailored for social entrepreneurs and their unique challenges.

INVENT

Innovative Ventures and Technologies for Development (INVENT) is a joint collaboration of the Technology Development Board (TDB), Government of India and the Department of International Development (DFID), Government of the United Kingdom.
INVENT aims to make a positive social impact by providing incubation support to technology-oriented start-ups.

IAMAI

Industry body IAMAI has launched the country’s first virtual incubator for short and mid-term needs of technology-related startups arising amid the global pandemic situation.
The primary function of the virtual incubator is to address the needs of the start-ups located outside the major cities of Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, and Kolkata, the Internet and Mobile Association of India stated.
The programme will be virtually accessible and will provide state-of-the-art incubation services to every Indian startup and enable them to charter their success stories.
It will entail close supervision by the dedicated mentors from the relevant industry for multiple cohorts that would be created based on the domain, sectors, and the progress of the startups.

Blog Source: India Today

[TechSparks 2020] MAKERS India track highlights: Increasing diversity in India’s workforce and narrowing the investment gap
11/03/2020

[TechSparks 2020] MAKERS India track highlights: Increasing diversity in India’s workforce and narrowing the investment gap

Here are the key highlights from the four roundtables that took place under the MAKERS India track at TechSparks 2020.

After five days of invigorating keynote speeches, fireside chats, panel discussions, and masterclasses, YourStory’s flagship startup-tech summit TechSparks 2020 has come to an end. MAKERS India, the digital media platform building a community that empowers women to succeed in the workforce, participated in TechSparks 2020’s first virtual edition.

Topics such as investment disparity, lack of women in tech entrepreneurship, women in leadership, and acing the work-life harmony were discussed at length by industry leaders.

Here are the key highlights from the four roundtables that took place under the MAKERS India track at TechSparks 2020.

Narrowing the investment disparity gap

The first roundtable was held on the topic ‘Narrowing the investment disparity gap’. The panellists were Shilpa Kumar, Partner at Omidyar Network India; Deepthi Ravula, CEO of WE Hub; Preksha Kaparwan, Co-founder and CMO, Alphaa AI; and Geetha Manjunath, Founder and CEO, Niramai Health Analytix.

The speakers discussed factors that have contributed towards widening the disparity between male and female founders when it comes to raising capital for their respective businesses, and the measures that can bridge the gap.

Doubling down on diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Next up was the pertinent issue of ‘Doubling down on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.’ The concept of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at workplaces has been around for decades now, but its implementation is still questionable, even in the biggest corporates. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way we work, it has become even more imperative for employers to be equitable by respecting their employees’ unique needs, perspectives, and potential.

To discuss this further, the MAKERS India roundtable gathered eminent speakers such as Tina Vinod, Head – Diversity, Inclusion and Social Change at ThoughtWorks India; Anannya Parekh, Founder and CEO, Inner Goddess and the Big Sister Programme; Sujith Kumar, AVP and HR Business Leader, Infosys Ltd; and Lianna Brinded, Head of Yahoo Finance UK and Global Lead of PACE Employee Programme, Verizon Media.

Unlocking the power of women in tech

Another topic that was widely discussed was the representation of women in tech. While an increasing number of young women are joining the tech workforce, the middle and senior management level is still largely dominated by men.

To discuss this critical issue, a roundtable on ‘Unlocking the power of women in tech’ was hosted by MAKERS India with senior ecosystem leaders such as Maggie Inbamuthiah, Managing Director at AnitaB.org India; Prashanti Bodugum, Vice President, Technology and Chennai Center Head, Walmart Global Tech; and Sheenam Ohrie, Dell Digital and APJ CIO Leader, Dell Technologies. The session was moderated by Madhurima Agarwal, Director – Engineering Programmes and Leader – NetApp Excellerator, NetApp.

Women building for women

MAKERS India concluded with a power-packed roundtable on ‘Women building for women.’ Swati Bhargava, Co-Founder, CashKaro and EarnKaro; Neha Bagaria, CEO and Founder, JobsForHer; and Ghazal Alagh, Co-Founder, Mamaearth broke down the reasons why India’s economy lacks female participation.

Blog Source: YourStory

Experts Weigh in on Unlocking the Power of Women in Tech at MAKERS India Roundtable
11/02/2020

Experts Weigh in on Unlocking the Power of Women in Tech at MAKERS India Roundtable

While there’s a lot of conversation around women in tech, there are major hurdles that prevent them from reaching their pinnacle of success. At the entry level, there is an increasing population of young women joining the tech workforce, but the middle and senior management level is still largely dominated by men.

To discuss this critical issue, a roundtable on ‘Unlocking the power of women in tech’ was hosted by MAKERS India at YourStory’s TechSparks 2020, conducted virtually last week.

The speakers were Maggie Inbamuthiah, Managing Director at AnitaB.org India; Prashanti Bodugum, Vice President, Technology and Chennai Center Head, Walmart Global Tech; and Sheenam Ohrie, Dell Digital & APJ CIO Leader, Dell Technologies. The session was moderated by Madhurima Agarwal, Director – Engineering Programs and Leader – NetApp Excellerator, NetApp.

Focus on ‘returnship’ programs for women

Although several corporates offer programs for women to return to workforce after a break in their careers, it often becomes mere tokenism. At other times, it doesn’t really cover the women workforce in the middle and senior levels.

However, Sheenam pointed out that this is a serious agenda at Dell and several other organisations today that are trying to enhance the senior leadership levels for women.

“Earlier this year, we introduced our 2030 Moonshot Goal, which spoke about how by 2030, we would have at least 50% of our workforce as women, and 40% of our leadership would be women. That also means that the middle management and the layer of women leaders that are getting into the executive level have to be focused on,” she shared.

Dell also runs specific programs for women managers, and those who want to get into the technical side. “One program – called Rise- is focused on middle management women leaders who are talented and those who we think can fit into executive roles. This is a program that enables them to understand themselves, challenge their own biases and get them prepared for much bigger opportunities,” Sheenam added.

On ensuring diversity at the grassroots level

The need of the hour is to encourage young girls and women at the grassroots level to come forward and be a part of the tech workforce. According to Prashanti, slowly and steadily, the situation is changing.

“It is actually very encouraging to see a lot of young girls coming from smaller towns, completing their engineering degree, and bagging campus placements. When we start the careers of young girls today, we almost see a 50-50 ratio of girls joining these programs. What is heartening to see on their faces is a sense of achievement, a self-empowered financial freedom, and a strong aspiration to define their life goals. It’s very gratifying, because young girls seem to have a greater purpose,” she added. However, she also mentioned that life skills are lacking for them.

Maggie, on the other hand, shared that there is a lack of direction and exposure in girls that needs to be addressed. “They really need to hold on to their aspirations in spite of social expectations. Next, they need to reach out and network to turn those aspirations into achievable goals, and then have confidence and the presentation skills to get that and really make a mark,” she added.

Tackling unconscious bias

Prashanti believes these are very deeply embedded systemic biases which influence our own thinking. “I would have had the easiest maternity process and it’s not fair for me to think that why does someone require a longer leave? They might require more medical attention. I think it starts from us, we unconsciously discriminate between women, and between women and men. The need of the hour is to create a workplace that values difference. The best way to do it is to understand boundaries, use affirmative language, stay connected, build a safety net, and be inclusive, because all this creates a foundation, and once you establish that, it is going to be helpful for women to be aware of the biases, and focus on the action,” she shared.

Maggie added, “There is a wiring difference for sure, and I feel the way women look at a business perspective differs from the way men do. I think the difference is good because it helps us look at it in a more holistic way; women are able to look at the relationship aspect between things, and how the solution can be sustainable.”

A word of advice

Wrapping up this insightful discussion, the three women leaders shared a word of advice, based on their experiences.

“There is a trait that women have – we keep asking, are we good enough? We constantly have the guilt factor. And I think the problem is we think our first deliverable has to be picture perfect. My advice is to let go of a bad bias, let go of the guilt. Striking a balance is important; at the end of the day, being happy with your choices is all that matters,” Sheenam said.

Prashanti shared an advice which was given by one of her mentors when she started her career long ago. “No role is too big or too small, just find the relevance of what you are trying to solve, and the passion will follow,” she noted.

Lastly, Maggie ended the panel discussion with a great thought to reflect upon. “Growing up, many of us would have seen mothers and neighbourhood aunts talk about things every evening. I think it is inbuilt in us as a community to draw support from each other. I feel it is important to never underestimate that, and focus on building a network,” she said, signing off.

Blog Source: MAKERS India

Startups recovering faster than expected, says COVID-19 and Antifragility of Indian Startup Ecosystem report
10/14/2020

Startups recovering faster than expected, says COVID-19 and Antifragility of Indian Startup Ecosystem report

  • India’s startup ecosystem already has seven new Unicorns in 2020, with 4 of these reaching the unicorn status amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Digitally-led segments are witnessing strong growth as COVID-induced lockdowns are lifted.
  • Investor interest is quickly getting back to pre-COVID levels.

At the start of 2020, the Indian startup ecosystem was growing rapidly on the back of spectacular growth in 2019. However, COVID-19 jolted the startup ecosystem across dimensions and the impact was severe during the lockdown period from March to June 2020. There was a dip in overall funding by 50 percent during the lockdown as compared to pre-COVID levels, and around 40 percent of start-ups were negatively impacted. The lockdown even led to 15 percent startups discontinuing operations.

A report titled, “COVID-19 and the Antifragility of Indian Startup Ecosystem”, released on October 14 by TiE Delhi-NCR in partnership with global management and strategy consulting firm Zinnov, provides an in-depth understanding of the impact of the coronavirus on the Indian startup ecosystem. It assesses multiple dimensions like funding and M&A landscape, sectoral impact, entrepreneur and investor sentiments, and changing market behaviour. The report is supported by Cisco Launchpad, NetApp Excellerator and Lowe’s Innovation Labs.

The report suggests that as the economy opened up, pace of recovery – both in demand and in investor sentiment – has been faster than expected. The shift to digital consumption has provided the necessary tailwind to sectors such as education, healthcare and commerce; while several sectors like travel, hospitality and mobility, that were negatively impacted, are now on a recovery path.

For instance, 75 percent start-ups are gradually, but steadily, recovering post the lockdown. Around 30 percent of startups have pivoted to newer markets for alternative revenue streams, while more than 55 percent of startups are focusing on profitability and reducing cash burn.

Deal activity – both in terms of total investments and the number of unique funded startups – has recovered to pre-COVID levels during the quarter that ended in September 2020. Interestingly, four Indian startups became unicorns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and India is on track to have eight unicorns this year – almost the same number of additions were seen in 2019.

The startup ecosystem is expected to have 7-7.5 lakh direct jobs and 26-28 lakh indirect jobs overall by end-2020. The response of entrepreneurs and the ecosystem as a whole — to the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic — by adopting new business models in line with the evolving customer needs and market conditions exemplifies the antifragility of the ecosystem.

Rajan Anandan, President of TiE Delhi-NCR said, “Although the immediate impact of the lockdowns on the Indian startup ecosystem was severe, we have been amazed to witness how quickly Indian founders have acted to reimagine their businesses. What has been most impressive is how many startups have reduced burn and improved their unit economics very rapidly. Digitally-led segments have recovered much faster than anyone expected and in many spaces demand is well ahead of pre-COVID levels. Investor sentiment has also recovered quickly and we expect the Indian unicorn club to steadily expand through 2020 and 2021. Although COVID-19 has been a major setback for the ecosystem, we believe that the changes that the pandemic has brought on will make our ecosystem much stronger, across every dimension. India is on a path to have 100 unicorns by 2025.”

The report illustrates the range of the impact on various sectors and elaborates on the steps taken by entrepreneurs to reinvent their business models to minimise the impact of COVID-19. In Q3, the Indian startup ecosystem showed positive signs of recovery – funding reverting to 98 percent of Q1 (pre-COVID) levels, investor sentiments becoming positive, ticket sizes increasing, number of startups raising their first investment round also reverting to Q1 (pre-COVID) levels – ensuring that the startup ecosystem bounced back, with an expectation of becoming healthier and vibrant in future.

Speaking about the report, Zinnov CEO Pari Natarajan said, “Despite setbacks due to COVID-19, the Indian startup ecosystem has risen to the challenge, as evidenced by it’s faster than estimated recovery. In the initial days, the startups reduced cash burn and redeployed existing capabilities to focus on tiding over the uncertainty. Shift to digital consumption certainly provided an opportunity. By being nimble and rapidly responding to different challenges, looking at them as an opportunity, the Indian startup ecosystem has displayed its antifragile nature. Despite the trying times, and the death of many startups, the ecosystem has played a key role in employment generation and is expected to create ~15-16 Lakhs direct jobs by 2025. There is clear evidence that India’s future is about technology, policy, innovation, and entrepreneurship.”

Madhurima Agarwal, Director – Engineering Programs and Leader, NetApp Excellerator added, “Resilience, hardiness, and adaptability are inherent traits of startups that allow them to succeed despite all odds. COVID-19, a black swan event, wreaked devastation in its wake, both on the societal and the economic fronts. The manner in which startups responded to the challenges posed by COVID-19, is testament to the antifragile nature of this ecosystem. While certain sectors were impacted worse than others, it drove positive change in key areas like automation and digital transformation. In every challenge lies an opportunity; the mantra is to survive these turbulent times and prepare for the opportunities that follow.”

Sharing her perspective on the report, Sruthi Kannan, Head of Cisco Launchpad said, “COVID has shaken the world, causing disruptions across a multitude of parameters. Despite all negativity and bottlenecks, the Indian startup ecosystem has been able to hold its firm grip – courtesy of its antifragile nature. Startups have been nimble, despite the challenges, in converting this crisis into an opportunity. We are witnessing an inspiring response – from harnessing tailwinds in select sectors, to business pivots, to repurposing capabilities to new or adjacent markets. We continue to be positive about the impactful change that Indian startups can make, both locally and globally.

Blog Source: CNBC TV18

Boost to innovation: NetApp accelerates startups in times of COVID-19 pandemic
07/30/2020

Boost to innovation: NetApp accelerates startups in times of COVID-19 pandemic

Six Indian startups in NetApp’s Excellerator programme develop real-world solutions to ensure business continuity during these testing times

By Srinath Srinivasan

Tech companies will not let Covid-19 stop their collaboration activities. On normal days it may require startups to come together physically. But these are not normal days and in the case of NetApp’s Excellerator programme, it has happened virtually. In the 6th edition of the programme, which coincided with the pandemic, six Indian startups have found real world solutions, accelerated by NetApp, to ensure business continuity for enterprises during these testing times. The solutions are varied, from blockchain, kubernetes (data protection), cloud, AI, ML and IoT and the startups developing the solutions are from different parts of the country.

NetApp is providing a four-month-long training programme for the selected startups. “The selection process considers both the startups’ strengths and our ability to help them grow,” says Madhurima Agarwal, Leader, NetApp Excellerator. “We receive a lot of referrals and inbound applications from startups across the globe and we call this stage as sourcing. Then the startups are evaluated based on a set of criteria, based on the strength of business idea, products, team, traction. In the deep dive stage we finalise the cohort,” she explains.

Over 300 startups apply to this programme. The startups in this cohort include KubeSafe, Koinearth, Myelin Foundry, CyborgIntell, Aikaan, IQLECT, all of which have Indian founders. The programme is a mix of workshops, coaching, and mentoring and for some startups—progress on the proof of concepts. “We follow a demand-driven curriculum, for the founders and their extended teams. For instance we conducted sessions around storytelling, driving sales for the startups. We also create opportunities for them to increase visibility through various means—webinars, conference participations, 1:1 connects, etc,” says Agarwal.

The startups have niche problems to solve. “Managing smart automobiles can be a daunting task because of the scale and security. Our solutions can solve these problems,” says Chetan Kumar, co-founder and CEO, AiKaan Labs. “During the programme, we did several technical deep dive sessions with multiple teams within NetApp to identify a use case on how our Deep Learning Engine can be used to enable more efficient storage, transmission and analysis of CCTV video data,” says Aditi Olemann, co-founder & head of marketing, Myelin Foundry.

Some of the startups are using NetApp’s tech capabilities. For instance, Praphul Chandra, founder, KoineArth, says that he is exploring combining NetApp’s storage solutions with KoineArth’s blockchain based ‘marketsN’ platform to enable secure, auditable data sharing across supply chain partners. Suman Singh, founder & CEO, CyborgIntell, whose AI hardware sizing platform iTuring has been deployed with NetApp for CPU utilisation prediction, says he is onto jointly developing go-to market strategies with NetApp, for his customers.

The startups get an equity free grant of $15000 from NetApp. Upon completion they join the alumni engagement of NetApp Excellerator. While NetApp does not acquire or co-develop solutions with any of these companies, it partners to create joint offerings. “We recently published a whitepaper with Curl Analytics, part of Cohort 5. We are working closely with another startup Zscore, a startup from cohort 3, in the Australia market,” says Agarwal.

Some of these startups which operate in niche enterprise value chains get help from the sales and business development teams of NetApp. This helps them overcome challenges in generating leads, implementing pilots, creating sales pitches and so on.

Blog Source: Financial Express

Remote working need not affect productivity…Here’s why
07/09/2020

Remote working need not affect productivity…Here’s why

With solutions such as providing the right tools for day-to-day functioning and having a strong communications strategy, here’s how you can turn the challenge of remote working into an opportunity.

History will remember 2020 as the year the world was forced to stay home. With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus being identified as early as January, by March, the disease had reached pandemic status and almost every country on the globe went into lockdown. With employee safety and social distancing being the top priority, businesses of all sizes, everywhere, were forced to ask their employees to work remotely.

Many were unprepared in terms of having connectivity tools, collaboration platforms and security systems. It seemed that productivity was going to take a major hit as employees were stranded from their organisations and colleagues.

Luckily, that was not the case for long. Few know that historically, great works have emerged from lockdowns. Newton did groundbreaking work on his theories of gravity and even invented calculus from his home during the Bubonic plague. Shakespeare, too, is believed to have produced some of his finest plays and poems in quarantine at the time.

Fortunately for us, we live in a time where technology has made it much easier to retain and boost productivity levels. In fact, a recent report by Deloitte titled ‘Future of Work accelerated: Learnings from the COVID-19 Pandemic’ which surveyed CXOs of 42 Indian companies found that 60 percent of companies reported an increase in individual employee productivity, while 10 percent said productivity had not been impacted at all.

This new way of working seems to have worked so well that many companies are considering making this a more permanent arrangement. A CNBC-TV18 report found that even after restrictions are fully eased, major Indian IT companies will still ask 90 percent of their employees to work from home at least till August. Some said that 60-70 percent of their employees will still be asked to work out of home beyond August.

So, how can companies enable their staff to continue maximising productivity? Here are some of the things that we, as business leaders, can do to help our colleagues succeed

Enable them with the right tools

The first indication that their work-life had changed was a mass mailer that was probably sent out by the HR. Many employees were left grappling with how they would meet their targets, complete pending projects or finish that crucial meeting that had been scheduled. Organisations must continue to engage with employees, ask them what their setup is at home, and make efforts to provide the technology they need to fill the gaps.

Stress the need for constant communication and collaboration

Now that water cooler conversations and walking over to a colleague’s desk have become things of the past, organisations must encourage their employees to leverage tools to ensure communication continues seamlessly. This could include tools for messaging, access to an intranet, access to an employee network, project management, etc. The tools should have mobile accessibility and everyone should be on the same sanctioned platform to ensure not only seamless functioning but also security, which has become a prime concern in these times.

Ensure external communication

In addition to addressing their employee concerns, companies must also ensure that customers’ needs are being addressed. This means providing timely updates and seamless communication to ensure that everything seems business as usual. Therefore, employees should be encouraged to continue open communication with customers to build and maintain the relationship.

Provide the necessary upskilling and training…

While the right tools and technology are necessary, employees also need to be trained to use them correctly and for maximum impact. With remote work increasingly becoming the norm, ensuring that employees don’t feel incapacitated or dejected with lack of knowledge of the new tools will be essential. An engaged workforce will continue to drive productivity in the future. In tandem, employees will also need clearly defined goals and objectives in terms of deliverables, and expected outcomes with clear metrics etc.

…and finally, engage with recognition, empowerment, and…enjoyment

With all the focus on business continuity and productivity, there needs to be a focus on the employee’s contribution and how this can be recognised. Today, HR tools on the cloud can help with employee recognition even remotely. Employers can also organise online breakout and fun sessions where employees connect and discuss things other than work.

The reality is that we are all still working amid a pandemic with no cure or end in sight. The one way that the spread has been contained is people staying home and maintaining social distancing. Implementing work-from-home practices that work for employees, customers and organisations is the only way we can all move forward. And technology will only make that journey a little easier.

Do you think WFH will be the trend going forward or do you think people should eventually return to working from offices? If you are the primary caregiver at home and work full-time, what do you think the Future of Work should look like? Let us know in the comments section.

Blog Source: YourStory

NetApp Excellerator gears up for its first-ever virtual Mega Demo Day with its Sixth Cohort

NetApp Excellerator gears up for its first-ever virtual Mega Demo Day with its Sixth Cohort

Amidst the nationwide lockdown and the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, NetApp Excellerator became one of the first accelerators in the Indian startup ecosystem to take the virtual route. The six startups who made it to the sixth cohort of NetApp Excellerator, NetApp’s global startup programme for B2B DeepTech startups are Aikaan Labs, Cyborgintell, IQLECT, Koinearth, Kubesafe, and Myelin Foundry –. The finalists were announced in April this year after an entirely virtual selection process facilitated by numerous virtual meetings and online sessions. NetApp Excellerator also announced that the entire programme would be virtually executed.

In fact, this ability to adapt and evolve the programme to meet the needs of the startups has been a key hallmark of the accelerator programme. Last year, the fifth cohort marked the launch of an evolved model of the accelerator programme wherein the startups built paid PoCs with NetApp. This provided revenue generation opportunities for startups even as they continued their journey of innovation.

An accelerator with a startup mindset: Pivoting to a virtual model
“We believe that change is the only constant and thriving in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world requires the ability to evolve constantly and adapt to changing environments,” shares Madhurima Agarwal, leader, NetApp Excellerator and Director – Engineering Programs at the NetApp Excellerator

Having mentored and accelerated an Israeli startup completely remotely in its fifth cohort, NetApp scaled up that experience to the entire cohort this time around shares Madhurima. “Today, as we near the Demo Day, I can confidently say that the experience was no less than mentoring the cohorts offline.” Something which the startups part of the sixth cohort also agree too.

Suman Singh, CEO, Cyborgintell, says, “Not only were the mentorship sessions highly effective and useful, we never felt that the sessions were virtual. In fact, they were highly interactive and engaging.”

What is appreciable is the fact that while postponing would have been the easier option, the accelerator decided to adopt a startup mindset and pivot as per the current circumstances, even when there was no set precedent at that time.

“When pivoting to a completely virtual model, there were three things that we did without fail to ensure that the virtual programme met the vision of the accelerator programme as well as the expectations from the startups. First, we drew out the schedules and set the agenda in advance so that the online meetings could be as productive as it would be in an offline setting. Second, we held these meetings regularly. Third, was to over communicate on email.”

The impact: A reflection of the accelerator’s efforts

All of this ensured that the learnings translated into significant impact for the startups.

Suman shares, “Training and deploying machine learning models at scale and integrating our systems on GPUs, executing more than 130 machine learning projects in one go, all of it was an amazing experience. In fact, all this has helped our platform to achieve the coveted status of a Super AI Automation platform.”

Today, the startup is engaged with NetApp on two PoCs. “NetApp is a global leader in cloud computing data storage. And, we are doing cutting edge work in AI and ML for them. While we continue to drive value through our work for NetApp, getting validation and support of NetApp is definitely going to put us in a better position in front of venture capitalists/partners,” shares Suman.

For Koinearth, another startup part of the cohort, the programme has enabled the startup to leverage NetApp’s expertise in cloud security to further strengthen its SaaS offerings – a critical factor for B2B solutions. “The discussions and interactions with business leaders have helped to sharpen our offering and positioning in the supply chain space,” shares Praphul Chandra, Founder. He adds, “In addition, as a startup, VC and Partner engagements help to plug resource constraints – be it cash, customer outreach or technical expertise. It is here that the introductions to investors and customers by NetApp will provide further impetus to startups and we hope to benefit from it.”

As Cyborgintell nears the culmination of the acceleration of the acceleration programme along with five other startups, Madhurima believes that the experiences of startups like Cyborgintell bears testimony to the programme. “These startup testimonials are a reflection of the effort the NetApp Excellerator teams puts in to make the programme a great experience for startups.”

On July 23, the six startups who are part of the sixth cohort will showcase their solutions at the NetApp Excellerator Demo Day that is being held online.

The six startups part of the Demo Day are

AiKaan Labs – an edge computing platform that orchestrates and manages applications and devices.

CyborgIntell – a startup that helps businesses solve complex problems with AutoAI-based predictions that are fast, accurate, explainable, efficient at scale, and actionable

IQECT – an AI data platform, which allows users and developers to build their use cases in a simple and time-accelerated manner on cloud or on-premise.

KoineArth – a startup working at the intersection of Blockchain, ML and mechanism design with two key solutions for supply chain management and B2B marketplaces.

KubeSafe – a platform that backs up and recovers container-based applications, automates application Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) with policies, and leverages storage platform capabilities to both backup only the data that has changed and replicate the data to other locations as needed.

Myelin Foundry – a deep-tech company that is transforming human experiences and industry outcomes by building AI algorithms on video, voice, and sensor data for edge devices.

These six graduating startups are the latest additions to the accelerator’s portfolio of 29 other B2B startups that have graduated from the programme since its inception in 2017. The accelerator’s alumni include startups like Coralogix, Senseforth.ai, SecurelyShare, Curl Analytics, Cardiotrack, ZScore, Eder Labs, among others

The relevance of data innovations in the times of COVID-19 and beyond

Today, at the core of helping the world cope and address the medical, social, and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are new-age technologies such as hybrid cloud computing, Kubernetes, IoT, blockchain, AI, and ML. From supply chain management, remote monitoring of equipment to contact tracing, there has been a fast-paced adoption of these very technologies. In fact, the enduring importance of technology could not have been more clear. “Some of our startup alumni that are in the automation and AI space are seeing great demand for their products despite the current situation,” shares Madhurima.

But, that’s not all. Companies today have to be prepared for an accelerated digital future, where data will play a key role. There will be a monumental increase in data as well as the need to analyse, manage and use data in new and effective ways. And, this is what will give companies a competitive advantage in the new order of the world.

“With NetApp’s focus on continuous innovation and technologies driving the change in the world around us, we are best placed to offer great value to our customers. We realise that no one can do all the innovation alone and so we are partnering with some of the best in the ecosystem to create compelling solutions for our clients and create a positive impact on the entire ecosystem,” says Madhurima signing off.

Blog Source: YourStory

A silver lining in the cloud for AI startups
04/19/2020

A silver lining in the cloud for AI startups

Data storage, processing and management are critical now as most activities worldwide move online during coronavirus lockdowns. Migration to the cloud was happening even before this crisis but now, organizations are depending on cloud services more than ever.

Whether it is working from home or streaming videos from Netflix, these services are underpinned by software and hardware on the cloud. Although there may be a reduction of cloud usage as airlines and others see business dwindle, the dominant theme in these times is digitalization.

The best-known cloud infrastructure providers are Amazon, Google and Microsoft. But there are several others catering to specialized needs. California-headquartered Fortune 500 company NetApp, for example, provides cloud services for storage and management of enterprise data. It has been in the thick of coping with a surge in demand. “Our leadership team is monitoring the situation daily to mitigate impact on services,” says Ravi Chhabria, MD of NetApp India.

Tech innovations play a key role in cloud-based services ranging from telehealth to ordering groceries. “For example, AI can help ensure the supply of food to billions of people on lockdown around the globe,” says Chhabria.

TAPPING INNOVATIONS

NetApp has been running a startup accelerator programme in Bengaluru since 2017 to tap innovations. These could enhance NetApp’s core technology. But the broader idea is to also take these innovations to NetApp’s customers.

“Our programme offers to help B2B tech product startups tap into the NetApp customer base globally, because we’re also a B2B (business-to-business) company,” says Madhurima Agarwal, who leads the NetApp Excellerator in Bengaluru.

This is more significant in the current environment where travelling to meet prospective clients or vendors is not possible. The presence of facilitators like the NetApp accelerator can help overcome trust barriers and make connections between startups and enterprises.

The programme has evolved from its first cohort in 2017, even as the deep tech startup ecosystem in Bengaluru has matured. So all startups in the fifth cohort that graduated this year did a paid proof of concept (PoC) for NetApp, unlike the first batch which had very early stage startups. “Legal hassles and paperwork are taken care of at the PoC stage when startups are on-boarded as vendors. So the roadblocks from PoC to actual commercial engagement will be minimized,” says Agarwal.

Bengaluru-based Lightwing, for example, automates the optimization of cloud services for enterprises, helping them cut cloud bills, which has become more vital in an economic slowdown. Lightwing’s PoC was to help business teams in NetApp optimize their cloud usage and measure savings.

“Then it becomes a matter of our sales teams going to our customers with Lightwing and saying, ‘This is how we’ve used it in NetApp’. We’re validating the product, and lending credibility and going to market,” says Agarwal.

Eight startups from previous cohorts are in “strategic alliances” with NetApp for a go-to-market programme. Bengaluru-based Zscore, which uses AI to sort the wheat from the chaff in data, has engaged with NetApp clients in Australia. AI-powered cybersecurity startup Anlyz, which graduated in 2018, tested its product in NetApp last year before deploying it with a security service provider.

Corporate accelerator programmes have been a mixed bag in Bengaluru. Microsoft’s accelerator programme, for instance, has morphed time and again as concepts that sounded good on paper couldn’t be put into practice. Sales teams often have different agendas from those running accelerator programmes in large organizations.“It’s not easy,” she admits. Sometimes it’s NetApp clients that move things along. “A client comes and says, ‘I saw this startup in your accelerator programme. What do you think of them?’ That motivates the sales team to come and talk to us,” says Agarwal.

DRAWING ON CONNECTIONS

“We’re not humongous like an IBM or Microsoft, and we’re not small. We’re at that sweet spot where we still have a lot of interpersonal connects, and cross-functional teams can bank on one another,” says Agarwal.

The idea behind the programme was to collaborate with some of the best minds outside NetApp that were working on cutting-edge technologies in adjacent areas of NetApp’s data business. “We look at them as partners and together we can create strong offerings for customers.”

Bengaluru-based Curl Analytics, for example, is a “global alliance partner” for NetApp. It has a suite of enterprise software products: Sara is for intelligent data extraction from documents, Yati is a decisioning system, and Paras is an automated machine learning engine.

Curl Analytics deployed Paras in the AI CoE (centre of excellence) in NetApp’s Bengaluru campus. The CoE is equipped with Nvidia’s DGX box which has petaflop-level speed and scale for complex AI challenges. NetApp’s Ontap software is installed in it as an operating system. Curl Analytics’ solution demonstrates what can be done with mammoth datasets in such an environment. That makes it a win-win-win where all three companies showcase their strengths to enterprises, which see a live demo and visualize their own use case.

For the PoC in the accelerator programme, Curl Analytics deployed Paras on the Nvidia DGX and NetApp Ontap. The use case was to analyze millions of medical slides to figure out which ones had pathogens. “We showed how significantly the DGX machine, which is Nvidia’s supercomputer kind of thing for deep learning, can reduce time for training the AI engine,” says Shivaram K R, co-founder and CEO of Curl Analytics. “We showed how this can be transferred seamlessly to cloud with NetApp’s Ontap and our Paras, so that doctors can draw inferences.”

The next steps were to work out a go-to-market strategy where NetApp and Curl Analytics sell their products together because that’s when use cases become powerful, says Shivaram. “We are one of NetApp’s AI partners,” says Shivaram. “For it to bear fruit takes time.”

When the pandemic broke out, Curl Analytics and NetApp paused to take stock. The accelerator programme is slated to continue in virtual mode with everything from selection to mentoring and sales talks happening on video conferences.

“We changed our business model and increased our services-play to get cash flows,” says Shivaram. “We asked large companies using our products if they want us to do services and they’re happy to offload their work. Normally we were downplaying our services, but now we are pushing it so that we have sustainable revenues. I believe we will come out strong once the dust settles down.”

Blog Source: livemint

NetApp Excellerator Program Rocket-Fuels B2B Tech Startup Ecosystem with Cohort Five
04/01/2020

NetApp Excellerator Program Rocket-Fuels B2B Tech Startup Ecosystem with Cohort Five

  • Cohort five graduates take the program tally to 29 B2B tech startups, three successful exits, and ten technology alliance partners in less than three years
  • Program evolves into a NetApp-sponsored proof-of-concept model

NetApp, the leader in cloud data services, today announced the graduation of its fifth cohort as part of the NetApp Excellerator demo day. NetApp Excellerator is the company’s flagship startup accelerator program. On this occasion, five technology startups, CloudSEK, Senseforth.ai, Lightwing, Coralogix and Curl Analytics, showcased their technology impact and market opportunity to an eminent audience comprising of venture capitalists, industry leaders and the NetApp leadership team.

The program has so far mentored 29 B2B technology startups through five cohorts and has evolved to focus on a sponsored proof-of-concept (PoC) model. The PoC model gives the startups a platform to prove the potential of their solutions in the real-world. The startups and NetApp explore technology adjacencies to go to market together and help create technology that changes the world with data. All five startups are engaged in PoCs with NetApp.

The pitch presentations made by the entrepreneurs at the demo day saw innovations in the space of AI, machine learning-powered log analytics, conversational AI, intelligent automation and digital risk management. These startups have been extensively mentored to strengthen their technology solutions and product market fit while also enhancing the overall user experience. This is already creating significant business impact for their clients through solving challenges related to unstructured data, big data, customer support, reduction of cloud costs and cybersecurity.

“The fifth cohort marked the launch of an evolved model where the startups built paid PoCs, which will give them stronger go-to-market opportunities and drive exponential growth. We too have made great strides since our first cohort. Today, we are attracting new-age disruptive companies from around the world,” said Madhurima Agarwal, leader, NetApp Excellerator. “We’ve engaged deeply with 29 pioneering startups, including three who have had successful exits. This is the proof of the value NetApp has added to our alumni, enabling them to create tangible commercial success in terms of funding, customer acquisitions and successful exits.”

The program’s focus on mature startups and global outlook offers a natural fit for startups from across the world. One such example is Coralogix, an Israel-based startup which is part of this cohort.

“Working with the engineering team at NetApp is delightful,” said Lior Redlus, co-founder and CTO of Coralogix. “We found a team of professionals constantly monitoring their systems to make sure they are operating optimally, and eager to understand how Coralogix log analytics can help identify issues faster and reduce time to resolution. We learned about NetApp’s technology, and are now evaluating Cloud Volume ONTAP with the innovation team in Israel. We want to work with cutting-edge technology in the cloud.”

The strength of the program reflects in the success stories from the previous cohorts. Last year, Adya (first cohort), was acquired by Qualys, a leading provider of cloud-based security and compliance solutions. Similarly, ArchSaber, from the second cohort, and VitaCloud from the first cohort, have also had successful exits. Additionally, SigTuple, Anlyz, FirstHive and others have secured next round of funding.

“We started this program with our own unique outlook as a 27-year-old startup,” said Ravi Chhabria, managing director of NetApp India. “We continue to innovate across our ecosystem andthese youngstartups enable our customers to change their world with data. With our deep expertise in data management we are uniquely positioned to help them navigate next-generation technologies to scale up their business. Their ability to disrupt the tech ecosystem and their vision to drive economic growth is inspiring. Our role as an accelerator is to catapult them to achieve success in delivering compelling solutions to meet customers’ needs. Most importantly, we offer them our trust and credibility, and that is the basis to build any business relationship with a young company.”

NetApp Excellerator is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator focused on creating an impact in the startup ecosystem through association with a small, yet unique set of data-driven B2B tech startups. The NetApp team, in collaboration with industry-renowned external mentors, coaches the startups on cutting-edge technologies, platforms, tools and business acumen. The participating startups get access to investors and NetApp’s customer portfolio. They also receive an equity-free grant of $15,000, or a NetApp-sponsored POC.

NetApp Excellerator cohort five startups at a glance:

CloudSEK AI-Driven Digital Risk Management.
Senseforth.ai A leading Conversational AI Platform providing automated humanlike conversations between organizations and people.
Lightwing Fully optimized dynamic compute to slash monthly public cloud bills by 70% or more.
Coralogix Coralogix automatically creates component level insights from log data so you can trust your logs to tell you the full story of your system. (from Israel)
Curl Analytics A tech start-up focused on leveraging emerging technologies to develop products and solutions for enterprises.

Blog Source: The Times of India, TechiExpert, Inc42, The News Minute, IT Voice, DataQuest, CIO Review