How Qualcomm Ventures QPrize contributed to the Capillary success story
Capillary Technologies won the Qualcomm Ventures international business plan competition QPrize India in 2009, receiving $ 100,000 as seed money. Capillary is a startup company by IIT Kharagpur alumni that offers mobile-based customer management solutions for retail.
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Aneesh Reddy, Co-founder & CEO, Capillary Technologies, shares his story of winning the QPrize.
I first heard about the QPrize at an Open Coffee Club session. Karthee Madasamy of Qualcomm was the speaker, and he was pretty impressive. He asked us all to submit proposals for the Prize. ‘Why not?’ we thought. The Capillary vision was still being developed. We had strong early validations but a recognition like QPrize could be the real test that the product was globally scalable.
In characteristic style, our presentation got done at the eleventh hour, just in time to file our papers. Then—surprise, surprise!
We got through the first selection round.
I figured what worked best for us was that from the very start Capillary had focussed aggressively on bagging early-stage customers and building a great product vision with their inputs. We already had strong growth indicators which got us great customer and influencer traction. And with a perfect solution to help businesses grow in recession, we had great EAA customers like Indus League, recognisable brands which are using and actually paying for our product.
I believe this strong product market scalability gave us an edge over the seasoned entrepreneurs we were up against.
And so we got the prize—the QPrize. This achievement made a great contribution to the Capillary success story.
The media buzz surrounding the win made us a (tech) household name. Our confidence levels got a big boost. Something changed in the way we approached prospective customers, investors, advisors and recruits. And they responded differently as well.Becoming Qualcomm’s chosen one reinforced the market’s early confidence in Capillary. Winning helped us attract talent more easily and we were able to bring onboard smart minds—as regular hires and as advisors—to build the company.
It has made a huge difference to have Karthee Madasamy as a mentor. He and the Qualcomm team have made available their network for business development, which we are digging into as we work towards entering the US market. They have also shared best-practice expertise around product development, operations, strategy and marketing, vendor alliances and promotional activities.
Winning the QPrize marked the start of a long-term relationship with Qualcomm. They believe in staying invested—and have helped us think long term too, sharing invaluable business planning pointers and on-ground execution strategies.
Qualcomm has repeatedly invested in the company since then, occasionally even helping us out of crunch situations at short notice.
They are a great investor. They allow you to run the company your way. The only strings attached are those you welcome.
Not to mention that Qualcomm’s interest in us has helped us garner support from other investors—such as Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners.
All that has transpired these past few years, starting from winning QPrize, has put Capillary squarely on the map of innovative firms. We have been called a firm furthering the rare trend of reverse innovation—technologies born in emerging markets like India “trickling up” to developed markets.
Since that momentous win, we have scaled up manifolds and today aim aggressively to realize our vision of a global billion dollar product company out of India. No mean feat, that. And we’re raring to grow bigger.
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About the author
Aneesh Reddy and Krishna Mehra are the co-founders of Capillary Technologies.
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