SAP StartUp Studio: A garage that can transform ideas into successful companiesTeam YS
This report is promoted by SAP.
SAP, the $23.3 billion market leader in Enterprise application software has upped its game in India, by bringing into its campus in Whitefield, Bengaluru, the first batch of startups that are working on core technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud-based software. The new tenants at SAP Labs India campus will be housed at the “StartUp Studio” – a 75 seat incubation facility. Every year, the studio will take around 10 startups, provide them with technical expertise and support and give them access to the large base of SAP customers where appropriate. . The end goal of the Studio is to fine-tune the business of these startups and take them to their next stage of growth.
“Startup innovations are happening in India and we recognise that we have to support the Startup Policy launched by the Prime Minister this year,” says Bernd Leukert, Member of the Executive Board at SAP, Products and Innovation. He adds that the StartUp Studio will be a place where SAP executives and employees can interact with these startups and jointly share resources. SAP Labs announced at the curtain raiser event to announce the SAP Startup Studio initiative on n Thursday, 23 June, that it is even changing its HR policies to encourage its 8,000 odd employees to become entrepreneurs. Starting this year, any employee who wants to start his own company can take a two-year sabbatical from the company. “If the startup succeeds, then they can continue their business or they can come back to us,” says Dilipkumar Khandelwal, MD of SAP Labs in India. He adds that even if they fail and decided to come back to work, they will l bring back experience, which SAP can benefit from. Seven companies were selected for the accelerator programme and received an undisclosed amount in funding. These businesses serve healthcare, retail, manufacturing, Internet-of-things (IoT), and B2B commerce.
These are some of the startups that made the cut
- CloudKare: a cloud-based interoperable electronic health record platform
- BluBirch: an end-to-end reverse supply solution to help retailers, enterprises, and OEMs maximise value from unutilised/returned inventory
- Niki.ai: a chat-bot concierge that accepts customer orders and fulfills it through partner merchants
- Sellerworx: an e-commerce technology solution that helps SMEs manage online operations across marketplaces and become active on e-commerce platforms
- Stratawiz: an app for engagement and productivity enhancement of sales teams
- Moglix: an online marketplace for retailers, SMEs, and consumers to buy industrial products
- Ecolibrium Energy: an energy analytics platform that helps business optimise their power consumption
There are three more startups that will make it to the Studio, and SAP Labs will name them over the next few months.
What solutions do these companies offer?
CloudKare makes healthcare efficient by removing paper from the ecosystem. All data is digitised, which makes for better engagement between patients, doctors, and hospitals. “Healthcare requires disruption in managing health records. We believe our platform can make the ecosystem robust with our technology,” says Rajat Mangla, Co-founder of CloudKare.
SAP Labs has looked at pain points that need solutions in the global e-commerce or retail business. They have roped in BluBirch, whose software manages a company’s unused IT inventory, and Ratan Tata-funded Niki.ai, which uses chat bots to close transactions. Then there is Sellerworx , which makes sellers optimise their online sales on e-commerce portals by using engagement platforms. Stratawiz is an app that enhances sales teams’ performance with themes such as gamification. SAP has also bet on Moglix, which is a market place for industrial products. “There are tens of millions of SMBs in India who can benefit from buying on our platform,” says Rahul Garg, Co-founder of Moglix. SAP’s goal is to understand how industries buy products, a process that can be integrated in to its industrial offering to SMBs going forward.
Ecolibrium Energy is another company that SAP has managed to rope in. The company allows businesses to understand energy management within a company. It is a device-and-high-end automated analytics play that provides a company insight into using their energy resources better. It complements SAP’s play in IoT and the connected world thesis. These seven startups play well into SAP’s bet on high-end data analytics, cloud, and optimisation of services on the smartphone.
Startup pitch and mentors
In total, SAP Labs pitched 15 all-new ideas to seven VC funds. Of these 15 companies, Lucep, an AI engine that enables sales teams to engage with potential business leads generated a lot of interest. “The three-minute pitch enables VCs to understand how entrepreneurs can communicate their idea,” says Siddhartha Das from Venture East, a premier VC fund. Other ideas that made an impact came from Cooey, an analytics business that enables corporates to manage employee healthcare. Some businesses showcased IoT features – Aami and Iotranics won the crowd with gadgets that enable healthcare monitoring.
The event saw over 45 startups participating as guests.There were entrepreneurs like Alok Goel of FreeCharge (now MD at VC firm SAIF Partners), and K Vaitheeswaran, founder of FabMall and Indiaplaza.com, who explained to entrepreneurs the art of building a business and selling from an idea alone.
There was also a panel discussion with VCs like Ravi Gururaj, Sanjay Anandram, and Rahul Chowdhuri, who along with the host Shradha Sharma, founder & CEO of YourStory, discussed the entrepreneur’s ability to build sustainable B2B businesses. “Relationships are important if you build a B2B startup. You need to know how corporate sales cycles work and also understand that not all meetings end up in business,” says Ravi Gururaj, founder and CEO of QikPod.
Sharing his startup journey at the event, Jitender Sharma, co-founder of ZipGo told the young startup community about the difficulties in sticking with a belief. He said: "When you have an idea that is disruptive and that the current market does not understand it you must stick with it. There will be a lot of ups and downs. But you never give up on it, especially when you know that the number of users that benefit from your idea is only going up."
A second panel discussion discussed the journey from an idea to an actual business. Panelists included VikasMalpani, Co-founder CommonFloor.com, Nikhil Kumar, Evangelist, Exotel, and Vidyashankar M N, President of the India Electronics & Semiconductor Association (IESA). They interacted with the audience, answering questions about their own entrepreneurial journeys. The focus, though, remained on innovation – if you don’t innovate and stay on top of your game, you’re likely to be replaced or outpaced by another player who can.
As former entrepreneur and angel investor Sanjay Anandram put it: “If you have noticed, some of the best startup ideas come from employees who have worked in corporates themselves. It will take a good six or seven years for B2B startups and corporates to really work together.”
Ultimately, the StartUp Studio aims to shape minds. For SAP Labs, this is just the beginning because it will up the ante towards innovation.