Though relatively a new phenomenon, the Software as a Service (SaaS) product market in India is growing at an incredible pace. The scalability and profitability of SaaS companies can be attributed to engineering, inside sales, product management and mobile skillsets. Sudarshan Narayan, who was the founder partner of Aurion Advisors and has been the mentor of MotoMojo Technologies (since October 2015), strongly felt the need for handholding startups in the SaaS space.
He pondered over the unavailability of a single platform in India that can provide first-time SaaS founders the knowledge, guidance/mentorship, and the global contacts or the right platform to raise funding. And then Sudarshan, along with Patni Financial Advisors President and CEO Rohinton Bharucha, started Amplifi, an SaaS-focussed accelerator last October. The duo had, themselves, experienced a gap while running their business or dealing with large corporates as technology solutions providers or product sellers.
Mumbai-based Amplifi is a mentor-driven, 12-week programme specific to B2B SaaS startups.
“Amplifi launched its intensive accelerator programme, Cohort, first in Bengaluru on March 21, 2016. Due to the huge demand from founders based in other locations, Amplifi expanded its operations to six cities in India—Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata—and also to the first international location - Hong Kong,” says Sudarshan.
He is BE in Electronics from University of Mumbai and an angel investor and advisor to startups across consumer and enterprise tech.
Handholding the startups
Amplifi provides strategic guidance, SaaS domain knowledge through workshops and master classes, connections to potential customers, infrastructure (from partners), platform to pitch to investors on demo day and access to specific service providers.
Sudarshan says that startups from the first Cohort session (Bengaluru) are now in final discussions with investors and funding news will be announced soon. A startup can only apply for the programme if it is at the idea, POC or pre-revenue stage and focussed on the US small and medium businesses (SMB) market or the enterprise market in India and Asia.
The partners for the programme are Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship in Bengaluru, Extentia Information Technology in Pune, and Paperclip Startup Campus in Hong Kong (supported by Cyberport, Hong Kong).
Shortlisting of startups
Six startups—InsightNxt, Travdots, Pyplyn, Varsito, Tellofy and Trilyo—have graduated from Cohort 1 and one them got funded in October. Bengaluru-based B2B SaaS startup for restaurants has raised an undisclosed seed fund from a Singapore-based private investor.
And in Cohort 2, Amplifi has selected 10 startups - Health-n-Me, Till POS, SuperWise, krackzee, Keito, Bestosys, Virtual Spaces, Sociograph Solutions, Cumulus Technologies and BricApp. These startups, Sudharshan says, were shortlisted out of more than 200 applications received from Bengaluru, Pune, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Hong Kong.
Shortlisted startups founders/co-founders pitch to an international panel in a 90-minute-per-startup pitch. Amplifi Paperclip SaaS Accelerator, Hong Kong Cohort 1 has shortlisted four startups-QualNimbus, FansWiFi, R-Gaurdian and RateConnect. Applications for Cohort 3 will open in April 2017. Amplifi expects to shortlist 15-20 startups from India, HongKong and Singapore.
According to report by Google and Accel Partners, SaaS products market in India is expected to cross $50 billion in the next ten years as the segment is set to receive a massive rise in demand from more and more SMBs.
The report further said that in a market with demand fulfillment largely in US, India’s competitive advantages will help Indian SaaS companies see strong growth. SaaS companies are predicted to contribute to more than 75 percent of the public cloud revenues, thereby taking the revenue of the global SaaS industry to $132 billion by 2020. And the adoption rates of SaaS products by SMEs are expected to reach $76 billion.