This story is sponsored by NetApp.
What if you got personal access to experts from the data management industry, along with a chance to make your startup future-ready?
That’s one of the many reasons to apply for the NetApp Excellerator, a four-month-long programme that aims at helping startups realise the full potential of their ideas, and create world-class products and innovative solutions that are market ready.
The programme was launched at the new 15-acre NetApp campus in Bengaluru on 7 June 2017, in the presence of IT industry veteran TV Mohandas Pai, partners, startups, venture capitalists, and customers.
Through the NetApp Excellerator programme, the company wants to share its unique perspective and experience with startups, and invest in solutions that will enable enterprises in this era of digital transformation.
Speaking at the event, Deepak Visweswaraiah, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, NetApp India said, “The tech industry is going through a transformational shift with data right at the center. Given NetApp’s rich legacy of innovation in the data management space, and the fact that we were once a startup ourselves, we recognise that some of the most creative, breakthrough ideas will happen within India’s thriving startup ecosystem. Through the NetApp Excellerator programme, we would like to encourage and support these startups and provide them with an opportunity to graduate to their next phase of growth.”
NetApp, the US-based data management giant, will choose six startups for its four-month-long programme. They are looking to have on board a wide array of startups from a diverse set of technology areas that include (but are not limited to) cloud, IoT, big data and analytics, machine learning, virtualisation, data security, data management, storage, and other adjacent areas.
Accelerators are important
At the launch of NetApp Excellerator, TV Mohandas Pai, former HR head and ex-Chief Financial Officer at Infosys, spoke about the acceleration of technology in the last few decades, and at the massive changes that are still happening. He said, “More and more money is going into innovation all over the world. In the next 10 years, there will be unbelievable innovations driven by IT, technology, robotics, data, and AI intelligence. To add to all of this, we’ve got companies like NetApp coming up with programmes like this one, so that bright, young people can come and work here, and come up with ideas to make the innovation cycle faster.”
The launch event also featured a panel discussion on ‘Accelerators and their role in the ecosystem’. The panelists included Shekhar Kirani, Partner at Accel Partners, Bala Parthasarathy, CEO & Co-founder at MoneyTap, Pari Natarajan, CEO at Zinnov, and Richa Bajpai, Founder at NextGen. The discussion, moderated by Veena Avadhanam from NetApp, revolved around why accelerators are important for the growth of the startup community.
Pari Natarajan, who is very involved with accelerators in the country, shed some insight on the kind of accelerators entrepreneurs should choose. “The key thing for startups, is to understand customers. We often tell entrepreneurs to pick an accelerator that is able to give them ample access to global customers. Which is the accelerator that can help you gain the right kind of mentorship and infrastructure, and give you access to global customers? If it’s giving you all of that and taking risks for you, then that’s the one you should choose,” he said.
Climbing the ladder
The event also saw a quick fireside chat between Pari Natarajan and Rajiv Srivatsa, Co-founder and COO at Urban Ladder, where Rajiv talked about his journey from being an engineer to becoming an entrepreneur. He shed light on the sacrifices and hard work that went into making Urban Ladder what it is today.
Talking about why they chose to venture out and launch a startup, Rajiv said, “If you’re too comfortable in a job, there’s too much inertia to leave. On the other hand, if you don’t have a great founder or a manager, then also there’s too much inertia to leave. Ashish (Co-founder of Urban Ladder) and I were experiencing both, so we decided to quit. We didn’t really have an idea, but we knew we had to get into the internet space and start something else for ourselves.”
He also added that the values of a company are not stressed upon enough. He said, “Our mission and our values are something that we stick to even today. The vision is to give the country excellent home decor, and no matter how big the company gets, we’ll still want to do the same.”
Why you should apply?
The NetApp Excellerator programme will provide the selected startups access to collaboration and productivity tools, a co-working space at the company’s global center of excellence in Bengaluru as well as networking opportunities with potential investors, partners, and customers. Selected startups will have access to NetApp platforms and technologies, tools, co-working space, HR, marketing, legal and tech support. NetApp will also provide an equity free grant of $15,000 to the startups upon completion of the programme. Startups would also retain ownership of their IP (Intellectual Property) and NetApp will not seek a stake in the same.
Speaking at the event, Ajeya Motaganahalli, Director NetApp India, who will be driving the programme said, “Through the NetApp Excellerator programme, we seek to engage with promising entrepreneurs contributing to a diverse set of tech areas. We will assist these startups with guidance on building business relevance, exposure to our technology, partners and customers, as well as venture capitalists, and explore opportunities where we can take them to market. Our goal is to simply foster innovation and push these brilliant ideas forward.”
With some of the advantages that this programme has in store, budding entrepreneurs should not miss the chance to be a part of this amazing journey.