Launched in September, Zone Startups India’s empoWer 2017 initiative selected 15 tech startups across themes such as IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Deep Learning for this year’s accelerator programme.
Initiated by Zone Startups in 2016, empoWer is the first tech accelerator for women entrepreneurs in India. Last year, empoWer’s first edition received 191 applications from across the country, out of which 15 women entrepreneurs were selected for a six-week accelerator programme followed by a demo day presentation in front of a jury of HNIs.
In the first edition, eight entrepreneurs from the group raised funding of Rs 70 lakh from the programme. Fifteen founders went on to raise in excess of Rs 150 crores after the programme.
This year, the programme just got bigger and better.
What’s in store for empoWer 2017?
Backed by Department of Science and Technology (Government of India), Microsoft, Capital First, PayU, ICICI Bank, Social Alpha (a Tata Trusts initiative), Amazon and FlexiLoans, the second edition of the accelerator programme, recently launched at Bombay Stock Exchange, received over 376 applications from women entrepreneurs aiming to create a niche in the tech space.
Fifteen tech startups made it to the final list and were selected across a range of technology themes. They are working in different industries and sectors, including healthcare, smart cities, and enterprise solutions. The selected entrepreneurs will attend a six-week community programme, comprising mentoring sessions, workshops, industry connects, case studies, peer-to-peer sessions, bootcamp and investor connects.
One entrepreneur from the group will also travel to Québec, Canada, for a week-long mentorship and business development programme.
Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director, Zone Startups India, says: "We have a cohort member from Imphal. This is great in terms of diversity of the pool; it shows that the ecosystem is growing beyond Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. We believe we have unearthed some solid winners in the final cohort of 15, who will go on to do wonders for themselves and the ecosystem of women entrepreneurs."
Here’s a closer look at the finalists of empoWer’s 2nd edition:
1. RIot Solutions
Based in: Bengaluru
What it does: The startup develops sleep monitoring solutions for babies. It offers Ray, a non-contact baby monitoring solution, which helps users to track their baby's wellness.
The leading lady: Aardra Kannan Ambili has a master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Georgia and handles technology of the product. She worked as an AI research scientist at DudeGenie, an IIT-Bombay startup in Bangalore, and later worked with Yatra in their AI team.
What it does: The startup’s core offering is Cashew, a smart wallet built with cutting-edge technology and supreme design. Packed with innovative features, the wallet has biometric finger authentication, Bluetooth connectivity and crowdsource GPS among others.
The leading lady: Shruthi Gilla has more than eight years of experience in technology consulting and project management. She has previously worked with Deloitte Consulting.
What it does: Technology Uncorked offers TUkutumb, an integrated Internet of Things framework comprising a lightweight IoT server stack on the cloud with analytics engine, smartphone mobile app and a range of products that can transform home, office and locality into a smart and intelligent living space.
The leading lady: Meenakshi Vashist headed the World-Wide Programs for Cellular Products at Freescale Semiconductor as Director-Engineering before seeding TekUncorked. She has over 29 years of experience for driving new product introduction in market.
What it does: Wowlet is in the business of urban innovation and aims to provide clean public toilets across the country. Their goal is to ensure clean, hygienic sanitary facilities through an app, which will give users real-time information about the cleanliness of a toilet if they want to use it.
The leading lady: Komal Goyali has more than three years of management and strategy consulting experience with multinationals like Deloitte. She has previously worked in the construction of 150 public toilets in rural UP with Dalmia Bharat Foundation as part of CSR. She is a Young India Fellow 2015 and has also worked with mobility startups and in the field of urban innovation.
5. Tapu Sustainable Solutions
What it does: The company’s core offering, EcoTrapIn, is a waterless urinal product that conserves 1,67,900 litres of potable water per urinal per year. EcoTrapIn technology is a retrofit design that converts a conventional urinal into a touch-free, odourless and hygienic ergonomic waterless urinal.
The leading lady: Neha Bagoria is a social entrepreneur, who has earlier worked as a software consultant for four years. She did research and development on waterless urinal technology for two years. She has innovated three patent technology versions of the waterless urinal till now. Her experience has primarily been in technology innovation, product development, and sales and marketing.
What it does: Actress Vishakha Singh's startup Iconic BOT is India’s first celebrity fan management chatbot tool, which aims to bring fans and their icons together by leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence technology.
The leading lady: Vishakha Singh is an Indian actress and film producer with over nine years of experience in the entertainment sector. Her last film in 2016 as an independent producer, Onaatah, won a National Award.
What it does: Cygen is a cognitive patient-centric cloud-based predictive and preventive healthcare platform, providing access to personalised healthcare services on their cloud platform.
The leading lady: Dr. Tanushree Devi Laishram is a young doctor hailing from Manipur and with an entrepreneurial dream of making a change in the healthcare industry in the preventive space. A clinical cardiologist by profession, she’s a tech enthusiast aspiring to bring cutting-edge technology to healthcare.
8. PregBuddy Technologies
What it does: It is a 1-1 smart communication platform between doctors and patients with chronic conditions so that hospitals can provide faster care and prevent revenue leakage.
The leading lady: Sivareena Sarika is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur. Prior to PregBuddy, she led supply chain at Furlenco and co-founded the PR Cell of IIT KGP. She has been a part of Google Launchpad Build and SheLeadsTech by Facebook.
9. Periwinkle Technologies
What it does: This medtech startup enables faster and better diagnostics and care. The company has developed an affordable and effective device for cervical cancer diagnosis, with Tata Memorial Centre as a clinical partner.
The leading lady: Veena Moktali is the CEO and Chief Innovator at Periwinkle Technologies. Along with a strong background in technology and engineering, she has significant experience with business strategy and product commercialisation in startups.
What it does: The startup is developing an interactive ed-tech device for visually challenged children to learn with tangible objects. This will make it possible for these children to learn independently with a tactile material.
The leading lady: Chandni Rajendran is a design innovator from IDC, IIT-Bombay. She has won the Young Innovator award from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
11. Bitgram Technologies
What it does: This customer trust superidentity protocol uses blockchain and machine learning intelligence to make instant, real-time exchange of verified information a reality.
The leading lady: Priya Randolph is a technologist with 15 years of experience and deep expertise in data intelligence and large enterprise systems architecture. She is also a certified clinical hypnotherapist and certified Latin dancer.
What it does: The customer support and engagement platform helps businesses to retain customers, convert new customers and increase customer satisfaction levels by providing 24/7 support from their business application.
The leading lady: Vidya Vellala is Winner of Black.vc, a Silicon Valley accelerator (only two startups from India were selected) and winner of the India’s Best Startup CTO award by Dell EMC. She has 15 years of technology experience and is an expert in CRM, Supply Chain, Finance, Insurance and ERP
13. The Friday Code
What it does: This startup builds products and platforms to help brands and agencies increase their ROI through efficient tracking and optimisation of their advertising spends.
The leading lady: Mansi Khanna was heading m-advertising at Bharti Airtel before starting up with The Friday Code
What it does: This B2B SaaS platform lets businesses create, manage and evolve chatbots for increasing awareness, improving lead quality and driving more sales.
The leading lady: An alumnus of NIT Allahabad, Niyati Agarwal has over three years of startup exposure and is experienced in the space of social media marketing and enterprise SaaS. She leads platform features at Morph.ai.
What it does: This innovative BOT platform aims to solve major business problems using AI technology. The startup aims to build a BOT workforce that increases human efficiency and productivity drastically.
The leading lady: Geetanjali Agarwal, an electrical engineer, has been working in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning for over five years now. She has earlier been associated with Intuit, SAP Labs, British Sky (Cognizant), GXS and First American.