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Scaling Up

Jio-GenNext changes orbit of 11 technology startups with Proof-of-Concepts and GTM

Jyoti Chidambaram Ayyar
2nd Nov 2017
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as the driving force for growth across several sectors, including some not so typical ones such as legal research and agriculture. A majority of the 11 startups graduating from the Summer 2017 cohort of the Jio-GenNext programme from Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) that are developing innovative and impactful AI-powered solutions bear testimony to this trend.

Since 2014, the Jio-GenNext accelerator (formerly known as GenNext Hub), an initiative from Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in association with Microsoft, has been helping build a strong foundation for companies to scale up and grow by giving participants access to eminent investors, business mentors, technical experts, and potential customers. The programme also equips them with the latest tools and know-how, as well as the opportunity to win RIL as a customer.

[Also read: How Reliance Industries’ GenNext is rewriting the India narrative in the startup space]

Here’s a look at how participating in Jio-GenNext helped these 11 startups transform and take their businesses to the next level.

LegalDeskThis Bengaluru-based startup, founded by Krupesh Bhatt and Ashok Kadsur in 2015, makes the documentation process for both enterprises and individuals hassle-free by using an Aadhaar-based e-sign workflow, and helps organisations digitise entire processes.

“We wanted to do something about the inefficiency around paperwork in government offices in India,” says Ashok. The company’s DIY solution enables individuals or businesses to draft all legal documents, such as rental agreements, partnership agreements, affidavits, wills and power of attorney, among others, and also allows them to avail Stamp Paper, and Aadhaar-based eSign services.

“Jio-GenNext has been extremely helpful in evaluating and improving our GTM strategy. We also learnt how to scale our product and drive large-scale adoption from senior Jio leaders like Kiran Thomas and Anish Shah,” he adds.

Big Phi Technologies: Using nanotechnology, the company designs, develops, and sells wearables, including apparel, footwear, sportswear and smart watches. The products boast innovative features such as stain and odour repellence, coolant capacity and moisture management. They’re designed for better aesthetics, better performance, and better fit. The company was founded in 2016 by Rohit Gupta, Subhra Neel Saikia, Rameswar Misra and Debashish Pattnaik.

On how Jio-GenNext helped them transform their business, Rameswar says, “With Dr. R.A. Mashelkar’s advice, we were able to identify critical gaps in our technology and ways to augment them through strategic R&D partnerships. We were then connected by him to the National Chemical Laboratory, with whom we are working to improve our current nano-technology and strengthening our patents. From a GTM perspective, they have also helped us focus on one category and grow it for sustainable scaling.”

Bodhi Health EducationWith a growth rate of 22 percent per annum, the Indian healthcare industry needs a large number of skilled healthcare workers to meet growing demand. However, the quality of manpower available is not commensurate with this demand. Bodhi Health Education was founded in 2014 by Abhinav Girdhar and Shrutika Girdhar to address this challenge. The company makes technology-based, standard and scalable products that can be used to educate and train healthcare professionals across India and improve patient care outcomes. Their online competency-based platform helps hospitals administration screen and hire the right nurses and technicians, and also upskill and train employees.

The company works with six large hospitals, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Columbia Asia, and closed the last financial year with a revenue of $100,000. According to co-founder Shrutika, “Jio-GenNext has helped in areas of product development, customer traction and funding. The hands-on workshops with seasoned entrepreneurs and experts like Prasanna Krishnamoorthi have helped address key levers of our operating plan. Jio-GenNext has helped us connect with Vamseekrishna Jasti of Reliance Foundation to evaluate Bodhi’s product, and move into a PoC. They have also connected us with leading angel investor networks for possible funding opportunities.”

Call AmbulanceSaving lives by improving emergency outcomes — that’s the foundation for Hyderabad-based Call Ambulance’s app-based integrated emergency platform. Through their platform, they aim to get timely help to more people during the crucial ‘golden hour’ in medical emergencies, by orchestrating co-ordination between various stakeholders.

Founded in 2015 by Umashankar Adi Kotturu and Jagadish Vishwanatham, the multi-lingual platform aims to be a one-stop emergency solution that brings together hospitals, ambulance providers, patients, and doctors via a mobile app.

They’ve integrated with GVK EMRI, the providers of the 108 emergency service, and have over 100 hospitals, 200 private ambulance services, and several blood banks in their system. Call Ambulance has also trained 2,500 first responders. They are also working with the Andhra Pradesh government to make Srikakulam the first mobile-enabled emergency-safe city. Their emergency app has clocked over 50,000 downloads to date.

“Jio-GenNext organised very industry-focussed and interactive sessions. Sessions by Naveen Asrani and Prasanna Krishnamoorthy really influenced us and brought out various aspects of our platform that we have to enhance. Jio-GenNext team has been very helpful and accessible and we did multiple rounds of brainstorming on our go to market strategy which helped us prioritise and stay focussed,” says Umashankar.

Intello LabsIndian farmers, despite being the largest workforce in India, are often dealt a short hand when it comes to remuneration for their hard work. What if they could double their income by selling their produce online before transporting it to the consumer? This was the question on the minds of Himani Shah and Devendra Chandani, who founded Intello Labs in 2016.

Bengaluru-based Intello Labs deploys machine intelligence to solve complex problems across sectors through automated systems that facilitate decision-making in real time. One of their core focus areas is the agricultural sector where the company uses deep learning and AI to help farmers and agricultural organisations determine issues such as crop infestation and the quality of agricultural commodities to maximise returns.

“We wanted to use technology to create a positive impact in the life of underserved societies,” says Himani. Their solution uses image processing and quality analysis technologies to increase the negotiation power of farmers, standardise and improve the produce quality measurement process which is done manually at present.

“Our largest challenge was monetisation of the solution beyond the government. Jio-GenNext has opened up a plethora of opportunities for expansion and monetisation in various areas. It provided us with extensive industry connects and gave us credibility when approaching clients and investment communities. Jio-GenNext helped us start two PoCs under the guidance of Ashwin Khasgiwala and Sovan Mazumdar of Reliance Retail and Senthilkumaran Krishnan and Ankit Walia of Reliance Foundation, which will help us increase our use-cases for image recognition,” she adds.

Logisure: Founded in 2014 by Vikas Sethia and Anirudh Batwara, Jaipur-based Logisure offers a collaborative transportation platform for movement of goods and services within a 200 km radius of urban areas. Their solution, DOST (Delivery Optimisation and Shared Transportation), enables them to facilitate collaboration in the last mile of various supply chains, thereby helping businesses become cost-competitive and cities become greener.

There is usually a huge information gap between truck vendors and suppliers, as well as seasonal idling of fleets. DOST tries to bridge this gap. Validation for the platform has come in the form of recognition and recommendation by the Ministry of Urban Development.

“Jio-GenNext helped us in more ways we could imagine. The calls made during the stakeholder workshops have resulted in a number of partnerships. The brainstorming sessions with mentors have helped improve our business model significantly. We have also benefitted enormously through the wisdom and guidance that we received from business leaders like Niraj Ambani in Jio Supply Chain Management,” says Anirudh.

BuzzOpinion: In this age of social everything, driven by user recommendations, the power of word-of-mouth is a valuable asset. And this ‘wisdom of crowds’ is what BuzzOpinion is tapping into. A search engine for food, travel and shopping recommendations, BuzzOpinion extracts deep insights on what’s good, bad and awesome based on reviews across the web, and simplifies the decision-making process for users. An AI platform, it provides personalised recommendations based on choices made by other users with similar preferences.

The company was founded by Vivek Arya, Anand Ramachandran, Parth Bhalothiya, Ankit Arya and Pranav Parth Tyagi in 2016, and is headquartered in Mumbai.

On how the Jio-GenNext experience has helped them, Co-founder Pranav Parth Tyagi says, “Insights from Jio-GenNext mentors have helped us optimise our cycles from activation to retention. Through the deep mentoring and connects, we identified opportunities to white label our solution for Jio Cinema. We have been conducting a PoC with Jio Cinema product management group under the guidance from Vaibhav Kumar, to ensure we are able to test our solution to meet their needs of high quality recommendations.”

Cutting Chai Technologies: While more people and businesses are connecting virtually, real life networking is fraught with problems due to a lack of context in discovering like-minded people, and even a hesitation to reach out due to shyness, according to Anand Virani, founder of Cutting Chai Technologies. He set out to remedy this with a solution that allowed people to use their mobile devices to discover and engage with other people offline. A live discovery-led, real-time professional networking platform, the Ohai app from Cutting Chai Technologies allows users to find, match and connect with other users in the vicinity to instantly start a conversation and build networks. Ohai uses proprietary peer-to-peer wireless technology to securely connect and exchange data between multiple devices in close proximity with each other. The Mumbai-based company was founded by Anand Virani in 2015.

“Jio-GenNext has helped us in two specific ways. Sessions with partners, mentors and even fellow entrepreneurs has helped us shape our go-to-market and user acquisition strategies and achieve a product-market fit, which was one of our key goals. Then, regular reviews and interaction with the Jio-GenNext core team have brought in a sense of rigour and discipline to our business operations,” says Virani.

AuthBase: A cyber-security company that provides frameworks to secure web and mobile apps, Hyderabad-based AuthBase uses AI to heal and mitigate hacking and bot attacks in real time. The solution has three modules which provides end-to-end cyber security – comprehensively scanning applications, testing them and securing them against any attacks. Founded by Umesh Thota in 2016, the startup has already won several accolades.

“Jio-GenNext helped us with industry access both within and outside Reliance and helped us with expansion into the Valley. Getting mentored by various industry leaders and learning through their experience helped us deal with real life situations smoothly. Their perspective helped us apply the learnings into our business practice as well,” says Umesh of his Jio-GenNext experience.

LeadoTo grow their user base and engage with existing customers, companies spend a huge amount of time and effort to integrate disparate channels. This was the inspiration for Leado. A web-based SaaS business automation platform that helps enterprises scale their businesses, Leado allows them to automate and integrate their systems and marketing channels on a single platform. It also helps enterprises connect these business applications and derive insights. The Bengaluru-based company was founded in 2015 by Prashanth BN, Sandeep Danta and Kabir Banerjee.

“Jio-GenNext has helped us in figuring out our go-to-market strategy and focus on efforts to crack it and helped us refine our product roadmap,” says Prashanth.

Pensieve: Pensieve is a technology startup founded by Gaurav Shrivastava and Prahlad K. Routh, which uses machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and AI capabilities to solve problems of data discovery. The Mumbai-based venture, set up in 2016, is helping companies derive intelligent insights from data that seem otherwise unachievable.

Their platform, Mitra.ai, is an AI-driven platform for legal research which helps lawyers, law firms students and corporates do efficient end-to end legal research, starting from a search query and ending with a defensible argument. “We found that the lack of efficient legal research leads to prolonged time in getting justice. We wanted to create a platform which would increase productivity and make justice more affordable,” says Gaurav.

“Jio-GenNext acted as a melting pot for me, gave me access to industry veterans and entrepreneurs who allowed me to give them a holistic view of the market,” he says.

To participate in the Winter cohort of the Jio-GenNext Startup Programme, which will conclude its cohort selection by mid-December, e-mail your startup deck along with details such as founders, product, value proposition and traction to Rahul Munshi (Rahul.Munshi@ril.com). For more information on Jio-GenNext, please visit www.gennexthub.com.

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