For startups, building their business is like working on a jigsaw puzzle – a multitude of intricate pieces that need to fit into just the right place for the picture to be complete. At times, they need a helping hand to figure out the gaps and how best to address them.
The NetApp Excellerator programme helps startups realise the full potential and reach of their innovative ideas. Launched in June this year, the NetApp Excellerator has been instrumental in providing startups with knowledge and experience on various aspects of setting up and scaling up a business, giving them access to NetApp technologies, partners and mentors. In addition, the programme provides the selected startups access to potential customers and venture capitalists and helps them explore how best they can take their innovative ideas to a global market.
The programme received 260 applications in all, from which the following six startups were shortlisted for the four-month-long immersive programme. Here’s a quick look at the select six.
(The Demo Day for the first cohort of the NetApp Excellerator is scheduled to be held on December 12. Do watch this space for more details on the exciting and innovative solutions which will be showcased on the occasion.)
Adya: For any enterprise, securing their data against vulnerabilities, both internal and external, is a vital need. Adya is a SaaS-data security platform that helps companies protect their data from insider theft and ransomware. It does this by helping companies detect where their most sensitive data is (whether it's inside the enterprise or in the cloud), protecting it from overexposure and issuing an alert in case of misuse or theft. The platform works on the premise that since the attacker since the attacker already has access to the network -- either in the form of a malicious insider or an insider whose credentials have been compromised, traditional cybersecurity defences such as firewalls and VPNs would not be able to protect enterprises from these attacks.
Deepak Balakrishna, Co-founder and CEO, Adya, says “Being part of the NetApp accelerator has given us access to world-class facilities, mentoring and channels and has been a great signal to potential investors, customers and employees. As the market leader in data management solutions, their expertise, feedback and brand is very valuable as we go to market. As a B2B focused accelerator - of which there are very few in India - NetApp has the potential to help B2B startups such as Adya that are in the data security space move to the next level.”
NetApp’s Director of Engineering Programs Ajeya Motaganahalli, who also heads the accelerator, says, “Security is always a hot space, and Adya with its SaaS-based offering possesses the potential to grow into a potent security solution for companies that operate in the cloud. The founder has a lot of depth and is quick to notice success factors and capitalise on these. A case in point is their recent pivot from OnPrem to Cloud.”
EnCloudEn : A technology platform, EnCloudEn helps organisations automate their IT infrastructure at reduced costs, including setting up an internal cloud-based datacenter, consolidating IT workloads with the private cloud, deploying virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and enabling IT for users in a bring your own device (BYOD) model, among others
“NetApp Excellerator is helping us take a leap by facilitating access to expertise in various areas related to building a tech company. We really appreciate how invested the team at NetApp Excellerator is in our success,” says EnCloudEn Co-Founder Abinash Saikia
According to Ajeya, “EnCloudEn is an extremely dynamic startup with a set of hugely talented and accomplished young founders who are extremely ambitious. They are well on their way to creating a uniquely compelling offering in a crowded market by offering a cost-effective infrastructure solution."
LightMetrics: This startup is working to make roads safer and smarter by using smartphones to collect motion insights during transportation and analysing this real-time data to better understand driver behaviour. One of their products, RideView, is a cross-platform and hardware agnostic SDK that can process a forward-facing camera video to alert the driver in real time, and ensure compliance with traffic laws. Their SDK can be integrated on devices such as smartphones, tablets and dash cameras.
“NetApp Excellerator is easily one of the better thought-out and executed startup accelerator programmes in India. Getting startup mentors and coaches from Silicon Valley has been hugely beneficial, and this exercise showed us how a startup can figure out its market segments, key value proposition, go-to-market, etc. through well-established processes and exercises. Access to key people in India and the US through the extended NetApp family is a huge benefit. During our time so far, it feels great to see how invested NetApp has been in ensuring that startups in the cohort do well in a sustainable manner,” says Krishna A.G., Co-Founder and V.P. of Sales, LightMetrics.
“I have noticed a very high degree of maturity and focus in this team of founders. Their openness to learn and their single-minded focus on customer acquisition can only be surpassed by their determination to stay the course and succeed,” says Ajeya.
Scalend Technologies: The BFSI sector has always been data-driven and when harnessed efficiently, this data derives rich insights which helps the businesses. Scalend’s solution is in the form of an AI-enabled data insights platform for financial services and fintech companies. The platform combines proprietary AI models with Big Data - Hadoop's unlimited storage and computing power, which can generate actionable insights around omni-channel customer journeys, fraud detection and back-office optimisation, in a matter of weeks.
According to Srikanth Parthasarathy, Co-founder, Scalend Technologies, “Building a B2B product startup is hard, and most startup accelerators are focused on B2C startups. The NetApp Excellerator has been refreshingly different from others, with a very strong B2B focus - both in clearly defining the product and market, and a strong emphasis on talking to customers and iterating from there. For us, the added advantage of NetApp offering the support of its large and experienced sales machine makes the Excellerator that much more compelling.”
Ajeya’s opinion on Scalend is this: “A great combination of a compelling product; that too at a time when the financial industry is undergoing digital transformation, combined with a set of great founders. This is an ideal company to partner with”.
Vaultedge: Poring through lengthy legal contracts is a time consuming and effort-intensive exercise. Vaultedge uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate legal workflows so that lawyers can focus on the high value tasks. With Vaultedge’s solution, you can upload a contract and see the extracted information in seconds. Their AI platform can understand contracts the way a lawyer does, and accurately identify over 200 clauses and data points. Using their solution, companies can save 70 per cent of their time spent in reviewing contracts.
“The NetApp team has been very open and generous about connecting us to their customers, thus creating sales opportunities for us, says Murali Tirupati, Co-Founder & CEO, Vaultedge
“Vaultedge has a compelling solution for the legal space. The founders are quick to notice new opportunities and pivot quickly to address emerging needs. They are playing in a park where the addressable space is large with only a few competitors,” says Ajeya.
Vitacloud Digital Health Pvt. Ltd.
VitaCloud uses data and analytics to prevent, manage and reduce chronic health diseases through its IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) platform. The platform helps care providers and patients to collaboratively manage chronic diseases by combining connected technologies, data, and the human touch. The solution collects real time data from different health sources like wearables, in-home medical devices, laboratory reports, nutrition databases and population health studies to create a comprehensive health profile. It provides continuous patient monitoring services, Type 2 diabetes management, fitness and weight-loss coaching.
“It has been an incredible experience to be a part of NetApp's first Excellerator cohort. We find great synergies between NetApp's data fabric vision and VitaCloud's data-driven approach to better health outcomes. The Excellerator programme has enabled us to access powerful business connects, technical expertise and knowledgeable mentors within the NetApp ecosystem. It has allowed us to refine our product build-out strategy and execute a structured go-to-market approach. The programme has also provided us with critical business services like IT support, IP advisory and a truly world class co-working environment that fosters collaboration and innovation. Finally, the no-strings attached USD 15,000 grant is valuable for early stage companies that are still bootstrapped or self-funded.”
“With this rich experience and visibility, we feel confident that we can scale VitaCloud to the next orbit of growth,” says Vinod Shankar, Co-Founder, VitaCloud.
In turn, Ajeya believes that VitaCloud has “highly sorted and mature founders who have a clear vision for their product with an extremely consumer-centric vision. They are playing in the healthcare space that has huge potential.”