‘A brain to pick, a ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.’ These are the essentials in a startup’s survival kit. Add to this, access to the latest technology, influencers, investors, potential customers, and a global launchpad for their solution, and you have a sure-fire formula for success.'
Since June 2017, the NetApp Excellerator programme has been helping selected startups realise their full potential, and extending the reach of their innovative ideas by providing knowledge on various aspects of setting up and scaling up a business. The startups have also been given access to NetApp technologies, partners, mentors, potential customers, and venture capitalists. After the success of its first cohort, which graduated in December 2017, the global data storage and management giant has now launched the 2nd edition of the programme.
Learning from the first cohort
According to Ajeya Motaganahalli, Head of the NetApp Excellerator, “Cohort 1 was a great learning experience, successful beyond our expectations. We were able to pivot some companies to create the right product market fit, and to even create a partnership with one of the companies. It also helped us fine-tune some aspects of the programme and to improve it.”
This time, they received over 450 applications, more than twice the number that they received for the first cohort. “The companies that have applied to Cohort 2 are slightly more mature than those in the first cohort. They are from varied sectors in the data-driven space, including analytics, spectral photography, computer vision, Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These are all markets we are interested in, and we believe we can help these companies get to the next level.”
The bootcamp round
Of the 450 applicants, 11 were shortlisted and participated in a two-day bootcamp held recently at the NetApp campus in Bengaluru. After another stringent selection round, six startups will go on to form the programme’s second cohort, which will be announced shortly. These six will get technology and business mentorship in the form of access to NetApp’s platforms, technologies and tools, a co-working space at the company’s Bengaluru premises, networking opportunities with potential investors, access to NetApp’s partners and customers, and support across human resources (HR), marketing, legal, and tech functions.
Of the 11 startups, seven were from Bengaluru, four from the National Capital Region (New Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida) and one US-registered company with operations in Mumbai. They are:
Veda Labs: This New Delhi-based startup works in the area of Image Analytics. Its solution includes an AI platform that helps warehouses and retail chains track specific activities through CCTV camera using AI, providing an advanced level of business intelligence.
“Our solution allows retailers, surveillance companies, and government agencies to extract real-time insights from CCTV cameras,” says Co-founder Virendra Mishra.
If they get selected to be a part of the second cohort, their primary expectation from the programme includes technical mentorship and business partnerships. “With our surveillance, tech and NetApp’s access to smart cities, we could create a joint solution and co-grow with them. Learning from them and riding a wave with them would help a company like ours,” says Virendra.
ArchSaber: ArchSaber automates the diagnosis and prediction of issues in a large and complex IT stack, through real-time monitoring and alerts, and offers advanced data science techniques to detect and fix these issues.
Ashish Gaurav, Co-founder, explains their solution, “We provide real-time diagnosis of outages in IT infrastructure. When these outages occur, there is immense pressure to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. While manual intervention requires going through huge amounts of data, with our solution, we can help companies quickly grasp the exact point of failure and fix the issue.”
What are his thoughts about getting selected for the final round? “NetApp is an extremely successful enterprise with a deep knowledge of how a product goes from an idea to serving millions of people. They also have a strong tech culture that can be helpful in refining our idea and giving it a shape that everyone can use.”
Dataken Technologies Pvt Ltd: Dataken is focussed on providing Deep Learning-driven business process automation, predictive network management, customer insights, and micro-segmentation for small and medium businesses and service providers. They are augmenting AI/ML-driven intelligence into network monitoring. Their solutions help companies move from the older reactive method of handling things to a more predictive way of looking at operations.
“If selected, we hope to unlearn some things we picked up as part of our startup journey, learn new things, and grow to the next level,” says CEO Suresh Gokarakonda.
SigTuple Technologies Pvt Ltd: They offer intelligent screening solutions for pathology labs through digitisaton of pathological slide images and cloud-based image processing used for diagnosis.
According to CEO Rohit Kumar Pandey, “Our solutions can help doctors and medical lab technicians with visual recognition and analysis, and aid them to make more accurate decisions faster. This will help doctors spend time in places where they can add more value.”
If selected for the programme, Rohit believes it will make a significant difference to their go-to-market strategy. “Technology will only bring you to a certain point. After that, when actually going into the market, there is so much you need to polish – how to target the right customers, get the right features, how to look at the market as a whole. All this only comes through experience which, as a startup, you don’t have. That is where we hope to get technical and strategic help from NetApp, which is a leader in the storage and cloud-based space,” he adds.
Nanobi Data & Analytics Pvt Ltd: Nanobi Analytics is an interactive and visual full-stack end-to-end analytics platform, essentially for the BFSI, retail, and healthcare sectors. They help enterprises in these spaces solve any business problems using data and analytics, and eliminate the need to use a multitude of tools/technologies.
According to CEO Gayatri Balaji, “Any startup needs a godfather who will support and sustain it. We have been in the business for five years and most of our customers are in India. But we want to spread our wings, and go outside our country. Programmes like these can help us quickly get to those big global customers, which would be difficult to do on our own as a startup.”
She adds that, if selected, their expectation from the programme includes access to clients, investors, strategic inputs, and the chance to meet and learn from other companies.
Sprinkle Data: Sprinkle Data is an analytics platform that automates data pipelines and dependency management.
Sharad Agarwal says, “Our solution performs schema discovery and inference of entity relationships, and creates business metrics in a spreadsheet-like format on web interfaces.”
Halt Dos Pvt. Ltd.: HaltDos uses artificial intelligence to automatically detect and effectively mitigate any kind of DoS or DDoS attack without requiring any human intervention. “We are the bouncers of the internet. We solve cybersecurity problems through machine learning, and the same problem, which would take hours to solve using human intervention, we solve in milliseconds,” says CEO Anshul Saxena.
About his expectations from the programme, if they make it to the final round, he says, “B2B startups like ours need role models who can guide us on what path they followed and how they succeeded. That’s where we can get inputs from the sales and marketing team of NetApps. “
Team Spectral Insights: This 18-month-old startup provides a fully vertically integrated digital solution for the pathology domain. Their solution uses one common piece of hardware, and several software modules to deal with the variety of tests performed using a microscope in a pathology lab - biopsies, blood smears, pap smears, TB sputum smears, bone marrow, etc.
“We try to take everything happening in a pathology lab and convert it to a digital format. We have built a first-generation product, and are in advanced discussions with customers about first-gen deployment. We are looking at the programme to give us acceleration in terms of scaling from a data-centric view, business perspective, and pricing perspective,” says Prasanth Perugupalli, CEO and co-founder.
IOP Technologies: IOP’s IoT products provide industrial plant personnel with deep visibility and data-driven insights across operations. Automating complex work processes enables manufacturers to tighten control on production quality, staffing, and predictive maintenance scheduling.
“We are working on a product for process-based manufacturing industries to solve their problems. We help identify and analyse real-time data from production floors, to solve very critical problems, which are predominantly being done manually. We see improved efficiency and reduced production costs if they get real-time data,” says co-founder Baskaran Balasubramanian.
“The volume of data likely to come out of our product is humungous. There is no better company than NetApp we can to work with to analyse these volumes of data, play with it, and build smart applications,” he adds.
Anlyz: They have created next-gen security products, which make threat and breach detection faster, and improve network security by using ML/Deep Learning and AI to address enterprises’ cybersecurity needs.
Sriram G, Co-founder, says, “If selected, we hope to get good mentorship from thought leaders who’ve built such solutions and show us the right direction in case we are lost somewhere. We would also like to learn how to get clients and deal with them.”
BlobCity, Inc: Blobcity is an analytics marketplace that allows companies to distribute their analytic products over their platform. The platform is available across all major datacenter providers, and anyone with a Docker ID can distribute their Docker applications on this platform without any additional configuration.
“Our solutions can be used by citizen data scientists, that is analysts not formally trained to be data scientists. We see a mutually-beneficial value proposition where BlobCity, can do a joint GTM with NetApp and can help enterprises storing data on NetApp-based systems derive direct meaning from their data,” says CTO Sanket Sarang.