16 startups pitch to US VCs and corporates in Silicon Valley

17th Oct 2018
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Leadership teams from top companies vetted 16 startups curated by TiE-Mumbai, and gave them feedback on how to impress investors and partners during a pitch.

It’s not easy to pitch a business idea to a group of VCs and corporate leadership teams. It becomes even more difficult when raising money is always the most important factor for a startup’s survival.

Nevertheless, 16 curated startups from Indian braved it at the Plug and Play accelerator in Sunnyvale, California and at BootUp Ventures at Menlo Park. 

The TiE Mumbai startup delegation pitched to over seven VCs

Leadership teams from Emergent Ventures, Kyocera, Perkins Coie (Law firm), DCP Midstream (energy company), Mitsubishi Electric, Merrill Lynch and Sumitomo Life vetted these 16 startups and gave them feedback on how to impress investors and partners during a pitch.

“Startups need to have clarity while pitching and must realise that it is not about the money,” says Mukul Agarwal, CEO of BootUp Ventures, which is a startup scale up programme and a co-working space.

The questions asked by corporate entities and VCs were:

  • Who are paying customers?
  • The market traction?
  • The margin on the products.
  • The cost of acquiring a customer or consumer.
  • How is the brand being built and how one will position the brand or service?
  • The advantage of using the technology and cost-effectiveness of making the product or service scale.

The advice given was:

  • Get the narrative right - tell a story that investors don't know.
  • Do a competition analysis.
  • Understand the need of the investors and corporates.
  • Make use of the time to build a relationship.
  • Pitch sessions should be concise and focus on the market they want to address.
  • Pitch should not be about what the startup has done but what the product can do to scale and make money

Pitching should be precise and information must connect with the audience. Startups should also focus on who they want to partner with or sell to globally and how the product impacts the future. Many of the ideas have to position themselves as a data modelling and services business,” says Jaap Suermondt, Executive-In-Residence at Plug and Play.

“The business model is the key and they should explain that competitive advantage,” says Alok Nanda Partner at Emergent Ventures.

Jean Junqua CEO and founder of CE2Innovate says, “Founders should focus on the economics and how technology saves cost.”

Here are the startups that pitched from India:

  • Jubi.Ai - Founded by Subhadeep Bhattacharya, its technology transitions the customer from web-based interactions to conversations. The company works with banking and financial institutions.
  • Flickstree - This video distribution technology platform was founded by Rahul Jain. It enables local language content to be syndicated and distributed on third-party apps. The company has partners that include Apus, TCL, Samsung (My galaxy app videos powered by Flickstree), Xiaomi, and Mercedes Benz. The company has raised $500,000 and works on revenue share deals with content creators and publishers.
  • Hubilo - Founded by Vaibhav Jain, the company brings technology for meetings and events. It uses technology to manage the entire lifecycle of an event and to generate venue tickets, manage videos, social media and data. Hubilo also creates a list of attendees and suggests who one should meet at an event. The business model is subscription based. It also has a customised service model. Coca Cola and Toyota are their clients. The company has raised $125000, and counts CVent as its competition.
  • Drona HQ - Founded by Jinen Dedhia and Divyesh Kharade, the platform allows developers to build applications quickly and deploy enterprise-grade solutions. More than 100 corporates work with them. The business model is a low-code-platform-as-a-service to build enterprise grade apps. Customers can build forms, data models and workflows in a day as against weeks taken earlier.
  • DronStudy -Founded by Neetin Agrawal, DronStudy is a personalised digital education platform for school students. The platform uses AI to support vernacular and bilingual languages. The company maps the intelligence levels of students and enables them to learn with AI. 
  • Oto Capital - Founded by Sumit Chhazed, this auto finance and sales company makes money on interest, insurance, and resale margin. The company claims a net yield of 10 percent on its loan assets as compared to a bank product whose net yield is 4 percent. Oto Capital also claims it makes ownership of cars cheaper by 30 percent through a financial instrument. 
  • First Hive - Founded by Aditya Bhamidipaty, the company has created a marketing technology product where it measures the conversions for marketers. Enterprises want to know how they spend their marketing dollars and the First Hive platform makes brands demand much more from the platforms they spend on. It has more than 100 clients and is growing fast. 
  • PicoNets - Founded by Prakash Advani, it helps in intelligent caching of data at malls and hotels where mobile internet penetration is very low. The company also works with smaller ISPs to make internet faster to their consumers. The platform is an edge device that processes applications. The company helps a website which took 8 seconds to load in 800 milliseconds. The company has installed in 40 locations across India.
  • Energos - Founder Rajesh Solanki created an IoT device which manages control systems of chilling machines in offices and plants. It is an edge computer device and a patent pending device that is deployed in 1,000 locations and is launching in the Middle East. The company has raised a seed round of $150,000 and is also building a systems for grid optimisation. 

Other pitches were by Consumex, Superfan.ai, HippoVideo, Cleardekho Eyewear, TryNDBuy, Cirtru and Linksmart.

Companies like CE2Innovate, Kyocera and Sumitomo Life also connected with others like Energos, TryNDBuy to initiate conversations around proof of concepts.

According to the accelerator Plug and Play, of the 400 startups that enter its accelerator, every year, only three percent become big businesses. Plug and Play has helped over 2,000 startups scale up and has worked with 300 corporate companies and 180 VCs. The event was orgnised by TiE-Mumbai in association with Amazon Web Services. The accelerator BootUp connected all 16 startups to angel investors and VC firms like Inventus.

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