After two successful cohorts of its accelerator programme for B2B startups, global data management giant NetApp launched the third batch of the NetApp Excellerator in September this year.
From over 300+ applications received from startups working across diverse areas such as Cloud, IoT, Big Data and Analytics, Machine Learning, virtualisation, data security, data management, storage, and other related subjects, six startups were chosen to be a part of the third cohort. During the four-month programme, these six will receive technical and business mentorship and support to develop market-ready products and solutions, an equity-free grant of $15,000, access to NetApp’s technologies, access to a co-working space, assistance in HR, and legal and tech support.
“We see tremendous opportunity for the startups as the tech space evolves rapidly and businesses today have an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of these innovations. Bringing in a business context to technology and helping with go to market forays is a top value add we have tried to deliver though this programme,” says Ajeya Motaganahalli, Senior Director and leader for NetApp Startup Accelerator.
Pune-based CloudOptimo started in April 2016 as a consulting company that helps Deep Tech companies reduce their infrastructure cost by helping them focus their energies on their core problems rather than cost optimisation.
Running out of money is one of the major reasons startups fail. “We started CloudOptimo because we have seen many companies spending lots of money on infrastructure - sometimes 10 to 15 percent of their revenue. CloudOptimo is an Intelligent Cloud Costs Optimization Platform, which reduces costs upto 80 percent while ensuring high availability and consistent performance. Our solution also helps many companies improve their architecture and adopt industry standard code deployment methodologies,” says Vaibhav Kamble, Founder and CEO.
Co-founders Vaibhav and Tushar Chakote had been working together for six years before starting up CloudOptimo. Both have extensive experience in the AdTech and Payments domains.
According to Vaibhav and Tushar, their participation in the programme will help them grow stronger and improve. “As a startup, we made many mistakes. NetApp brought in mentors and industry experts who helped us improve our perspective and way of doing things. They also helped a lot in terms of connecting us with the ecosystem. We are sure that NetApp Excellerator will help us meet our business and technology goals faster than we had envisioned.”
With experts predicting that there will be 200 billion connected things by 2020, the need for efficient cyber security solutions is becoming paramount. InstaSafe, a software-defined perimeter-based cybersecurity provider, helps secure organisations, users and applications through an innovative Zero Trust Model. The startup is headquartered at Bengaluru and has offices in the US, Mumbai, and Delhi.
In an era where the world is moving from traditional on-premise data centers to cloud data centers, hardware-based legacy security solutions are limiting in terms of scalability and failover. Instasafe’s robust and secure cloud-based solutions don’t require any hardware infrastructure, are easy to use and don’t require too much technical/networking know-how to be managed. They work on the principles of Software Defined Perimeter wherein they extend an organization’s perimeter, ensuring tightened security to remote users as well. They work across sectors from retail, manufacturing to power, logistics, education, BFSI etc.
“Our clients use InstaSafe Solutions to connect multiple data centers and endpoint devices securely over a network ensuring complete infrastructure security. Our product acts as an alternative to many cost intensive legacy security solutions that are hardware based and difficult to manage,” says InstaSafe Co-founder and CEO, Sandip Kumar Panda.
Instasafe was founded in December 2012 by Sandip, Biju George, Prashanth Guruswamy, Ravikumar Govindrao, and Deepak Panigrahi. Ravikumar and Deepak later moved out. All the founders have experience of over a decade across various levels and roles at organisations like Blue Coat, Sify, Wipro, Symantec, Quantum, Tasman Networks, Nortel, Radware, Pravegha and GapBridge.
“The experience has been great so far. Various sessions on technical and business aspects were of great help as they bring the best instructors from Silicon Valley and other leading organisations. We are trying to leverage NetApp's connections for various go-to-market strategies for domestic and global markets. We are also working closely with NetApp to create a world-class product demo for our existing and prospective customers to explain our product in a simplified manner, as the cybersecurity domain is difficult to apprehend,” says Sandip.
Bengaluru-based FirstHive acts as a marketing efficiency engine for consumer enterprises. It went live with its alpha launch in January 2016, with a subsequent global Beta release by August- September 2016.
FirstHive was born as a central marketing brain that connected all marketing interaction channels (online and offline) of an organisation and all their tools - to deliver a single unified customer view with comprehensive interaction context. With this identity unlocked, the marketer can deliver consistent journeys focused on every unique consumer, across all channels from a single platform.
“FirstHive’s approach is unique and fundamental to the marketing challenge - we believe this puts us in the league of global innovative products in MarTech. We work with some of the largest consumer brands across India and SouthEast Asia today and are aggressively looking to expand. We have delivered incremental business of over $2 billion to our customers over the last 24 months,” says Aditya Bhamidipaty, Founder & CEO of FirstHive.
According to the founders, FirstHive is a horizontal product and can potentially enable marketing objectives for any large consumer enterprise or digital-only business.
Aditya holds a PGBDM degree from IIM Ahmedabad and prior to starting up he was responsible for iGate’s sales in Europe. He has worked with P&G in India as well. Birendra Kumar Sahu is VP - Technology for the platform and brings over 18 years of combined experience across Big Data, ML & AI. He has over seven patents and 85 Invention Disclosure Reports to his credit. Vishal Sukheja leads the product management and marketing functions for FirstHive and brings over 12 years of cross-functional experience in the space.
Aditya says, “For us, this opportunity came at the right time as we were embarking on a revamp of our technical architecture, and this enables us to validate our assumptions better. We have also had an opportunity to interact with experts which helped us simplify our business pitch, to make it more relatable. Our participation at YourStory’s TechSparks event, which NetApp enabled, was also appreciated as that enabled us to generate few leads and get recognition this year as a Tech30 company.”
He believes the NetApp Excellerator experience will add value in two key areas -- technology mentorship and go-to-market based on mutual synergy.
Started in 2017, Praktice.ai is a Singapore-based company headquartered in Singapore with a team based in Bengaluru as well. Praktice.ai automates patient interactions at hospitals, saving operational costs and increasing revenue for hospitals.
Hospitals spend millions on frontline operations. Not only do they need to hire more staff to manage the increase in number of patients they treat, they also lose revenue due to missed leads as the staff are often busy with other patients.
Praktice.ai automates patient interactions through speech and chat mediums, enabling hospital staff to handle almost 10x the number of patients. It also enhances the patient experience while increasing hospitals’ topline by qualifying more leads
Explaining their solution, co-founders Srinath Akula and Akhila Srinath say, “On an average, a human interaction with say, a receptionist, would earlier take 12 minutes. With Praktice.ai’s solution, a complex statement like: ‘My dad underwent bypass surgery last year and needs angiography to see if it’s ok now’ can be understood easily by the AI engine, who then connects the caller to the cardiologist specialised in coronary angiography procedures. This takes just four minutes with almost zero wait times at hospitals, whereas earlier, the average waiting time over phone was six minutes.”
According to them, their AI system not only reduces the waiting times over phones and at the hospital but also improves productivity by enabling patients to get treated by the right doctor at the right time, thereby improving outcomes and experience. Also, automating the medical transactions lowers the burden for the operational staff and doctors saving millions in cost and time.
They see potential for implementation across other healthcare sectors like insurance or diagnostics or pharmacy.
Srinath, CEO of Praktice.ai is a data scientist with an MBA from IIM Indore, while Akhila, the COO, is a medical professional.
“NetApp Excellerator provides advanced mentoring for growth phase startups in scaling up the sales and enterprise level solutions. We hope to get mentored on data security from NetApp on integrations as they have been handling the data systems and integrations with EMR systems for some of the biggest hospitals in the world. We also hope to get mentorship on the enterprise scale applications and system stability which are essential to reach to the next level,” say the duo.
Cardiotrack was founded in 2014 by Ashim Roy and Avin Agarwal and is based in Bengaluru. The parent company of Cardiotrack, Uber Diagnostics is registered in Singapore.
Cardiotrack is working towards alleviating pain points in the Indian healthcare system through its AI-based healthcare platform.
The Cardiotrack platform is designed to fulfil all the basic requirements of a primary care clinic. Doctors can detect heart health problems accurately, consult specialists, refer and track patients, maintain medical history and start the intervention process. The platform includes multi-parameter, light weight healthcare IoT devices and mobile health software that helps to screen illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and hypertension and helps doctors to perform diagnosis and then safely store the patient records.
The device is sturdy and can handle tough Indian climate conditions. Cardiotrack can also do up to 100 scans on one charge, a definite advantage in power starved areas.
The device also has AI capability which provides diagnosis at the primary care clinic level which can be verified by a cardiologist at a different location.
The founders share how their device helped save the life of a farmer in a remote village in Karnataka. “When he arrived at the clinic, he was sweating and complained of chest pain. The doctor immediately hooked him up to the Cardiotrack ECG monitor. The AI component in the device immediately and accurately diagnosed the problem as inferior wall myocardial infarction, and the patient was immediately taken to a speciality hospital in Hubli where he was treated successfully. There are several such stories that we have.”
The founders believe that only when preventive cardiac care becomes institutionalized in all district level primary care centres will India’s cardiac health epidemic be tackled.
“With this in mind, Cardiotrack wants to build an ecosystem via academia, cardiologists and public health officials to ensure that the matter of preventive cardiac care remains topmost on the agenda of all major decision makers,” says the duo.
Ashim has about 35 years of work experience primarily in the telecom industry. He has worked in Australia, Canada, USA and now in India and holds several patents. He has a BE (Hons) from BITS Pilani, an M.Tech from IIT Delhi and he completed his PhD from University of Adelaide in Australia.
Avin Agarwal has a BE in medical electronics from VTU, Bangalore and has worked for several years at Oracle in the Netherlands. He has also received a grant from the Gates Foundation for diagnostic research and holds a patent.
According to them, the NetApp Excellerator has improved their clarity in thinking and forecasting. It has helped the Cardiotrack senior management to sharpen its understanding of processes and most importantly, improve technology competencies.
Started in 2016, ZScore is an AI analytics company based in Bengaluru with their own platform that could be deployed on top of existing business intelligence systems. ZScore’s mission is to ensure that organisations have trustworthy data that they can use to make decisions confidently.
While executing analytics projects in their previous roles, the founders realised that one area no one focused on was the quality and accuracy of data being fed into various analytics initiatives. Existing IT systems looked at data from a metadata perspective but no one was checking the business context of the data and if it was sufficient enough to drive processes or aid in decision-making.
Invariably, data of low accuracy (60-70%) was being fed to decisions-makers which greatly reduced their data-based decision-making abilities. Furthermore, various analytics initiatives were failing to realise ROI and adoption targets because the results they generated were always suspect from a business perspective.
According to the Zscore founders, after using their solution, clients have already seen a reduction in adverse financial impact due to bad data.
“We have identified around $1 - $16 million worth of bad data that could cause them losses. The clients are from the insurance domain so the possible issues we have identified are duplicate hospital names, wrong premium, coverage and claim amounts, wrong claims paid out and claims paid out multiple times to the same policy holder,”
The founding members include Deleep Murali, Rohit Kalro and Ayush Banka. Deleep and Rohit met as students at the Katz School of Business, University of Pittsburgh. Deleep and Ayush also previously worked together in an analytics startup called DSquare.
“We have great support from the team running the programme and from stakeholders in NetApp. In the short time we have been here the mentors and coaches brought in have helped change our perspective and helped us improve our execution. We hope that with NetApp’s background in the data and storage market and its being a global player will give us the exposure we need to help raise us to the next level,” say the founders.