Today, data has become crucial to solving some of our most complex business challenges across industries, to improving the efficiency of existing solutions, and most importantly inspiring innovation.
Take for instance Lightwing, a Bengaluru based cloud-management startup. Its flagship platform optimises public cloud spends with consumption-based automation.
“AI and data has become integral for optimisation. For instance, Lightwing uses data across deployments to figure out what compute power will be cost-effective for a particular workload. It also helps to understand cloud usage patterns in a company. This results in savings of 70-80 percent or more on a company’s non-production monthly cloud bill,” says Ravitej, Co-founder, Lightwing.
How startups are innovating with data and AI
Shivaram K R, Co-founder & CEO, Curl Analytics, a research company with expertise in Machine Learning, Blockchain and IoT, agrees that data has become the central theme of innovation and decision making in most organisations. “Data-based innovations help overcome many of the challenges organisations face today such as complex domains, multiple influencers, large data sets, lack of expertise, dynamic environment, improving top line and bottom line, etc.”
The research company has built multiple products using AI and ML. And one of their products, Paras, is an automated engine that takes the load off data scientists and democratises AI. It gives the power of AI to business users. “Given data, Paras can automatically forecast, find anomalies and detect patterns.” The product is built for BFSI and Healthcare domain, although it can be used in other industries with tweaks.
Lightwing and Curl Analytics are among the five startups that are a part of NetApp Excellerator that are delivering powerful solutions to customers by leveraging data and AI at its core. The other three startups are CloudSEK, Senseforth.ai and Coralogix.
Here’s a deeper look at the five startups and how they are leveraging AI and data in their solutions
CloudSEK is an AI-powered Digital Risk Management enterprise headquartered in Singapore with an office in Bengaluru. Its flagship platform helps clients assess their security posture in real-time from the perspective of an attacker. CloudSEK’s ‘X Vigil’ is a SaaS-based easy-to-use platform that provides specific, actionable and timely warnings that help companies to intervene and take swift action, thus preventing costly breaches and losses. While the company was founded by Rahul Sasi in 2015, Sourabh Issar came onboard as its CEO in 2018.
Talking about the role of AI in CloudSEK, Rahul says, “The raw data from open and closed internet sources is collected and analysed by its AI technology, which is integrated in the platform. This data is then fed to CloudSEK’s proprietary model ‘ThreatMeter’, which detects and rates threats accurately in real-time. After a detailed verification of these threats, X-Vigil’s dashboard provides analytics that aid insightful and actionable information.”
A log analytics SaaS startup from Israel, Coralogix instantly narrows down millions of log entries to just hundreds of common patterns to quickly troubleshoot production issues.
“Companies are spending a huge amount of time analysing and debugging their software, Coralogix helps them avoid getting lost in their data and become more proactive,” says Ariel Assaraf, Founder and CEO.
Coralogix also provides access to a full set of investigative tools to identify, drill down, correlate and visualise behaviour faster. It also helps benchmark every release for quality and potential issues with its technology that continuously observes log patterns and flows between system components to understand what typical behaviour looks like and sends notifications when a pattern deviates unnaturally.
“We use AI in order to automatically cluster our customers’ data into patterns, flows, and trends so that our customers can work on smaller amounts of data to receive more precise results in a shorter time. Also, Coralogix is unique in its approach to ML. “We had to write all our algorithms from scratch without any use of external libraries since we wanted to create something that will perfectly match our audience,” says the CEO. Ariel also explains that they continuously learn from the massive amounts of data they ingest every day to create algorithms that precisely serve their target market.
Shivaram K R, Jayavaradhan Sambedu, Chandra Prakash and Swapnik Jakkampudi, four industry professionals set up Curl Analytics with a vision to function as a primordial soup of research from which new ideas, solutions and products emerge. “We test the ideas and MVPs from a problem solution to a product-market fit and if it clears the test and acquires traction, it becomes a viable business and enables us to later spin it up into a separate entity, which specialises in that business. Since 2017, we have come up with several ideas that have the potential to become unicorns. We are now in the process of setting up three new JV companies with strategic partners for taking some of our products to the next level,” says Shivaram.
Talking about Paras, Shivaram, shares, “We use ML, Deep Learning and time series forecasting techniques in our product. We have built the product on microservices architecture with various orchestration and deployment modes, which can be scaled easily for large enterprises. ‘Paras’ tackles very challenging problems in the field of Data Science. Paras would ideally be deployed to work on datasets that are aggregated across enterprises and leverages on processing capabilities available to an organisation.”
Lightwing started off as a technology consultancy in July 2018 and founders Navaneeth KN, Ravitej Yadalam began taking up projects on cloud enablement, DevOps, and Application Development.
“While working with the companies, many complained about the large cloud bills. That’s when we saw an opportunity to build a product that can optimise cloud spends.”
A year later, Lightwing went live. “Non-production (QA, staging, development, demo, R&D) resources are typically used only during work hours. Even during work hours, they are usually unused for a significant portion of the day. They are unused after work-hours, on weekends and on company holidays. Using Lightwing's AutoStopping Managed Services, a company’s non-production cloud resources will be available to the company only when they need them, giving savings of 70-80 percent or more on the non-production monthly cloud bill. All this with no on-going manual intervention whatsoever, and no change to the way the developers work,” says Ravitej.
Senseforth.ai is a leading Conversational AI Platform providing automated humanlike conversations between organisations and people. Former Infosys leaders Shridhar Marri, Krishna Kadiri and Ritesh Radhakrishnan, all of whom had decades of experience in enterprise tech space, came together to start Senseforth.ai with a vision to make computers understand natural language. Senseforth.ai mimics human cognitive abilities in reading, comprehending, interpreting and actioning user intent. The platform comes with a comprehensive Conversational AI Bot Store offering a wide range of prebuilt business bots.
Shridhar, CEO and Co-Founder of Senseforth.ai says, “It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say, we are one of the most advanced conversational AI platforms today. We are trusted by some of the biggest brands across verticals like Nestle, HDFC Bank, PwC, ICICI Bank, SBI Card, Max Life, Kotak Mutual among others.”
Senseforth.ai has filed patents in India and the US and has also won several significant awards for its technology including The AI Product of the Year 2018 award by Frost & Sullivan, India Emerging 20 Companies Award by London & Partners and Game Changer 50 Awards by NASSCOM.
Its pre-built and field-tested industry AI models make the chatbots highly accurate right out-of-the-box across a variety of use cases - from customer acquisition, tech support, knowledge management to employee engagement among others. "As a Conversational AI Platform, Senseforth.ai champions data driven innovation as a means to unlock new insights and new potential. Through our data driven innovation approaches we help our clients reduce costs and improve operational efficiency by up to 50 percent," says Shridhar
Leveraging NetApp’s tech expertise and ecosystem to grow
The startups through the accelerator programme are able to leverage NetApp’s expertise in data, with NetApp being recognised as the data authority for hybrid cloud. In addition, NetApp’s tech expertise is helping the startups further strengthen their technology offerings.
“After creating what we believe is a robust product, our next focus is on enhancing the user experience, because it is a key factor that drives product loyalty. We believe NetApp’s expertise will help us improve the effectiveness and quality of platform navigation, interaction and view. We want to make it simple for users to move through the different modules of the platform, to input data, receive responses, and display of hierarchy of pages and sub-pages.”
For Ariel, meetings and multiple sessions with the NetApp team helped to see how they could improve the way they run the test cycles. “We got to hear all about testing and validation strategy and they combine it with Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, (CI/CD) and Continuous Deployment.”
In addition to the tools and technologies, know-how and mentoring, the NetApp Excellerator enables participants to leverage its ecosystem of partners, subject-matter experts, and customers and to realise the maximum potential of their innovative ideas. “Interacting with NetApp’s tech leaders and its enterprise customers, we have been able to discover use cases Lightwing makes a great fit, especially for large enterprises. In short, the NetApp Excellerator is helping us become enterprise-ready” says Ravitej.
For startups like Senseforth.ai and Curl Analytics, NetApp Excellerator is a great opportunity to grow the business with the PoC and Joint Go-To-Market. “The concept of encouraging PoCs with the relevant business units in NetApp is beneficial to both startups and corporates. We were able to initiate a PoC very quickly and work together to create a tailor-made solution. It is extremely rare to find an enterprise the size of NetApp so open to innovation and new products,” says Ariel.
“NetApp has a lot of solutions in data storage, networking and hybrid cloud space. The suite of products and solutions offered by NetApp, can perfectly augment the areas Paras works on. We are working on exploring how Paras can be scaled to enterprises by leveraging on NetApp capabilities. This would be a major value proposition to our end customers, who would benefit from the seamless integration of Curl Analytics & NetApp.” says Shivaram. For Curl Analytics, the PoC provided the startup market visibility, a possible opportunity to become NetApp AI partner and also a number of learnings. “We have learnt many things from product positioning to creating powerful pitch decks to targeting the right customers. We even got a chance to showcase our product to a wide set of customers and investors.”
Speaking on NetApp’s journey with the fifth cohort, Madhurima Agarwal, Leader, NetApp Excellerator, said, “At NetApp Excellerator, the fuel to drive relentless innovation comes through NetApp’s leadership and expertise in data management. We’re in an interesting and exciting journey with the brightest minds in the industry who are solving real complex challenges that enterprises face today. We’ve also charted a new growth path for the program where we are sponsoring proof-of-concepts for our startups for them to illustrate their scalability and profit potential. This will strengthen the GTM opportunities for the startups and enable them to change the world with data.”
If the startups were to sum up the role of NetApp Excelerator, nothing encapsulates it better than the words of Rahul Sasi. “NetApp Excellerator is like a big brother figure.”
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