Building cutting-edge solutions on the foundations of data, 7 startups graduate from NetApp Excellerator Cohort 7
Armed with lessons in innovation and leadership from some of the biggest names in the industry and a vision to excel, seven deep technology startups of NetApp Excellerator's Cohort 7 graduated from the programme following an action-packed demo day on January 20, 2021.
With the culmination of Cohort 7, the number of startups that the accelerator has mentored reached 42. The seven graduating startups are BlinkIn, Litmus Automation, CloudHedge, SynctacticAI, BrainSightAI, Arintra and Sn126. Arintra and BrainSightAI formed the inaugural batch of NetApp ExcellerateHER — an accelerator programme dedicated to recognising women entrepreneurs disrupting the technology space. This was the second cohort of the accelerator programme that was managed virtually. As a global programme for startups, Cohort 7 saw participation from four startups headquartered in the United States - Litmus Automation, CloudHedge, Arintra, and Sn126.
The demo day witnessed live pitches from each startup, a peek into their cutting-edge and innovative solution offerings, and recognition of the startups that stood out. While CloudHedge was chosen as the startup with the ‘Best Innovative Product’, Arintra bagged the award for the ‘Best Growth Strategy’. Litmus Automation took home the ‘Investor Choice’ award.
Leaders from NetApp and serial entrepreneur Darren Kaplan shared their perspectives on how startups can navigate change successfully, amid uncertainty.
Data storage is the way to go
In his opening address, NetApp’s Senior Vice President of Engineering, Octavian Tanase, said, “NetApp believes in investing in diversity in the industry and we are especially committed to the success of women in technology.” He also said that NetApp puts people first and fosters a collaborative culture. “We value the opportunity to mentor, engage and nurture startups with a programme like the NetApp Excellerator.”
Highlighting how NetApp is innovating as a data storage company, Octavian shared, “As we innovate, we constantly think how we can bring the power of cloud to the data centre and how to take data centre technology to the cloud, across private, public, and hybrid clouds.” He added that the NetApp portfolio enables startups to build a data fabric that frees developers to build anywhere and provides flexibility to engage with customers on their own terms.
He remarked that 2020 was anything but a business-as-usual year. “It was a year that saw the data-driven vision for transformation becoming critical for the survival of businesses and enabling them to adapt.”
Leadership in the face of change
While Octavian highlighted the impact of the Excellerator programme, NetApp Excellerator leader Madhurima Agarwal talked about why strong and effective leadership is key for organisations to survive and thrive in the face of change. However, she noted that leadership in times of change can be exhilarating and challenging, and true leaders will always be ready for change, be it driven by necessity or choice.
Madhurima shared some leadership lessons that have helped her over the years:
- Inspire and share your vision: During turbulent times, a true leader will be able to effectively share the vision to keep the team focused and boost participation across the spectrum.
- Empathy: During times of change, it becomes a critical competency. Empathy is what inspires followers and builds a team.
- Removing attachments to the past and present: The ability to get a fresh perspective and focus on the future is a hallmark of a visionary leader. Breaking away from the bindings of what was done earlier and having the courage to embrace the change defines a leader.
Ideas that spur innovation
Here’s a quick look at the startups that pitched on the demo day:
BlinkIn: The startup is revolutionising after sales tech support. BlinkIn uses Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality to understand customers’ problems visually and guide them for self-service.
Litmus Automation: This is an intelligent edge computing company that bridges the gap between data in the field or factory and business applications for companies looking to implement Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions. Its products work together seamlessly to allow companies to access and utilise data previously tapped inside enterprise hardware.
CloudHedge: A second generation cloud migration and modernisation platform that can modernise applications while migrating. It modernises hundreds of applications simultaneously. This reduces not just the cost but also takes one-fourth the time taken by existing methods to modernise and migrate applications.
SynctacticAI: This startup is building end-to-end intuitive data management platforms to enable data-driven decision making across the organisation and thereby leading to faster, scalable, and more accurate outcomes. It enables organisations to use raw data and deploy off-the-shelf predictive models to derive insights.
BrainSightAI: The startup is pioneering new tools to understand the human mind and help millions of people suffering from brain disorders and other medical conditions. BrainSightAI offers holistic reporting with fMRI, sMRI and digital phenotypes processed through an AI-powered platform. Its flagship platform VoxelBox provides clinicians access to a world-class fMRI processing engine and Machine Learning models for generating reports to aid clinical decision making.
Arintra: The startup has developed an AI-enabled platform for patient assessment that reduces the clinical load on doctors. The platform assists doctors in capturing clinical data, visualisation, and offers insights for efficient consultations and improved patient outcomes.
Sn126: This startup’s cloud-based API testing software enables businesses to release bug-free codes by automatically building and maintaining comprehensive test suites for backend services. Its flagship product Isotope is an autonomous testing tool for APIs that extends the idea of automatically highlighting changes before new releases are pushed to production.
Darren Kaplan’s five fundamentals of success for startups
Inspired by the classic ‘Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons’, Kaplan shared five principles that helped him become a successful startup founder, mentor and investor. He shared that these principles are precursors for everyone to think and create their own fundamentals of success.
Kaplan elaborated on the following five fundamentals:
- As a startup founder, understand your ‘why’
- Make sure you have time to reflect on the pains - from angry customers to production failures to bad choices
- Know and play to your strengths
- Listen with empathy and be present
- Bucket your time and spend it accordingly
The transformative journey continues with NetApp Excellerator Cohort 8
Delivering the closing remarks, NetApp India’s Managing Director, Ravi Chhabria, said, “2020 demonstrated that technology is the differentiator between simply surviving and actually thriving. At NetApp, we believe that data is at the core of it all.” He added, “Technology is enabling new businesses, new products, new paths to reaching customers and the NetApp Excellerator startups are at the core of this transformation.” He reiterated that the launch of NetApp ExcellerateHER is a step towards recognition of the fact that it is “diversity of experience and diversity of thought that fuel innovation” and stated it was a journey that requires conscious and continuous focus. Inviting applications for its eighth cohort, he said, “For those yearning to create, build, and innovate to change the world, as this cohort ends, another begins.”
During the event, Madhurima also highlighted the success of startups that graduated from the earlier cohorts. She said, “The success of our alumni startups is a definite marker for the programme’s effectiveness.” SecurelyShare, CloudSEK, Myelin Foundry and Lightwing received the ‘Emerge 50’ awards for being the most innovative software product companies. SecurelyShare also won the stage 2 of the NASSCOM DSCI Grand Challenge for development of automated systems. InstaSafe was recognised by Gartner as a representative vendor for Zero Trust Network Access, and Senseforth was named as a Gartner Cool Vendor in Conversational AI Platforms 2020.