NetApp Excellerator’s Cohort 7 startups to demonstrate what it takes to navigate change
For SynctacticAI, a centralised data platform working towards democratising the use of data science, ML, and AI, 2020 was a defining year. The startup had its Beta launch in January. The pandemic struck soon after, which changed the whole scenario for the startup. Chethan Athreyas, Co-Founder, says, “From the very beginning we had one strategy - to build a domain-agnostic platform, because we believed that this would help us adapt to new opportunities. That said, we had solutions built for specific customer-centric and operation-centric use cases. When the pandemic struck, we were in discussion with potential customers from the travel and hospitality industry. However, soon after, many of those opportunities became non-existent and we saw a rebalancing of demand in the kind of use cases.” SynctacticAI adapted quickly to other industries like retail and financial services to make itself more relevant in the market.
Agility: The superpower
There are similar narratives from across the startup ecosystem. While the ecosystem did face the brunt of the crisis, it also emerged as the most resilient and adaptive sector by the end of the year.
Madhurima Agarwal, Leader, NetApp Excellerator, shares, “There were no existing playbooks from where the startups could learn a lesson or two. But, the startup ecosystem was quick on its feet. It was steadfast in overcoming the challenge of managing cash flow, reducing the burn, and remote working; even in a far-less cushioned environment. What stands out singularly is how startup agility suddenly became relevant more than ever before, and perhaps the most important growth driver.”
The year witnessed startups rethinking and revisiting their strategies and tapping into the opportunities that emerged even as the crisis was unfolding.
For instance, CloudHedge, a startup that enables enterprises to skip the lift and shift approach to cloud and to directly modernize their apps, tapped into the industry shift towards accelerated cloud adoption. For yet another startup, Sn126 - a platform that eliminates the need for humans to write tests by automatically learning test scenarios by observing the behaviours of existing software versions deployed in production; the acceleration towards the cloud also brought in new focus areas that led to new opportunities. Puneet Khanduri, Co-Founder and CEO, says, “While businesses which were previously reluctant to use SaaS products were demonstrating flexibility by opting for vendor-managed deployments, there was a greater focus on security.” He adds, “A recurring question from prospective customers was regarding data security. So rather than treating the customer's security teams as an approver, we decided to turn them into a secondary user by creating fine-grained data observability and control mechanisms in our product.”
Navigating change and its growing relevance for the startup ecosystem
On January 20, the Demo Day of the seventh cohort of NetApp Excellerator - NetApp’s global startup accelerator program, will highlight how startups can steer through change and why this is relevant even more today as the ecosystem looks to move forward through the on-going global crisis.
The Demo Day will put the spotlight on three graduating startups viz.ing Sn126, SynctacticAI, and CloudHedge. The other four startups from the cohort are Litmus, Arintra, Blinkin, BrainSightAI. These seven startups that are fueling deep technology innovations, are the latest to undergo the four-month long business and technical mentorship program at NetApp. Of the seven startups, Brainsight and Arintra from the inaugural batch of ExcellerateHER - the Excellerator program inititaive dedicated to identify and recognize women entrepreneurs disrupting the technology space.
With ‘navigating change’ as the theme, the Demo Day will drive conversations on the need for change in a world where new developments continue to unfold at a fast pace.
2021: What’s on the startups’ agendas
SynctacticAI sees 2021 as the year for startups to deep dive into customer behaviour to get more users and customers and explore new markets. The startup believes that it will take a while for the market to stabilise; hence it will be pivotal for businesses to have multiple business models and be open to collaborate with large enterprises to keep the business moving forward.
CloudHedge is keeping a close watch on the opening up of other sectors after the reset and looking to further sharpen its sales strategies to accommodate opportunities in the HyperScales, e-commerce and telecom sectors. Sn126 will be focusing on increasing the breadth of languages and frameworks its products support to increase customer accessibility.
At the Demo Day, Sn126, CloudHedge and SynctacticAI, along with the four other startups part of the NetApp Excellerator Cohort 7, will deep dive into the possibility of DeepTech innovations, the opportunities that lay ahead and discuss what it will take for them to navigate change - a new normal constant.