NetApp Excellerator’s eighth Demo Day puts focus on the unrestrained spirit of startups

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July 2021 saw eight startups graduating from the eighth cohort of the NetApp Excellerator, NetApp’s four-month-long global accelerator programme for B2B startups. With this, the total number of startups incubated by the programme since its inception in 2017 touched 50.

Key highlights from Demo Day

The latest cohort of eight startups to graduate from the programme included B2B-location engine Data Sutram, cybersecurity startup FireCompass, AI-focused Metabob, digitisation provider Maxbyte, enterprise application Nife, no-code data platform Snapblocs, HR tech startup State of Mind, and health-tech startup Tongadive. As a proof of the growing global reach of the accelerator programme, cohort 8 witnessed participation from five startups headquartered in the USA, the UK, and Singapore. These global startups were mentored by tech leaders from NetApp India, which has further cemented NetApp Bengaluru as a hotbed of innovation and technology growth for globally relevant solutions.

A key highlight of cohort 8 was that 40+ percent of the startups were led by women founders. Tongadive, Nife, and FireCompass were supported under the NetApp ExcellerateHER, a NetApp Excellerator sub-initiative dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs leading disruptive B2B technology startups.

The Demo Day also saw Data Sutram being recognized for the best growth strategy, Metabob for the most innovative product, and FireCompass with the Investors’ Choice Award.

Senior NetApp leaders who have mentored these startups closely vouch for their caliber and the impact they are likely to have on addressing business challenges. “The cloud has a lot of moving parts and it is easy to get lost when you are trying to assemble a solution. This is where startups like Snapblocs add value by making it seamless for businesses to deploy cloud solutions,” shared Sisir Shekhar, Principal Engineer, Cloud Volumes SDE, NetApp and Mentor, Snapblocs. Talking about Data Sutram, Vivek Prakash, Director Software Engineering, NetApp, shared, “90 percent of data critical for a business’ success lies outside the company. Data Sutram enables businesses to address that challenge by leveraging actionable location-based insights from external data.”

Watch the Demo Day of Cohort 8

Enabling unrestrained growth

In addition to business and technical mentorship, these startups from a diverse set of technology areas received access to customers, technology, business support services, connect with ecosystem enablers as well as paid PoCs. “Through our association with NetApp Excellerator, we have been able to expand the geographical footprint of the product outside the Indian market and increase our product development speed by 5x,” shared Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO, State of Mind. Talking about NetApp ExcellerateHER, Nida Sahar, Founder, Nife, shared, “NetApp ExcellerateHER equates us with other counterparts in the ecosystem and gives us the same provision and privileges. NetApp also customised the programme in a way it made sense for us to address the strategic challenges we were facing.”

Role of data and hybrid cloud architecture

Senior Netapp leaders shared their experiences and perspectives on the opportunities that lay ahead for startups. Octavian Tanase, Senior Vice President, Engineering, NetApp, shared that while the last 18 months have been anything but business as usual with the global pandemic bringing challenges, it has also led to a lot of learning, personally and professionally. “I have observed a renewed sense of belonging in the engineering community and saw that our teams have grit beyond belief. Personally, I have become a lot more empathetic,” he said. As a leader taking charge of hybrid cloud engineering at NetApp and responsible for most of NetApp's innovation agenda spanning edge, core (traditional data center) and cloud, he underlined that the pandemic has also opened up opportunities. “At the core, the focus for most technology solution providers has been to enable business continuity and automation. But that focus has now intensified. This opens up opportunities for new products and solutions that can be deployed both in the traditional data centre, as well as on the world's largest cloud providers,” he said.

Madhurima Agarwal, Leader, NetApp, shared that the need for business resilience and digital transformation has brought to the fore unrestrained spirit of the startups. “This is the hallmark of the ambitious few, the go-getters, and those innovating with purpose,” she said. The demo day of the eighth cohort marked four successful years from the launch of the NetApp Excellerator programme. Having been instrumental in leading the programme, Madhurima shared a few key highlights of the journey so far. “NetApp leaders have invested over 600 hours mentoring the startups, facilitated 11 PoCs and helped startups fine-tune their offerings and find a product-market fit. Multiple startups have gone on to raise follow-on rounds of funding, and three startups have got an exit acquisition. Our focus has always been on supporting founders to build a successful company, and we remain committed to making them better with NetApp,” she said. She added that the NetApp Excellerator, NetApp’s cohort-led, diversity-driven initiative engaged the second collective of women-led startups and tapped into the power of its ecosystem network to further the journeys of women entrepreneurs.

Ravi Chhabria, Managing Director, NetApp, in his address highlighted the role of data and data-driven platforms in enabling digital transformation across industry verticals, applications, and solutions. “If you rewind to five years ago, it would have been hard to envision the impact data is having today on building sustainable, equitable businesses at scale,” he said. Given this context, NetApp’s cloud-led, data-centric platform becomes highly relevant. “Part of the complexity with data management comes from how you look at data when data is locked in a data centre but the platform that transforms the data into something meaningful for the business sits in the cloud. In a reverse case scenario, the application of a business may be on the cloud, but realises it is efficient to own the resources on premises or manage it as a private cloud. In both these situations, NetApp becomes relevant. NetApp makes a very complex data ecosystem that spans the hybrid cloud, very simple. And, businesses today understand the value of the hybrid cloud architecture,” Ravi explained.


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