At the HPE roundtable, investors and technologists discuss top technologies to invest in, moving to cloud with HPE GreenLake, and more

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According to a 2021 survey by Gartner, 48 percent of companies investing in technologies say they are looking at investing in cloud computing. Today, the question is not if you should switch to the cloud, but when. Investors also see cloud-based technologies as a rapidly growing sector with massive opportunities and long-term potential for huge returns.

To discuss this and more, HPE and Intel, in association with YourStory, hosted the roundtable themed ‘InvesTech Dialogue: Defining the right cloud mix for startups’, that brought some of the smartest minds from the VC and technology ecosystem.

The panel featured Kailash Nath, AVP - Seed Investments, Chiratae Ventures; Sonal Saldanha, Vice President, 3One4 Capital; Arpit Agarwal, Director, Blume Ventures; Vamshi Krishna Reddy, Partner, Kalaari Capital; Swapna Gupta, Director, Qualcomm Ventures; and Ranganath Sadasiva, CTO, HPE.

Evolution of the startup landscape

The last two years have witnessed a rapid acceleration of digitisation, and according to Sonal, a lot of startups were formed in the cloud category because of validation of the market, as well as the demand.

Vamshi added that entrepreneurship has become a liberating option in the last few months. "People are feeling more stable when it comes to starting up as access to capital has become easier," he said.

But, according to HPE’s Ranganath, digital transformation is not new, the journey is close to a decade old, and the pandemic only accelerated that journey. "IT, which was an associate, became core to all businesses. Now, it's time to look at how cloud tech can be presented with a new flavour," he said.

Swapna said that today, Indian products are made for the global market. At the same time, there are challenges for large enterprises that take time to adapt to technology versus startups, which are digitally accelerating.

Top technologies to invest in

Although AI and ML sound like a cliche answer to the top technologies that will dominate the future, Arpit said that most people haven't discovered what AI can do for their business beyond marketing. Other technologies that startups should consider investing in are blockchain, edge computing, electric vehicles, battery management systems.

Swapna added that she's never seen stocks do this well ever before. What's changed is that the ecosystem has become more collaborative and competitive. "People are not building everything in-house. Technology-wise, it's like a paid pallet of colours, you can pick and choose the right product and platform to build something," she said.

At HPE, Ranganath said they envision three pillars. First, a lot of experience will be created on the edge. Second, the experience will be carried forward by cloud-based technology. The third pillar is data centricity, as everything around data will contribute to every business.

In fact, investors have the incredible opportunity to influence the technology decisions of the startups they work with. "From a seed perspective, we are in a privileged position to be an advisor to a company more than just a capital provider. We might not nitpick on day-to-day tech decisions, but those which affect the overall direction of the company," said Kailash.

When the cloud comes to you

Most companies have a foot in-house and the other one towards the cloud. And everyone tells them to go strictly to the cloud. But HPE is providing the right mix, where interestingly enough you can move to the cloud and stay on-premise at the same time.

"HPE Greenlake Platform is not the typical public cloud, it's a private cloud that's created just for you, and delivered as a service," said Ranganath. This model incorporates all the dynamics of the cloud, from consumption to payment, management and resourcing. "It's an unbiased and unconstrained way of looking at which cloud you want," he added.

How startups can win investors

On tips to woo investors in today's age, Vamshi said that it's the other way around post the pandemic. Investors are now going after founders with great ideas and execution capabilities. Another shift he has noticed is that now investors are scouting for more founders, rather than products or companies. "At Kalaari Capital, we look for founders who understand how to scale at a large level, how they look at unit economics, and how the models work," he said.

Kailash added, "At Chiratae Ventures, we're looking for founders who can empathise with their target audience, solve the pain sustainably, and build a model for scale."

Sonal shared how investors and founders are now able to read each other better as, over the years, a level of awareness has crept in. "At 3one4 Capital, we continue to look for high-quality teams that have clarity and line of sight on what they're building. All other details will fall in place," she said.

What the future holds for technology

Kailash is bullish about SaaSOps, collaborative apps for hybrid work, and new-age tech like robotics. Although the healthcare sector has been slow, he said that specific spaces like diagnostics, mental health, and supply chain gel well with technology.

"We're trying to look through our entrepreneurs' lens to see what they're building for the future. We're patient investors and are waiting for certain tech to play out," said Swapna. Some of the sectors Qualcomm Ventures has an eye on are video collaboration, gaming, and hardware.

Vamshi believes agritech, blockchain and healthtech have the potential to scale. Sonal said that another dimension to look at is the climate and sustainability angle, adding that it applies to everything from how we rethink finances to the food we consume or the way we commute to work.

According to Arpit, there's never been a good time to start up and those who can't make that jump should join a fast-growing startup. "It's not a question anymore, it's only a question of timing."

Concluding the session, Ranganath said that there's a new world for startups, who will want to see how users will use their product. And that's where HPE can deliver. "We're enabling startups to look at the various tech aspirations they have and how HPE can fulfil that. For startups who want to create, enhance it and grow, we can be a trusted partner. HPE GreenLake is a name to remember," he said.


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