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22 Posts authored by: NASSCOM Product Moderator

NASSCOM Product Connect hosted an AI Roundtable in Gurgaon on the theme of `AI-Platform Play’. An engaging discussion with a diverse group of stakeholders – startups, VCs, accelerators, industry leaders, GICs all brainstormed on the impact of AI. My 5 takeaways from the session included:


  1. The best products hide AI under the hood to create a magical user experience. The worst put AI on the label.


  1. Obsession with the problem being solved, great design, tangible value proposition, the discipline of charging for pilots, selling top down. The basics still apply.


  1. The biggest challenge to enterprise AI adoption is data availability, quality and silos.


  1. If selling to enterprise, solve visible problems like process inefficiency, human error & bias, mundane jobs. Most enterprises are not yet ready to adopt AI for transformation.


  1. The biggest constraint to growth of AI product ventures is shortage of Human talent. Learn AI technology to supercharge your career.

Product Name: Apiculus Xaas Cloud Convergence platform

Name of Organization: IndiQus Technologies

At the helm: Sunando Bhattacharya, K.B. Shiv Kumar, Swati Samaddar

Year of Incorporation: 2013

Website:  IndiQus  

Vertical/Horizontal Play: Cloud space


“It is important to keep focusing on your business, especially  if  you don’t have the luxury of funding. Cash is king and today, we are a fairly cash flow-driven company that pays attention to collections and paying its vendors”.


- Sunando Bhattacharya, Cofounder & CEO


Innovation:  IndiQus has deep domain knowledge in Managed Cloud  services and has developed Open and flexible solutions that service providers, enterprises and telcos can adopt to enhance their Return on Investment.


Its innovations  provide Cloud business solutions to these organizations, setting up  Clouds in  emerging markets, and transforming enterprises and service providers into businesses running on the Cloud.


About the product: IndiQus’ apiculus CSP is a Cloud Business Platform software which enables Cloud service providers to sell “anything-as-a-service” (XaaS) and create a 360 degree customer engagement. A one-stop solution for Cloud  service providers, the product enables them to manage, analyze and monetize XaaS  Cloud offerings. The software has been built for the needs of emerging markets. apiculus CSP is being used by large telecom companies as their primary Cloud business portal.


Journey so far: The company was set up in 2013 as a systems integrator, a boutique consulting  firm, whose Founders had around 15-17 years of experience in the cloud computing space. The company shifted gears in 2015, working to productize and turn its Cloud-building processes  into ready-to-deploy solutions.  As it began offering an integrated story to enterprises, it got a chance to set up a Cloud implementation for Sri Lanka Telecom. At that time, IndiQus was deploying a third-party product from Citrix which was built for European markets. Then, however it decided to develop a product for emerging markets, where it saw a Cloud surge. The company  began signing  up customers that would help it to build the product. In 2015, it tied up with Airtel and in June 2016, delivered the product to the customer. It is  now in the second version of the product and the third version will be out at the end  of the year.


Recognizing that in smaller countries there is demand from governments  for data residency, IndiQus  also began setting up micro Amazons (mini-Clouds) in nations such as Estonia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which it scales as the business grows. The company adopted an on-premise model, selling to companies that are using its platform to deliver to their customers.


Among the challenges it faced in its journey was a  loss of direction in the early days, when finances were a problem. At that time, IndiQus found itself spending more time on raising funds than building its business. Dealing with the government also proved to be a big issue. Initially, the company was slapped with fines because it was unable to file its returns owing to archaic laws and an apathetic and unsupportive attitude of the government towards start-ups.


Way forward: IndiQus acquired Dartboard, a company which works in predictive  analytics, in 2017 (while it took over data analytics start-up Amicus in 2016), to enhance its product portfolio with the much-in-demand analytics solutions for Cloud platforms. It has  also on-boarded a dedicated Data Scientist who is building various models for enhancing customer data visibility on the Cloud and deriving actionable intelligence from this data.


 “My advise to other start-ups is that they should be sure before they jump on to the bandwagon. It is a very challenging journey. But once they are sure, they need to give it their full commitment regardless of the difficulties. They shouldn’t enter the market for the heck of it”.


 See the full list of Emerge50 Winners and follow the Leagueof10 to get a closer look at the top 10.

Product Name: FirstHive

Name of Organization: eMart Solutions

At the helm (all cofounders’ names): Aditya Bhamidipaty

Year of Incorporation: 2015

Website:  FirstHive 

Vertical/Horizontal Play: domain of Sales and Marketing


 “We are excited about engaging with a marquee organization such as NASSCOM. We create a lot of in-house White Papers on marketing. Since we have the only product in the market that does what it does, we are keen to leverage the NASSCOM platform to building thought leadership in the field of marketing”.

-- Aditya Bhamidipaty, Founder/CEO, eMart Solutions


Innovation: eMart discovered significant opportunities in the Sales and Marketing space, where it saw a need for brand building through personalized communication with consumers and helping enterprises drive efficiencies in the marketing matrix. It innovated to develop a product that could talk to consumers personally, where instead of broadcasting one message, companies could have a unique conversation with each consumer.


About the product: The company conceived FirstHive in order to send the right message to the right person, through the right channel, at the right  time. It was developed as a multi-channel, on-demand loyalty engine that would build Unique Customer Identities by collecting data from all sources of customer interactions.


Journey so far: eMart began working on the product in July, 2015 and launched it in January, 2016. In October, 2016 it introduce a beta for international users. Within four-five months there were 1,100 trials of the product from 64 countries! The company gathered feedback on the product’s functionality from this beta and began to build partnerships with systems integrators and resellers.


One of the big challenges that eMart faced during its journey  was putting in place the right team and getting the right resources who could design and execute the product and put in place a robust product management plan.


Way forward: eMart has acquired good customers in India and is now aiming to address the needs of clients in the ASEAN and North American geos.


The company will also continue to focus on helping Fortune 500 and Forbes 2000 companies to create and manage large loyalty and customer/channel programs while delivering  measurable RoI.


 See the full list of Emerge50 Winners and follow the Leagueof10 to get a closer look at the top 10. 

Product Name: Elastic Beam

Name of Organization: Elastic Beam

At the helm (all cofounders’ names): Uday Subbarayan and Bernard Harguindeguy

Year of Incorporation: 2015

Website: Elastic Beam

Vertical/Horizontal Play: Security



Innovation: Recognizing that guaranteeing the security of the API infrastructure of organizations was critical, Elastic Beam innovatively combined Artificial Intelligence and real-time techniques to develop a product that protected API  investments from cyber attacks. The product’s  innovation lies in the fact that unlike generic behavioral analytics  tools that don’t take into account API-specific usage, it leverages its in-depth API intelligence to provide a precise and accurate detection of API misuse.


About the product: The company’s Cloud neutral solution encompasses  API Behavioral Security (for detecting, reporting and preventing cyber attacks on data and applications exposed through APIs of companies) and the API Artificial Intelligence engine (that blocks ongoing attacks on API gateways, API Management platforms or APIs directly). It is available for hybrid Clouds, Public Clouds or on-premise.


Journey so far: Elastic Beam began its journey in 2014, when it brainstormed on its security product. Based on the existing experience and expertise of its Founders, it thought it appropriate to build an automated solution in the security space. It took the company five-to-six  months to put the plan together.


One of the key challenges the company faced initially was finding the right people for the job, as engineers did not have a clear understanding of how to build an infrastructure start-up. Also,  since it was building an infrastructure product for the first time, it was felt that monitoring had to be done on a regular basis.


Way forward: The company is looking to expand its sales and marketing as well as engineering teams for business development. Product innovation will continue to happen as the product evolves. The company is already in the third generation of the product.


See the full list of Emerge50 Winners and follow the Leagueof10 to get a closer look at the top 10. 

We are bringing you  session summaries from NPC 2017 in a series of blogs. This one is based on the opening session. 


Mr Atul Batra, the CTO of Manthan Systems & the Chair – NASSCOM Product Council welcomed all participants to the 14th edition of NPC Bangalore, which is now widely regarded as the most important event for software product companies. The audience was a diverse mix of people, across the globe – especially from the Bay Area. Besides the industry folks we also had the investors and people from the academia. In terms of the quality of participants it could not have been more wholesome. He thanked Ravi Gururaj, the previous Product Council Chair for having created such a robust platform. There was a special mention of the network of volunteers and partners who had helped most industriously to put the conclave together.


As he introduced the theme, “Innovation fueling India’s digital revolution” he remarked that India was in an advantageous position, because unlike the western countries it wasn’t burdened with a legacy which made it easier for us to leapfrog towards digital. And, that product companies were leading this revolution. Perhaps for the first time, NPC Bangalore was witnessing the participation of a large number of Chief Digital Officers, a growing tribe of professionals who are instrumental in driving change through digital, and it was a great opportunity to interact with them. While briefly touching upon the format of the event he urged everyone to increase engagement through tweets, blogs and such other formats. With that he invited MR Rangaswami the Cohost of NPC.


This was MR’s 8th straight year at the global conclave. He introduced the next speaker, the Chairman of NASSCOM who is commonly regarded as the Father of the BPO Industry, Mr Raman Roy. Earlier, in the previous evening, the council had prevailed upon Mr Raman Roy to be dressed in casuals and forsake his characteristic corporate attire. A nugget which the speaker readily agreed to in a jovial manner.      


The startup ecosystem is shaping up to be a digital powerhouse and a 1 trillion $ digital economy as envisaged by PM Modi was well within bounds given the rapid rate of adoption and talent available in the country. Rambunctiously, he pointed to the audience and declared authoritatively that “it’s YOU who will make it happen” which instantaneously drew a loud round of cheer. Advanced Technologies were fundamentally changing customer experiences and in the midst of all this the importance of cybersecurity products can never be over-emphasized. As the recent spate of Ransomware attacks would bear testimony. Having weathered the Funding Winter of 2016, it was back to the fundamentals once again – RoI and unit economics.


The front row seats were tagged as reserved. In Delhi, Raman Roy remarked, it would have meant nothing as people are accustomed to flouting rules with gumption. Whereas in Bangalore he was rather surprised to see people abiding by the norms. Roy added that he wasn’t sure whether to be delighted or worried, this of course on a lighter vein. Entrepreneurs are meant to be rule breakers! Finally, his messaging was about creating employment opportunities and not to remain contented as job seekers. The Product Conclave every year brought together a robust ecosystem to discuss and deliberate on a range of issues – a mighty step forward towards fostering the ecosystem, he acknowledged.  

Follow npc2017 to read other session summaries and follow emerge50 to read about the brilliant startups that were recognised at the event. 

Product Name: Cardiotrack

Name of Organization: Uber Diagnostics

At the helm: Ashim Roy and Avin Agarwal

Year of Incorporation: 2013

Website:  Uber Diagnostics 

Vertical/Horizontal Play: Healthcare vertical


Innovation: As it became operational in 2012, Uber Diagnostics realized that lack of cardiac diagnostic facilities both in terms of expensive equipment and expertise at the family care level was making it difficult to provide good cardiac healthcare in India’s urban, rural  and tier 2 cities. The ability to understand the output of the machines was another challenge as was the paucity of cardiologists. The company decided to develop an innovative solution that was low-cost, simple-to-use by a physician and whose output could be made available to a cardiologist or its Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to get a quick and efficient diagnosis.


About the product: The company’s automated, disruptive healthcare diagnostics   solution, Cardiotrack, uses AI, Machine  Learning and Data Analytics to analyze the scans of ECGs to provide accurate predictive  diagnosis and interpretation for faster cardiac intervention. It ensures that even if a cardiologist is not immediately available, an accurate diagnosis is done to save a life.


Journey so far: Ashim Roy and Avin Agarwal had a chance meeting that led the duo to discuss the gaps in the domain of cardiovascular diseases in India. The two decided to do something about it together and conceived the idea of the company.  Initially, the organization faced many challenges including its inability to develop an in-house  AI  platform owing to lack of expertise, time  and funding. It licensed a solution from a French company to deliver it at the ground level.


The company took a bank loan and after its clinical trials were over, went to overseas investors in Singapore to fund its venture.


Way forward: Uber is looking to develop its own AI once it can raise the necessary funds.  It  will set up its own R&D team for AI and expand its solution by adding the parameters of diabetes and hypertension. Uber will also look beyond India and target the US market.


 See the full list of Emerge50 Winners and follow the Leagueof10 to get a closer look at the top 10. 

We are bringing you  session summaries from NPC 2017 in a series of blogs. This one is based on the session of Kishore Biyani, Founder & CEO, Future Group


Towards the end of the day, at times the energy levels can drop. Especially when the day has been rather intense. At NPC Bangalore the end of Day 1, we had the much respected Kishore Biyani, Founder & CEO, Future Group to perk us up – and how he did! In conversation with Siddharth Zarabi, Executive Editor, BTVI.


On being asked, what drew him to the conclave, he retorted, “because we are in real business and not an imaginary one”, cheekily taking a dig at futurists. He added, that sometimes it almost felt like that a new religion was being created, referring to the swathe of new technologies that are available. There are only 7 tunes, 5 colours, 9 emotions and 10 actions – life is not as complex as it is often made out to be, yet underscoring the need to keep things simple.


To build brands, one needs to have a deep understanding of technology which gets the desired results. Technology increases human capability, creates more available time for increased human interaction, but understand this - he emphasized - humans will have to kill time anyway and will always seek new ways of doing it. We found out later that this was an oblique reference to many app-based solutions for problems which never really exists to begin with.


He also spoke about mini drones and their impact on retail. Retail 1.0 was about brick-and-mortar, Version 2 was about e-commerce and now Retail 3.0 is what he calls “Tathastu” - ask and we will deliver. In comparison, he likened Version 2 to an electronic typewriter. The Tathastu version will have all features imaginable – you can shop physically, activate through voice, app, call etc. just about any interface without any dearth of choices whatsoever.


They are pretty ruthless about data. Customer behavior is deconstructed methodically with the help of data, and heaps of it. He touched upon the heterogeneity of the Indian market which is best captured through 72 major festivals. At Future Group, they had created an almanac of sorts on India – its cultures, mythology and the likes. Both subjective and transactional data were used.           


But, the consumer is changing very rapidly and sometimes in more ways than retailers can fathom. Packaged popcorn, recently introduced in stores, most surprisingly, clocked daily sales upwards of 1 lakh even surpassing the more common bhujia. This wasn’t their “gut feel” at the time but a subsequent revelation from data analysis. On being asked about the phenomenal success of Patanjali, he had no qualms about saying that they stored this brand as well. Perhaps Baba Ramdev’s incredible mass appeal was what it was all about.   


Also on competition, especially 5 years hence, Kishore Biyani remained candid and remarked that competition was always welcome and not to be shied away from. He didn’t sound too upbeat about the idea of serving the “Bottom of the Pyramid.” In his opinion, there’s nothing at the bottom. A rural consumer on an average consumes only about 100 SKUs in a year; in comparison his urban counterpart consumes about 60 – 70 k SKUs annually. The returns were just not attractive enough to think big in those markets.


3 Key Challenges: Managing the speed of change; managing people who do not believe in you and making others believe in your vision, said Biyani majestically as he signed off. 


Follow npc2017 to read other session summaries and follow emerge50 to read about the brilliant startups that were recognised at the event. 

Product Name: Hug SmartWatch

Name of Organization: Hug Innovations

At the helm: Raj Neravati

Year of Incorporation: October, 2014

Website:  Hug Innovations 

Vertical/Horizontal Play: Security and lifestyle


“I could not have imagined that Foxconn, the company which manufactures Apple products, will one day be our own manufacturing partner for the Smartwatch. The fact is that all through the company’s journey of hardships, I remained persistent, didn’t give up and created a world-class product and organization”.

--Raj Neravati, Founder and CEO, Hug Innovations


Innovation: Hug Innovations has developed the Hug Smartwatch, which is not only a promise of safety, but also the world’s first gesture-controlled device. Hug innovated a wearable Smartwatch with an SOS button that a person in danger can press. The watch sends an SMS with a live tracking URL to the family and friends. When people click on the URL they can track the wearer in real time. Interestingly, the watch has customized maps to show the user the nearest hospitals and police stations—basically emergency services they can contact if family and well-wishers are not available.


About the product: Besides the safety story, the Hug Innovations Smartwatch has several features such as gesture control that can be used by wearers to turn up the music, dim lights, play console games, switch presentation slides or fly a remote controlled drone! It also serves as a kids, fitness and pet tracker.


The journey so  far: Greatly impacted by the Nirbhaya gang rape case in New Delhi in 2012, Raj Neravati  decided to relocate to Hyderabad, India from the US and look deeply at the issue of women’s security.  Hug Innovations came into being in 2014, as a promise of safety.


The journey was challenging for the company from the very start, since its Founder, Raj Neravati, did not have the necessary hardware background or deep hardware knowledge and there were no accelerators to guide or support the company. Building the right team in fact was hard and Raj Neravati had to let go of people and even replace the team.


Way forward: Hug will be adding smaller products to meet the needs of specific audiences. From a platform point of view, the company has envisioned an IoT platform that can control any device through gestures and has invited application developers to create apps that can run on its Open developer platform.


See the full list of Emerge50 Winners and follow the Leagueof10 to get a closer look at the top 10. 


Innovate or Disappear

Posted by NASSCOM Product Moderator Nov 13, 2017

We are bringing you  session summaries from NPC 2017 in a series of blogs. This one is based on the session of Shashi Seth, Sr. VP, Oracle Marketing Cloud


Shashi Seth, Sr. VP, Oracle Marketing Cloud was our first speaker immediately after the inaugural. He was rather excited to be at NPC Bangalore and share some of his insights with us. Before that, our Emcee briefly touched upon the success of products which only have a cloud presence.


The most important thing about innovation and we have often said it, is about building a certain culture which is supportive of this philosophy. In San Francisco about 10 years back it was a hellish experience to get a cab from the airport late at night. Rude drivers, exorbitant rates all added to the commuter’s woes. Then suddenly in 2010, things changed dramatically with the advent of Uber. Issues which hounded travelers suddenly became irrelevant. Lyft and Uber combined, employ over a million drivers today. Very few industries are known to have created 1 million jobs in 7 years. Then there’s the example of Google Home, which has changed lives beyond imagination. Simply by talking into the device, one can get the best of services in the comfort and confines of their homes without human intervention.


Some of the things that AI is able to do is simply remarkable. It’s not only solving big problems for us but adding finer details to our daily lives which makes it all so worthwhile. Boundaries are getting pushed and all this is being done with lesser people. Twenty-five years back NASA had in its rolls (including network of partners) about a million people. Today SpaceX is able to send a spacecraft with just over 10k people. Not to mention the massive drop in cost from 1 billion dollars to about 38 million $ today. The price point is also a critical parameter to be measured. Tesla is yet another example – a company which has been around for only 7 years is more valuable than GM. A single battery charge can make the car run for 280 miles. Innovation is certainly about fixing massive problems but at the same time there are numerous examples of small incremental changes being effected which have raised customer experience and expectation by leaps and bounds. As mentioned earlier – boundaries are getting pushed ceaselessly. He gave numerous other examples including those of Apple & Netflix. These are companies which not only disrupted the market but did not rest on their laurels. And, ever since they have continued to raise the bar and set new industry standards. Innovation, is far from a one-time exercise. Also, it’s not about “if” any more, it is an imperative and the question is “how”:


  1. It’s about smart talented PEOPLE who can get out of their comfort zone.
  2. CULTURE is about creating an environment where people are enthused about giving their best. Right down to the minutest detail – food being served, workstation design & benefits being offered.
  3. Focusing on DETAILS will bring in the “WOW” factor.
  4. Make sure you AIM for the MOON. Goals have to be stretched, even so that 70% of the target achieved would create high benchmarks.
  5. PERSISTENCE – it takes time!


Follow npc2017 to read other session summaries and follow emerge50 to read about the brilliant startups that were recognised at the event. 

We are bringing you  session summaries from NPC 2017 in a series of blogs. This one is based on the session of Atul Jalan, the CEO & MD of Manthan. 


Atul Jalan held us in thrall (at NPC Banglaore) right from the time he strode up on stage confidently and started talking about the future, which seemed overwhelming at times.


He said, the kind of change that we have witnessed in the last 10 – 15 years is phenomenal. Moreover, what was experienced 50 – 75 years prior, pales in comparison. And finally, the change which will come about in the next 10 – 15 years will be nothing short of spectacular – something which may well be in the realms of our imagination now. The possibilities that Science can offer are being leveraged to the hilt and brings humans a step closer to playing God.


In process, technology has absorbed its own complexities to make life easier for us. AI, many opine, is the new electricity and cuts across nearly all industry verticals. And, this is happening at such a rapid pace that there seems to be a hubris around it! The truth is, we tend to overestimate its short-term benefits and underestimate its long-term transformative power. AI was first heard of in nerdy circles in the 50s of the last century. Its commercial applications didn’t pick up as was expected and had to go through a very long Siberian winter. And now it’s here, and how!  


Data is the by-product of Social Media and the fodder for Deep Tech. Data captured through sensors is yet another prominent source. It’s leading to Cognification of Everything which is a most interesting mix of bio & info organisms. Smartphones today are more powerful than Supercomputers of an earlier era and with constant drop in prices, they are within bounds of most people. Advancement in Neuro-Science is witnessing a steady integration of bio and computer science. As AI comes of age, it makes us ask age-old and yet profound questions: Who am I? What is it to be human? What’s the construct of our mind? If the brain is akin to hardware then mind may best be compared to software. Till now, the questions about self were seen through the ‘limited’ lens of philosophy. As AI gets perfected, we are preparing ourselves to answer these questions through the lens of Math & Science. The next big leap, soon to come by, is going to be a very big one! Hopefully, we can put technology to good use and weed out pain, diseases to create a better society.  

Homo Sapien 2.0 can attain three shapes: that of humanoids, or recreated through genetic engineering, or simply, cyborgs. It isn’t such a stretch after all if we are to imagine the future from today’s construct – humans perpetually glued on to their phones today, give the impression that we are part machine-like already. The emphasis here is our heavy dependence on machines to run lives for us. The life of the great physicist Stephen Hawkins embodies the combined impact of what neuro & computer science can achieve. Strapped to a wheel chair because of a debilitating disease (yet his mind remains the sharpest) he is able to move around with the aid of advanced technology which can read his mind and take commands directly. Life per se, is a matter of random selection. But, through genetic re-engineering can we create humans with only the desired characteristics – exactly the way we want them to be and eliminating chance factor. Is that desirable? Or is it re-imagining God?


Certainly, many jobs will be lost because of AI. Let’s not even pretend otherwise. On a lighter note: when horse-drawn carriages were replaced by automobiles, horses lost their jobs and never really got them back. In history, nobody has lost jobs like the horses did. Perhaps! But the caveat: the burden this time will be on man and not on the beast. Having said that, newer jobs will be created which will require application of better skills and humans will be more gainfully employed.


He also touched upon the sensitive area of sex and humans. Robots which talk and even listen attentively. Sometimes, more attentively than spouses! In fiction, we have already seen humans fall in love with non-human objects and there’s a possibility that someday this rarity may become more common. He jokingly remarked, “in future if I run away with your sex doll then would I be tried for running away with your wife or stealing your car?” It was a rather hilarious observation to make, as we all guffawed. New rules for the new man.


As we step into unexplored realms, a new code of ethics and morality will have to be written. Human progress is made on 2 distinct threads: the ability to invent stories and to tell them!             


Arguably, man is the only animal which doesn’t yet know what NOT to do. It’s this constant itch which made man out of monkeys.


Follow npc2017 to read other session summaries and follow emerge50 to read about the brilliant startups that were recognised at the event. 

 Product Name: SmartMoo

Name of Organization: Stellapps

Year of Incorporation: 2011

Website:  Stellapps

Vertical/Horizontal Play: Agriculture

At the helm: Ranjith Mukudan (CEO and Co-Founder), Ravishankar Shiroor, Praveen Nale, Ramakrishna Adukuri, Venkatesh Seshasayee


 “The start-up journey is not like a sprint. It is a marathon. There is need for a plan  and build stamina for the long-term. Start-ups  should expect  the journey to be arduous”

--Ranjith Mukundan, CEO and Co-Founder, Stellapps




Innovation: Stellapps decided  to foray the dairy sector, an innovation in itself, which has made it the first of its kind, end-to-end dairy technology solutions company in  India. Stellapps’ launched its SmartMoo platform, which is capable of supporting data arising out of tens of millions of liters of milk through milk production, procurement and cold chain flow across millions of farmers.


About the product:  The company developed an IoT platform SmartMoo that supports sensors in a plug-and-play fashion and develops apps in the way other app stores do. The company took a use case-centric approach where it developed the platform and then the app that which would leverage IoT, Big Data, Cloud, Mobility and Data  Analytics to improve Agri supply chain parameters.


Journey so far: The company began in 2011 with five co-Founders who were working in technology and telecom companies.  It was incubated by IIT Madras in 2012 and began by examining various use cases, where it could leverage IoT as the tech platform.  Stellapps decided  to focus on the dairy and agri verticals as by their very nature, both segments lent themselves to auto data acquisitions from remote areas and could exploit the true strength of IoT. When the company set up operations, it had to face many challenges including lack of domain expertise, and the issue of support  and maintenance, particularly in remote areas which took up time and as costly.


Way forward: The company will be exploring other emerging markets such as Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Latin America, and Africa which have similar supply chain issues as India. It will also focus on taking its products in to developed markets too and looking at other agri produce, besides dairy.


See the full list of Emerge50 Winners and follow the Leagueof10 to get a closer look at the top 10. 

These illustrious startups won the NASSCOM EMERGE 50 Awards at the NPC,2017. We are bringing you the ones that made it to the League of 10. 

Product Name: BalanceEye

Name of Organization: Cyclops MedTech

Year of Incorporation: 2015

Website: Cyclops Medtech; Balance Eye

Vertical/Horizontal Play: MedTech/Healthtech

At the helm: Niranjan Subbarao, Dr. Srinivas Dorasala, Dr. Ravi Nayar



“NASSCOM has been phenomenally helpful in our journey. We were part of the 10,000 Start-ups program and multiple other NASSCOM initiatives that have got us visibility, industry and investor attention”.

--Niranjan Subbarao, Co-Founder, Cyclops MedTech


Innovation: Cyclops MedTech, a medical technology start-up, works on vestibular, surgical and eye tracking solutions for the masses. The company was conceived with the idea of developing an innovative Vertigo diagnosing device that was affordable and democratized the way the disease was Vertigo was identified, treated and reached the maximum number of people.


About the product: The company’s cutting-edge, complete balance assessment platform Cyclops BalanceEye is an assessment tool that encompasses hardware, software,  and Machine Learning module on the Cloud. The device comes backed  with the experience of clinicians (vertigo specialists) and engineers specializing in computer  vision, image processing and embedded system design.


Journey so far: The journey began for the company in 2012, when one of its co-Founders purchased a Vertigo diagnostic device from a French company. Six months down the line it stopped working and there was no support available for the device. The choice was then to buy another competing device at Rs. 15 lakhs, or develop one locally.  The company felt it could add more value to what was already available to many doctors. It used its clinical expertise and in-house engine to build the product. Initially, the company faced challenges in the areas of hardware design and development, testing, funding and building infrastructure.


Way forward: Today, Cyclops has 50 installations of BalanceEye and its turnover is reaching the one crore rupees mark. The company is looking to close the year with 125 installations and a top line of Rs.  3.5 crore. Going forward, it will be focused on scaling up in India, the ASEAN countries, the Middle East and in  Africa.


See the full list of Emerge50 Winners and follow the Leagueof10 to get a closer look at the top 10. 

As a startup needing growth capital, it's important to know that all capital is not created equal. The kind of capital you're raising often dictates what you use it for.

During my 10+ years in venture capital and angel investing (at Canaan Partners from 2005, and as a founding member of the Indian Angel Network), I've spoken to scores of founders looking to raise equity to fund their businesses. Especially in the B2B space, with long payment cycles, this would often be to help manage working capital as the company scales.



But it's important to realize - venture equity is often the most expensive source of capital there is. With the kinds of IRRs that venture funds target, your investments of equity capital need to generate very high returns, and deploying equity in working capital creates a drag on those returns. Further, very few startups actually land up raising venture capital to scale their businesses.


Debt, on the other hand, is far more suited to low-risk investment areas like working capital.

Traditionally, it is not an easy task to raise debts for startups. As amateur companies without extensive track records, with asset-light businesses that do not allow for collateralized loans, it’s difficult to convince traditional banks / NBFCs to lend to you.

But that’s changing now.


Thankfully, there's now an option - pure-play working capital financing.

One such example is Indifi, an SMB lending platform, that is offering working capital financing to B2B startups.


So how do we get around the low vintage and time to profitability?

We’ve structured our solution to finance you against your receivables from regular / reputed corporate buyers. This is how we mitigate the risks that traditional financiers see - by taking into account your buyers' profiles, and the strength of your relationships with them.


Whether you’re a bootstrapped startup looking to grow steadily, or a seed / Series A stage startup with strong growth potential - if you have strong B2B customer relationships, you can now access debt financing with ease.

How does it work?                    

Much simpler than raising equity capital! All you have to do is share your history of business with regular reputed B2B customers you are interested to avail working capital against. We use that to assign a credit line, which can then be drawn in the name of future invoices to those customers. We advance you a large part of money due on those invoices, and then recover the money when the customer pays you. Voila!



So save your equity for the right investments – to power 10x growth initiatives. And use debt instead, for incremental opportunities and working capital.


Article contributed by:

Alok Mittal, CEO, Indifi

Write to invoicefin@indifi.comto learn more about how we can help.


1956 witnessed the coining of the term AI, by American computer scientist John McCarthy. This umbrella term today encompasses things right from robotic process automation to actual robotics. Of late, it has gained importance due to big data and the increase in size, speed and data that businesses collect. AI can perform various tasks more efficiently, from identifying patterns in data to speech recognition to problem-solving, thus, helping businesses gain more insight.

Apala Lahiri Chavan, President, Human Factors International –MIDAAAS shared insights on Artificial Intelligence, how AI has become the current talking point of technology. “Artificial Intelligence at the very minimum can help in the ability to work with big data because AI works best with as much data as possible that could be provided to the AI systems. This enables the system to come up with intelligent and meaningful insights, thus, adding value with its suggestions or solutions. Unlike the human brain that has its limits, AI looks out for maximum possibilities by connecting millions of dots, so to speak,” she says.

Having become an essential part of technology today, the core challenge of AI includes programming computers for traits such as knowledge, reasoning, problem-solving, learning, perception, planning and the ability to manipulate and move objects. Machines can act and react like humans only when they have been fed with a good amount of information.



Some of the questions that we put forth to Apala Lahiri on AI and here’s what she had to say:

Can AI help user experience in products?

Data forms the core for AI systems, so if it has a lot of ofdata about users of a particular product, then it can arrive at a conclusion regarding patterns of usage, where is the customer population, where would the user stick on regarding product usage and where the challenges are. Moreover, arriving at answers to these questions is quite challenging if conventional analysis systems were to be used. On the other hand, with an AI system, businesses would know how a particular product is being used, know about customers coming in, how the product features  are being used in a short span of time, and hence, be able to act quickly upon an experience that seems to be broken whilst investigating deeper. These are the areas where AI can help user experience in products. Of course, the ethics of collecting and acting on user data is a larger question that is being debated upon even as we speak!

Can AI also provide predictive insights of products?

If there are two different ideas, an AI system can look into the given data about the target segment of customers. Given the type of customers, the AI would look into the kind of preferences, work, and behaviour with all its crunched data.

Technology is surpassing all means and moving towards development of such powerful systems. When it comes to AI, a lot is being witnessed in terms of its development. It is not just the development of intelligence that is being worked upon but how almost the entire human brain could be mimicked. Even developers cannot predict how an AI system would work and at times are surprised at how the system moves forward.



The role of AI in the India:

AI is a luxury, and the possibilities it has in solving problems in India is immense. Even though India seems to have progressed, it still has an enormous illiteracy rate. 50% of rural women who work as domestic help or at construction sites are illiterate, and herein begins marginalisation of such a large section of our population. They are not self-sufficient, they cannot run micro enterprises, nor can they grow in their jobs. Hence, AI systems can play a huge role if it can impart basic life skills or functional literacy i.e. how to read, write and learn a bit of English, understand rights or understand financial issues. This would help them navigate through life with dignity and prosperity.

Can AI help bring those at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid higher?

Yes, AI can undoubtedly do that. Especially in most Asian and African countries, there exists hierarchies in society, be it in income or education, irrespective of the rural-urban divide. Those at the bottom of that hierarchy tend to feel intimidated and judged by those above. Therefore, AI systems could help people at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid to interact and learn in a much easier way as it can be non-judgemental and completely neutral. This is hugely liberating, especially in countries like India where the illiteracy and poverty rate is quite high.

Verticals and domains AI can be put to use:

AI can play a huge role in health care where diagnosis could be made fast and cheap, without having any actual doctors; which is quite a significant application in countries like India. AI could also be handy in crop guidance or crop management. Billions of data points of farmland images can be looked upon, and within few second an analysis could be made as to whether the area is suitable for crop planting or not, how much water is needed, what kind of crops would be right and then the information can be used to advise the farmer. Hence, AI is quite impactful for applications of this nature.

AI provides scalability for solving such large problems; otherwise, human beings would have to be deployed all the time.



Any product that is leveraging AI to eradicate problems from the society?

Much work is going on and more so in academic research institutions and of course, initiatives like IBM’s Watson. There are lots of programs where AI systems are being analysed, and experiments are being run in India and other African and Asian countries to scale the problem of literacy. Instead of human teachers, pure artificial intelligence is being put to use. Large corporates are trying to apply AI in different areas such as agriculture and medicine.

The challenge is that unless we develop the capability locally to develop and deploy AI systems, it is going to be expensive. Therefore, non-profit organisations of computer scientists, AI developers, roboticist, are taking up the initiative to train local people and build their skills. In India, these kinds of programs have not started yet, but it would be helpful even if readymade systems were used in agriculture, medicine, healthcare, education.

However, since AI system is a virtual entity with which people have to interact, the question arises as to whether people are comfortable in a culture like this and is it beneficial.

“We should all collaborate to see with our different skills and perspective how can we make them contextual. Moreover, if we all collaborate, then maybe instead of repeating the same thing, we can contribute to what each other is doing, and the result is going to be so much more impactful,”
says Apala.

The positives and negatives of AI:

The ability to come up with intelligent and meaningful insights quickly based on a lot of data and information; this is a value add as it also enables us to quickly determines possible suggestions or solutions for a certain problem. The AI system can look at ways to find a solution by looking at a maximum number of possibilities, unlike the human brain that is limited. This is a very positive thing as it is hugely beneficially in so many ways. The negatives, on the other hand, include human biases that developers or designers could carry when developing an artificial intelligence system. AI is nothing but algorithms, and if the algorithms are biased, then this is where the fear of mishaps come from.

Is there a way to curb these biases?

There needs to be an agreement across entities, whether corporate, governments or other institutions across the world to always follow some basic principles. Some fundamental human values and ethical guidelines need to be embedded in the AI systems as a non-negotiable, no matter what the problem is and how it is crunching the data and coming up with solutions.


About Apala

Apala Lahiri Chavan is President of Human Factors International (Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia). Her passion is to envision how user experience can be inclusive, democratic and a change agent. She is also fascinated by changes in user experience across time and space. Apala is an award-winning designer (International Audi Design Award 1996). She co-edited the book Innovative Solutions: What Designers Need to Know for Today’s Emerging Markets and her TEDx talk is Three Laws of User Experience. Follow her @FuturistApala

It is estimated that founders can end up spending more than 50% of their time raising funds for their venture. While the amount of time spent on this activity may be debatable and vary based on multiple factors including the credibility / track-record of the founder, investment climate, industry sector, etc., what is undisputed is the fact that fund raising is a major focus area AND a huge drain on founders’ time. Unfortunately, it is also one activity that cannot be delegated to anyone lse.


In my case, at every stage of all my ventures’ growth and development, I’ve had to spend huge amounts of time focussing on fund raising.


So, given how critical this activity is, founders will be well advised to ask themselves the following questions,BEFORE they plunge headlong into raising funds,



  1. “Do I really need external funding”?  Very often, people can build businesses without

Institutional capital (venture capital, or, even early-stage angel funding). A business can be built, out of cash flows of the business, customer advances, entrepreneur’s own savings, loans from friends and family or other softer resources. There are a lot of businesses such as professional services firms that break even quickly, which can be boot strapped without external funding.


Founders, therefore, need to ask themselves what funds are really required till they reach profitability and whether there is an absolute imperative to seek outside funding or if the amount is something that they can mobilise internally


  1. “Is it Risk capital or just Working capital that I need”? Typically, working capital refers to capital you need to deploy for a period of time,which is likely to be returned to the business; E.g., for buying an inventory of goods that you will end up selling at a profit for which money will flow back into the business. For this, you need to invest an initial amount that can be recovered later. Working capital could also go towards salaries etc., that you need to pay initially but can be recovered from the services provided by your employees. On the other hand, risk capital is different and would go towards R&Dand product development costs, branding, marketing, etc. In this case, the results of undertaking these activities are unknown, and things may or may not work out; nevertheless, you need these elements in order to build out the business but the entire capital invested is “at risk.”


Potential funders for both the types of capital listed above are different. Working capital typically comes from banks, NBFCs(non-banking financial institutions) or sources that don’t expect safety of the principal to be compromised and seek some collaterals or guarantee in return for lending the funds. They are mostly willing to fund over the short-term and expect moderate returns.


Risk capital,however, is for “risk investors” who would expect a stake or piece of your company. They understand the high risk, expect multi-bagger returns or compensation for the risk. These include angel investors, VC (venture capital) firms, etc.


  1. ”When should I raise to raise Venture Capital or equity funding”?This can be particularly tricky. When you raise external funding too early in the game, you may end up with a low valuation, and you dilute your stake disproportionately. However, choosing to raise funds too late and you don’t have enough fuel (cash) to experiment and try out various things, take risks and play aggressively for a win.


In my opinion, if you are clear about needing VC funding then the earlier, the better. Dilution (of his / her stake) never affected any entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are passionate people who want to see their dreams and passion change into reality. For this, they need all the help they can get given the low odds of success (Less than 5 % of startups actually last / succeed). No company ever shuts down because the founder diluted too much; rather, companies have to shutter because the last Rs10,000 to pay the bills is no longer there.


But, some experts think differently. They advocate that you should develop the business to a certain stage so that you are clear about how much money is required, for what purpose this will be used, and can show some market traction before raising funds - at which point the valuation will be better, and dilution of stake will be lower. As I said before, the timing issue is a tricky one to resolve.




  1. What will be the source of funds?” (Angels / HNIs, Angel networks, Seed stage funds, Venture Capitalists, PE firms)


This should be determined by a few factors such as:

  • The quantum of the fund raise: Each class of investor has their sweet spot on how much they typically invest and should be approached accordingly based on the size of funds one is seeking.
  • Stage of the business: The clarity of business model, proof of concept, market validation is important and will decide whom to approach. VCs usually need a more mature set-up compared to a seed stage fund, which in turn would like to come in when there is some proof as compared to an angel or HNI who bets on an idea. Some exceptions to the rule may apply. For instance, some VCs have a start-up accelerator funds or pools. PE firms usually provide what is known as “growth-capital”. They will come in after the proof of concept has been validated and soundly established, when there is clear profitability or a path to profitability exists. PE firms provide give funds for growth, and not for proving the business model.


  1. How much funding should I raise?


Raising higher than normal funding may encourage profligate spending and excesses as we have seen during the boom days. However, having access to money rarely killed a company, but the lack of it (money) will certainly do. But how much to raise is determined by the amount that is needed to execute your plan and getting to the next milestone. The next milestone could be:reaching profitability, reaching enough scale to be able to attract the next round of funding for a much larger amount, developing the product fully so that you can deploy it in ‘live’ customer environments, or developing the business to a level where you will start generating revenues to sustain your monthly burn, etc.


It is important to raise as much funding as you can based on a) your need b) market appetite and b) your capability to attract investors. It’s better to have more rather than less funding.


K Ganesh, Serial Entrepreneur and Partner – 

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