The Microsoft accelerator program in India has been evolving. It shifted focus last year to later-stage startups with a proven product-market fit, which can gain the most from the tech giant’s mentorship and global connections. It now passes on promising early-stage #startup applicants to partner incubators and angel investors, and also works with partners to identify suitable startups for its accelerator program.
The average funding raised in this cohort is US$2.5 million – and two of the startups are bootstrapped. The average annual revenue in the cohort is US$900,000.
This strategy has been refined further with an enterprise focus. It recently came up with an ‘enterprise readiness score’ for startups, derived primarily from three parameters: customer traction, funding velocity (taking into account both the total funds and number of rounds), and size of the company. And now, the latest batch of 14 startups to join the Microsoft Accelerator in Bangalore, unveiled today, has a clear goal to raise their enterprise readiness score and target corporate clients.
“The average funding raised in this cohort is US$2.5 million – and two of the startups are bootstrapped. The average annual revenue in the cohort is US$900,000. So it’s a mature bunch on the cusp of scaling their technology and business,” Bala Girisaballa, CEO in residence at the Microsoft Accelerator in Bangalore, points out.
As Bala put it to Tech in Asia in an earlier interview: “You have to be of a certain size to be able to dance with an elephant.” Here’s a look at the 14 startups that will be dancing with Microsoft through the summer of 2017:
Just last month, SigTuple announced a series A funding round of US$5.8 million – the largest investment in a healthcare AI startup out of India. This startup is poised to scale up and the Microsoft accelerator program comes at an opportune time.
Bangalore-based SigTuple uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to automate routine tasks of pathologists – such as analyzing blood smears on microscopic slides. Accel Partners, Axilor Ventures, Pi Ventures, IDG Ventures, Endiya Partners, VH Capital advised by WhatsApp’s Neeraj Arora, ex-Googler Amit Singhal, and Flipkart co-founders Sachin and Binny Bansal are among its backers.
Delhi-based Zenatix uses IoT (internet of things) to optimize energy consumption for enterprises and cut costs. Its cloud-based software can monitor and control smart meters installed in buildings in real time. Pi Ventures and Blume Ventures made a US$1.2 million investment in Zenatix just last month.
“The analytics engine slices and dices the data to come up with an energy consumption pattern of the building, down to each and every appliance in it. Then steps are taken to optimize that. We have been able to give 10-12 percent of energy savings to all our customers,” Zenatix co-founder and CTO Dr. Amarjeet Singh told Tech in Asia in an earlier interview.
Active AI, based in Singapore and India, makes AI-powered chatbots for banks. It lets customers interact with the bots to pay bills, check their balance, and so on. While the main channel for these bots is Facebook Messenger in Singapore and India, Active AI uses Line and Zalo in Thailand and Vietnam.
The startup secured US$3 million in funding from IDG Ventures India and Kalaari Capital in November to scale up. “Conversation is the new UX,” Ravi Shankar, the startup’s CEO and co-founder, told Tech in Asia then. “With banks opening up APIs, a new era of digital business is emerging. We are moving from ‘mobile first’ to ‘AI first’ and Active AI is the platform facilitating banks to achieve that.”
Bangalore-based LetsTransport is a last-mile logistics provider. Unlike other transport aggregators, it has a fleet of trucks to enable customization for clients. For example, a food delivery company’s requirements are different from those of a construction company.
The startup aims to use tech-based logistics to support just-in-time manufacturing models pioneered in Japan, co-founder Pushkar Singh had explained to Tech in Asia in an earlier interview. Japanese VC Rebright Partners was one of the first investors in this startup. In January, it raised US$4 million in a second round of funding from NB Ventures and GMO Venture Partners, with participation of existing investor Rebright Partners.
Bangalore-based healthcare startup Tricog has a cloud-connected ECG which can be set up in health centers. Cardiac experts on the cloud, available round the clock, can read the ECG and relay their advice via SMS to the patient’s doctor or caregiver. This fills a vital gap in a country like India which has one cardiologist for every 250,000 people compared to one for every 10,000 in the US.
Founded in 2015 by cardiologist Charit Bhograj and three others, the startup raised an undisclosed amount in series A funding last year from Inventus Capital Partners and Blume Ventures.
Mumbai-based vPhrase uses artificial intelligence to turn boring and dense charts into more intelligible narratives for easy comprehension. And it can do this in multiple languages.
VPhrase communicates in a more vernacular and less academic style, founder Neerav Parekh told Tech in Asia in an earlier interview. The software-as-a-service product is “best used for communicating personally with a large number of people,” he explained. The startup was the first to get backing from the Zone Startups India fund of Canada’s Ryerson Futures.
Mumbai-based Heckyl provides real-time data analytics to investors, traders, and researchers. The co-founders – Som Sagar, Jaison Mathews, Abhijit Vedak, and Mukund Mudras – worked earlier at Merrill Lynch and also have solid tech credentials.
The seven-year-old startup has leading investment firms as clients, but is now making a foray into North American markets. It was recently selected for incubation in Canada’s Ryerson University.
AceBot is a productivity bot on the popular work collaboration tool Slack. It helps manage tasks, run surveys, and so on. It also helps sales teams of enterprises track leads and expenses.
The startup raised US$650,000 in a seed round from Accel Partners last August. Accel was also an early investor in Slack. AceBot has experienced founders – Ravindra Krishnappa was part of the Indian Angel Network and has been running file-sharing system CollateBox with co-founder Ralph Vaz.
Cloud-based software, data, and computing are the rage. But its benefits come with challenges in managing and securing these resources across cloud and terrestrial centers. Bangalore-based Lavelle Networks helps to tackle this with its network-as-a-service subscription-based product. It also helps companies port their data and apps across different cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Co-founders Shyamal Kumar and Karthik Madhava have several years of experience in this field and earlier worked together at Juniper Networks. The startup has raised a little over US$1 million in seed funding.
Cloud security startup SysCloud provides backup and recovery services for Google apps. “Cloud app providers protect their applications and infrastructure. But, what your users store and do can cause damage – 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault,” points out SysCloud on its website.
Founder Vijay Krishna has more than two decades of experience in the storage, server, and backup software industry. The startup, headquartered in New Jersey with operations in India, raised US$2.5 million in a series A round from Inventus Capital Partners and Kae Capital.
WittyParrot provides cloud-based productivity tools to access and manage information. Based in San Francisco and Bangalore, the startup raised US$450,000 in a seed round from Mumbai Angels in December.
Co-founders Anil Jwalanna and Rajesh Setty are seasoned Bay Area techies, with earlier entrepreneurial experience under their belt.
FirstHive is a SaaS startup providing marketing automation across channels. Its algorithm tracks the customer journey, segments customers by behavior, and provides real-time analytics. It lists big brands like ICICI Bank, Shell, and Essilor among its clients.
QuestionPro is a marketing tool to conduct surveys and analyze results. Others in this space include SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. QuestionPro claims it has different formats for different users – corporate workforce, online communities, and so on. Founder Vivek Bhaskaran, mostly based in the US, is an experienced techie who has been building a series of SaaS products.
Karomi, based in Chennai and Princeton, provides packaging artwork management software on the cloud for pharmaceutical and consumer goods companies. It raised seed investment of US$525,000 from Ideaspring Capital earlier this month. The investment aims to help Karomi enter the US market to serve small businesses there.