Indian IT services giant Infosys has been in the doldrums lately: its results are below par, Trump’s crackdown on visas for tech workers has put a crimp, and its retired founders have been questioning a fall in values.
But an accelerator for startups started by Infosys founders is scaling up in Bangalore. Axilor’s summer batch has 20 startups – the largest for any accelerator cohort in India. Software product startups comprise 80 percent of the cohort, showing the winds of change in India from outsourcing of services to innovation. What’s lacking in the ecosystem are sufficient support structures to see startups through the valley of death, and that’s where institutions like Axilor come in.
The institutional capacity to support early stage startups in India is low.
“The institutional capacity to support early stage startups in India is quite low – whether it is structured programs to improve their odds of success, the market access that they need in their early days, or the angel investment capacity. By doubling the capacity of this batch to 20 startups, we have taken another step to bridge these gaps,” says Axilor co-founder and CEO Ganapathy Venugopal.
Axilor’s mentors try to balance the nimbleness and agility of startups with the systems and process expertise drawn from their long experience in one of the world’s biggest IT companies. They also have deep connections in global tech enterprises, which are potential clients or partners for the startups.
Axilor provides equity-free support during the 100-day accelerator, but also makes available early funding of INR 2.5 million (US$38,750) in exchange for equity to those startups that need it, provided they meet targets. A further INR 5 million (US$77,500) is offered after the program to those startups that require funds for scaling. Finally, the ones that demonstrate a market fit qualify for early-stage funding of US$100,000 to US$500,000.
Half of the startups in the present cohort aim to serve enterprise clients, in sync with the current rethink about the consumer internet space in India which may take longer to develop than earlier assumed. Recently, the Microsoft accelerator in Bangalore inducted 14 startups and all of them had an enterprise focus.
Here’s a look at the startups chosen for Axilor’s summer batch, domain-wise:
Artificial intelligence / machine learning
Healthcare startup Niramai uses machine learning on thermal images to provide breast cancer screening remotely at lower cost. Traditional mammography requires expensive equipment and experienced radiographers. Niramai uses a device that can take high resolution thermal images and cloud-based analytics of the images to provide the screening.
This is another healthcare startup. Orbuculum, which means crystal ball, uses artificial intelligence on genomic data to predict the likelihood of getting chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. Founder Pranav Gangwal is a biological engineering grad from IIT Madras.
Last mile logistics is a massive problem in India because of poor infrastructure. Transporter.city has a SaaS (software-as-a-service) product that uses machine learning to automate logistics planning. This reduces costs by more efficient use of resources.
This analytics startup uses drones to provide data-as-a-service to manufacturing industries, to monitor their assets and reduce costs. Some of India’s oil and gas companies are currently using Detect to monitor their pipelines, spot leakages, and so on.
Cybersecurity startup Adya has a SaaS product, currently in trial mode, that gives enterprises visibility on who’s accessing their data, both in its premises and on the cloud. This helps to protect enterprises against theft and ransomware.
This is a tool for event organizers. It provides them with analytics and insights to assess and improve audience engagement. CoPro has been used in some leading startup events in India.
This is another pre-event and post-event audience engagement startup. But Gig focuses more on concerts. Sunburn and DJ Snake are among those who have used its automated communication tool to connect with audiences on Facebook Messenger.
Extraaedge provides cloud-based sales and marketing automation software to schools to boost their admissions. Educational institutions can either take annual licences or pay by sales leads.
Maroon uses predictive analytics to help sales and marketing teams. It promises to analyze sales triggers, provide intelligence on targets, and improve conversion of sales leads.
Rucept helps content creators with merchandising to open up new lines of revenue. The startup aims to take care of everything from sampling and sourcing to distribution of the products, which range from t-shirts and mugs to phones.
Healthfin helps to provide loans for expensive medical procedures, especially surgeries. Health insurance penetration is low in India, which makes unexpected medical costs hard to handle. Healthfin also helps patients compare costs at hospitals and diagnostic centers.
LegalDocs is a do-it-yourself site which enables users to prepare legal documents such as a will or a contract to sell a car. Some documents are free while others are priced according to complexity. It also provides advice on legal problems or issues.
TaxGenie aims to help startups and small businesses in India cope with the shift to a goods and services tax (GST) which will replace all existing central and state taxes on July 1. It also has a blog to educate businesses on the nitty gritty of the various provisions and compliance requirements of GST.
Lack of adherence to medication in the right doses is one of the major reasons for complications in chronic care. PocketPill helps people with chronic diseases stay on top of their medication. It connects them with family members and doctors.
Talkadoc helps doctors automate their patient management to be more efficient and handle more cases. It currently focuses on mental health where the doctor-patient ratio is very low in India. Talkadoc connects doctors, patients, and caregivers.
Medical travel is a growing industry, as more and more people travel to other countries for either better care or more affordable options. Treatgo is connecting with a global network of hospitals and doctors to facilitate this.
India’s entertainment industry is one of the largest in the world, but its processes are archaic. One of them is casting which takes up a lot of time. Castiko is trying to improve this by connecting actors with casting directors online on its platform.
English is an aspirational language in India for many. Knudge.me helps people improve their English skills on the go with bite-sized lessons on their mobile phones. Interactive games and quizzing aim to make it fun.
Multibashi is another language learning app. It helps in learning Indian languages via English, and it also helps users learn English through Indian languages. It uses audio recordings with native speakers and simulation of real-life situations to make it easier to learn spoken languages.
Do you have a quotable quote – of your own? YourQuote is an app that emblazons it across a wallpaper and lets you share it in social media as a picture post. How cool is that? But you have to think of a few weighty lines first!