Mumbai-based technology startup accelerator Zone Startups India along with the Government of Ontario, Canada and Ryerson University in Toronto have selected six winners of the Next Big Idea contest.
The winners will join a two-week incubation programme at the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University, a business incubator in Canada for emerging technology startups. At the programme, the startups will receive mentorship, business development advice, access to investors and industry connect.
"The Indian startup space has a massive growth potentialâ€¦ This contest is an opportunity for Indian startups to experience the North American market first hand and develop valuable new connections," said Jens Michael Schaal, counselor (Commercial—Ontario), Ontario International—New Delhi Trade & Investment Office.
This year's competition was launched in July with TCS, Google and HDFC Bank signing up as industry partners. The contest was first held in 2013. In each edition, five startups are selected for soft landing and market entry at the DMZ in Canada. This year, besides the usual five, Zone Startups shortlisted a firm from its women's entrepreneurship programme, Empower.
"This year, we had roadshows across 12 cities and got 389 applications. It was more special that during the contest, our first-ever winner, CitrusPay (Winner - 2013), got acquired by Naspers-backed PayU. Earlier this year, Konotor (Winner â€“ 2014) got acquired by FreshDesk," Ajay Ramasubramaniam, director, Zone Startups India, said in a statement.
In an interaction with the media, Ramasubramaniam said that Zone Startups is looking to set up two more six-month accelerator programmes that will focus on digital inclusion and smart cities. Under digital inclusion, there will be three verticals â€“ financial services, education and healthcare.
"We would be selecting anywhere between six and eight companies. These would be companies beyond the idea stage. We've already started identifying industry and investment partners. The companies that get selected will work with the industry partner to do a proof of concept. At the end of the six-month programme they will get promoted and the investment partner will commit to cutting a cheque," explained Ramasubramaniam.
Zone Startups was set up in 2014 as a joint venture with the BSE Institute and Ryerson Futures Inc., a Toronto-based startup accelerator. It runs five programmes with corporate houses â€“ one each with the Bombay Stock Exchange, Barclays, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and Thomson Reuters. It has also launched its own programme Empower, which aims to support women entrepreneurship.
Zone Startups is supported by the Department of Science and Technology, which partly finances the accelerators it operates. While the partners that the accelerator ties up with provide only domain knowledge, it earns revenues through its corporate accelerators, said Ramasubramaniam.
Here are the six selected startups that will visit the DMZ in Canada:
1. Uncanny Vision: Founded in 2013 by Ranjith Parakkal and Navanee Sundaramoorthy, this B2B startup provides real-time optimised artificial intelligence-based computer vision solutions. The firm's products—image processing library UncannyCV and Uncanny DL, a deep-learning library for mobile applications—have use cases in robotics, android applications, video surveillance and in advanced driver assistance systems. Fortune 500 companies in Japan, the US and India in sectors such as retail and banking utilise Uncanny Vision's products.
2. Heckyl Technologies: This UK- and Mumbai-based startup was founded in 2010 by Mukund Mudras, Abhijit Vedak, Som Sagar and Jaison Mathews, and provides real-time information on financial news on companies and markets through an analytics platform. The startup offers its product to financial institutions such as brokerages, hedge funds, banks and asset management companies.
3. Data Resolve Technologies: This startup was incubated at IIT Kharagpur and offers enterprises cloud-based information security platform to address issues related to corporate fraud, data leaks and employee productivity. The firm is promoted by IIM Calcutta alumnus and former IBM executive, Dhruv Khanna and IIT Kharagpur alumni, Devesh Mittal and Nagarjun Kota.
4. Algo Engines: Through machine learning, big data and cloud technology, this Mumbai-based SaaS startup enables real-time monitoring, provides performance analytics and predicts failure of devices for wind turbines, solar plants and hydroelectric plants. It was founded in 2013 by Satish Kashyap and Pallavi Narvekar. An ISB Hyderabad alumnus, Kashyap was previously an investment manager with private equity fund IL&FS Group and had a stint at NSE IT Ltd. He also co-founded General Carbon, a firm focused in the environment and energy commodity markets across India, Southeast Asia and Africa. General Carbon has become one of Asia's largest carbon credit advisory. Narvekar was previously with NSE IT Ltd and has headed IT operations at Reliance Securities, prior to founding Algo Engines.
5. Senseforth Technologies: Through its AI platform A.ware, which mimics cognitive abilities, this Bengaluru-based company employs bots that can be used for various functions such as for emails, remittances, sales and analytics in sectors such as human resources, banking and retail. The firm was founded in 2012 by former Infosys executives Shridhar Marri, Krishna Kadiri and Ritesh Radhakrishnan.
6. Cloudrino: This information-as-a-service (IaaS) startup was founded in 2011 by Mohit Madan and Tarusha Mittal, who has been in the startup space for over eight years. Cloudrino provides users with a cloud-based infrastructure to host servers that can be used for web/app hosting, storage and backup and managing third-party servers. Cloudrino was also one of the winners of Zone Startups' Empower programme, which is aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs in technology businesses.
Last week, Zone Startups along with the Government of Canada launched an accelerator programme, Gateway 91, for international startups looking to enter the Indian market.
In June, Zone Startups partnered with British banking firm Barclays Plc to launch and manage the Rise accelerator programme in India. Barclays will not invest in the financial technology startups from the accelerator but will use their technologies, which includes blockchain, chatbots, artificial intelligence and cyber security.
The Mumbai-based firm was also selected by Axis Bank to manage its accelerator programme, 'Thought Factory', in Bengaluru.
In August, it completed its six-week Empower programme for women. Eight women entrepreneurs had received seed funding totalling Rs 60 lakh.