Data Growth Creating New Opportunities for Organizations: NetApp

The company is engaging with promising entrepreneurs contributing to diverse set of tech areas

Deepak Visweswariah, SVP and MD, NetApp India

NetApp has been involved in helping startups create world-class products and innovative solutions via the NetApp Excellarator program. Deepak Visweswariah, SVP and MD at NetApp India, speaks about the program and introduces the start-ups involved. Excerpts from an interview:

BW CIO: Elaborate on the NetApp Excellarator program.

Deepak Visweswariah: The NetApp Excellerator program in India is aimed at helping startups create world-class products and innovative solutions that are market ready, and solve real-world problems. The program is looking at mentoring and accelerating startups working in areas adjacent to data - such as Internet of Things, cloud, big data and analytics, machine learning, virtualisation, data security, data management and storage.

The NetApp Excellerator program will run two cohorts in the year of its inception. Both four-month long programs helping startups develop cutting edge products and solutions by providing business and technology mentorship, customer access, access to tools, investor connects, co-working space, technology/ business support and an equity free grant of $15,000 for the startups, with no claim on their IP.

BW CIO: You provide market-relevant mentorship with training. Is this enough?

Deepak Visweswariah: If one observes the world in terms of technological shifts and innovations, it’s easy to assume that disruption is the new normal. Having been a startup itself once, NetApp has a 25-year heritage on a similar foundation. In fact, our founder Dave Hitz is still with us and plays an active role in the organization. From that perspective, we are well placed to share our fortitudes and failures with those who are stepping on the same shores.

We would like startups to take advantage of the journey we have been on, giving back to the ecosystem and fostering innovation. Which is why we are providing access to market, access to industry experts, access to technology, in addition to world class business and technology mentorship required for them to thrive.

Through the NetApp Excellerator program, we seek to engage with promising entrepreneurs contributing to diverse set of tech areas. We will assist these startups with guidance on building business relevance, exposure to our technology, partners and customers, as well as venture capitalists. We will also explore opportunities to take them to market.

A larger aspect of this startup program is that it is built around the business driver of a digital era - data. Data is the new oil, and we are the data authority of today’s world. The growth of data is creating a never-before opportunity for organizations.

They can now monetize their data to pay rich dividends and we want to help them by creating an ecosystem that enables this. We launched this program to partner, share knowledge, and mentor startups towards this wave of data monetization.

These startups get to leverage NetApp’s expertise and ecosystem of partners, investors and customers to maximize the potential of their product ideas. There is a need in the ecosystem to innovate with purpose and agility that startups are known for.

The NetApp Excellerator program will provide startups with access to collaboration and productivity tools, co-working space out of the company’s global center of excellence in Bangalore as well as networking opportunities with potential investors, partners, and customers. Startups will have access to NetApp platforms and technologies, tools, co-working space, HR, marketing, legal and tech support.

BW CIO: India STILL does not have a world-class product. How can this program ensure their delivery?

Deepak Visweswariah: I think that India has made great strides in the product space. See where we started and how we are maturing as a technology hub. I would say that we have several world-class products that India has helped create.

But, global multinational organizations work on global demands and a global scale engineering. It takes an amalgamation of disparate elements to create a world-class product and several such innovative products to create innovative business opportunities. India has been making strides in this direction.

Take the Global Innovation Index for example, this is the seventh consecutive year we have outperformed on innovation relative to our GDP, moving ahead 6 points in the rank this year.

More and more global businesses are setting up R&D and Engineering centres in India to stay ahead of the curve or to rethink well designed product solutions to address real world problems of bigger, better, quicker, cheaper. This is a clear indicator of what we are capable of. The startup buzz is a result of this strive.

In January this year, NetApp launched its Global Centre of Excellence in India with an investment of INR 1,000 crore. This is a clear indicator of what multinational companies think of the potential here. Our startup program is another investment that NetApp has made for the very first time – and out of the whole world, chosen India to do so.

We recognize that some of the most creative, breakthrough ideas will happen within India’s thriving startup ecosystem. Through the NetApp Excellerator program, we would like to encourage and support these start-ups and provide them with an opportunity to graduate to their next phase of growth.

BW CIO: Are you helping startups to develop their IP? Elaborate.

Deepak Visweswariah: The IP of the startups belong to them. We have ensured there is no IP contamination with either NetApp getting involved in the IP of the Startups or having startups borrow any of NetApp’s IP. What we help the startups achieve is their goals through technical mentorship, business mentorship and coaching.

BW CIO: Who are the early cohorts so far? And, why?

Deepak Visweswariah:  Given below are the profiles of the first startup cohort.

Adya: It provides SaaS based service with a big data and machine learning stack that helps companies protect their data from employee theft and ransomware.

It helps companies detect sensitive data (whether it's inside the enterprise or in the cloud), protect it from overexposure and alert in case of misuse or theft. It provides a SaaS platform with big data pipeline and processing in the cloud (with support of on-premise and cloud data sources). It has custom algorithms for anomaly detection and also shows real-time detection and alerting.

Enclouden: It is focused on automating IT infrastructure on a private cloud/VDI solution.

It provides automated self-healing and self-managing properties to system to optimize the IT Infrastructure management. It helps to manage, monitor, and secure distributed IT systems. It is building an IT system that can autonomously run without human intervention.

Lightmetrics: It generates motion insights during transportation to collect and analyse real-time data by using smartphones.

It analyses driving behaviour to mitigate risks by gathering data through the smartphone. It also provides real-time traffic alerts for drivers – traffic signs, distance, lane departure, etc. It also provides Android and iOS SDKs for the mobile device that can be used to analyse videos in real-time. It further provides real-time notifications and store driver behaviour data on cloud.

Scalend Technologies: It uses AI/ML to generate insights by analyzing omnichannel data (for BFSI sector only).

It has built a platform that provides data oriented insights to solve business problems. It has a data ingestion pipeline, a transformation workbench and modelling engine for generating prescriptive and predictive analytical insights.

Vaultedge: It provides an enterprise SaaS solution that helps to search documents - JARVIS for enterprises.

It has a SaaS and on-premise solution that integrate with content management and collaboration tools – to enterprise data sources like SharePoint, outlook, file servers, Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, Google drive, etc. It uses AI to automatically classify and tag documents.

Vitacloud Digital Health Pvt Ltd: It provides a solution to prevent, manage and reduce chronic health diseases by using data and analytics.

It uses IoT solutions to  analyses healthcare data and thus solve chronic health issues. It has an IoTM cloud-based platform that integrates information in real-time from multiple data sources (health monitors, wearables, clinical records, mobile sensors, mHealth apps and public content). It aims to combine different variables to create a health baseline or a real-time smart profile for users.

BW CIO: Why were these startups selected?

Deepak Visweswariah: The companies we selected for the cohort are primarily ones that NetApp is in best position to help. These companies deal with the data space, and we feel that we can help, coach and mentor them to build world-class products. This was the primary consideration.

We also looked at other important factors like pedigree of the founders, the nature of the problem that we are trying to solve, stage and maturity of the product, etc.


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