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Oracle Expanding its Startup Cloud Accelerator from Bangalore to Delhi-NCR & Mumbai

BWDisrupt spoke to Sanket Atal, Group Vice President of Development, Oracle India about this new development.

Oracle is expanding its Startup Cloud Accelerator from Bangalore to Delhi-NCR and Mumbai in India. Oracle OpenWorld (Delhi NCR & Mumbai centers now live, and the call for applications for these 2 cities as well as in Bangalore).

In Conversation with BW Businessworld's Soumya Gupta, Sanket Atal, Group Vice President of Development, Oracle India  revealed his future plans. Full excerpts from the interview:-

1. What criteria are you looking for in the startup teams you will choose?

Oracle is looking to boost entrepreneurship, economic development and further India’s digital agenda. Supporting and building an efficient ecosystem for them is critical. The Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator program, which was first globally launched in Bengaluru in October 2016, primarily targets medium-sized firms, including MSMEs  (micro, small, medium enterprises) and startups, which encompass a highly vibrant and dynamic sector of the Indian economy, contributing more than 37 percent of India’s GDP . Oracle has been able to successfully mentor and nurture two batches of startups as part of this program in Bengaluru. We’ve now further expanded into Delhi/NCR and Mumbai in India as well as several other international markets.

Oracle powers majority of the economy across the world. So, we are not going to put any guard rails around which company we choose; each startup is unique, and this program is tailor-made to get startups up and running in a short period of time. But what we do require is that the companies have a solid idea, a good proof of concept (POC) and a great founding team - most importantly, the fire in the belly and the urge to win. They should be able to see technology in a way that will be synergistic with the business approach and together use the power of the cloud to become very successful.  

2. The startup advisory board consists of hand-picked industry stalwarts from e-commerce and technology companies, and investors. What else can the startups look forward to if they join Oracle Accelerator? How is it different from the existing accelerator programmes in the country?

Unlike traditional accelerator programs, ours is a next-generation acceleration initiative driven by R&D. The program focuses on reimagining enterprise innovation through partnerships with startups that foster co-development and co-innovation, where we all win. Oracle’s program does not take equity or seek to compete with existing startup groups and incubators. Working alongside the existing support networks, Oracle will make its cloud technology available to startups for free, and provide mentoring and networking opportunities to help them grow. Essentially, what we try to do is provide an environment very much like the Oracle product engineering environment, where engineering thrives - because that’s what Oracle is all about. We try to find internal mentors who are global experts across various types of technology, be it an Oracle product or a technology in general. Therefore, startups get an opportunity to take advice from the best people in the world and they also get to connect with leading product managers in the world.

In today’s startup space, key expectations from cloud accelerator programme include removing barriers to costly technology, opening opportunities for new services and products, effective mentoring for using the latest cloud technology etc. With our modern cloud platform optimized for high-performance, high I/O, and high availability, and breadth of platform services, Oracle has democratized enterprise-grade technology to support startups. Oracle’s full cloud stack provides startup developers with the building blocks to get started immediately and scale as they pivot, expand and change their businesses as needed. With a global footprint, Oracle delivers more than 50 integrated cloud services to support companies of all sizes.

3. Which sectors do you think are at a boom this year in the startup ecosystem? Is the funding growing in India? Is funding suitable/advisable for early-stage startups?

Well, technology has changed; businesses have changed so we have to look at things from a different perspective. What I see booming now, in general, is the trend shifting a lot towards Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is a very broad term where a thousand people will give a thousand different descriptions. But, specifically Machine Learning is becoming very popular, and related to this is Natural Language Processing (NLP, Language Recognition etc. This technology is now being used to power bots. These technologies are attracting a lot of attention right now. We have had a lot of startups approach us enquiring about Oracle’s own platform for Chatbots. So, I think that area is going to be red hot this year.

Funding is something that most startups desire these days. It’s very difficult to give advice on which stage the startup should start seeking the funding. My personal advice is to wait as long as possible before seeking funding. If you can come up with a great POC, a great business approach and are able to get your valuation high, then your company is automatically valued much better and you will raise more money. It all depends on how you want to approach it though.

Also, one of the advantages of accelerators is that we provide a lot of mentoring in-house, a place to work, all sorts of technology readily available, mostly for free. So, barriers to entry for startups are reduced to a greater extent and they are getting a jumpstart. That way, you can figure out an intelligent way to seek funding.

4. Is India’s Startup India campaign effective? Yes/ No and why?

The ‘Startup India’ campaign has been acting as a stimulus for the growth of all the startups. Our goal has been to be a catalyst as a part of this movement. The number of startups that are applying to our program as well as to other programs, and the quality of those startups have gone up tremendously. People are much more inquisitive about various areas of technology and much more courageous in terms of exploring new aspects of technology - and for me that is a mark of success.  

5. Please throw some light on what Oracle as a company is expecting by supporting startups. What kind of success have startups from the previous batches seen?

Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator program is all about creating an ecosystem of innovation. All startups have a certain need when they begin – a place to work out of, a need for advice or mentoring, access to technology, ease in decision making – and all of these requirements are available at Oracle Accelerator. With these basic needs taken care of, we are able to encourage these startups to think big and venture beyond their initial thoughts.

The startups involved in the initial program in India have seen success already. One has gone into mass production, another received third-party funding and international orders, while others have been approached by investors and organizations for possible acquisition. This is an exciting time for us and we look forward to continuing our support towards India’s startup community.

Benefits of associating with Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Program include:

• Over 125 hours of combined mentorship from Oracle and industry experts, which includes CTOs and CIOs of established startups and peer organisations

• 24x7 access to a co-working space within Oracle’s premises, with Internet connectivity. The space also includes an activity centre, a café, and a creative, fun, healthy working environment

• Access to Oracle’s vast ecosystem of customers and partners

• Ongoing interactions and sessions with the investor community

• Access to Oracle Cloud (including training), at no charge

• After completing the six-month program, the startups that have leveraged Oracle Cloud for their business may be eligible to continue using it for an extended period

Additional info on the 2 batches of startups successfully mentored by Oracle:

Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Batch One participants

• ExpertRec has developed a machine learning-based, plug-and-play search and recommendation solution for online marketplaces

• NiYO Solutions is a fintech startup focused on alternate payment mechanisms

• Ray IoT Solutions has developed a mobile-based sleep monitoring device to detect infant healthcare dysfunctions

• Tydy provides a mobile first, automated employee on-boarding platform

• Vear provides a device agnostic, augmented and virtual reality platform for content distribution and marketing

Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Batch Two participants

• ezeDox is a digital locker built on the Aadhaar ecosystem using India Stack building blocks to connect organizations and users. It provides digitally signed online applications, eKYC enablement, storage, collaboration, categorization, tagging, browsing, and document sharing.  

• Farebond.com is a data science and predictive analytics firm that provides dynamic price locks to hold airfares for undecided travelers, giving them more time to plan. It has an extensive risk management process to keep lock pricing attractive to end customers while mitigating the operational risks involved for air carriers.

• Re#hash is a platform for the post-sales lifecycle management of consumer products. After a product is purchased, this app enables repair, service, renew, resale, or recycle in just a few clicks. This is a one-stop tool to manage products from cradle (date of purchase) to grave (end-of-life recycling).

• Sonder Connect is a not-for-profit trust founded by four women who identify, nurture, and champion high potential women-led startups in India with the goal of growing them to be multimillion/billion dollar companies.

• Trendlyne is a financial services advisor marketplace that provides equity scoring, analytics (including interactive charts with bullish/bearish/fundamentals indicators), custom alerts, and an aggregated business newsfeed.



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