Google Shortlists Four Indian Startups for Accelerator

Google shortlisted four startups from India for its fifth mentorship program Launchpad Accelerator that will begin on January 29, 2018, at the Google Developers Launchpad Space in San Francisco. Launchpad Accelerator is a six-month program from Google that includes an intensive two-week bootcamp in San Francisco and mentoring from more than 30 teams across Google as well as from other expert mentors from technology companies and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and across the world.

A smartphone with Start Up displayed on it

 

The companies selected from India, as reported by the Economic Times, are:

BabyChakra — A Mumbai-based social discovery and commerce platform for parents that aims to help them with all their pregnancy, parenting, maternity, baby development and childcare needs.

m.Paani — A real-time data analytics and marketing platform for companies and local retailers to connect with consumers.

Niramai — A breast cancer screening startup that is building a non-invasive, non-touch, non-radiation approach to detect breast cancer.

SocialCops — A data intelligence startup that enables organizations to make better data-driven decisions. It counts various government departments, organizations, and nonprofits as customers.

We’re thrilled to see the quality of startups coming from India, with high impact solutions that are solving for the Indian context. These startups have been shortlisted based on their unique value proposition and use of latest technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence” said Roy Glasberg, Global Lead, Google Developers Launchpad.

December 11, 2017   No Comments

Google Invests $12 million in Indian Startup

Having picked up a significant minority stake in Bangalore, India-based Dunzo, a hyper-local concierge and delivery player, Google made its first direct investment of $12 million in an Indian startup. With a chat-based interface, the Dunzo app facilitates daily tasks management — individuals can create ‘to-do lists’ and collaborate with partners / vendors to strike off the tasks from the list.

The investment is part of Google’s ‘Next Billion Users’ push, as it seeks to build an ecosystem in India across high-frequency hyper-local transactions as well as in the healthcare, financial services, and education sectors, reports the Economic Times.
Google India Logo
“I see a change in tack,” said Rutvik Doshi, managing director at Inventus Capital and a former Googler, adding that Google probably now sees India as a large enough market to make investments. “After getting the first two billion users, Google has realized that to get the next one billion they will need to rethink their product stack and approach,” he said.

December 11, 2017   No Comments

Google Cloud Platform Launched in India

Google announced that its first Google Cloud Platform region in Mumbai, India, is now live. It offers several services including computing, big data, storage, and networking. Customers will be able to pay in Indian currency for the services. The launch marks Google’s entry into this domain in India where it trails Amazon and Microsoft.

Google Cloud Platform’s product manager Dave Stiver said that hosting applications in the new region can improve latency from 20-90 percent for end users in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and of course Mumbai, compared to hosting them in the other closest region, Singapore. Other cloud regions in Asia Pacific are hosted from Taiwan, Sydney and Tokyo, reports the Economic Times.
Google India Logo
Google said  it will have three such centers across the country, without spelling out the investment, though it has earmarked $30 billion of investments for the cloud offerings. Forbes says Google’s entry heats up the competition while opening up additional opportunities for the local ecosystem. The company can now join its competitors to bid for government projects. Many state governments and large public-sector enterprises are considering their move to the cloud.

November 9, 2017   No Comments

U.S., India, China, Lead in Artificial Intelligence

Malcolm Frank, head of strategy at IT firm Cognizant, headquartered in Teaneck, New Jersey, told CNNMoney that the United States,  India, and China are far ahead of anyone else in artificial intelligence.

In America, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Tesla are investing billions of dollars to substitute for people in sectors such as agriculture, medicine, and driverless cars.

In China, Tencent and Baidu are competing with Silicon Valley to develop new uses for AI. Tech billionaire Jack Ma of Alibaba, has even said CEOs may eventually be obsolete. Unlike in the U.S., most of the push for AI in China comes from the government which has invested $150 billion, with the aim of making China the world’s “innovation center for AI” by 2030.

CNN Tech says: In India firms such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro, which provide technology services to big names including Deutsche Bank, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Microsoft and the U.S. Army, are increasingly relying on automation in their operations. In addition, India’s startup scene also makes him [Frank] “very optimistic” about the future of artificial intelligence there.

Artificial Intelligence

“In India, you look at this remarkable platform that is in place now… of incredibly sophisticated skills that are focused on the needs of [global] companies,” said Frank. “I think it’s three horses in the race, and that’s probably the wrong metaphor because they are all going to win,” he said. “They are just going to win differently.”

 

August 30, 2017   No Comments

Investor Outlines Macro Trends in India

Macro thinker and author of the institutional newsletter, Global Macro Investor, Raoul Pal, identifies big trends ahead of time and has 24,000 Twitter followers. He enunciates that the next big macro idea is India.

Pal says, “India has built the world’s first national digital infrastructure, leaping at least two generations of financial technologies and has built something as important as the railroad was to the U.K. or the interstate highways were to the U.S. India is now the most attractive major investment opportunity in the world.

Pal outlines 7 phases that has made India the biggest emerging market macro story in the world. Lightly edited excerpts follow:

Phase 1 – The Aadhaar Act

In 2009, India launched a project called Aadhaar, and began creating a biometric database based on a 12-digit digital identity, authenticated by finger prints and retina scans, to identify and document its population. As of 2016, 1.1 billion people  or 95% of the population now has a digital proof of identity.

Phase 2 – Banking Adoption

The Government of India  allowed the creation of eleven Payment Banks, which can hold money but don’t do any lending. To motivate people to open accounts, the government offered free life insurance, and linked bank accounts to social welfare benefits. Within three years, more than 270 million bank accounts were opened and $10bn in deposits flooded in. People who registered under the Aadhaar Act could open a bank account using just their Aadhaar number.

Phase 3 – Building Out a Mobile Infrastructure

Since people were able to instantly open a mobile phone account using their Aadhaar identification,  mobile phone penetration surged and went from 40% of the population to 79% within a few years.

The Unique Identification Authority of India, which administers Aadhaar, met with executives from Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Qualcomm, among others, to develop Aadhar-compliant devices which can integrate features such as secure cameras and iris authentication. Microsoft launched a lite version of Skype designed to work on an unstable 2G connection, and which is integrated with the Aadhaar database, so video calling can be used for authenticated calls.

Phase 4 – UPI – A New Transaction System

On December 30, 2016, the government launched Bharat Interface for Money, a digital payments platform using a Unified Payments Interface by which payments can be made by those with Unified Payments Interface accounts to those that do not have such accounts. Additionally, people can check their bank balances, and use QR codes for instant payments on this digital payments interface. Payments can now be made without using mobile phones — just using fingerprints and an Aadhaar number is required. This system works on a 2G network so it reaches even the most remote parts of India. It will revolutionize the agricultural economy, which employs 60% of the workforce and contributes 17% of GDP. Farmers will now have access to bank accounts and credit, along with crop insurance.

Phase 5 – India Stack – A Digital Life

India Stack is a framework that will make the new digital economy work seamlessly. It’s a set of APIs (Application Programming Interface) that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilize a unique digital infrastructure via a presence-less, paperless and cashless service delivery.

Essentially, it is a secure Dropbox for a person’s entire official life and creates what is known as eKYC: Electronic Know Your Customer.

Using India Stack APIs, all that is required is a fingerprint or retina scan to open a bank account, mobile phone account, brokerage account, buy a mutual fund or share medical records at any hospital or clinic in India. It also creates the opportunity for getting instant loans and brings insurance to the masses, particularly life insurance.

India Stack is the largest open API in the world and will allow for massive fintech opportunities to be built around it. India is already the third largest fintech center but it will jump into first place in a few years. The country is already organizing hackathons to develop applications for the APIs.

Phase 6 – A Cash Ban

The cash ban of November 2016 forced everyone into the new digital economy. It has the hugely beneficial side-effect of reducing everyday corruption, recapitalizing the banking sector and increasing government tax take, thus allowing India to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure.

India was a cash society but once the dust settles, cash will account for less than 40% of total transactions in the next five years. It may eliminate cash altogether in the next ten years.

Phase 7 – The Investment Opportunity

The future for India is massive technological advancement, a higher trend rate of GDP and more tax revenues. Tax revenues will fund infrastructure – ports, roads, rail and healthcare. Technology will increase agricultural productivity, online services and manufacturing productivity.

Telecom, banking, insurance and online retailing will boom, as will the tech sector. FDI is already exploding and will rise massively in the years ahead as technology giants and others pour into India to take advantage of the opportunity.

Nothing in India will be the same again.

 

August 1, 2017   No Comments