Expanding its leadership in helping customers thrive in a changing technology landscape, NetApp announced the opening of its Bengaluru, India, Global Center of Excellence to further innovation in data management for the hybrid cloud era.

The new engineering facility, located in the technology hub of Whitefield, is home to one of the company’s largest R&D teams. It also houses the company’s first startup accelerator program, called Escape Velocity, that will help nurture technology startups. As one of the first all-steel buildings in India, the facility and its surrounding campus are a model for sustainable design.

Mr. Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister-Government of Karnataka on this occasion said

Bengaluru is the technology, science, and knowledge capital of India and this is a matter of great pride for all of Karnataka. The State Government offers its complete support to technology companies in establishing their centers here. I am very happy that NetApp has invested in a great future with their new campus.

He inaugurated the center in a ceremony attended by government and civic officials, NetApp employees and senior company leaders from around the globe.

George Kurian, NetApp CEO  said

The innovations that come from our Bengaluru Global Center of Excellence will help customers around the world get ahead of the competition by enabling their data-powered digital transformation strategies. Our continued investment in India, with its highly skilled talent, collaborative government and global business partners, strengthens our ability to succeed in the new era of hybrid cloud.

Talented team helps customers maximize value of data

NetApp has been in India for 15 years, fueling advancements in the company’s portfolio of flash, cloud, and next-generation data center solutions that help manage and protect the world’s data. The Bengaluru team’s mission includes expanding NetApp’s line-up of Data Fabric solutions and services that maximize control and improve the secure movement of data across the hybrid cloud. The diverse skills of employees and partners available at the new center will further innovations in these areas. NetApp India has been ranked as one of the top 50 best places to work since 2009, and the new campus provides an inspiring, collaborative and state-of-the-art environment for its engineers to develop new offerings even faster.

Startup Accelerator Program expands Data Fabric ecosystem

The new NetApp startup accelerator program, Escape Velocity, will house and help nurture technology startups.

Deepak Visweswaraiah, Managing Director of NetApp India & head of NetApp’s worldwide Data Fabric & Manageability Group said

The digital revolution is creating a need for partnerships to fully support customer needs. As we evolve our Data Fabric approach, the Escape Velocity program will help to share our technology expertise and business acumen with innovative startups who will add to the robust cloud data management ecosystem our customers need. With our support, these startups will be on a path to win in a dynamic global IT environment.

New facility designed for collaboration and sustainability

The Global Center of Excellence is uniquely designed to create a collaborative environment that inspires employees to be their best. With a 12,000-square-foot data center and engineering laboratory, employees can access the latest and most sophisticated technologies across the world. The 15-acre campus incorporates a million square feet of workspace that supports multiple collaborative options with hi-tech conferencing capabilities, a 1,000-seater auditorium, and informal meeting areas to foster teamwork.

The center is also one of the first all-steel buildings in India. It was built with 7,000 metric tons of nearly 100% recyclable steel, which reduced water waste during construction. Sustainable features are built into every design feature to optimize energy usage creating carbon savings of over 12000 tons per year, which is same as planting as many trees a year. In addition, the construction processes applied resulted in a saving about 1500 tons of CO2. With over 70% of land area free for open, green spaces, and all possible water recycled through an ‘eco-pond’, the campus is a benchmark for green buildings.

Beyond its work amenities, the campus supports multiple recreational and convenience options to support employees’ active lifestyles. Sports offerings include football and tennis, and for personal fitness, a gymnasium and yoga program. A ‘mall street’ allows employees to buy daily conveniences, pay bills, book tickets and visit doctors at work.

E-commerce has been a huge game changer as now electronics, furniture, books, grocery, professional home services, etc. are all available on the push of a button. Apart from the entire digital experience, what makes it more unique is the speed with which the parcel is delivered to the customer! In today’s hyper-competitive environment, logistics definitely plays a very crucial role since a few days of delay [in delivering the shipment to the customer] can result in a bad customer experience.

The Trust Factor comes into picture when you are sending important documents to some or planning to shift to a new house. Though the Indian logistics market is expected to touch USD 307 billion by 2020 [Source], it is still disorganized and none of the existing logistics companies have multi-modal logistics options i.e. shipping via road, rail, air, ocean, etc.

This is where Jyotheesh Kumar & Dr Sharad Nair saw an opportunity and started ValueShipr, that offers customers (B2C) and Businesses (B2B) various shipment options namely Surface, Ocean, Rail, and Air. Their platform leverages IOT and Big Data for efficient tracking & shipment of consignments. In simple words, ValueShipr is a Logistics Platform ecosystem connecting SHIPPERS with Loads to TRANSPORTERS.

Today we have a chat with Jyotheesh, Co-founder & CEO of ValueShipr about his journey, learnings while building ValueShipr, funding, scaling up, etc.

So, let’s get started with the Q&A….

How and when did you come up with the idea of ValueShipr ?

In 2014, I was out to transfer goods for a personal matter as well as for office related requirements, wherein at the end of both the tasks, I was left with a deep irritation due to the experience. That’s when I realized how disorganised, unprofessional and customer unfriendly the whole logistics framework in the country was. Coincidentally Dr. Sharad Nair [the co-founder of ValueShipr] who is a director of another logistics company happened to meet me on a chance meeting and we just kind of exchanged notes and our frustration. One thing led to the other and our frequencies matched.  We drew a rough blueprint on the problems, the solution and the opportunity this presented. By end of 2015, we had a framework of business model and the number churning was done and ready. The official curtain on this project was raised in April 2016.

Can you give a small background about you, your start-up and its founders ?

Mr. Jyotheesh Kumar

ValueShipr is heralding in an innovative logistics platform ecosystem on On Demand Logistics marketplace by aggregating, organizing and bringing Transporter Partners and Clients-Shippers to harmoniously conduct business. The company is founded by Jyotheesh Kumar who brings in close to 20 years of experience in diverse and varied business roles. The company has received seed funding in 2016. The platform focuses on Multi Modal Logistics Solutions [Surface, Ocean, Rail, and Air] for cargo movement and brings together consignors, consignees, fleet owners, transport companies, warehouse owners as well as agencies on one common platform and enable them to transact and manage their business. Leveraging technology and diverse experience, ValueShipr focuses on delivering quality service by facilitating goods, cargo and parcel movement for every load capacity, at competitive price, flanking every shipment or freight with latest technology and outstanding customer service.

ValueShipr was conceptualized by Dr. Sharad Nair and myself. Dr. Nair and I have known since we were in school. Thus this venture brings us together after a gap of 20 years.  At ValueShipr, I am the Chief Executive Officer of ValueShipr, I am responsible for the day to day functioning of the company and ensuring that the company is successfully able to meet the requirements of the industry by providing seamless and easy to deploy solutions while also meeting the business objectives. Leading and mentoring a team [currently over 25] I oversee products, technology, businesses, marketing & PR, digital channel & marketing, distribution channels, project management & technology, CRM and business development owing to the proficiencies established due to my vast and diverse experience, I always look towards empowering vertical owners across multiple functional areas to take responsibility and keep raising the bar.

Dr. Sharad Nair the co-founder of ValueShipr has over 19+ years of work experience in private banking and wealth management. Dr. Nair is an active investor who has successfully help ed several start-ups bloom their venture into well-established organisations. At ValueShipr, Dr. Nair brings in his rich work experience and is the sounding board for all key decisions made at ValueShipr.

Does ValueShipr own the vehicles or it operates in a marketplace kind of a model ?

ValueShipr is an innovative logistics platform, aggregating, organizing and bringing ‘Transporter Partners’ and ‘Clients-Shippers’ to harmoniously conduct business on ‘On Demand Logistics’.

The platform would be focusing on Multi Modal Logistics Solutions [surface, ocean, rail, and air] for cargo movement. The stakeholders of logistics industry like consignors, consignees, fleet owners, transport companies, warehouse owners and agencies look to us to provide a common platform and facilitate them to transact and manage their business.

The focus is on aligning and blending technologies to systematise and organize with-Digital Sourcing, Internet of Things [IOT], cloud, CRM, document automation, GPS tracking, analytics, Artificial Intelligence [AI] and other value added service systems inherently as features of the platform

Interchangeability, Omni-channel access to platforms 24*7, CRM, Safety and reliability would further augment the user experience manifold for users of ValueShipr

ValueShipr caters to first-mile or last-mile delivery or both ?

ValueShipr is agnostic to the modes and being a technology led transportation platform can conform to both the requirements of transportation in the supply chain throughput.

What are some of the business verticals i.e. cargo, warehouse, inter-city logistics, etc. that ValueShipr caters to ?

These are facilitators in the value chain that are essential to complete the transportation of goods. We offer value added services viz; warehouse, packaging, loading, Insurance, intra city logistics to complement our services.

From customer’s perspective, tracking a parcel becomes very important. What are some of the technologies that ValueShipr uses in order to ensure safe & timely delivery ?

At ValueShipr, one of our core USPs is that we are involved through out of cargo movement, so we have built technology [IOT based GPS system] alerts, notifications right after the trip is confirmed until the delivery to the consignee is made. Besides this, we have a call center which is monitoring any aberrations/deviations during the trip on our dashboard and intervening with the driver/pilot to make sure that there is nothing amiss and the consignment is safely delivered.

ValueShipr has multi-modal logistics solutions (Surface, Ocean, Rail, and Air), how & when as per the experience at ValueShipr, should a customer opt for these options ?

So these modes are requirement based-meaning the determinants are-type of goods, geography, time, warehousing, packaging, price etc. are considered whilst taking a decision on which mode to opt for. Needless to say they have their own format that needs to be considered while adopting the right fit for transportation.

Can you please take us through the steps on how a transport company can partner with ValueShipr ?

Registering with ValueShipr is very simple. Transport business owners could just visit ValueShipr or download the ValueShipr mobile app from the Android store or else call 8655012255 to register. Post this stage, transport owners will need to share a few documents, which they could upload, scan or ever send us whatsapp images to fulfill the requirements. After verification and confirmation we schedule a boarding call led process on familiarization to help the person/transporter completely acclimatize with the process.

Most of the startups [tech & logistics] are focused on solving the last-mile problem, how much according to your experience is it critical to focus on first-mile as well ?

There are problems and challenges in all strata of society and this presents an opportunity to solve the problem. We know necessity is the mother of all inventions and ideas. Having said this, when you look at the challenges that surmounts any activity, one realizes the loss of efficiency and productivity in the entire throughput.

Both First Mile and Last Mile activities are vital cogs in the Supply Chain and cannot be wished one over the other.

Talking about logistics, there are companies like Delhivery, E-kart services, DHL [the traditional couriers], Post, etc. what according to you are the USP’s that customer can get if they ship via ValueShipr [either in terms of value/efficiency, etc.] ?

All the names mentioned above are respected companies in the logistics arena and are fairly entrenched in the 17% organized marketplace. ValueShipr firstly focuses on cargo goods>30 kgs and above and is a technology led platform focusing on enabling and empowering the 83% unorganized logistics players to efficiently undertake business and enhance their business.

Customers using ValueShipr gets-validated transporters, transparent transaction system, shipment tracking, proper documentation, payment options and access to call centre’s in a complete package

Can you please share details on the funding of ValueShipr ?

The company has received seed funding in 2016.

Does ValueShipr also cater to reverse-logistics [especially for big ticket items items like furniture] shipped by e-commerce partners using your services ?

We have factored this as a part of the plan and will be launching it suitably in 2017.

At the moment, ValueShipr caters to how many cities in India ?

Currently ValueShipr services are available across 18 cities in India, by March 2017, we will be adding another 10 more locations.

As ValueShipr  operates in marketplace kind of model, how do you ensure that your driver partners deliver the best experience [in terms of on-time delivery,etc.] to your customers [considering that all the truck drivers are un-educated and their style might not go well with customers] ?

Firstly at the time of transport partner enrollment, we look to ensure the transport owner provides us with their best drivers. Also at ValueShipr we also focus on getting transport owners who are involved or is a driver himself. Secondly we have a process of continual engagement with the driver during the transactions from our control centre to ensure compliance’s. Shortly in 2017, we plan to kick of the hygiene training program for drivers of our partners at select centres whereby they would be sensitized on the operational effectiveness and conduct for good services.

Currently ValueShipr [partner & customer app] is present only on PlayStore, any plans of launching the iOS version of ValueShipr ? 

Our Business plans have factored in the iOS application; however our surveys have shown a higher presence of Android phones amongst our user groups.  We would like to understand the market feedback while we look to develop the app for the iOS platform.

Are there any existing competitors of ValueShipr, how has the response been so far from the users [both logistics partners and retail users] ?

As far as the intercity model is concerned, we understand that there are a few players both in the transaction and classified models. However we are committed to provide the most unique logistics in the current market place with a powerful transaction led technology backbone. The entire innovation, algorithm, machine learning, BI, IOT framework are all developed internally.

What are the initial challenges that you faced once you started working on the idea [or turned an entrepreneur] ?

Like in every entrepreneurial journey, idea validation, funding, product and work flow finalization, resources, identifying right scalable technology, go to market and distribution have all been challenging and continues to be so even to this day.

What are some of the growth hacking techniques that are being used for ValueShipr and some tips for our readers ?

Growth hacking is a coinage of the Digital Revolution. Every startup that posts its A/B testing phase will look at means of rapid scale up at the shortest possible time, all at the back of limited financial resources and distribution. The growth hacker or simply the marketer is that messiah whom the team looks up to, who is deft in using multiple channels, focused strategy and execution ability and create vitality, to carve out distribution scale for the company.

ValueShipr believes in adding value to all associated stakeholders in the ecosystem and therefore is fully focused on massive reach out using multiple channels viz; traditional methods, digital marketing, social media, micro market campaigns to create awareness, acclimatize prospective clients and create the experiential effect of the assets with the consumers. While there is a sense of urgency, however we are clearly customer oriented and want to repose their faith and trust in the product.

When according to you should an entrepreneur look out for external funding ?

My personal view is that after validation of the MVP and there is a steadfast traction established, should one look at funding for growth.

2016 has overall not been a good year for startups [falling valuations, shutdowns, demonetization impact, etc.],  how do you see 2017 from start-up perspective and how should a start-up founder deal with such down-time ?

If solutions are built with a core focus of solving ‘identified problems’ and the concerned startup/entrepreneur has validated the proof of concept, it has nothing to be concerned about. Events, economic cycles of upward and downward trend would happen and that is the nature of the beast. However every start-up founder has to be resolute in his focus on their objectives and they could tide over any surprise challenges.

Some tips for aspiring entrepreneurs and something that keeps you motivated every day for your start-up ?

Every aspiring entrepreneur has to mentally be prepared for an action packed life. I would personally call every start-up CEO a ‘Chief Everything Officer’ so much so that the events on a daily basis hardly leave them with any time to spare.

He is a lonely ranger out there, possessed by his idea, convincing both internal and external customers to toe his belief & ideas and deliver. Due to the nature of complexity of challenges, there could be stress, anxiety and frustration at times. Keep doing the good work since it’s only through your belief that your team and customer will begin to believe in the enterprise. Hence every startup entrepreneur needs to have the ability of self-motivating themselves. I would recommend that entrepreneur try and lead a balanced and disciplined life to the best possible extent, give time to your physical well-being, inculcate reading habits, spend quality time with their family and also bake in sporadic travel plans.

Do give ValueShipr App a shot and share across your feedback/questions in the comments section. If you have any questions for Jyotheesh & his team about ValueShipr, entrepreneurship etc., email them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com

MSD Telematics Private Limited, a Gurugram based telematics solutions firm, announced the acquisition of Heuristics Info Systems in an all cash deal. Sparrow Business Solutions LLP, a boutique corporate finance firm acted as the exclusive advisors to MSD and Heuristics on the transaction and TRA Law acted as the legal advisor on the deal.

Image Source – LinkedIn

Ashmeet Singh, founder of MSD Telematics commented

This investment will fuel our ability to deliver greater value to customers by enabling us to offer complete bouquet of services. We are excited to have the Heuristics team join us in this exciting journey. Together we look forward to grow multi-fold in the next few years. Heuristics gives us the ability to now service international clientele with innovative and robust software solutions.

With the tremendous growth in Transport Tech and Logistics Tech space, telematics as an industry will see fabulous growth in the years to come.

Siddharth, investor at MSD Telematics said

It is time we function as business intelligence partners for the customers, helping them drive operational efficiency while reducing costs and risk. Telematics companies need to create unique positioning products that help customers grow their business.  We need to educate customers about numerous applications of telematics and collaborate towards increasing penetration in the domain for a sustainable growth and benefit of all the stakeholders.

Heuristics, founded in 2008 by Amit Dubey and Pradeep Rai offers Vehicle Tracking System and Mobile Application software while providing unique cost effective quality solutions to various industry segments. Following the acquisition Amit Dubey, Founder Partner Heuristics Info Systems, would be joining MSD Telematics as a board advisor.

Commenting on the deal, Rohit Bhargava, partner at Sparrow Business Solutions LLP said

This is probably the start of consolidation in the industry. Few large players will emerge in the next few years to take leadership positions in the USD 120 Million telematics market in India.

About MSD Telematics

MSD was founded by two friends Ashmeet Singh and Siddharth in 2011. MSD focuses on telematics integration, GPS based tracking/remote asset management, mobility solution and all M2M solution based products. Company caters to various industrial verticals like logistics, transportation, schools, public distribution system etc. Telematics solution is offered under the brand name traQmatiX.

MSD serves corporate and government corporations by offering customized solutions on OPEX basis and on a turn-key basis. MSD counts HPCL, State Election Commissions, State Food Corporations and Excise Departments as some of its clients.

About Sparrow Business Solutions LLP

Gurugram, Delhi NCR, India based Sparrow Advisory was set up in late 2014. Sparrow Advisory serves clients in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka across sectors including Auto Components, Water Treatment, Renewables, Consumer Goods, Vacation Rentals, Fitness Industry and Data Analytics.

MoneyTap, India’s first app-based credit line, has crossed 1,00,000 app installs in three months since launch, becoming the fastest app-based lending start-up to achieve the feat. The company has also lowered minimum salary eligibility to INR 20,000 per month and made the service available to consumers living in shared accommodation.

Since lowering the entry barrier late December 2016, MoneyTap has seen a huge demand from consumers in the lower-middle income group, with average salaries of around INR 22,000 per month and or living with their friends in shared housing.

In the last 20 days, more than 25% consumers who have applied for MoneyTap are in this category. This new category of young consumers, working in public, private or multinational companies in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities are underserved by the financial institutions and are usually shunned in the absence of credible credit history. MoneyTap realised the need to tap this segment and provide credit line to the eligible shared accommodation dwellers with credible KYC.  This is a significant number of potential customers for MoneyTap.

MoneyTap introduced the concept of a Credit Line [personal line of credit for consumers] for the first time in India when it launched in end of September 2016. “Credit Line” means that the bank will issue a limit of up to INR 5 lakhs, without any collateral or charging any interest.

The credit limit could range from INR 25,000 to INR 5 Lakhs depending on individual credit history. With a patent-pending chat interface, the free app rapidly evaluates the user’s credit in 7-minutes and tells them right then and there the amount they are eligible for. Against this limit, using the MoneyTap app, consumers can borrow as little as INR 3000 or as much as INR 5 lakhs and repay it as EMIs from 2 months to 3 years. Interest is paid only on the amount borrowed and rates can be as low as 1.25% per month. Credit limit also gets automatically topped up as soon as EMIs are paid back.

MoneyTap launched the product in September end with its first banking partner, The RBL Bank. RBL’s technology enables MoneyTap to provide instant decision and instant access to money, 24/7, irrespective of holidays. Though all actions are initiated on the MoneyTap app, per RBI guidelines, all financial transactions such as billing, repayment or withdrawals are directly dealt with the bank using secure APIs. Consumers do not have to hold a bank account or any other account with the partner bank to avail MoneyTap. As an added convenience for shopping needs, a MoneyTap RBL Credit Card is also provided to the user. This is a regular MasterCard Credit Card that is accepted at all locations and for all card purchases – offline and online.

The MoneyTap app is available on Android Playstore to all salaried employees, living in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad & Chennai. The company is continuously expanding across India and will soon be announcing other cities. Qualified customers, after completing the KYC [right from the app with no paperwork involved], will pay a one-time Line setup fee of INR 499 + tax in their first month e-settlement. This includes the cost of issuing the limit for the customer, a free MoneyTap RBL MasterCard and a slew of other benefits. There are no hidden fees or charges and every time the customer chooses to take an EMI, they will be shown the interest & any other applicable charges and the customer will be required to provide explicit consent before borrowing.

Bala Parthasarathy, Co-founder, MoneyTap says

We are humbled by the feedback we have received from our customers and are happy that we have been able to reach a large number of them. Since its inception, MoneyTap’s focus has been to enable easy access to small credit needs. The lower-middle income group in India is largely underserved by financial institutions. It is also a segment which is expanding and in need of credit. With the proliferation of smartphones in every nook & corner of the country, an expanding middle-income group and increasing ability to earn and spend, it will be interesting to see how access to a Credit Line will change their lives.

About MoneyTap

MoneyTap is a Bengaluru-based fintech startup, founded by serial entrepreneurs Bala Parthasarathy, Anuj Kacker & Kunal Varma, who are IIT/ISB alumni. Bala has co-founded multiple startups in Silicon Valley including Snapfish (sold to Hewlett Packard), which he helped grow to 100M users and $300M in revenue. After moving to India in 2007, he volunteered for UIDAI under Mr. Nandan Nilekani before starting AngelPrime in 2011 (now Prime Venture Partners) where he helped create companies like ZipDial (sold to Twitter), EZETap, Happay, etc. Kunal (ex Texas Instruments) & Anuj (ex Airtel & JWT) co-founded Tapstart that grew to 300K users and turned profitable in 2 years. MoneyTap works in very close partnerships with various banks and other financial institutions to make the process painless and on-app. For more details, please visit MoneyTap

While in the last two months, households across India have had to take some tough decisions. The cash problem is directing consumers to online stores where they can pay with cards or mobile wallets and buy grocery.

The days of heading to the supermarket are over as people now trade trolleys for home delivery services. New research from CashKaro, India’s Largest Cashback & Coupons site, takes a closer look at the cultural shifts in the way millennials stock their kitchen cupboards after demonetization.

Key Findings

  • BigBasket, Grofers, Godrej Nature’s Basket, ZopNow and Grocermax are the most preferred grocery sites
  • More than 50% of the respondents have started buying grocery/daily items online after demonetization
  • 44% would like to avail a subscription service for grocery, owing to their busy schedule
  • 79% have grocery applications installed in their mobile phones out of which 33% use more than one App

The online grocery industry seems to be an unintended beneficiary of the move as the customer cannot postpone essential purchases for their home. The survey indicated that more than 50% of the respondents have started buying grocery/daily items online after demonetization & a quarter would like to start soon. BigBasket, Grofers, Godrej Nature’s Basket, ZopNow and Grocermax are voted amongst top hyper-local sites. BigBasket ranks top in overall service [37%], Grofers leads in packaging [34%], Grocermax has the best prices [32%], ZopNow in delivery convenience [34%] & Godrej Nature’s Basket for fresh products [38%].

The main reason consumers cite for shopping grocery/daily items online is that it allows Cash-free transactions [31%] and offers better deals & discounts [25%]. This is followed by the fact that online shopping gives consumers more convenience than visiting stores [24%] as well as offers the luxury of delivery time slots as per own availability [10%].

Added innovations such as subscription-based service may have a significant impact on the growth in online grocery shopping, as 44% of respondents said they would like to avail this service considering their busy schedule. 79% of total respondents said they have grocery applications installed in their mobile phones out of which 33% have more than one App. However, 15% of these App buyers said they still like to order via Desktop.

On the survey Swati Bhargava, Co-Founder, CashKaro.com said

It’s very interesting to notice this changing consumer behavior towards shopping grocery. The shift from superstores/local vendors to online shopping channels is certainly visible as a lot of users have started to shop for daily items online after demonetization. The survey is also an indication that while the changing lifestyle coupled with long working hours has shifted grocery purchasing trend from offline to online format, attractive offers by grocery players are also wooing the consumers to opt for online purchases. We at CashKaro also have seen a 2X growth in the number of transactions on these sites post November 8 last year.

While the survey indicates a rise in willingness to shop grocery online, not all consumers are ditching the trip to the offline shops. 31% still feel concerned about the quality of online products, 26% are not sure about the return policy whereas 20% prefer to inspect products themselves before buying.

The survey also revealed that almost 61% respondents shop for groceries weekly and a majority of them spend between Rs 500 – 2,000 per month. The survey was conducted at a pan-India level with 53% male and 47% female participants. A majority of the participants were over 35 years of age and were employed.