You have a path-breaking idea and willing to quit your job to start-up on your own, great! But depending on the idea and the market that you are targeting e.g. mobile, software, IOT, etc. you need to figure out whether you need to look out for external/institutional funding or continue being a bootstrapped startup [on the lines that you at least have an MVP ready]. If you are a hardware startup, you might also think of starting a Kickstarter campaign.
Wrike, a project management software products platform that is used by high-performance teams has come up with a very informative infographic titled 7 Ways to fund your startup. We liked the overall presentation due to which it can be an informative guide for a newbie entrepreneur or for someone who is willing to take their startup to the next phase.
Infographic brought to you by Wrike project management software products
Building upon its core proposition of being a complete communication platform, Truecaller will be rolling out two new features – Number Scanner and Fast Track numbers with its upcoming Android release 8.45 in the coming week.
Number Scanner – Now you will be able to use the Truecaller app to scan a number directly from business cards, websites, street signs, shop fronts or anywhere you need to quickly lookup a number or store it to your contacts. This will enable users to have the proper resources to receive relevant information quickly, digitally and in their surrounding physical environment.
Scan & Pay – Users in India will also be able to scan a number and pay directly using Truecaller Pay – this is a more convenient way of making quick payments as opposed to scanning QR codes. You could be out for lunch with a friend, in a store, or even looking to pay bills – this will be beneficial to our users who are always on the go and lessens the need to carry cash or cards.
You can now send or request money, recharge, or even Flash Message any contact from your native phone book.
Truecaller has also launched Fast Track numbers, a service which integrates toll-free numbers for emergency services like police, fire, medical care, women’s helpline, roadside assistance, as well as essential categories like banks, couriers, airlines, railways, and insurance, all integrated directly into the app, accessible by the user without an internet connection.
These also include extremely useful ‘Bank Balance Check’ numbers that enable a user to check their bank balance via a return SMS from their respective bank via a missed call service. Located in the search bar, the in-built contacts will help users make phone calls at critical moments with a single tap.
Commenting on the feature set expansion, Narayan Babu, Director of Product & Engineering at Truecaller said
As a product made by the community and for the community, our commitment to our users is to constantly add features that enable them to stay ahead of the curve. These new features make Truecaller even more relevant in the real world. When you see an important phone number, you can directly pull it into your phone with Truecaller and use it, in seconds, to connect or make a payment. Also, during critical moments you can reach out to the right company, person or service with a single tap with Fast track numbers.
*Currently, Fast Track numbers will only be available in India.
Visa, the global leader in payments technology and BillDesk, India’s leading electronic payments company, announced successful enablement of fifty large service providers for BharatQR payments acceptance in a short span of a month, thus extending the digital payment facility to potentially over 300 million consumers.
Some key merchants enabled include Tata AIG, ACT Broadband, Reliance Energy, Gujarat Gas, MTNL, Aircel, Tata Power, Pune Municipal Corporation, and Calcutta Electricity Supply spanning services such as utilities, internet, phone, DTH, insurance, and government services.
The core idea that binds technology and payments is simplicity and convenience, and QR code is a great example. Having pioneered QR technology as low cost payments solution for open loop networks, and having worked with the government and the industry in developing BharatQR, Visa’s endeavour is to grow the acceptance network for BharatQR in the country and make digital payments accessible to all. Through our collaboration with BillDesk, we hope to fast-track the transition to digital payments and make less-cash society a reality for India.
BillDesk is delighted to engage with Visa to promote BharatQR. This is a simple yet powerful solution with great potential to shift consumers and merchants from cash to digital payments for everyday spends. It provides the speed, security and convenience that cash payments cannot match. Merchant interest in and demand for BharatQR is growing for it is simpler, faster, and more reliable ways to accept digital payments with BharatQR. We will continue to collaborate with Visa to enable online merchants for BharatQR acceptance and simplify digital payments for consumers.
Bharat QR is a secure, network-agnostic, and device less interface that enables customers to make payments using their bank apps on smartphones. BharatQR simplifies digital payments by eliminating the need for divulging card details at the point of sale. For example, to use Bharat QR to pay their electricity bills, customers will simply need to log in to their bank’s app, and scan the QR code displayed on their electricity bill, enabling instant payment. Alternately, customers may enter their unique Customer IDs online and generate a QR code that can be scanned using their bank app. To date, 30 banks together serving over 90% of India’s population have enabled their banking apps and nearly 400,000 merchants for BharatQR payments.
India will lead the world in smartphone adoption with a net addition of 350 million connections in 2016~20, according to a GSMA report. With the common standards, coupled with the low-cost acceptance method, BharatQR has the potential to accelerate financial inclusion in India.
The Grand Finale of Conquest 2017, BITS Pilani’s international startup challenge, concluded on a high note at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. With DCB Bank as the title sponsor, Conquest has been become a paradise for startups, providing them with a chance to voice their ideas, network with industry leaders, and obtain incubation and funding opportunities.
The winner’s position was grabbed by Recopro,? which manufactures recyclable paper pallets which are cheaper, stronger & greener than the traditional wood counterparts, while the runners up were Incredible Devices,? which works on providing affordable treatment techniques for CVD, a disease with a fatality rate of 80%. The winner and the runner-up have been awarded INR 250k and INR 150k of equity-less cash funding.
Conquest, BITS Pilani’s International Startup Conclave, is an initiative whose wheels were set in motion back in 2004. Thirteen years have passed by, with a couple of revamped models and success stories laden throughout, with a lot more promise exuding from Conquest 2017. The edition, in association with Zoho, Accel, WNS and PayU, raked in 1000+ startup applications and in partnership with Letsventure filtered the number down to the Top 50. The demographics and sectors of the registered startups were variegated in equal measure, making the competition pan-India with a few foreign applicants. The number was brought down to the Top 50 based on a rigorous scrutiny spread across 36 extensive parameters.
The top 50 startups were then mentored on a one-on-one basis in mentoring sessions held at Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The networking sessions witnessed attendance from the likes of Meera Iyer, CMO – Big Basket, Ashish Goel, Head of Product – Zomato and Suvonil Chatterjee, former CDO, Housing and Flipkart.
Dr. Bindu Dey, the Guest of Honour for the Grand Finale, ?is the current secretary of the Technology Development Board. In her address to the gathering, she emphasized on the importance of commercializing the results of research, and the role played by Technology Development Board in the same.
Praveen Kutty, Head of Retail and SME Banking, DCB Bank, on his experience with Conquest, said
The experience has been brilliant as always. It is our third year of association with Conquest, and each year, the finalists have been splendid. We have actually started interacting and doing business with a couple of finalists from the previous editions. Conquest is a remarkable event, and it is commendable what the team does to put it together.
The itinerary consisted of two panel discussions, a pitching round for the Top 10 startups in front of investors from over 25 investment firms and leading industrialists, a networking lunch along with interaction of the jury with the audience in the Fish Bowl round.
The first panel discussed nuances that a young entrepreneur should keep in mind. Some of the panelists who shared their thoughts on the topic were Nishith Rastogi, CEO & Founder of Locus.sh, Barath Shankar, Senior Analyst, Accel Partners. Dhruv Mathur, Co-Founder at Little Black Book, Abhishek Gupta, COO at Tlabs and Sanjay Nath, Managing partner at Blume Ventures.
The second panel, consisting of Vivek Khare, Director Strategy at LetsVenture, Abhiraj Bahl, Co-Founder at Urban Clap, Vikram Upadhyay, Chief Mentor at GHV Accelerator, Shantanu Mathur, Country Head at Knowlarity and Sujit Panigrahi, CEO, Fitness 365, discussed the troubles of innovating in a risk averse country like India.
Erik Azulay, Director, Nexus Startup Hub was among the members of the jury. Talking of Conquest, he said
The quality of startups and the pitches that I saw here has been much better than at other events. Kudos to Conquest for ensuring quality at every stage!
The Fish Bowl round was the most looked forward session where the students and entrepreneurs in the audience were given a chance to directly interact with the corporate leaders at the event by asking them questions in an open to all discussion. The jury members, including Nilesh Kothari, Managing Partner, Trifecta Capital amongst other distinguished industry leads, were part of the session. The session was an enthralling experience, with discussions on topics ranging from the rise in popularity of Initial Coin Offering [ICOs] to the heated debate on Artificial Intelligence.
With a handpicked audience consisting of some of the biggest names among VCs and Angel investors, the top 10 start-ups in the country as well as students from the leading institutes of India, the Grand Finale of Conquest 2017 has lived upto its reputation of being a startup paradise, and every startup enthusiast’s networking dream.
PayPal, the global leader in online payments have announced a shortlist of five new Financial Technology [FinTech] startups – Finbox, Neoeyed, Paymatrix, Scalend and Tybo as new entrants into its PayPal Incubator in Chennai.
The announcement was made after the final round of pitching during the 5th Incubation Challenge, where 10 shortlisted startups from 250 startups presented to an esteemed panel of judges including Guru Bhat, GM Technology & Head of Engineering – PayPal, Anupam Pahuja, MD – PayPal India and Rama Bethmangalkar, Venture Capitalist, formerly with Ventureast.
As a part of PayPal’s vision to transform and democratize financial services, the Incubator helps elevate and drive innovation across the FinTech industry with a focus on startups in financial technology as well as adjacencies like loyalty, machine learning, big data and logistics among others.
Guru Bhat, GM Technology & Head of Engineering – PayPal said
In its 5th year, the PayPal Incubator has received an overwhelming response with over 250 applications from early stage FinTech startups – a 150% growth from last year, reflecting both the need for an incubation program, as well as the FinTech industry’s potential. Our program is designed to help our newly incubated startups script their own success stories by facilitating access to PayPal’s expertise in cutting-edge technology and by enabling them to leverage PayPal’s market leadership around the world.
Launched in 2013 in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs [TiE], the incubator provides a conducive environment for early-stage startups to grow and evolve at PayPal’s Technology Center in Chennai. The program offers startups technology counsel and mentorship, infrastructure support and networking opportunities with both investors and customers. In addition to these, PayPal will also be picking up an undisclosed stake in each of the selected startups this year.
Finboxis a digital lending software as a service which enables lenders to digitize their user journey and underwrite using alternate data. FinBox’s platform combines multiple APIs to build various digital lending experiences across use cases. FinBox API’s enable lenders validate Identity, underwrite using data from traditional and non traditional sources and cross sell financial products to their customers. FinBox products integrate seamlessly with the lender’s mobile and web properties and also with the loan management system backend.
Neoeyed helps the businesses to generate more revenues and improve users’ security by simplifying the login and registration processes on mobile applications. Using mobile devices, Neoeyed can recognize users by collecting information about human behavior that allows them to login without effort, nothing to type, nothing to remember, nothing to do…Transparent, simple, secure
Paymatrix is an analytics-driven property rental management platform that streamlines rent payments and collections for tenants, landlords and property managers. The platform’s dashboard provides solutions for end-to-end rent management including tenant screening, credit facilitation for rent deposits, rent documentation, rent automation, renters and landlords insurance and also helps in better interaction between tenants and landlords.
Scalend offers a ready to use AI enabled customer insights platform for financial services companies. The platform combines proprietary AI models with Big Data – Hadoop’s unlimited storage and compute power to help BFSI & Fintech companies generate actionable insights around omni-channel customer journey, back-office optimization, in matter of weeks not months or years
Tybo is a cloud based omni-channel e-commerce platform designed for home based and small-sized businesses. It provides the merchant a single view of their evolving business across multiple sales channels. The platform is focused on easy set up, simplicity of use and customizable design to create a beautiful storefront. It also enables end-to-end integration with supplier system and saves time by importing products directly into their store with real-time inventory sync.
SRI Capital’s portfolio includes Fab Hotels, Healthify and Yellow Dig among others, Beenext has invested in – Droom, Citrus pay, No Broker, Faasos and Pravega Ventures has invested in Crofarm – an agri-tech company, Innovaccer – big data platform for enterprises.
Datasigns Technologies is a mobile first lending platform, which lends via their android application called Shubh Loans. Shubh Loans is a vernacular language app which builds a proprietary credit score and report for loan applicants, thereby helping them understand their credit standing holistically.
Sashi Reddi, Founder & Managing Partner of SRI Capital said
Proud to back a rockstar team, led by Monish Anand, in the consumer lending space in India. Many massive companies are going to be built in this space, finally being able to lend to the next 200 million consumers—Shubh Loans will be one of them.
Shubh Loans score is dynamic and changes with applicant’s financial and non- financial behaviour. Using the Shubh Loans app, users can apply for a loan of up to 2 Lacs with maximum 2 years tenure. Datasigns has partnered with multiple banks and NBFCs, helping them in building their loans books.
Monish Anand, Founder & CEO of Shubh Loans stated
We are excited to have these great investors on board, at the same time we are even more determined to stay disciplined and execute our plan well.
The lending business in the country is at an inflection point, our focus is on creative and responsible use of data to bring financial literacy and credit to people who deserve it the most.
Shubh Loans takes pride in its aim to democratise credit by making it available to all and believes that an unserved customer doesn’t make for an unservable one. Shubh Loans has set its sight on bringing over 10 lacs people into the formal banking system as part of its mission 2020.There are currently growing at 50% month on month and have tied up with over 9 lending institutions.
Technology is evolving at a very fast pace and our waiting times [in most of the aspects] have become shorter. We want things to be better and much faster as compared to the past. Technology & Automation are acting as major disruptors in each & every sector, be it IT services, manufacturing, etc. since it results in time saving thereby reducing the overall costs!
Artificial Intelligence [AI], Machine Learning [ML], BlockChain, etc. are the major emerging trends and many organizations are leveraging these technologies to solve business critical problems. Talking about Chatbots, they are used as an instrumental tool to interact & engage with customers. Chatbots fueled by AI has come a long way in recognizing the content – and context – of customers’ requests and questions [Source]. Apart from customer service, one area where Chatbots are making a dent is ‘Human Resources’.
HR Chatbots can be quite instrumental in employee on-boarding, answering generic employee queries, collection of employee data, etc. For e.g. When an employee applies for a Sick Leave and the request goes to the HR chatbot [that is online 365 days a year], the request can be accepted/rejected instantly by the HR! HR personnel can be relieved off their mundane & repeated items and focus on more important activities for the betterment of the employees.
Mumbai based startup Cyber Managers Software Services [CMSS]siezed an opportunity in the ‘HR Automation’ space and have released a number of products to improve the overall efficiency of the HR department, including H# [H-Sharp] which is an HR chatbot. We had a detailed interaction with Godwin Pinto, Business Head, CMSS about the product, problem being solved, future of chatbots in HR landcape, etc.
Please give a small brief about CMSS and its founders
Cyber Managers Software Services [CMSS] is a provider of ‘totally integrated solutions’ in the areas of software products and services catering to HR and BFSI domain. The organization works on an ancient Indian work-ethic of ‘Manasa > Vacha > Karmana’, meaning ‘we commit only to those tasks which we think we can accomplish and deliver upon our commitment’.
The company was founded by Keyur Thakore and Chirag Purecha, who is also the CEO. Chirag co-founded three businesses starting with CMSS, a 150+ member IT Solutions Company while the other three continue to grow in both size and repute.
Chirag dropped out of an engineering college to start CMSS along with a classmate. He has seen CMSS evolve from one of the survivors of the dot com bubble burst in the early 2000 to a niche HR IT solutions and products provider that it is today.
He has also co-founded two other divisions : CogMat, a Digital Media Marketing Agency which has 30+ clients of repute and a growing team of more than 40 & Phyder, a Moblie Application Development which already has the likes of ICICI Bank and RBS in their client list within a year and a half of existence.
Chirag now spends his time overseeing the businesses, helping them learn from experiences and giving occasional lectures at engineering colleges from product design to coding.
What are some of the core products of CMSS and how it is changing the HR landscape [via its HR centric software applications] ?
All our products are designed to make HR transactions more engaging for an employee at a very large scale. Currently, our products are used by some of the largest organizations in India and is helping them in identifying and managing talent through e-Ncompass and e-Nhancer
Provide contemporary Mobile interface to their existing legacy and bespoke systems thus, increasing usage and acceptance and transacting on the Go through H# and e-Ngage.
Some of the key products are the following:
e-Ncompass – A semi-customizable 360 degree feedback tool to measure training needs by conducting feedback from peers, subordinates and superiors.
e-Nhancer – A continuous feedback and performance management tool to record and aid review processes. It also helps identify and manage talents within organization.
e-Ngage Mobility – A platform to facilitate single unified mobile interface to multi third party systems.
H# – An HR chatbot – A conversational platform with AI and ML capabilities to perform self service in human like form.
Every sector is now touched by technology e.g. AI, ML, Data Intelligence, etc. including Talent Management, how has been the transformation of HR when Social & Digital Data are the key data points in hiring ?
Recent years has seen significant adoption by HR for social data, not just for employee profiling but also for internal communications and networking through tools provided by major social platforms e.g. Facebook workspace.
What were some of the key problem areas that your team encountered thus giving rise to H#
– Navigating through and getting individual profile specific answers from large policy documents was always cumbersome to employees
– There were multiple touch points/applications to access various HR IT systems which requires employee familiarity with varied interface
– Repetitive queries to HR help-desk was one common areas that needed automation
Can you please touch upon the key features of H# [The HR Bot] ?
H# is a bot specifically designed & trained for employee engagement. Some of the key features include:
Individually tailored policy queries
Automate most frequent queries raised to and resolved by HR help desk
Form based routine transactions like leave, muster, expense, etc application facilitated through conversations
Ready connectors for communication systems like Yammer, Facebook Workplace, Skype, WeChat, Lynk, etc
Self learning algorithms
What is the revenue model of H# and whether it can be used by large sized corporations ?
H# is a premium solution without limitation on number of users. It is available as cloud and on-premise solution. It is designed and tested for large scale transactions and is been successfully used by large sized corporations
When it comes to chat-bots/AI, the application of that bot becomes limited since there are language constraints [English/Hinglish language],varied sentiment analysis and more, how effective is the AI, NLP, etc. behind H# to handle such varied scenarios ?
H# being closed domain bot. We have limited the control on responses that it can respond. However, information obtained for context where bot tires out is recorded for future training.
Can you name some of the existing customers of H# and how has the response been so far ?
Well due to client agreements naming them would not be possible. There has been a positive adaption when it comes to specific information retrieval from large documents, which is seen as a time saving factor. e.g. What are the privilege leave policy applicable for me?
Does using the H# chat bot mean that major part of HR, especially ones dealing with leave, etc. department can be replaced with H# chat bot or both of them need to co-exist in the HR eco-system ?
H# is designed to aid HR professionals at their job and not to replace them. Of all domains, HR is the one where co-existing is indispensible. The bot therefore does not replace HR personnel, rather it reduces their efforts resolving mundane and repetitive tasks which can be automated. H# provides them with an assistant who is expert on the knowledge of policies.
Can you comment on approximate savings in OPEX that a company using H# for its HR & salary needs would make vis-a-vis hiring a physical HR ?
All of our products are low on infra footprint and built on opensource softwares. Therefore, they require a minimal CAPEX. On the OPEX it would help organization save substantially on helpdesk and training operations.
Do you have SDK of the H#, if not, are there any plans in future to release the H# chat-bot SDK so that third-party developers can build apps on the platform ?
SDK is available as a part of the core product to implement in their HR touch points. These include Facebook workplace, Yammer, Slack, Flock, Lynk, Android, iOS and web. However, the product design does not restrict the developers from enabling H# on to any other bot enabled platforms.
Which are some of the existing competitors of H# and what are some of the stand-out features as compared to other HR chat-bots ?
A search for bot will give you a flood of companies offering the solution and most of these are built on existing AI like WIT, AI, etc. However H# is built and trained specifically for the HR domain with its own on-premise AI and is integral with any existing core systems, therefore we do not see other chat bots as direct competitors of H#.
Apart from HR Chatbots, what are some of the key technology trends you observe in the HR space ?
Adoption of technology within HR is on a swift pace and the availability of most of the solutions on cloud has helped organizations try and implement solutions faster with minimal risk. Analytics in the field of talent and performance management, collaboration tools for real-time performance management, unified interfaces, cloud solution integrators, AI based automation, etc. are some of the areas which would see a lot of interest from organizations in the HR Space.
That said, one technology trend where most organizations are focused on is mapping social data points to candidates/employees. This is for the existing & new recruits, where data gathering and identifying trends and patterns could be of utmost importance to organizations in taking decisions.
According to you, what are some of the key HR functions that can never be replaced by a bot e.g. Off late there has been lot of pink slips being handed over to employees in service based companies, such scenarios require human touch that can never be replaced by HR chat bot.
Human interactions involve understanding the sentiments and emotions. There are occasions where systems cannot have the same impact as a human conversation does. Some of the processes which will always need the human factor are Induction, Exit processes, Performance review discussions and Resolving grievances. Bot can definitely aid these processes, but again, it will always require a human involvement.
We thank Godwin Pinto for sharing his insights with our readers. If your organization is planning to adopt the more tech-savvy route to HR functions, than you should give H# a try. If you have any questions for Godwin or the CMSS Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.
Delivering a seamless, consistent and integrated customer experience is the hallmark of a digital enterprise. Organizations, while racing to catch up the rapid digital changes to facilitate better decisions and successful digital transformation, move in harmony with the customers enriching and making their experience worthwhile.
Customers expect active management of their data and preferences as well as a seamless omni-channel experience so they can readily engage with companies, whether the interaction is via mobile, the web, social media or face-to-face communication. Top customer expectations that influence an organization’s digital transformation efforts include dramatically reduced response times and immediate real-time access to products and services.
Hence, the key to winning customer’s share of mind as well as a share of his wallet is by providing him with unified and personalized experiences.
According to International Data Corporation, a majority of businesses will have to overhaul their digital front doors to support 10,000 times as many customers and customer touchpoints over the next three to five years.
Enterprises face the uphill battle to quickly build digital service delivery models that are flexible, robust and future-proofed. Enabling business processes and practices that help an organization to compete effectively in an increasingly digital world is the best way to tackle digital transformation. However, the main challenge is being driven by the demands of the tech savvy consumers, who expects an interactive experience across all interaction channels, along with the further pressure to innovate with few resources and restricted budget.
Businesses must manage the shift from transactional systems of record where information is ingested, stored, and managed in static databases and warehouses to interactive systems of engagementwhere real-time data is combined, accessed, interpreted and used to digitally support multi-touchpoint, real-time customer journeys and communications.
Although the benefits are countless, but at the same time, challenges to this transformation are no less.
Speed – Organizations often needs to evolve their own approach and use of tools in order to be able to meet the pace of change required given the increase in customer’s expectations and restricted budget. This might, sometimes, outpace their ability to deliver.
Capacity gap– Projects fail to hit timescales and product quality expectations leading to unsatisfied internal and external stakeholders. This cannot be fixed by incremental improvements but requires a fundamental change in the operating model for the delivery of services.
Lack of human resources – Most organizations lack the digital talent required to deliver the necessary changes. Skills in new technologies such as IoT, AI, and Big data analytics are in short supply. Finding external help can be valuable but only up to a certain critical point.
Security Breach– Cyber-security is the top disruptor that organizations expect will influence their digital strategy in the coming years.
Legacy– Much IT infrastructure is fragile and difficult to change but requires changes in order to support both rapid innovation and scalability. Virtualization, mobility, automation and cloud-based services have opened up a plethora of opportunities, but this needs to be taken to new heights.
All in all, a well-planned, integrated strategy is essential to steering digital transformation in alignment with the customer journey and driving customer engagement; otherwise, this could quite easily turn to be house of cards.
About the Author
Aniruddha Guha Sarkar, Senior Vice President, Engineering heads the offshore software engineering delivery at InterraIT. Aniruddha has over 25 years of industry experience, the last decade of which has been in senior executive level leadership positions. Prior to joining InterraIT in early 2012, Aniruddha worked with the house of Siemens for more than 20 years. You can connect with Mr. Aniruddha here