Techstars announced the launch of Techstars India as a joint venture company in partnership with ANSR. Headquartered in Bengaluru, ANSR builds and operates GICs and captive centres for some of the leading global companies from the retail, fintech, healthcare and media domains.

Image Source – Techstars

The ANSR partnership will provide Techstars with a very strong foundation to launch its Indian operations. Having partnered with 27 leading global enterprises, ANSR is the world’s largest company for establishing and operating captive center service delivery capabilities for global enterprises in support of their growth, transformation and innovation agenda. ANSR, through its innovation arm, Kyron, also operates startup led innovation programs for its corporate partners including Target, L-Brands, Lowes and Swiss Re.

With this launch, Techstars is adding India to its international roster, bolstering India’s position as a leading global startup ecosystem. India, known for its dominant role in the IT industry and home to captive centers for over 1,000 global enterprises, is rapidly gaining traction as an entrepreneurial hub. Techstars operates worldwide and across the US, including Adelaide, Austin, Berlin, Boston, Boulder, Cape Town, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York City, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Seattle, Tel Aviv, and Toronto, and has accepted over 1000 companies globally into its programs. Collectively, these companies have raised over USD 3.8B USD and have a market cap of over USD 9.9B. The launch of Techstars India will provide Techstars access to India’s rapidly growing startup and entrepreneur network as well as global enterprises that have established captive centers and startup led corporate innovation programs with ANSR and its innovation arm, Kyron Global.

[L-R] David Cohen Co-CEO – Techstars, Lalit Ahuja, CEO – ANSR, David Brown, Co-CEO – Techstars

David Brown, Co-CEO of Techstars, said

We have been watching India’s growth very closely and its emergence as the third largest global startup ecosystem in less than a decade. There’s so much great activity here and the potential for growth is huge, as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. I think in addition to that, India’s prime minister underlining the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in giving productive outlets to the country’s talent is very positive. It’s heartening to see tech evangelists work closely with the government to lay out a digital infrastructure for the country which startups then can leverage. India is on a tech, digital and startup mission of sorts.

This has been a big year for Techstars. We’re 10 years old and have now seen over 1,000 companies in Techstars’ mentorship-driven accelerator programs worldwide. We are excited to announce the addition of Techstars India to the Techstars Worldwide Network.

Lalit Ahuja, CEO, ANSR said

ANSR is very excited to partner with Techstars to launch Techstars India. We believe that this is an event of national importance and a huge validation of India’s position as a leading global hub for entrepreneurial activity. The launch of Techstars India will provide an impetus to the rapidly growing startup ecosystem and the emergence of India as a dominant entrepreneurial network. This launch brings to fruition ANSR and Kyron’s pioneering efforts to successfully create a startup corporate engagement corridor towards the emergence of India’s largest startup led corporate innovation platform.

Speaking at the event, Priyank Kharge, Minister of IT, BT & Tourism said

The Government of Karnataka is focused on building a bolder and structured ecosystem and the collaboration with Techstars is exactly what the Government requires and is the right step forward. Karnataka is India’s second largest technology hub and this is validated by the fact that we have all the Fortune 500 companies. Propelled by government policies in the last 3 months, more than 3200 startups have registered with the government. We are also coming up with numerous Centres of Excellence and by the end of August we will have India’s first Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence. Karnataka today has reached its maturity as a services industry and now moving forward to R&D and innovation.

About Techstars

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders and their teams connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporate partners who will help their companies grow. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund. Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Program supercharges success and Techstars Startup Programs inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit Techstars

About ANSR

Backed by Accel Partners and Infosys and headquartered in Dallas, TX, ANSR is a global leader in establishing, operating and optimizing Global In-House Centers ‘GICs’ and provides end-to-end solutions to enterprises across the GIC life-cycle. Through Kyron, its innovation arm, ANSR also operates Innovation/Corporate Accelerator Programs. For more information, please visit ANSR

Fin-tech is having a huge impact on the financial services in India. It has been largely dominated by the lending and payments companies in India. Initiatives like the India Stack [UPI, e-KYC, Aadhar] by National Payments Corporation Of India [NPCI] have been instrumental in leading the Fin-tech revolution.

Image Source – Fin-tech

There are several companies in the Fin-tech sector that have innovative business models in the areas like Wealth Management [WealthApp], Digital Payments & other services [Paytm, Freecharge, etc.], Payment Banks [Paytm, Airtel, FINO], P2P Lending [i2iFunding, Lendbox, i-lend, etc.], Personal Finance Services [BankBazaar, Capital Float, etc.], Alternate/Unsecured Lending [Qbera, Loan Frame, etc.], Lending based on Credit-Line [MoneyTap], etc. Many of the fin-tech companies are leveraging Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Social Data Intelligence, Blockchain, etc. in order to solve critical business problems. For example, with the help of AI, contextual data and transaction data, your wealth managers can now come up with a ‘more relevant’ financial plan that suits your requirements.

With the rising interest in fin-tech, there is a constant debate on whether Fin-tech would kill banks, but the fact of the matter is that mainstream financial institutions are also embracing change by inking partnerships with these players in order to utilize their services. Even after eKYC, there are significant challenges [that add up to delay] in customer onboarding, a problem that is being solved by few fin-tech start-ups. There is been a rising investor interest in this sector, with fin-tech topping the funding charts of H1 2017. Traditional banking institutions are utilizing this opportunity to co-create innovative solutions with entrepreneurs for building breakthrough banking products and solutions.

Last July, Axis Bank launched its flagship Accelerator Program for start-ups, the very first Indian Bank to do so. The program is run from Thought Factory, Axis Bank’s co-innovation Lab, which is located in the city of Bengaluru. Axis Bank has partnered with Amazon Internet Services, Payments product company VISA and Singapore based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation for co-innovating in the rapidly evolving fin-tech space. The core ideology of the lab is #UnimaginedIsUndone. The ThinkTank for Thought Factory comprises of thought leaders, change agents, serial entrepreneurs, namely Sharad Sharma of iSpirit, Manish Chokhani of Enam Holdings, Vishal Gondal of GoQii & Shankar Narayan, a Singapore based serial entrepreneur along with Axis Bank Senior Management that guides the Thought Factory team in its various functions.

Over the past year, Thought Factory has been a major Fin-Tech ecosystem enabler in Bengaluru, hosting multiple events, workshops, international visitors and other corporate clients; thereby enhancing industry-start-up collaboration.

For the first cohort of its Accelerator Program, Axis Bank’s Think Tank, from an application pool of 108, selected six emerging start-ups. Once on-boarded, the start-ups were given a structured mentorship program and access to Axis Bank’s Thought Factory office space. Axis Bank’s aim behind the program was to expedite the overall growth of these emerging start-ups along with exploring novel banking ideas with them. Axis Bank celebrated the Graduation Day of the first cohort start-ups, namely S2Pay, Pally, Perpule, Fin-techLabs, Paymatrix and GIEOM. All these start-ups target different business problems in the areas of Offline mobile payments, Analytics in lending space, Credit in rental space, etc.

Startups pitching their idea to the audience at the Thought Factory

Below are the startups that graduated from the Thought Factory

S2Pay: Enabling Offline mobile Payments [Category – Payments]

S2Pay forms a layer over payments app and enables the end consumer to make secure payments from their mobile app, even when the consumer is offline. The technology is especially useful in remote areas where there is low data connectivity thus making digital payments a reality for everyone. For more information, please visit S2Pay

Pally: AI Stack based Chatbot for Investment Advisory [Category – Investments]

Pally has created a chatbot that on the input of an image of salary slip creates an investment portfolio which maximizes tax saving for the end customer. It uses AI, Machine learning along with other proprietary algorithms to come up with a customized investment plan for each customer. Pally was also selected for the EIR program at KStart. For more information, please visit Pally

Perpule: Self-checkout on mobile app [Category – Payments]

Perpule’s app lets end customers scan the shopped products from their mobile app, and pay from within the app once the list is complete. Perpule integrates with retailer’s campaigns, thus automatically applies discounts/offers on the go. It has partnered with stores like Hypercity, More, Spar etc. For more information, please visit Perpule 1Pay

Fin-techLabs: Analytics in lending [Category – Lending]

Fin-techLabs is a financial technology innovation start-up, with a vision of providing easy access to financing across the world by powering the lending ecosystem with technology. They make the lending process swift and optimized by automating repetitive management tasks like sending emails, managing files, preparing reports, complying with regulations, etc. For more information, please visit Fin-techLabs

Paymatrix: Credit in rental space [Category – Real Estate, Payments, Credit Cards, Liabilities]

Paymatrix is an analytics-driven property rent management platform that is trying to solve the problem of credit involved in Indian rental market via enabling payments to land lords via credit cards. They also help landlords in rent/property management. For more information, please visit Paymatrix

GIEOM: Software solutions on the Cloud [Category – Analytics]

GIEOM is a cloud based software solutions and analytics company. They offer a unique business visualization technology with Intelligent linking that monitors, controls and optimizes Operations while reducing risk and increasing compliance. For more information, please visit GIEOM

The past six months have been very eventful for the start-ups, Perpule won the semifinal round of Next Money Fin-techFinals 2017 and raised a seed funding of USD 650K from Kalaari Capital, S2Pay and GIEOM on-boarded multiple new clients, Fin-techLabs and Paymatrix expanded their services portfolio while Pally evolved in its product idea and expanded its team.

We were invited for the Graduation Day at the Thought Factory, where we pitched some questions to Rajiv Anand, Executive Director of Axis Bank. Below is the brief Q&A round he had with the media/bloggers where he shares his insights about the Thought Factory, impact it has on the fin-tech eco-system, etc.

Axis Bank has always been keen on adoption of technology in its systems and solutions. Besides the Accelerator start-ups, Axis Bank along with the Thought Factory team has been working with other upcoming start-ups too. With Active AI [a Singapore based start-up specializing in AI stack], Bank is building a chatbot that can take banking & customer service to the next level.

Axis Bank’s innovation team is working on recruitment of start-ups for the second cohort of the Accelerator. For a much quicker implementation, Axis Bank is also developing a Development Platform – a sandbox environment of its APIs, which can be used by start-ups.

Additionally, they also conduct a start-up boot camp, a two-month program for grad start-up ideas under its ‘Future of Jobs’ initiative where five student teams of two members each will receive mentorship to convert their ideas into real businesses.

To know more about the Thought Factory Program, its structure etc., drop a mail to thoughtfactory@axisbank.com or visit Thought Factory

Co-working spaces have been on the rise in India and the wave is catching up the interest of the entrepreneur as well as the investor community. The primary advantage that co-working space brings to the table is you can find passionate folks who might have complimentary skills that could be of help in building your startup. Most of these co-working spaces also host number of events around scaling, marketing, design, funding, etc. In order to make startups sustainable, it may be important to involve large businesses in their growth story, and such programs further add more value to co-working spaces [Source].

Couple of weeks back, we had written about GoodWorks CoWork, a design-inspired co-working incubation studio started by serial entrepreneurs Vishwas Mudagal and Sonia Sharma. As per the founders, the major USP of GoodWorks CoWork is that along with office space, entrepreneurs can also use GoodWorkLabs’s expertise in order to polish/validate their idea. GoodWorkLabs is a boutique Software and Mobile App Development Company in India and USA which was started by the duo. Through GoodWorks CoWork, they plan to give back to the entrepreneurial eco-system and angel-fund the startup [in case if they find the idea path-breaking].

We caught up with Vishwas Mudagal for a chat about this venture, its USP, insights into co-working, etc. So, lets get started…

Can you please give a brief about the team behind GoodWorks CoWork ?

After successfully establishing GoodWorkLabs as a leading new-age Outsourced Product Development Firm [OPD] and UX design studio, Sonia Sharma and myself wanted to use our knowledge to give back to the start-up ecosystem.  GoodWorks CoWork was launched to build a thriving start-up community and provide the best ecosystem for them to succeed. Under Sonia’s valuable guidance and thought leadership, and my years of experience in handling startups, co-workers can expect to learn numerous tricks and trades of the industry.

What are some of the pain points your team identified which would be solved if a startup is working out of GoodWorks CoWork ?

As a new entrepreneur, you need to wear multiple hats. The sales guy, the tech guy and the marketing guy, you are constantly juggling between different roles. The most valuable benefit of working out of a coworking space is that it reduces burn-rate and allows investment in core business requirements. Secondly, it reduces the logistical pains of running an office and lastly, it provides the best opportunity for networking.

The objective of GoodWorks CoWork is to help budding entrepreneurs grow their business without the hassles of managing operations and logistics. Through GoodWorks CoWork, we aim at creating a perfect ecosystem for startups to nurture their growth.

There has been a plethora of co-working spaces that have been recently started in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, etc. what are some of the USPs of GoodWorks CoWork vis-a-vis other co-working spaces in the city.

Apart from providing world class services, I think what really sets us apart is our unique approach to coworking. The USPs are as follow:

Design-inspired coworking spaceWe provide creative, design inspired coworking spaces for our coworkers. Every element in the coworking space has been selected after considerable thought. The wall décor, the seating layout, the lighting structures and overall ambience have a creative undertone. We want to encourage creativity and innovative thinking in this space. We also have inspirational posters and graffiti on the walls to keep the community motivated at all times.

The possibility of getting funded – After successfully establishing GoodWorkLabs as a world-leading and award-winning new-age software lab and design studio, the founders are now all set to provide seed investment to upcoming start-ups and extend our Thought Leadership to help businesses grow. We plan to choose upto three promising start-ups annually that have a ‘real’ business/revenue model and growth potential and plan to invest anywhere between Rs. 20 lakhs ~ Rs. 1 Crore.

Consultation with In-House Experts – We have an in-house team of management consultants to help get the basics in place for your company. Start-ups can book a time with our experts to discuss problems and issues related to HR, Finance, Marketing, Design and Branding faced by the company.

The founders also act as mentors to the startups selected by us and support them through every step of their startup journey.

Can you please walk us through the application process for GoodWorks CoWork ?

GoodWorks CoWork was started to help budding entrepreneurs grow their business without the hassle of sweating about Operations & Support Services. So we’re open to any startup, entrepreneur or small business owners who are passionate about their new venture.  Our space provides all the facilities needed to run a company smoothly without logistical hassles.

Vishwas Mudagal (L) & Sonia Sharma (R) – Co-Founders of Goodworks Cowork

Is your team looking into particular sectors that a startup operates in or is GoodWorks CoWork open to startups in any sector ?

We are open to all sectors, there is no restriction as such. However, most of the queries we have received is primarily from the IT and Design sectors. However, we do not want to be limited to these two sectors only.

Given that GoodWorkLabs is a pioneer in the software industry. What are some of the areas where GoodWorkLabs can be of support to the companies in GoodWorks CoWork ?

GoodWorkLabs brings tremendous insights and valuable learning to cowork division, this aspect is one of our main USP’s. We provide consulting services for design, software development, android development, iOS development to name a few. The startups can really benefit from all these services which would be very unique in nature.

Vishwas, you as an entrepreneur have seen ups & downs, what is one best reason why a startupper has to choose working out of a co-working space vis-a-vis working out of SOHO

Coworking encourages networking and collaboration. Entrepreneurs, space providers, thought leaders, investors and mentors come together and exchange value with each other creating a mutually beneficial ecosystem. Also, working amidst various people, observing and adopting diverse work cultures can increase productivity as it helps maintain a professional outlook and also helps create your own identity.

This congenial environment doesn’t only foster interesting and divergent work, but also encourages knowledge sharing and instils a sense of ownership. Communicating regularly on work topics, trending news and exchanging jokes helps build a healthy environment for entrepreneurs.

Working out of a small office from your home closes all doors to such knowledge sharing and networking opportunities which are integral to your business growth.

GoodWorks CoWork is currently operational in how many cities and what are the future expansion plans ?

Currently, we have one co-working space in Whitefield, Bengaluru and the response has been overwhelming. We want to become one of the largest players in the premium coworking and shared office market with a Pan India presence. We will continue to provide creative, design inspired coworking spaces for startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs encouraging the shared economy. We believe that GoodWorks CoWork is not just a workspace. It’s a way of life & a path to success!

Apart from the business idea, what are some of the key things your team looks into while assessing the applications for Angel Investment ?

We will be selecting startups who demonstrate an idea that solves ‘real’ business problems and must be able to sustain itself. The startups will receive intense mentoring and training over a period of time and they are expected to iterate rapidly. So we are open to any startup, entrepreneur or small business owners who are passionate about their new venture.  Our space provides all the facilities needed to run a company smoothly without logistical hassles. As mentioned apart from mentoring, the basic administrative facilities will be taken care of and most importantly, you will get free tech-consulting services with our team.

Vishwas, you don multiple hats [serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, etc.], how do you manage time ? [especially for founders since they need to get priorities right] ?

I won’t lie to you by saying it’s easy. It’s incredibly hard to balance different roles. I am a CEO during the days and a storyteller by night and weekends. I wish I had 48 hours in a day. I have so many stories to tell, and I have so many business ideas to execute. Our group companies GoodWorkLabs and GoodWorks CoWork are doing some incredible work right now, so things are hectic.

However, it is my passion that drives me and if you’re passionate enough you’ll find the time to do it.

Can you share some tips for building an effective team for startups [especially the initial core team] ?

Building the core team is one of the most critical factors that leads to the success of a startup. It is important to attract and hire the people who have the same values and reflect the same ideologies as the founding members. It’s easy to lose track of the goal and get lost in the initial days, if everyone’s not on the same page. The core team must believe in the idea as strongly as the founding members. No matter how many years of experience or how well educated the person may be – if he isn’t convinced about your proposition, it’s not going to be a fruitful partnership.

You have witnessed ups & downs in your career [shutting down of your startup than bouncing back], how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations and how they can keep themselves motivated so that they can bounce back ?

I have experimented a lot in my life. I have tried so many different fields, done random experiments, failed, succeeded, and all that. I usually tell budding entrepreneurs – ‘Be   shameless. Experiment. That’s the only way to identify your true passion.‘ If I had not experimented by being shameless, I would never have identified my passions of writing and entrepreneurship.

With push for Digital India, sectors like Fintech, etc. what are some of the areas that might catch entrepreneur’s & investor’s interest in 2017 ?

There are many emerging markets and it’s vital for investors to keep an eye on what’s happening in these sectors. I am closely watching sectors related to – AI, AR, Machine learning, AR, VR, IOT, organic farming, renewable tech,  REG [REGULATION TECH] and eGovernance and believe they are the future to look out for.

VC Funding or Bootstrapping, your thoughts on the same and when should a founder look out for institutional funding

Both VC Funding and Bootstrapping have their pros and cons. With bootstrapping, it’s a lot harder as the founders have invested their own money, scalability is a lot tougher and a much longer process when if comes to bootstrapped companies. On the other hand, getting funded doesn’t make the journey any easier. Companies will be giving away stake to investors and with it their freedom – you’ll have to be answerable to the investors and need their approvals for every step that the company takes.

However, the right time to apply for funding is when the startup has a Minimal Viable Product [MVP] and some traction or successful pilot to validate their business model.

Any books that you recommend and when would your next novel/book hit the market ?

Ayn Rand is my favorite author. Her book The Fountainhead influenced me deeply during my college days. It’s the perfect book to gift. I also enjoy reading Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, Sydney Sheldon, & Jeff Archer among others. So people can gift me a range of books! I like reading science fiction, thrillers, adventures, and many more genres. But I usually stay away from books that are boring. I have very little patience.

My next novel is completed and in the final stages of editing. It’s an exciting trilogy that I’m thrilled about, I’m hoping that it hits the market sometime in December. I will be announcing more details about the story and launch plans shortly.

We thank Vishwas for his time and sharing valuable insights with our readers! If you have any questions for Vishwas about GoodWorks CoWork, startups, funding, technology, etc., please email them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com or leave your question in the comments section.

Tata Elxsi, a leading global design and technology services company, is supporting a new healthcare startup, Niramai. The startup has been on the incubation program for three months, during which Tata Elxsi has been providing infrastructure, expertise, and support in access to key markets.

Image Source – incub@TE

Niramai Health Analytix Pvt. Ltd is a Bengaluru based startup with a mission to create a universal cancer screening method that can save lives by detecting breast cancer at an early stage. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women today. Early detection is the key to survival. Niramai is a pioneer of a new patent-pending technology called Thermalytix that can remove technological, logistical, and cultural barriers that hinder breast cancer screening among women today.

The startup’s solution uses artificial intelligence to address effectively issues with thermography. The company’s goal is to create an innovative cancer screening method that can save lives by detecting cancer at an early stage, through solutions that are accurate, automated, affordable, and accessible to all. The product is expected to be launched in mid-2017, starting with a few locations in Bengaluru.

Tata Elxsi’s Incub@TE is helping Niramai through key consultations from Tata Elxsi in-house professionals, mentorship, access to service providers, and establishing key connections with people/organizations of interest. Furthermore, with Tata Elxsi’s help, the startup has been able to interact with leading design thinkers, technologists, business leaders & peer entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences. The mentoring and logistical support provided by Tata Elxsi has allowed Niramai to focus entirely on the execution, providing them with an environment that has helped them improve their entrepreneurial thinking and get clarity on the go-to-market.

Speaking on on-boarding Niramai on Incub@TE, Rajesh Kumar, Vice President – Strategic Initiatives, Tata Elxsi said

Many startups have innovative solutions, and require some help in infrastructure, mentoring and creating market visibility. Incub@TE is a platform that helps startups create sustainable businesses, by providing them with the necessary facilities such as above. Use of Emerging Technologies in healthcare is starting to gain momentum in India, and helping startups that are in line with these developments is a great opportunity for us. It has been a great pleasure working with Niramai, and we look forward to the remaining months of working together.

Dr. Geetha ManjunathMs. Nidhi Mathur, co-founders of Niramai Health Analytix said

Being women, we understand the sensitivities and social-cultural aspects of breast cancer screening. This has to lead us to make our solution privacy-sensitive, in a unique way that removes the psychological burden of voluntarily opting for early screening as a preventive measure. Tata Elxsi is one of the companies that has helped us bring our vision to reality. We are happy to be a part of Incub@TE and value the mentorship that Tata Elxsi has provided to our products/services.

Companies that have previously been part of Tata Elxsi’s incub@TE program are Sismatik Solutions and Street Smart Mobile Technologies.

About incub@TE

The Tata Elxsi incub@TE program has been set up to foster entrepreneurial activities in the technology space. They provide a platform for start-ups and prospective entrepreneurs to convert their ideas into commercially viable products or services. They help you take your ideas to the market real fast by providing ready-to-use infrastructure, key technical consulting through in-house experts, mentorship, access to service providers, plug-n-play office and connections with people and organizations who matter. For more information, visit incub@TE

The Honourable Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu presided over the signing of two significant MoU with fintech multinationals Visa and Thomson Reuters at Mumbai. The milestone represents another firm step by the state government designed to catapult Fintech Valley Vizag as the national and global hub for Fintech innovation.

Also hosting the event were Mr. J. A. Chowdary, Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to the AP Chief Minister, Ms. Latha Ayyar, Special Representative for Innovation & IT in the Government of AP & COO, Bharti AXA, Mr. Vijayanand, IT Secretary for Government of AP, Mr. J Satyanarayana, UIDAI chairperson and former IT Secretary, Mr. T.R Ramachandran, Group Country Manager, Visa India & South Asia and Mr. Pradeep Lankapalli, Managing Director, Thomson Reuters South Asia.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh is also hosting the first Fintech Valley Vizag Spring Conference 2017 on March 9~10, 2017. The conference will bring together fintech companies, start-ups, researchers and key government officials who are working in the fintech sector, and will provide opportunities for disruptive business solutions. With a special focus on nurturing start-ups, the conference will also announce the winners of the Fintech Startup Challenge who will receive INR 15 lakh prize and free infrastructure for six months in the Fintech Tower.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said

Our vision is to create 5 lakh jobs in Andhra Pradesh by 2020 through technology-enabled services. Fintech Valley is a playground for start-ups and innovators. Our aim is to turn Fintech Valley into a global hub by enhancing the fintech ecosystem with mutually beneficial cross border collaborations and relationships. This can lead the way in the technological and financial growth of the nation.

J. A. Chowdary, Special Chief Secretary & IT Advisor to the Chief Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh added

These MoUs are steps towards converting our vision to reality – of making AndhraPradesh the leader in fintech ecosystem – through Fintech Valley Vizag. Both these companies, VisaThomson Reuters, are industry leaders in their space and we are excited to be working with them.

As per the MoU between Visa and Government of Andhra Pradesh, the parties intend to collaborate to develop a robust digital payment ecosystem in Vizag through a multi-level approach that targets several stakeholders.

Through the promotion of awareness campaigns and educational programmes, the MoU sets out to encourage both merchants and consumers to accept and adopt digital payments. To make payments more efficient for businesses, the government is taking Visa’s support to enable digital payments for government and business segments, including the latest technologies in Quick Response [QR] code and Near-Field Communication [NFC]. Visa will also develop a curriculum for government and consumers, including modules to scale financial literacy. By encouraging the use of electronic payments in the city, with a special focus to include traditionally underserved segments, the agreement promises to make Vizag more financially inclusive and accepting of the digital future.

TR Ramachandran, Group Country Manager, Visa India & South Asia, speaking on this collaboration said

Visa welcomes the opportunity to partner with the State Government of Andhra Pradesh on this unique and strategic endeavor. We propose to undertake this initiative as a part of Visa’s global financial inclusion efforts that aim to provide 500 million underserved with a payment account by 2020.

We are committed to bringing Visa’s global expertise, innovations, and resources to make this endeavor a success. With the launch of BharatQR, a global first of its kind low cost payment solution, we hope to rapidly scale up the number of small merchants accepting digital payments. In addition, we hope to implement innovative commercial payment solutions that will accrue significant benefits to the state.

Commenting on the MoU, Pradeep Lankapalli, Managing Director, Thomson Reuters South Asia said

The Andhra Pradesh Government’s vision of transforming Visakhapatnam as the next fintech destination is admirable. As world’s oldest fintech company, with 150 years of financial innovation history, Thomson Reuters will serve as an accelerator in this journey. Our Open platform technology and access to global best practices, will provide the right enablers and expertise to the Andhra Pradesh government as they pursue the goal of building a global fintech hub.

Fintech Valley Vizag is fast becoming the epi-centre of fintech disruption. Since the launch of Fintech Tower, the Andhra Pradesh government has signed thirteen MoUs, of which six are with renowned educational institutions and seven with corporations seeking to disrupt the fintech sector.

The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has offered full support to companies, incubators, facilitators and start-ups, inviting anyone with disruptive ideas to be a part of Fintech Valley, on the edge of innovation. Aiding the state’s efforts to make Vizag a global destination for fintech disruptors and innovators is KPMG, the Knowledge Partner of the Fintech Valley Vizag.

The IT sector in Vizag has achieved an annual turnover of INR 2,000 crore. The city is supported by a robust industrial base and educational infrastructure that is being expanded with the support of innovative start-ups and firms. Additionally, it offers peaceful solace compared to the bustling tech-hubs India otherwise offers, to innovate the future of fintech.

About Fintech Valley Vizag

The Fintech Valley brings together public and private players, state of the art incubators and accelerators, innovation labs, mentorships, angel investors and anyone willing to break free from traditional processes. The self-sustained global Fintech Ecosystem provides more than just access to Fintech and its innovators; it nurtures an oasis in which cyber security, block chain, digital education and research thrive at international standards. For more information, please visit Fintech Valley Vizag

About Spring Conference 2017

Fintech Valley Vizag is Government of Andhra Pradesh’s flagship initiative that brings together industry, academia and investors to innovate, co-create and build the Fintech ecosystem. The Fintech Spring Conference 2017 marks the beginning of this new journey. Spring conference will have CXOs from Fintech companies, start-ups & financial services. For more information, please visit Spring Conference 2017

There is a dialogue in the Web Series TVF Pitchers from TVF Play – ‘India’s future would be shaped by entrepreneurs and it is their ideas that would play a crucial role in India’s growth‘, that is very relevant in the current scenario. India is on the cusp of the entrepreneurship wave and grass-roots level initiatives like Make In India, Digital India, India Stack (UPI, eKYC etc.), Startup India Fund etc. are opening up new avenues for aspiring entrepreneurs in India. India did jump four spots in Easy Of Doing Business Index but yet there is lots of work to be done (Source*) so that the conditions are more conducive to starting as well as winding-up of businesses.

Apart from the conducive entrepreneurial environment, there is a dearth of focused groups for idea validation, converting ideas into a viable business, connecting with fellow entrepreneurs, connecting with investor community (Angels, Early stage VC’s), getting early-adopters for products, etc. Mentors can act as a motivational device for a startup, they can provide guidance through their domain expertise as well as much needed motivation! Effective Mentorship & Guidance was one of the key factors for the success of RedBus (Source*). To summarize, each and every torch bearer is critical in building a vibrant startup ecosystem.

As mentioned in Startup Revolution, a community is a core part of the startup eco-system and must be built with a bottom-up approach, not top-down. Startup Accelerators play a vital role in community development and that is the reason number of accelerators have been on the rise. However, the impact an accelerator has in a startup’s journey would vary depending on the program. Many accelerators welcome entrepreneurs that have business ideas in Ideation Stage whereas some require the ideas shaped in the MVP Stage. Seed capital, Mentoring, Infrastructure are the key pillars of Startup Accelerator. During my tenure with a startup – Anaxee, the team at the Nirma Labs incubator (used interchangeably with accelerator) played a crucial role in shaping up the idea to MVP along with providing the Seed Capital.

One such accelerator that aims to be a significant player in the development of the entrepreneurship eco-system in India is Espark-Viridian. Espark-Viridian is a joint initiative of Entrepreneurial Spark, UK, and Viridian Ventures. It has a network of accelerator centers that follow a program based approach to foster entrepreneurship. Espark UK has an amazing track record with more than 650 Enabled Startups with a success rate of 88%.

Irrespective of whether a startup is in the ideation phase or growth phase, entrepreneurs are welcome to apply for the October 2016 batch. Espark-Viridian has launched the #StartSomething campaign and expanded the accelerator program to Chandigarh and Mumbai. Hence, entrepreneurs irrespective of their current location can apply for the October batch for the Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi or Gandhinagar centers.

The Espark-Viridian program is an 18-month long program that can be very crucial for accelerating your business to the next stage. That duration would help them validate their idea, get initial traction and make their ideal market-fit. That is the primary reason, the program is built on the following pillars that are key to the entrepreneurial eco-system:

Validation and MVP Design: Develop an initial prototype of your product with minimum investment.
Funding Readiness: Transform ideas into viable businesses by helping entrepreneurs explore new avenues and validate the product. Pitch to investors for follow-on funding.
Enablement and knowledge sharing : Industry experts, successful entrepreneurs would be invited to empower startups. Each team would have a Mentor who would be a Subject Matter Expert in that particular domain. Enablers keep the team motivated and play a vital role in shaping the idea into a workable product. Check the mentors associated with Espark-Viridian program here

In order to address requirements of the startups that enroll for the program, Espark-Viridian has tied up with AWS Activate, Paytm, HeadStart, IAmWire, YourStory, and Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Some of the startups that Espark-Viridian has worked with can be found here. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur looking for idea validation or to shape your idea to MVP or to take your startup to the next level of growth, you can apply for the Espark-Viridian Program

Follow Espark-Viridian for updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube

In a nutshell, startup accelerators can have a positive impact on the startups associated with them, though it might vary depending on the program. Irrespective of the potential of impact, accelerators do have a positive effect on the eco-system!

DigitalOcean, the cloud for developers announced Hatch, a global incubator program designed to support the next generation of startups as they launch and scale. The program provides startups with access to DigitalOcean’s cloud for 12 months so they can focus on building their businesses and not worry about their infrastructure. The program also provides startups with free technical training, mentorship, priority support, and an opportunity to connect with other startups, accelerators, and investors.

Ben Uretsky, Co-founder and CEO of DigitalOcean said

Use of the cloud has significantly decreased the capital required to start a business, yet still remains one of the largest expenses founding teams face in the early days. We got started as part of the Techstars accelerator program so we understand, firsthand, the challenges and what it takes to launch and scale a company. That’s why we are supporting the next generation of startups in getting their products off the ground.

Hatch is an expansion of DigitalOcean’s established partnership ecosystem with several of the top accelerators, including Y Combinator, Techstars, 500 Startups and NASSCOM 10K. Over the past few years, DigitalOcean has powered the applications and production workloads for more than 800 startups that are part of these accelerator programs by offering support and infrastructure credits.

DigitalOcean will be piloting Hatch through their accelerator and investor partnership network and will on-board a larger group of bootstrapped and funded startups around the world later this year.

Rajat Tandon, Vice President at NASSCOM said

A program like Hatch will be of great help to the startups in this space. Not only does the cloud result in cost savings but it is a revolution that is defining the modern IT antics. Many SAAS companies face scaling issues due to lack of support and mentorships. Startups in this segment are emerging like how! Hatch would be their go-to support which will help them scale up fast efficiently and effectively.

Investor Andreessen Horowitz’s Partner Frank Chen said

Early in their lives, startups need to focus 100% on building a product that customers love rather than on keeping the service up and running. With access to programs like Hatch, startups can focus on running experiments on their way to product-market fit and entrust the infrastructure to DigitalOcean.

Startup GitLab’s Co-Founder & CEO Sid Sijbrandij said

Agile processes are especially important to a new startup looking to get a product out the door and to start collecting feedback on it. While Continuous Integration (CI) is necessary, it can be costly. This past April, we partnered with DigitalOcean to help make CI faster and more affordable. In just six months, GitLab.com users have leveraged DigitalOcean Droplets to execute over 1.1 million builds. The launch of Hatch will be yet another great resource for new and growing teams. It’s great to see DigitalOcean focused on supporting startups and we’re excited to see the amazing companies and products that come out of Hatch.

DigitalOcean’s investment in community programs has been a cornerstone of the company’s success. The Hatch program is another example of the company’s focus on ensuring developers and high-growth startups can seamlessly launch, scale, and manage any size application.

To learn more about Hatch, please visit https://www.digitalocean.com/hatch

About DigitalOcean

Founded in 2011, DigitalOcean is a cloud platform focused on simplifying the complexities of infrastructure for software developers. DigitalOcean has become the second largest and fastest growing cloud computing platform in the total number of public facing apps and websites, according to Netcraft.com. The company has raised $123 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Access Industries, IA Ventures, CrunchFund, and Techstars. The company is headquartered in New York City with data center regions throughout the world. For more information, please visit Digital Ocean

Lot of innovations are coming up in the Fintech space and the launch of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) just makes the space even more competitive. One of the critical driving factors of the innovation in the ‘Financial Tech Space’ is due to the increasing penetration of mobile phones, affordability of internet (2G/3G) and sky-rocketing use of Digital Currency (Closed and Semi-Closed Wallets).

Gone are the days when you had to stand in long queues to get your bank’s pass book updated or withdraw/deposit money. In fact, all these activities including opening a new account are now possible with the click of a button !!! Though Payment Services (Paytm, Freecharge etc.), P2P Lending (EasySalary, LendBox etc.), Personal Finance Services (BankBazaar, Capital Float etc.) are some of the sectors that have seen major growth and investor interest; there is still lot of room for startups to innovate in the ‘Fintech Sector’.

A startup incubator from well known Financial Brand like Axis Bank, India’s third largest Private Sector bank could just bring a huge delight for entrepreneurs in the Fintech Space.

Thought Factory : Startup Accelerator from Axis Bank

Axis Bank has partnered with Amazon Internet Services, Payments product company VISA and Singapore based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation to set up startup accelerator Thought Factory in Diamond District in Bengaluru. The major focus of Thought Factory would be Financial Technology Space and it would on-board it’s second batch of startups next month.

The incubated startups would be focusing on ideas built on emerging technologies like AI, Big data analytics, Block Chain, Robotics and much more. These ideas could take the consumer banking experience to the whole new level. The KPMG Fintech Report – 2016 also points that the next wave of Indian Fintech Startups would be from these areas !! First batch of startups are already live in Mumbai and the second batch will begin this month & they might be based out of Bengaluru.

The launch was attended by Axis Bank executives – Rajiv Anand, Executive Director (Retail Banking), Amit Sethi, President & CIO amongst others. Serial tech-entrepreneur Vishal Gondal, Founder & CEO of GoQii, Sanjay Swamy, Entrepreneur & prominent Angel-investor, Senior executives from VISA and Amazon Internet Services were also present at the event.

Commenting on the launch, Rajiv Anand, Executive Director (Retail Banking), Axis Bank said

We are excited about the way financial industry is evolving and how millennials are re-imagining the industry. ‘Thought Factory’, our innovation lab is an endeavor to build on the ideas of innovators that can radically change consumers’ life in Banking and beyond. With this initiative, we are creating a vibrant ecosystem of Global Banks, startups & tech innovators.

The Keynote Speaker of the event was Tenith Adithyaa, 18-year old inventor & innovator from Tamil Nadu who spoke about his inventions.

Thought Factory : Industry Partnerships

For the accelerator programme, Axis Bank has partnered with Zone Startups. At the end of 3-month long incubation programme, Axis Bank in association with Zone Startups would organize Investor Day to facilitate funding for the short-listed startups.

Thought Factory would also have external mentors on-board that would support the startups in their journey. It is also working with NASSCOM 10K, VC partners, Global Banks etc. in order to create a healthy and vibrant tech eco-system and to create a culture of ‘Co-Creation‘.

Additionally, Axis Bank has also launched ‘Hack for Hire‘ programme for identifying talent from across the country through Hackathons for the in-house innovation team at Thought Factory

Thought Factory : How to apply

In order to be a part of the Thought Factory, your startup needs to be a registered Indian entity trying to create it’s mark in the fin-tech sector. There is no cost & no equity (taken by Axis Bank) if your startup is selected for the Axis Bank’s Thought Factory.

To know more about Thought Factory Program, it’s structure etc., drop a mail to to thoughtfactory@axisbank.com or visit bit.ly/thoughtfactoryapply

Thought Factory : Fin-tech meets Health-tech

Though Digital Wallets have been widely adopted by the Indian consumers, contact-less payment via Wearables could see an up-trend with the #AxisActive. Axis Bank in collaboration with GoQii launched #AxisActive, a fitness band with which you can make Payments at PoS of retail outlets.

For every 70,000 steps you walk, you earn 500 Axis eDGE reward points. So go ahead, turn anytime into fitness time. #AxisActive is a perfect marriage of Fin-Tech and Health-Tech 🙂 Now, earn reward points for burning calories with this innovation from GoQii and Axis Bank. More information about #AxisActive is available here

Thought Factory : Closing Thoughts

Given the deep-rooted expertise of Axis Bank in the Financial & Banking sector, Thought Factory looks the right step taken by them to be a part of the vibrant tech-startup eco-system.

To know more about the Thought Factory Program, it’s structure etc., drop a mail to to thoughtfactory@axisbank.com or visit bit.ly/thoughtfactoryapply