Brace up all Product Entrepreneurs; InTech50 is back…

InTech50, iSPIRT ’s flagship event is back. The first two editions have been very successful and InTech50 has become the ‘must-go-to’ platform for enterprise CXO’s and product entrepreneurs. Over the past two years, we have hosted CXO’s and business leaders from global companies like AllState, Citibank, HCC Insurance, Standard Chartered, Colgate Palmolive, Time, AirTel, Yes Bank, Exide Life, Mother Diary and the likes. Here are some quick high points from the last two years of InTech50:

  • 18 enterprise deals that got originated and closed from conversations at InTech50
  • 42 enterprise PoC’s offered to InTech50 companies
  • 120+ innovation leaders (read: buyers & influencers) exposed to Indian product entrepreneurs

We have already managed to showcase over a 100 companies, and we have made 50 global investors and CIO’s travel to India to interact and associate with these companies, and happily so.

Here are a few portfolio companies from our past events – Capillary, Uniken, Seclore, Freshdesk, Reverie, Sapience, NowFloats, ToneTag to name a few.

Just to share the impact that we have created, and how these 50 companies have benefitted from this initiative, hear hear what some of them had to say –

“Intech50 is a phenomenal event. It is probably the highest RoI initiative we have ever participated in. With 50+ Global CIOs turning up, it is a great platform to validate your product. Met some of the largest enterprises, found use cases we weren’t aware of and closed marquee deals. Highly recommended!” Yamini Bhat,

“Intech50 was extremely useful in 3 ways. First, making a presentation of just 5 minutes to an extremely discerning audience helped us make our value proposition very crisp. Second, demoing our product to several heads of technology helped validate our product and use cases, and resulted in actual business deals getting signed. And most importantly, we were able to bag a large client with whom we’ve been able to co-create 2 completely new products. I wholeheartedly and highly recommend Intech50 to all B2B startups who have demonstrable products that are ready for large enterprises” – Ranjit Nair, Germin8

“Being a part of InTech50 2015 was a great opportunity for ToneTag. It was exhilarating when ToneTag was selected in the first batch as one of the top 10 products. The event gave us the exposure, guidance and support we needed. InTech50 enabled us to pitch our product to a global panel of curators and the media coverage we received was also been beneficiary to the company. Since winning InTech50, ToneTag has been expanding rapidly. We acquired many leads through the event that led us to PoC’s and commercial deals in the making. The resources we received through InTech50 have been invaluable as it has helped us build exciting partnerships with many in India and around the world” – Kumar Abhishek, ToneTag

If you are a product entrepreneur and your product is solving a problem for the enterprise CXO, InTech50 is your chance to showcase your product to the who’s who in the enterprise buyer community.

Apply before Feb 22nd 2016 and experience a bigger and better InTech50 in 2016.

To know more, click here.

How does Net Neutrality Play a Part for India’s Product Ecosystem?

If You are connected to the Internet, Social Media or any form of media, you must have heard about Net Neutrality and the protests that are going on.
While it feels like iSPiRT hadn’t officially made any announcements on the same, quite a few of us have been working behind the scenes to ensure that our voice is heard and that TRAI takes the next steps regarding the Internet in India.

A bit of backdrop:

On December 2014, Airtel quietly dropped a note that they will be rolling out a plan that will differentially price calls that are made on its network – both voice and video calls, using skype or viber.
After the backlash that started, Airtel rolled back on its rollout plan, however forced TRAI to give them a guideline on how this should be handled, because the masses had mentioned it breaks netneutrality.

A bit of context:

India, if it gets the policy on Net Neutrality would be the 7th country in the world to have a stance on net Neutrality. Most nations assume a stance of Net Neutrality (as has been the case in India so far). But the policy defines a clear line in the sand, as operators all over the globe have been itching to cross the line to find ways to increase their profit margins.

Are we against Operators making money?

We aren’t. We understand that businesses need to be sustainable. But it is also the perogative of the ecosystem to allow for innovation to happen. Zero rating and slicing the internet into pieces and selling them in packets wouldn’t be innovation, it goes quite the other direction on that matter.
While on first look it feels as if operators are making lesser money, with the advent of applications, the opposite is true. Operators have evolved from voice and sms providers, to data providers. They are no longer circuit switched networks, but packet switched networks – and the latter is far more effective and allows for innovation on the applications layer. Idea, Vodafone and Airtel which are the three big players who control close to 75% of the mobile subscriber base in India have doubled their data revenues year on year. In the last 2.5 years, Airtel has made close to 15,000 crores in profit. So the stance that applications are eroding the profit margins is not a fact.

Why is this important to the startup ecosystem?

Net Neutrality isnt a principle by itself, but also one that dictates a fair an open market when it comes to dealing with the internet which is a public property. The ability for anyone to be able to contribute has been the core fundamental on which the Internet is built – and the operators who want to be gatekeepers
with their influence could totally alter the way that goes about.
In case the debates around this topic have been too cumbersome to follow, this picture would help.

Zero Rating : Airtel and

One of the key tenets that the telecom lobby is playing is using the analogy of Toll Free numbers to allow for bigger companies to subsidize the cost of access for certain applications in a network. The simple question we have been asking is, what about startups that might not have the money to pay operators to fight the defacto incumbent who would have paid the operator.

How can you pitch in?

Till the 24th of April, TRAI (Telecom and Regulatory Authority of India) is taking feedback on the 118 page consultation paper that they have put out. The Paper seems heavily influenced by the telecom operators who claim that OTT (Over-the-top) services need to be regulated.
You can send in your feedback to the 20 part question that they have raised, to let them know your thoughts.

Transforming a nation with products

India is at a crossroads today. Gloom has replaced what seemed to be an unending boom just a few years ago. After a decade of rapid growth led by the services sector, the Indian economy has hit a plateau. While services exports continue to grow and create a surplus in services trade, they only constitute 35% of the country’s total exports and are unlikely to compensate for the deep deficit in merchandise trade that stands at 10% of gross domestic product (GDP). This deficit in goods trade is partly attributed to the services-led route of economic development taken by India in the post-liberalization era, in contrast to a manufacturing-led route to development that creates a strong base for goods trade.

From a national policy perspective, excessive dependence on services is akin to putting all one’s eggs in the same basket. For a country of India’s size, diversity, and global aspirations, a more diversified economic basket is an urgent imperative.

The current situation has created a need to nurture and bolster “products” or “goods” industries. But the challenging question is where to begin, and which industry might lead the charge. Given India’s rise to prominence in the last two decades as a software hub, could software products be the ideal place to start?
Unlike manufactured products, software does not need major logistics infrastructure, nor does it depend on inputs other than human capital. Further, software products can be delivered through the cloud.

Therefore, the software product industry holds the potential to circumvent India’s relatively weak position in manufacturing and yet capture a high enough degree of value to address at least some of our economic challenges.

In addition to the direct benefit of a healthy software product industry to the national economy, technology can bring about an order of magnitude improvement in the effectiveness and competitiveness of other sectors, be they industrial or social. Industries as diverse as healthcare and jewellery could benefit from standardized software applications that enhance their competitiveness. Therefore, a competitive software product industry will not only benefit the economy but will have a ripple effect across the society at large.

Though the aspiration for a vibrant software product industry is compelling, international comparisons show that we have much ground to cover. While the number of engineers in the Israeli software industry is only a third of those employed in the Indian product industry (including MNC captives), Israeli start-ups raise almost double the amount of venture capital that Indian start-ups do. Further, we have thrice the number of start-ups as Israel, but Israeli investors managed 40 times the number of exits compared to Indian companies in 2011. So far, India’s software product industry is punching below its weight category and needs a fillip.

In the past we have failed to realize our potential in products. Take telecom as an example. We have created mobile services giants like Airtel but have no telecom product industry to speak of. Our air force is one of the largest in the world and yet we haven’t been able to get the light combat aircraft (LCA) deployed in 30 years. We have somehow not been able to develop a product industry in India.

A challenge as big as this one is unlikely to have a one-shot solution. Yet, a vibrant product industry is unlikely to emerge by chance either. The solution needs to emerge gradually and iteratively, based on a continuous dialogue between software product companies, investors, policy makers and potential customers. Shaping policy, funnelling investments and stimulating the market can potentially steer the software product industry in the right direction.

This article first appeared in the LiveMint