About a month back, CIIE kick-started our flagship cleantech accelerator program – PowerStart – with an intensive 3-day Mentoring Bootcamp in Bengaluru. The PowerStart program is a unique accelerator program that is the product of nearly 4 months of planning by the Infuse team, and is an upgrade over its two previous editions. While our partnership with the Asian Development Bank continues, with this third incarnation, we’re testing out yet another new model for business acceleration.
Most importantly, the focus this year was on startup teams developing ICT-driven cleantech applications; a niche sector that has emerged world over, and is often called “cleanweb“. These may include the applications of Internet of Things, big data analytics, sensing, cloud computing, among other, to solve energy and/or resource efficiency related problems. Both previous cohorts of the accelerator had been comprised of core cleantech companies.
There were 5 ‘themes’ under which applications were invited: smart energy, smart buildings, smart transportation, smart agriculture and smart manufacturing (factory of the future) – a brief used for outreach can be found here. The accelerator itself is based in Bangalore and will be co-hosted in partnership with TechHub Bangalore.
Applications were invited via F6S until 21 Dec 2015. After a whirlwind month-long outreach campaign (that included hundreds of emails, posts on social media and even cold calling), we received 100 (exact, no kidding) applications. The close of applications was followed by a two-week-long evaluation process that included scores of in-person meetings.
The result was an exciting cohort of 12 teams spanning several themes and at varying stages of their business. While 5 of the teams were based in Bengaluru, the remaining 7 were from New Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai and Ahmedabad. The Jaipur-based team has since made the move to Bengaluru. 5 of the teams have solution in the smart energy space, while the remaining 7 are in the smart buildings, smart transportation, smart agriculture and/or the sharing economy. An outline of the current cohort can be found in the table below:
|Team name||Location||Brief bio||Theme|
|Basil Systems||Jaipur (now in Bengaluru)||IoT-based switchboard, that can be controlled through a smartphone app.||Smart buildings|
|Clytics||Bengaluru||Combining behavioural sciences, data analytics and machine learning to provide disaggregated and simulated energy consumption information, eventually leading to better energy efficiency; much like an Opower for India – targeted toward utilities, discoms & residential customers||Smart energy|
|Dhii Systems||Bengaluru||Mobile app that aggregates all transportation service providers on a single platform||Smart transportation|
|E-Cube||Kolkata||Energy information management and data analytics (incl. predictive analytics) software for visualizing, monitoring and savings in energy consumption – for SMEs and industries that have >25% operational costs coming from energy consumption||Smart energy|
|Kindset||Cochin||Online platform to communicate and promote reuse and sharing of materials among people living in proximity||Sharing economy|
|Lumos||Ahmedabad||Wireless plug and play device that automates air conditioners using infra-red control||Smart buildings|
|MachineTalk||Bengaluru||IoT-based platform for remote monitoring and diagnostics on commercial vehicles (trucks, buses); owners and drivers informed about driver performance and engine health & of vehicle – currently targeting fleet owners of private passenger buses (Volvos) operating between cities (future – trucks, logistics companies)||Smart transportation|
|PAQS||Bengaluru||Providing and notifying users information about the desired ‘personal environment’ through a personal IoT-based device (with sensors), a mobile app and back-end data engine – targeting smart building solution providers, BAS majors and large commercial customers||Smart buildings|
|Ronds Innotech||Trivandrum||GSM-based remote monitoring tool for rooftop solar installations; now looking at integration with home automation solutions||Smart energy / buildings|
|Skylark Drones||Bengaluru||Drones! Currently being used for aerial surveying, videography and security-related applications. Exploring agricultural applications, including aerial spraying, yield mapping, etc.||Smart agriculture|
|SolarWaale||New Delhi||Integrated online marketplace for solar rooftop market – single point solution offering solar calculator (power data, size, cost & payback), connections with installers, loan application, etc.||Smart energy|
|Startle Ventures||Chennai||Monitor process parameters (currently water temperature & flow rate) through sensors, and providing data analytics to improve decision making and process efficiency||Smart energy|
These 12 teams were brought together for an intensive 3-day bootcamp at TechHub from 30 Jan to 01 Feb. The bootcamp started with introductions by the 12 teams, followed by two talks on new frontiers and business models in cleantech/cleanweb and a panel discussion with representatives from the various partners of the program.
Much of the remainder of the bootcamp was comprised of face-to-face meetings between the teams and over 60 “mentors” / experts. In all, there were almost 80 such face-to-face meetings. These experts represented functions, domains and verticals across the cleantech / IoT / IT spectrum, including individuals from IBM, Intel, Amazon, SunEdison, TiE, EMBARQ, Indian Angel Network and IoT Bangalore, among others. Late evening on 30 Jan, we also organized the second “meetup” of the Cleanweb Bangalore meetup group. In the evening on 31 Jan, the cohort also got a chance to interact with Vishal Pandya and Harit Soni, founders of REConnect Energy and Ecolibirum Energy – two of Infuse’s portfolio companies. As is normal when aspiring entrepreneurs meet successful entrepreneurs, the discussion got highly animated and often emotional!
The final day of the bootcamp started with a well-received session on “understanding customer needs” by Bimal Nair, a veteran of the advertising industry and an expert in technology-enabled marketing. Bimal’s talk was met with rapt attention and frequent rounds of applause. This was followed by a unique workshop on the Product Development Canvas by OpenFuel. The bootcamp ended with an interactive discussion on “validating your business” and the creation of “customer validation plans” by each of the teams. A schedule for the bootcamp can be found here.
The Bootcamp is actually the beginning of a 2 month-long acceleration program that also includes 2 “meetups” and a Demo Day (February-March 2015). The first meetup was held on 14-15 February; the meetup started with a session on the business model canvas, followed by face-to-face meetings with the Infuse team, during which the teams discussed their progress with their validation plans. A second meetup is scheduled for 14-15 March and will have sessions on legal, accounting and finance-related matters, in addition to an interactive session on pitching to investors. A date has been set for the Demo Day – 7 April 2015. On the Demo Day, the current cohort will pitch to Infuse and other invited investors for seed funding. Stay tuned for more updates on PowerStart!