This year, the Rakuten CTO Summit traveled outside of Japan for the first time since its inception. The destination of choice was Bengaluru, also known as Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley and a hotbed of startup innovation, where Rakuten India Enterprise Pvt Ltd is headquartered.
You can’t be in Bengaluru and miss its bustling startup ecosystem of innovators, mentors, accelerators and incubators. The city is home to an estimated 1,800-2,300 active tech startups — approximately 40% of India’s 5,200 startups. Bengaluru’s startup ecosystem is valued at $19 billion and according to a report by INC42, Indian tech startups raised $13.5B in funding across 885 deals in 2017, about three times more than the previous year.
In sync with one of the CTO Summit’s four themes this year — artificial intelligence (AI) — the Rakuten India team handpicked six of Bengaluru’s most promising AI startups and invited them to showcase their products and services at the Summit.
Evaluation process: Rakuten India evaluated 37 AI startups based in Bengaluru on the basis of technologies developed by them and their business applications. They also took into account years of operation, employee and customer growth, strength of management team, and stability of the venture. The Rakuten India team then held meetings with founders to understand the product roadmap and their long-term vision for the business, in order to arrive at the final six.
Here’s a look at the six startups, as well as a comment from the founder or key executive who attended the summit:
Novopay is a bank-backed digital wallet that allows users to make payments, transfer money and make withdrawals at neighborhood stores. The app, which is available on Google Playstore, can be used on feature phones as well. Novopay uses AI to credit rate individuals and SMEs.
In their words: “Almost half of India is either unbanked or underbanked. We offer people banking services in kirana shops or mom-and-pop stores in their own neighborhoods so they can operate savings accounts, avail of loans as well as make payments.” — Srikanth Nadhamuni, CEO
ShieldSquare is a real-time end-to-end bot mitigation solution that protects enterprises by detecting and responding to automated attacks generated by scripts (bots). ShieldSquare’s solution can be integrated into diverse technology infrastructures within minutes.
In their words: “ShieldSquare’s USP is that it is completely non-intrusive and uses intent-based analysis to uncover the motive of the attack. ShieldSquare is API based, so it doesn’t require any traffic redirection. When we go down, your website doesn’t go down.” — Krishna Kumar, Senior Director, Sales
Niki is a digital chat-based AI-powered shopping assistant. It aims to be a “virtual friend” that helps people book cabs, order food, recharge, pay postpaid, electricity, datacard, DTH bills, and do much more simply via chat.
In their words: “Niki.ai’s vision is to make online transactions and discovery of products as seamless as talking to a friend. We are building this company for the next 100 million users who will come online and carry out transactions through chat-bot enabled conversations.” — Shishir Modi, Director and Co-founder
Uncanny Vision (Surveillance)
Uncanny Vision has developed an AI-based surveillance solution targeted at challenging security and analytics applications. Uncanny Surveillance enables cameras to “see” and “understand” their environment instantly by using AI / deep Learning algorithms.
In their words: “There are over 500 million surveillance cameras in India but they are ‘blind’ — they just record videos for post-incident analysis. Our AI-powered computer vision solution for smart surveillance cameras provides real-time alerts at toll gates, traffic signals, retail outlets, etc.” — Navanee Sundaramoorthy, Co-founder and CMO
Sensara Technologies (Media)
Sensara Technologies is trying to transform the TV viewing experience through its AI-powered Sensy smart remote app, which turns a smartphone into a remote control and a search tool for TV content. It has been downloaded 100,000 times.
In their words: “About 150 million homes in India watch TV three hours a day. We garner AI-powered intelligence on what people are watching and connect them to the right source for external engagement. For example, if you see a pizza ad and you’re hungry, you can just call [Indian food delivery app] Swiggy and get it delivered.” — Bharath Mohan, CEO
Formcept is an AI-powered cognitive, real-time smart data analytics platform that helps enterprises derive actionable insights from large volumes of external and internal data quickly, thereby significantly reducing the data-to-decision conversion time.
In their words: “Unstructured data is complex and difficult to draw inferences from. Formcept’s solutions use AI to structure unstructured data and help draw semantics from it in near real-time.” — Hetal Sonpal, Sales Evangelist
Read more reports on CTO Summit 2018 here.