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Showing posts from 2016

Startup Trends and Jargon in India 2016

For Indian startups – amongst the most high-profile sectors in the country’s business landscape—the money crunch began much before demonetisation, reports Economic Times. After two consecutive years of breakneck growth, the online retail market hit a pause and discounts on hyperlocal deliveries disappeared, both a result of easy funding disappearing. ET takes a look at four major trends that defined the digital economy in 2016, and what the takeaways are for the New Year.
Money Crunch: The funding slowdown of 2016 has taught fundamental lessons to the Indian startup space. 2016 was the year of cost cuts, even when it meant sacrificing growth in the search of a faint vision of profits. For many startups this meant not just cutting variable costs like marketing, but also trimming fixed costs by firing employees. Not all were able to survive, as over 212 startups shut down in 2016, a 50% increase as compared to the previous year, according to data from Tracxn. The year also saw several b…

Ideas of the Future

Ideas of the future from giant tech.
News is that Amazon has recently been awarded a patent for a giant flying, floating warehouse (fulfilment centre) that will have drones to be able to deliver items to customers within minutes. These warehouses could probably be totally automated and pilot-less.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Not Every Cloud has a Silver Lining?

Not Every Cloud has a Silver Lining?

Jeff Bezos of Amazon, along with a couple of his rivals, may eventually control much of the $1-trillion global market for business computers and software, reports Economic Times. That is because Amazon Web Services, his big-business computing division, is starting to affect more than just the world of computer servers, data storage and networking at the core of computing.
Increasingly, it is also entangled with mobile phones, sensors and all sorts of other devices in the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). It’s the same story at Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, the other two big cloud companies. Startups and giant corporations rent the core resources, along with related software, instead of owning and running their own machines.
What’s next? As innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) and connected devices become popular, customers are putting cloud components in mobile computing, home games and email marketing campaigns. In other w…

AI Cyber-Sleuths

The digital revolution is a familiar concept for individuals, enterprises as well as the nation, owing to the opportunities that it provides, writes Sanjay Rohatgi in the Economic Times. Modern technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and mobile applications have traversed boundaries and are a part of business as usual. In India, while the government’s agenda of digital transformation drove modernisation of infrastructure, enterprises continued their quest of reaping greater operational benefits and collaboration with reduced costs by the adoption of cloud. Amid these technological advancements, there has been a huge tactical shift among cyber attackers. Today , it is no longer a question of if, but when you will be attacked. As the year draws to a close, Symantec’s security experts have evaluated the current scenario and the trends that would be prevalent in 2017.
Internet of connected everything: IoT is no more a concept touted to be the next big thing. It is driving th…

Mainstream vs. Digital Content Stream

Digital content streaming platforms in India are proving to be good for trying subjects and topics which the mainstream channels won't deal with.

With 2016 coming to an end, it is clear that there is a new group of viewers who are not merely satisfied with the same old ‘Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani’ and ‘Saas Bahu’ sagas, reports Economic Times. This is where web series have been a saviour for the Netflix-loving Gen-Y. With relatable characters and compelling storytelling, the web series that are available to the Indian audience continues to redefine and prove exactly what they are capable of. 
For the one-episode-per-day kind of person, or the binge watcher, 2016 has proved to be a surprise for even the most eclectic viewer. And if you haven’t seen these six web series in the year gone by, you should hit the rewind button. 
Tripling: Social media has consistently given us life goals, how to have a good time with friends and partners. What was missing was the bonding with siblings. The Vi…

Which Sectors will have the Most Disruptive Innovation

Which Sectors will have the Most Disruptive Innovation

Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the poster boys of Indian e-commerce, are brazenly betting on so-called moonshot ideas, backing early-stage technology companies working in areas such as healthcare and otherwise struggling to raise money from traditional investors. The latest such company the Flipkart co-founders have backed is Pandorum Technologies, which has found a way to 3D-print experimental-stage human liver tissues in a laboratory. The two Bansals are also finalising another investment in a startup that makes implants, which would mark their fourth funding deal into a healthcare startup.
Overall, one-fourth of the two dozen or so companies in their combined investment portfolios are working on similar deep technology ideas, making the Bansals a rare breed of investors not averse to taking risky bets that can spur truly disruptive innovation. "In India, core sectors like healthcare, education and supply chain will be di…

Mobile Talktime as a Digital Currency in India

Making digital payments easy, affordable and widely available in India is the holy grail of Digital India. One possible solution is given here.

'Cashless’ is the flavour of December, like ‘Black Money’ was last month, writes Amod Kumar (secretary to chief minister of UP) in the Economic Times. The press is full of questions on why and how to go cashless, while many TV shows are dedicating themselves to promoting a cashless society. This has prompted me to moot, once again, the idea of mCurrency, a concept I had pursued in 2013, albeit unsuccessfully. The idea is simple. Imagine Ramesh, whose mobile no. is 95345xxx22, buying vegetables worth Rs 42 from a local vegetable vendor Shyam, using mobile number 98123xxx11. In mCurrency, Ramesh simply dials *222*42*98123xxx11# from his mobile phone to transfer Rs 42 worth of talktime to Shyam. Both receive a message confirming the transaction, immediately. The exchange is completed in 5 seconds with no bank account, no registration, no net…

What Features Attract Users to Social Media Apps?

Social media Apps are constantly adding and trying out new features to see which features attract users. Snapchat and Instagram are always competing with new features to attract users. You are constantly hearing about 'Snapchat-like features'. It is a constant search by Apps for that killer feature which will attract users in huge numbers.

Facebook-owned Instagram has rolled out a fresh update, introducing some Snapchat-like features, reports Times of India. Notably, the new update adds stickers to Instagram Stories. Instagram users can add stickers to their Stories using a new button, which appears when they take a photo or video. The button is placed next to the text and drawing tools. Tapping on the smiley face offers customizable stickers for weather, current time and location. The location stickers work in a similar manner. Users watching your story can tap the stickers to see more about the location. Along with this, users can move them around, increase/reduce their siz…

Ideas Ecosystem from IIT

Pan-IIT Alumni India, the alumni body of the Indian Institutes of Technology, is working on setting up a Rs 1,000 crore venture capital fund to focus on social impact enterprises and the startup ecosystem, reports Times of India. This will be the first such VC fund by the association. The group will raise the fund through several avenues including alliances with financial institutions and will also tap on its large network of IIT-ians, Ashok Madhukar, chairman of Pan-IIT Alumni India, told ET. He said it will take about 18 months to create the fund. "This is a need-based intervention to support startups and sector development. The probable investor profile will take shape by end of March 2017," Madhukar said.
"The VC fund will be part of a larger enterprise development programme that we are kicking off soon. Through this programme, we will support networking, entrepreneurship and access to finance among other things," Madhukar said, adding that the programme is ex…

Microsoft getting others to do the work: machine reading between the lines

Microsoft getting others to do the work - machine reading between the lines.

Microsoft has released a set of 100,000 questions and answers which will allow scientists to create artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can answer queries as well as a human, reports Times of India. The dataset, called Microsoft Machine Reading Comprehension (MS MARCO), is based on anonymised real-world data. By making it broadly available to researchers, the team is hoping to spur the kind of breakthroughs in machine reading that are already happening in image and speech recognition. They also hope to facilitate the kind of advances that may lead to the long-term goal of 'artificial general intelligence,' or machines that can think like humans.
"In order to move towards artificial general intelligence, we need to take a step towards being able to read a document and understand it as well as a person," said Rangan Majumder, a partner group programme manager with Microsoft's Bing s…

Digital platforms connecting those in need with those who have

Digital platforms connect those in need with those who have.

Uber and its success with revamping the cab hire market has set off an industry-wide digital transformation, reports Times of India. Like Uber's platform connects commuters and drivers, businesses across sectors are attempting to create/offer digital platforms to serve on-demand needs. Giving a makeover to logistics and the trucking industry, banking and jobs, the Uber model or "Uberisation" is disrupting multiple industries delivery. Industry coinage for uberisation — disruption through digital platforms to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions i.e. a platform that connects those who need and those who have, in a manner that is quick and efficient, using the telecom backbone.
Take the logistics industry, for instance. E-commerce companies are able to provide seamless deliveries to places as distant as Gangtok and Jhumri Telaiya. Traditional companies like DTDC and Blue Dart have revamped their tech systems to …

Differentiating between Company Brand and Product Brand

Differentiating between Company Brand and Product Brand

One of the top two responsibilities of the chief executive in a startup is to ensure that there is sufficient capital at all times, writes Ashish Gupta in Economic Times. That sometimes requires raising money from investors, an unpleasant task for most people and one that requires mindset change. When we buy any product, say a mobile phone, we do so either because someone told us to or because our research led us to it. Even when we research a product, our view gets influenced by what we have heard about it. In the world of consumer goods, this is the power of the brand. Raising money also relies a great deal on how the company is perceived. This perception is the company’s brand. The first round of money is largely driven by this brand perception. A company has two types of brands that coexist — the brand of the company and the brand of its products. Frequently, the company’s brand gets forgotten or confused with that of the pr…

Coworking Networking

A growing number of coworking spaces in tier-II cities like Indore, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Udaipur, Jaipur, Kota, Surat, Pune and other cities has boosted the startup ecosystem, reports Times of India. Startups who seek an ecosystem are able to create cocoon communities within this coworking spaces. "Mushrooming of coworking spaces in smaller cities is due to the rise of startup aspiration and a sign of healthy and growing ecosystem," says Jatin Chaudhry, founder, eChai, an Ahmedabad based startup community that has presence in 40 Indian cities, with major presence in smaller cities.
Currently, more than 10 coworking spaces like LiveSpaces, Project Cafe, DoubleO, 5B Colab, Working Company , Daftar, Felxi Business Hub, Venture Cafe, Uncubate, Open Xcell Technology Centre, 1947, Cohere and CIIE's Ideapad are operational in Ahmedabad. While one - Glocal Coworking Space - is operational in Rajkot and another, Spaceplexx, recently started in Surat. "It's a cocoon commu…

Digital content producers use big data technology to advance

Digital content producers use big data technology to advance.

Music label and content producer Saregama India Ltd has implemented a Dell-EMC data solution to help accelerate production and distribution of its digital media business, reports Times of India. This will help Saregama consolidate all data into a single location, keeping it highly secure and make it easily available. 
"We wanted to consolidate all data into a single, mappable location .... the content is immediately available and the entire team is very happy with the performance delivered," said Yazad Anklesaria, Deputy General Manager of Technology and IT, Saregama. The new technology provides 144 terabytes of raw data storage capacity.
The "storage will help ensure continuation of Saregama India Ltd's IT transformation process and help the company optimise its content processing, cataloging, searching and distribution," added Amit Mehta, Director-Sales, Emerging Technology Storage Division at DEL…

Product Recalls in the IoT Digital Economy: Total Recall

Product recalls will never be the same again in the digital age with smartphones, IoT products and driverless cars. Now software updates will disable products that need to be recalled.
Samsung Electronics has said that a software update for Galaxy Note 7 smartphones will be released mid-December in the United States preventing them from charging and functioning as mobile phones, rendering them useless, reports Times of India. The smartphone maker said that more than 93 percent of all recalled Galaxy Note 7 devices had been returned as a part of its exchange program in the United States.
Samsung has said there has been no incident with regard to Galaxy Note 7 in India as not even a single unit of the device was sold in the country. The U.S. Transportation Department and other agencies in October ordered Galaxy Note 7 owners from carrying the devices or stowing them in checked baggage during flights following reports of fires in replacement Note 7 devices. However, Verizon Communications…

Early Stage Ideas Pitch

From mentors to investors, the Mumbai Chapter of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) is looking to cover the whole gamut as it announces 'TiE Angels Mumbai', an idea-stage funding initiative, reports Economic Times. TiE Angels Mumbai will facilitate idea stage funding for startups through TiE Mumbai's network of angels over and above the mentoring support the latter offers to entrepreneurs.
The ticket size of investments by TiE Angels Mumbai will be in the range of Rs. 25-50 lakh provided at the idea stage and will connect Indian entrepreneurs with over 14,000 members of the TiE global network. The move is an extension of TiE's initiative to create a cross-border investor initiative. “Twenty chapters of TiE global network have their own angel network and TiE Mumbai will be the first from India to have such a platform," said Anand Desai, president, TiE Mumbai.
Investors on the platform will offer investments for an equity share of 7 - 10%, said Naveen Raju, executive direc…

Regional language networking and content publishing apps

Abilash Gopi Vavakkadan, a Kochi-based environmental engineer, spends over four hours every day sharing pictures of his son cultivating vegetables, reading up posts on Kerala's politics and sharing jokes on social networking app ShareChat, reports Times of India. Nothing unusual about that, except that it's in Malayalam. "I have friends who have found jobs through networking on ShareChat. More importantly, I have made friends with over 150 people all over Kerala who speak the same language and have similar viewpoints.

This is a great outlet when one is forced to speak in English at the workplace, said Vavakkadan, who has used the app for one year now and is one of 400,000 daily active users on Lightspeed Venture Partners-funded ShareChat. Regional language networking and content publishing apps are increasingly gaining popularity and stirring investor interest as a market they estimate will be worth over $1 billion by 2020.

From ShareChat, which enables users to create c…

Blockchain Supply Chain

The Mahindra Group has begun using blockchain to improve its supply chain finance business and, by the end of next year, hopes to introduce the technology to other parts of its business, reports Economic Times. Blockchain - the technological backbone of cryptocurrency Bitcoin - allows the creation of ledgers that are virtually impossible to tamper.

"We have a digital team and about 11 months ago, we created a subset of that team, to look at blockchain. We have about five use-cases for this, but we decided to pilot it with supply chain finance," Anish Shah, Group President of Strategy for the Mahindra Group, told ET. Shah added that the solution would likely take a month or two to show results. And, if successful, the group would start working on other blockchain use-cases.

The group is also in the initial stages of exploring how to use augmented reality and virtual reality in its business. Mahindra is working with technology giant IBM on blockchain, though it has also expl…

Opportunity for Indian Authors and Publishers

Amazon's Kindle will support eBooks and other digital content in 5 Indian languages. This will provide an opportunity for India's authors and publishers like IdeaIndia.Com
Amazon's e-book reader, Kindle will now support content in five Indian languages, including Hindi, Gujarati and Malayalam, a move that will help the US-based firm tap into the niche but growing 'digital regional content' market in India, reports Times of India. "We are adding thousands of digital books in Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati and Malayalam, including the largest digital selection of best sellers, hundreds of exclusive titles and free classics to the Kindle Book Store," Amazon Kindle Director (Content) Sanjeev Jha told. Readers can access these books on Kindle eReaders as well as the free Kindle apps for Android and iOS, he added. "Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited will also have access to the Indian language content. The new language selection is in addition to over three…

Flipping Executives at Flipkart

Flipkart's SVP (engineering) Peeyush Ranjan, who was the chief technology officer at the company till a few months back, has resigned, adding to the list of top-level exits that have hit the e-tailer since last year, reports Times of India. Ranjan, a former Google executive, joined the e-commerce major in May last year along with another Googler, chief product officer Punit Soni, who also has quit the Bengaluru-based online retailer. Both these high-profile Silicon Valley hires were reportedly drawing $1 million in cash and stock options.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Year of the Hack

2016 has been the year where we have seen regular news of computer systems being hacked. Whether its government systems, email accounts, political parties, banks, transport systems to name a few.

Its no surprise that cybersecurity is high on the agenda. for governments and corporates with investments on the rise for security technology and expertise.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Cybersecurity Startups get Funding

Cybersecurity startups are flavor of the month for investors.

When Vishal Gupta started Seclore, an enterprise security company in 2010, investors and customers were apprehensive, reports Economic Times. There was till then no established model of an Indian software provider in the cybersecurity space. “We had trouble establishing trust“ Gupta recalls.
Today, Gupta says, the environment has dramatically changed. Out of the 29 funded startups in the cybersecurity space, 12 have raised funding in 2015 and 2016, according to startup analytics firm Tracxn. Some 27 new companies came up in this space in the same period.
Much of this is driven by large-scale data breaches across sectors. “Even five years ago, security used to be a sub-function of IT. It wasn't something which would get reported in the top management. Now, information security is becoming a boardroom topic. When you lose information, it is not just about embarrassment anymore. You lose money, customers, and even lives. …

Opportunity amid the Chaos: Demonetisation, Disruption and Digital India

News that the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to distribute free mobile phones to enable economically-backward people to undertake cashless transactions in the wake of Demonetisation, suggests there is opportunity amid the chaos.
With recent news that Airtel, Idea and other telcos have been granted payment bank licences to, in effect, become bankers and compete with the established banks, with the spike in digital payment, e-wallets subscribers and more interest in e-commerce and m-commerce, Demonetisation is proving to be a major disruptor in India with opportunities available.

People are having to look for alternatives to cash in India. Demonetisation is proving to be a shot in the arm for Digital India and a major disruptor in India.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

AI finds its way in Translation

Using AI to translate between multiple languages.
Google has introduced a newly updated machine-learning based system for its translator service - Google Translate. Announced via an official post on its Research blog, the company has updated its Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) tool with the addition of 'Zero-Shot Translation'. According to Google, GNMT allows it to provide 'an end-to-end learning framework that learns from millions of examples' and significantly improves translation quality. But it's also quite a challenge for developers to add translation support for more than 100 languages.
After the Zero-Shot Translation update, Google will be able to perform translations between languages without the presence of a similar pairing instance in the past. 'In Google's Multilingual Neural Machine Translation System: Enabling Zero-Shot Translation, we address this challenge by extending our previous GNMT system, allowing for a single system to trans…

Micro funds fill a niche in India's startup ecosystem

Micro funds fill a niche in India's startup ecosystem.
Delhi-based small fund Quarizon is in the last leg of closing its second round of capital raise of Rs 20 crore to give startups a fillip to their humble beginnings, reports Times of India. Quarizon has just finished deploying its first fund of Rs 12 crore across eight startups in need for seed investments. The funding squeeze in the tip of the startup pyramid this year, may have slowed sentiment at the bottom too, but a new wave of investors, such as Quarizon, are slowly rising to fill the gaps. According to data from Venture Intelligence, Q3 2016 has seen a dip in early-stage investments with a mere 27 deals worth $22 million as against $33 million raised by early-stage startups in Q2. It is this problem that is being inadvertently addressed by the wave of small or micro funds such as Quarizon. The funds, with a corpus of anything between Rs 15 crore to Rs 100 crore, typically look at investments ranging from Rs 75 lakh-1.2 …

App Development, Enhancement and Marketing from Users

As users find different ways of using an app, whether its WhatsApp or Uber, the app provider adds new features to allow users to take the app in the direction the users want. Whether its groups on WhatsApp that allow users to promote their businesses to others or Uber getting into event-related travel.

Taxi-hailing app Uber has partnered WedMeGood, a wedding planning website, to offer mobility solutions for wedding-related travel in 12 Indian cities, report Times of India. UberWEDDINGS will be live till February 2017 and will provide convenient, hassle-free and cashless mobility solution to users in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Pune, Udaipur and Lucknow, Uber India said in a statement.
Apart from India, Uber offers UberWEDDINGS in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York, Boston and LA as well. "Weddings in India are typically an elaborate affair, often spanning month-long planning and week-long celebrations involving…

Chinese Investments in Indian Startups

Boycott China messages may have become routine on WhatsApp in India, reports Times of India. But in the startup world, India and China are drawing closer. Chinese companies and funds have become big investors in Indian startups, and they are becoming particularly useful now as US funds slow down. Beijing Miteno Communication Technology, a Chinese tech conglomerate, made this year's biggest acquisition in the technology startup space - the $900 million buyout of Media.net, a subsidiary of Mumbai-based Directi founded by brothers Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia.
E-commerce giant Alibaba has made large investments in Paytm and Snapdeal. Didi Chuxing, the equivalent of Uber in China, has invested in Ola. Internet giant Tencent recently led a $175-million fun ding in messaging app Hike. Prior to that, it led a $90-million f round in healthcare solutions firm Practo, and, through its joint venture with South Africa's Naspers, invested in online travel firm Ibibo Group.
Cheetah Mobile, …

Danger, Selfie Ahead

Next time you're at the Taj Mahal, find yourself standing on a precarious cliff or see an approaching train, maybe just enjoy the moment rather than trying to capture the perfect selfie, reports Times of India. These are just three of the ways that 76 selfie-takers in India have lost their lives, according to a study published by US-based Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi.
In the quest for the coolest selfie, more people have died in India in the past two years than the total number of selfie-related deaths in the rest of the world, according to the study titled "Me, Myself and My Killfie: Characterizing and Preventing Selfie Deaths". Using special search techniques to trawl the internet and social media, the researchers identified 127 confirmed selfie deaths since March 2014. They blamed people's desire for more "likes" and comments on social media for driving increasingly risky selfie-taking. "(The…

Maximising ad revenue, digital content and pivoting

Maximising ad revenue, digital content and pivoting for the future

Mobile is best known for Android apps like Clean Master, CM security, Piano Tiles and live-streaming apps like Live.me, reports Times of India. At the sidelines of the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) held in Bengaluru, Morden Chen, General Manager of Cheetah Mobile Asia Pacific Business spoke to ETtech about privacy issues, their unique ad-monetisation platform, push towards Video and news content and how Robotics is the future for the mobile ad company.
Edited excerpts: Reports sight that Cheetah mobile manipulates android users through deceptive advertising on its apps... We are a company which makes utility apps which people use daily to boost their phones through cache cleaning apps, battery saver or making beautiful wallpapers. These are universal features that almost every mobile user needs. This helped us get a huge user base. Making utility apps in the android mobile space helped us scale over the years…