“I believe Pune will have the most vibrant software product ecosystem in India. Eight of our portfolio companies are in Pune and we see that number growing.” – says Sandeep Singhal, Cofounder Nexus Venture Partners on the Nexus’ deep Pune connection. With these words Sandeep helped get the event ‘Intelligence at the Edge’ underway at the ICC towers in Pune on the 13th.
Three Pune entrepreneurs: Sanjay Deshpande, Chief Innovation Officer of the Enterprise network security company Uniken, Baishampayan Ghose (“BG”), CTO of the In-App Help Desk Helpshift, Milind Borate, CTO of the Enterprise online backup company Druva joined Nexus’ Jishnu Bhattacharjee on stage.
Jishnu got the discussion started by highlighting the opportunity thrown up by the explosion of data, devices and what it meant for the Enterprise, for Users and ultimately for the tech entrepreneur. Sanjay introduced himself and walked the audience through the conversation with a DRDO Director that started Uniken. At the time, the challenge put down before Sanjay was building a massively scalable Internet out of India. Today, Uniken has built a platform to allow Enterprises to build secure online customer experiences. Key to understanding Uniken’s success lies in the fact that they understood that the Internet’s original design and infrastructure does not meet the security needs for banks.
BG then spoke about Helpshift’s success in delivering a native app SDK for app developers who need an in-App solution for customer lifecycle management. They recognized early in the mobile adoption cycle that the mobile was rapidly becoming the medium of choice for consumers and that was going to change how customers would be served. Today their solution enables app developers to integrate an in-App help desk despite the complexities of mobile apps, including diverse platforms, form factors, seamless integration with the look and feel of the app, consistent telemetry, and above all scaling up to apps with several million users a day.
Druva’s Milind Borate talked about the evolution of Druva from disaster recovery to a company focused on the holistic needs of data at the edge. At the heart of Druva’s solution is thinking like the IT administrator and the Enterprise user who needs access to sensitive data said Milind. Their focus is along four dimensions- data sharing, back up for data loss prevention, governance and analysis of the data.
Jishnu then guided the discussion to highlight the need for global readiness and adaptability for those starting up in technology. Milind responded that Druva’s self-servable and self-deployable product led them realize early in their game that the market for their products lay in the US and Europe and not in India. They quickly instantiated appropriate search marketing for acquiring early customers worldwide. As they grew they went on to establish sales and marketing organization in the Bay Area to solidify their foothold. Today a significant portion of their business comes from the US. They now sell in over fifty countries.
In contrast, Sanjay related Uniken’s experience in selling into the Indian market. Their product is strategic that needs high touch ‘top-down’ sales and they had no choice but to leverage direct sales to the customers they had access to in India. He worked to find the right people in his target customers who wanted to be innovation champions in their respective areas. He said that starting up in India has taught him to be patient and to never give up when turning potential leads into customers. “If you can sustain an Enterprise in this country, you are ready to go global” says Sanjay.
The discussion on the panel then went on to touch upon aspects of user privacy, and creating infrastructure for capturing and analyzing data.
The experience and startling growth curves of these companies bringing innovations at the end-points is clear. The underlying trend is that increasing data access and user engagement at the end points is disrupting business as usual, making a range of new solutions possible. Moreover, it is no longer pivotal for a solution to originate in silicon valley as entrepreneurs here are beginning to realize the potential of Indian product development talent and their own capabilities in reaching overseas markets.