In October 2020, Stellaris Venture Partners and IFC announced the launch of a new programme AI4Biz to support early-stage AI-focused enterprise SaaS startups. It is an initiative in collaboration with Infosys, Cisco, Amazon Web Services (AWS), GitHub, and Freshworks to identify and support promising Indian AI-enabled SaaS startups.
The programme announced the launch of its first 10 startups as a part of this cohort. The selected startups will have the opportunity to engage commercially with relevant companies from within Stellaris Venture Partners and IFC’s global portfolio of investments. Finally, the most promising startups will be considered for investments by Stellaris, IFC and potentially, by other collaborating organisations.
The programme received 108 applications, of which 20 were selected for jury pitches, and 10 startups ended up in the final selection. Explaining the process they followed, Alok Goyal, Partner, Stellaris Venture Partners said, all of the applications were early-stage companies, and close to 60 percent were pre-revenue startups.
"We are also looking at what can be done at an ecosystem level or a policy level, to be able to help Indian companies better capture this opportunity. All the startups that are part of the cohort displayed strong AI and automation in the SaaS space," said Alok.
The focus of AI4Biz has been on AI. Speaking of the importance of AI, William Sonneborn, Senior Director, IFC, said in the virtual meeting, "AI has become ubiquitous today, and the need to integrate it into enterprises is important. It gives SaaS companies the power of differentiation. In a country like India, AI is the next level of growth and is poised to be a leader in the space."
The focus on AI
Ruchira Shukla, Regional Lead, South Asia, Disruptive Technologies - Direct Equity and VC funds, IFC, said,
"India has produced six unicorns in the SaaS space, and will be the leader in the AI space."
The jury members included - Ruchira; Alok; CN Raghupati, Senior VP and Head of India Business, Infosys; Dilip Khandelwal, Global CIO, Deutsche Bank; Krish Mantripragada, Ex-Chief Product Officer, Medalla; Lana Graf, Principal Industry Specialist, AI and Machine Learning, IFC; Maneesh Sharma, Country Manager, GitHub; Pankaj Mitra, Director and India Head, Cisco Investments and Acquisitions; Prasad Joshi, Senior VP and Head, iCETS, Infosys; Rahul Garg, Professor of Computer Science, IIT Delhi; Rahul Pangam, VP, PayPal; and Vishal Goenka, Founder of a startup in stealth mode.
The selected startups will also be able to explore synergies with Cisco and Infosys, in addition to substantial credits from AWS and Freshworks, free access to GitHub’s enterprise version, and mentorship sessions with relevant experts.
The 10 startups are across - media, energy, software, retail, healthcare, insurance, and HR segments. The selected startups are:
Myelin Foundry - The startup uses AI on video and voice to enhance resolution on edge devices on low bandwidth connections, mostly targeting rural India. Based out of Bengaluru, the startup has raised $1 million so far from Endiya Partners, Microsoft for Startups, and Pratithi Investment trust.
Prescinto - It is a SaaS platform which applies AI on solar power plants to identify causes for underperformance and suggests work orders to plant crew.
Segmind - It is a DevOps platform for data scientists to deploy computer vision applications cost-effectively.
Limechat - It acts as a Shopify for chat — providing a personalised shopping experience for D2C companies on chat platforms using L3 conversational AI.
Synapsica - A cloud marketplace, the startup connects diagnostic centres to radiologists, and uses AI to deliver efficiency in clinical analysis and reporting.
Blue Sky Analytics - The data intelligence startup leverages satellite data and AI to generate environmental datasets across a range of air, land, and water parameters
Predible Health - It helps pulmonologists reduce misdiagnosis and improve follow-up care through accurate analysis of chest CT imaging through AI.
Samata AI - It enables balanced decision-making through techniques that identify and remove human biases in AI training datasets.
inFeedo - The startup empowers HR leaders to identify gaps in culture and employee experience through human-like chatbot.
Inspektlabs - A computer vision platform focused on automation of physical asset inspections (such as cars) using photos/videos.
The other 10 companies that presented to the jury were - Attentive.Ai, Mate Labs, B2Brain, Vaultedge, Wobot.Ai, Uptime.Ai, Taskmonk, Solvio, Factors.AI, and Enhire.Ai.