India as Emerging Global Hub for Deep Tech: Summary

05.08.20 01:42 PM By Tat-Support

On 29th July 2020, Tat Capital hosted a webinar along with Sanjay Jain & Som Pal Choudhury, Partners, Bharat Innovation Fund on 'India as Emerging Global Hub for Deep Tech'.

Partners Som and Sanjay gave a brief insight into the history of startup evolution in India, the promising future of deep tech, the trajectories in current scenario & more. Following which, four speakers from growing deep tech companies presented their unique value offering in this niche tech space. 

Startup speakers: Bikash Barai, CEO & Co-Founder, Firecompass, Daniel David, CEO & Founder, DeTect Technologies, Ranjan Kumar, CEO & Founder, Entropik Tech and Harshal Ved, VP, Sales & Operations, Playshifu. (Re-visit the session)


The India Story:

  • The Start-up evolutionary journey in India came about as three waves: 
    • From the 1980s to early 2000s – saw a boom in IT, BPO & ITES, and brought a $180+ billion industry to India
    • From 2000 to 2016 - Middle class spending increased rapidly as a result of the IT boom; ecommerce started to rise; there were retail expansions, and eventually a global marketplace was available. India had 26+ Unicorns, mostly B2C, making it the 3rd largest Startup ecosystem in the world
    • 2016 to date – With an increasing focus on innovation and IP, several B2B startups emerged. There was a sustained focus on 'product' up the value chain, several R&D centres of MNCs were maturing and it also saw a lot of US/EU returnees, who started entreprenuerial journey in the home soil
    • Read more @ Wharton... 
  • With a growth of 270% in the last six years, and 26000+ startups to its credit, India has been named the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world and has created value for an estimated USD 90 billion. 
  • India has evolved to being the 2nd largest R&D site for the fortune 1000 companies, outside their HQ. There are over 1100 growing MNCs with their R&D centers in India.
  • India is producing Unicorns across sectors: be it healthtech, edutech, agritech, transport, fintech, or even foodtech. There are 30+ Indian Unicorns, compared to 200+ from US, 70+ from China, and 20+ from UK. 
  • India has become the hotbed for AI businesses, as there is a large and affordable talent base with a global cost advantage; fastest growing mobile market globally. Digital India is data rich, there is strong government support for AI & development, and is trusted as an exporter of software with no IPR issues. 
  • One third of the funds from various sources such as institutional funds, government funding or insurance companies has been coming through, as VC and most seed funds are focussing on innovation.

The Covid Story:

  • The impact of Covid on many B2C startups is lay-offs, cost cutting, negative impact on travel, cancellation of events and reduction in discretionary consumer spending on startups.
  • B2B businesses have been less impacted due to Covid, as most are increasing focus on improving efficiency using AI/SaaS/digital adoption. However, with squeezed budgets, digital transformation is yet to be seen. 
  • VCs had stopped investing in the first few months, as they took stock of the situation and portfolios, followed through on term sheets, and then made new deals in late stage well established companies. Venture Debt has been increasing for working capital needs.
  • There is an expectation of re-allocation from China, given the geo-political scenario post Covid. On the corporate front, there is an expectation of an increase in M&A activity.
  • All businesses have moved to remote working: adopted various collaboration tools - holding regular online meetings, introducing team drives etc. This has brought down rental costs, commute time and changed working model of the business world as we know it to be.
  • The presence of networking connections, a conducive market setup, expansion aid, etc., through multiple incubators and accelerators is helping several growing businesses today.

What is Bharat Innovation Fund?

  • Bharat Innovation Fund is a $100 mn innovation-focussed pre-Series-A and Series-A venture capital fund, founded by experienced professionals with diverse backgrounds, some of whom are from Silicon Valley, and an experienced investing and operations team, as it helps identify and build strong ventures. Some of the interesting growing deep tech ventures funded by Bharat Innovation Fund are FireCompass, Detect Technologies, Entropik Technologies and Play Shifu. 

Startup Feature:

  • FireCompass: an AI based Continuous Red Teaming & Cyber Attack Platform, which uses fast internet based recon on a 3 Billion+ IP, using a headless browser.
    • Bikash started India’s first cyber security work over 15 years ago, funded by IDB Ventures.
    • There has been a massive rise in the number of breaches and cyber attacks, especially since remote working has become popular post the pandemic.
    • Firecompass helps businesses discover, map and analyze their publicly exposed digital footprint. Digital risk monitoring and monitoring third party risks helps the business assess the security posture of vendors and prevent data breaches.
    • A deeper enumeration of attack surface, ability to analyze leaked data and an automated 3rd and 4th party discovery.
    • With over 500+ end users, and multiple security patents, FireCompass is a growing artificial intelligence business indexing the entire global internet. 
  • Detect Technologies: builds novel best-in-class patented technologies to solve age old industrial constraints, which lead to continuous disruption in plant run time.
    • These end-to-end plug and play platforms can revolutionize monitoring, safety and efficiency in the industrial sector such as oil and gas. 
    • They offer Guided Ultrasonic Monitoring of pipeline systems for use in refineries, wherein ultrasonic waves can scan and detect any defects in pipelines.
    • Noctua is drone based - fully automated inspection and monitoring of assets / T-Pulse, an integrated platform, with the largest industrial dataset of 40TB capacity, to monitor and safely inspect projects in the construction phase.
  • Entropik Technologies: an emotion analytics company, which focusses on measuring and analyzing human emotions at scale and helps brands understand user experience.
    • Their tech tools include facial code-based emotion tracking, brainwave mapping and flexible eye gaze tracker. 
    • These help businesses gauge the sub-conscious behaviour patterns of consumers, as they view a product before actual purchase, effectively helping build efficient marketing strategies.
    • It is currently the 2nd largest platform in this field, globally.
  • PlayShifu: a leading augmented reality toy company, which provides educational play experiences for kids.
    • There has been a fundamental shift in the views of parents and educators with an increasing awareness about screen time for kids: use of technology and screen as learning tools, experiential learning, and new methodologies to learning. 
    • The technology uses multiple touch points - using different senses and creates a deep user-engagement, resulting in enhanced learning outcomes among kids.
    • PlayShifu is being used by over 1 billion '3-10 year olds' worldwide and is a growing popular tool for fun-learning. 

Deep Tech companies which use emerging technologies will only be seeing a rise post the COVID pandemic. As we've already started seeing, several businesses & governments are increasingly recognizing that technology coupled with data, AI, AR/VR and virtualization will enable a much faster and effective recovery in these challenging times.