If you’re starting up now in the Hyderabad or Telangana region, you have plenty of support with an elaborate startup ecosystem in the form of the IIIT-H’s CIE, T-hub, or the more recent WEhub for women entrepreneurs. But the growth of IT and ITES sectors in Hyderabad more than a decade ago can be attributed to the significant contribution made by HYSEA – Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association. Apart from enabling an eco-system for the software industry to prosper, the group works with the Government on policy formulation and implementation with the aim of “benefitting all stakeholders, including society at large.” HYSEA conducts an annual awards summit “HYSEA Product Awards & Expo” where it invites creative startups to showcase their amazing ideas or outstanding products on a large-scale visible platform to grab investor eyeballs. What is unique about the event is that it invites those “with few or even no customers” as long as the idea is outstanding.
This year’s gala event which took place on 27 July was graced by the presence of the Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu who gave away awards to upcoming startups involved in Product Development, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It is a matter of pride for the CIE community that startups incubated here on IIIT-H campus won awards and were noticed.
Best Technology Innovation Award: Onward Assist
For those following the blog, Onward Health and it’s recently pivoted AI-assisted healthcare offshoot, Onward Assist need no introduction. Founded by Dinesh Koka, this startup aims to assist in oncological diagnosis in radiology and computational pathology with a special focus on Breast and Cervical Cancer. The machine learning platform also helps in clinical decision, greatly improving productivity of histopathologists. “At HYSEA, we were able to demonstrate our AI tool in real-time on a clinical image, and show how the tool was able to pick up the malignant regions, explain how it will benefit in the diagnostic reporting workflow. This was much appreciated by the jury as well as the delegates,” says Dinesh.
Referring to not just the Marvel Comics character but also to the male Greek name, Athanasios, meaning Immortal, this drone-technology company is building innovative aerial solutions to conventional terrestrial problems. “We intend our work to have everlasting and never-dying (immortal) impact on the technology and its adopters,” says one of their early blog posts.
Physically located at IIIT-H in CIE, this startup is also incubated at ICRISAT, whose agri-business incubator provides necessary support and access to the agricultural market. “However, agriculture is only one of our major focus areas. We are building solutions that could be useful for Defense, Police and other sectors too. We provide Custom Drone building and Drone Repair services as well,” says Pradeep Palleli, founder of Thanos. Pradeep also mentions that apart from the two incubators, they are supported by other organizations such as Research & Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH), Surge Impact Foundation and Berkeley Andhra Smart Village Project. “RICH has been instrumental in securing a few good leads for us and has also been mentoring us on various agri-related aspects”, he says.
“At the Hysea award summit,we were evaluated by 2 jury teams and I believe they were impressed by our understanding of the technology, the target market and our USPs (unique drone designs and in-house built battery power system)” says Pradeep. With constant R&D, asthey work on improving battery pack solutions so as to power their drones more efficiently and for a longer duration, this young startup intends to become India’s biggest UAV manufacturer/service provider in the next 10 years.
Indriyn is a play on the Sanskrit term for sense organs, indriyas, with a mission to make buildings intelligent and sustainable. “As our 5 senses play a vital role in helping perceive the world around us, and thus improve our ability to sustain and operate intelligently, we felt this name would fit aptly for our company’s mission,” explains Ramabhadra Penmetsa, COO of Indriyn Data Analytics.
What first started as an industrial IoT company with a focus on energy and machine learning as edge to drive efficiencies in industries across multiple domains, has since pivoted to focus specifically on building efficiency. “This was because of market potential and since there were no players addressing this market at that time”, says Ram. What they did was to use their existing platform to develop a product that integrates smoothly with existing building infrastructure like meters and BMS systems of leading and international vendors. The way this works is that IoT-based devices are used to continuously capture commercial building energy data. This live streaming data is then analyzed using advanced and energy-focused machine learning algorithms to Identify and alert in case of leakages & off-schedule operations of equipment, thus cutting energy wastage in real time. Data that is collected in this manner helps facility management operate more efficiently by automating redundant and manual maintenance operations. “The fact that we have engaged extensively with our potential customers before and during product development phase and our customer focus is something Hysea jury appreciated. Also they liked that we are end-to-end ‘Silicon to Software’ product, which adds great value to customers”, says Ram.
Other showcased startups from CIE
Their flagship product, Vehicle BlackBox, much like the flight’s blackbox, is a vehicle management device for monitoring the performance of all kinds of vehicles (from 2-wheelers to HCVs) and driver behavior providing safety, security of vehicle and its occupants. With data analytic reports, it analyses the driver, the driving skills, and even prevents the driver from driving if he/she is found drunk beyond permissible levels! Panic buttons and push-to-call options come in handy from any 24*7 call-center for ambulance or police help. Cameras that track live footage of road and vehicular interiors help in insurance claim settlement, or false accusations.
They call themselves “a social enterprise in edTech space” and their aim is to make school learning (KG-10) interesting, relevant and affordable for every child with the help of technology. Towards this end, BodhaGuru has designed a patent pending electronic learning product, called NjoyReading Kit. The kit includes a small bus shaped electronic learning toy with a set of audio and activity enabled paper books to learn languages, starting with Telugu, Hindi, Urdu and English. These books are designed by pedagogy experts and structured for various learning levels. In other words, you begin with the alphabet, move on to simple words, sentences and so on. Each book starts with a story with a moral, followed by learning concepts and simple learning activities. The kit can be used by a group of students in a government school scenario.
Loosely translated as ‘My Crop’ in Telugu, this is an app that is somewhat like the Telugu Google for farmers. It has answers to all kinds of farming queries including daily market prices of 3,500 markets, dealers in a specific location, weather forecast, crop insurance, cold storage and more. Launched only last June, it has already impacted around 80,000 farmers across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Believing that children should be encouraged to open up and ask questions is an AI-driven Q&A platform called Qalaxia, where students anywhere in the world can get answers to their questions, including on homework. The automated teacher’s executive assistant (Téa) and experts provide the best answers to students’ questions at their convenience. For questions on homework, Téa uses ML and NLP to respond with a sequence of steps that the student can follow to answer the question.