In 2010, when the Chilean government opened its doors to entrepreneurs from across the world to be a part of the Startup Chile program (a six-month seed accelerator program in Chile), it had one primary goal; to foster an entrepreneurial culture and to attract different talent into the region. As a result, it had no set criteria for ‘what kind of startups’ should be taken into the program. All that startups had to do was to convince the jury that their business was scalable.
Today, four years later, we look back at the various Indian startups that have been a part of the program, and picked three, from different sectors. We tracked their progress so far, got a quick peek into their future plans and, of course, jotted down some of the key experiences they gathered at the Startup Chile program.
DIABETO: DELIVERING EASE OF HEALTHCARE
Amir Shaik, Shreekant Pawar and Hemanshu Jain founded Diabeto in 2012, in a move to ease healthcare delivery for diabetic patients in India. The hardware device (which goes by the name, Diabeto), wirelessly transmits glucometer readings from the device to the smartphone. The application that comes with the device then stores the reading on cloud, to be shared with healthcare practitioners when needed.
Until now, the product has been launched in alpha testing mode, where the device and the iOS application have been given to select audience, to secure feedback and improve its functioning. In fact, the startup is in the process of releasing its second batch, for review. “We have been researching for two and a half years now, and we’ve received the required certification to share the device in Europe, Canada and other parts of the world,” says Pawar.
In September 2012, the startup was selected in the 5th batch of the Startup Chile program, where it received US $40,000 equity free capital to build on its product, and to develop its network in the South American market, which, Pawar claims, witnesses a high penetration of diabetes.
In the near future, the team plans to launch an Indiegogo (an international crowdfunding site) campaign to raise funds for manufacturing the device. “We want to fix a few bugs before we launch the campaign. Once we launch, we don’t want to delay the product from entering the market,” he shares.
The device is tentatively priced at US $60 (plus the application). Apart from sale of device, the startup will earn revenues from its application as well. “The Diabeto Enterprise API for iOS enables third party application developers to build mobile applications that can, using the API, communicate over Bluetooth with Diabeto to fetch readings from various glucometers. And, we will charge them a subscription fee for the application,” indicates Pawar.
IMAGINATE SOFTWARE LABS: CREATING A WEB-BASED TRIAL ROOM
Hemanth Satyanarayana’s entrepreneurial quest surged after he bagged Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Technology Review’s prestigious TR35 India Award in 2012. It was for a product called Trialar Augmented Reality, which helps shoppers determine the look of apparels without actually trying them on. Though it grabbed the attention of several on-ground retail players, in due course, he realised that it was not economically viable for a bootstrapped company to sell such a product, because of high real estate cost, delayed cash flow cycle, and due to bigger companies copying the technology and building it in-house.
The turning point for Satyanarayana came when the startup was selected for the fourth batch of the Startup Chile program. After interacting with several mentors and entrepreneurs at the program, he came up with the concept of Dres.sy, a web-based tool that enables online fashion shoppers to virtually try out clothes and get real-time feedback from friends and family before making an informed buying decision. The tool seeks users to log in through Facebook, accesses their images, processes it at the back-end and develops a virtual trial room based on the given information.
Alternatively, the user can also share information on specific brands that fit well and the tool will recommend the right size for every other brand, in comparison to that. For now, the tool is active on a U.S.-based e-commerce platform, and the startup is in talks with five other companies (in the West) to activate the tool. In the next five years, the startup seeks to get acquired by a bigger company in the e-commerce space.
PROFOUNDIS LABS: SECURING DATA FROM NON-TRADITIONAL SOURCES
Profoundis Labs was founded in 2012 by Arjun Pillai, Jofin Joseph, Anoop Thomas Mathew and Nithin Sam Oommen. What brought them together was an undergraduate degree in Kerala, and a common passion for business intelligence and data analytics.
Among the first products they developed was iTestify, a testimonial management tool that helps companies gain access to online testimonials about them. While it did receive good traction during the initial stages, the product didn’t take off. A second product that came out of the drawing board (and is currently active), is Vibe. “All data companies across the world are tapping only into structured data on social media. But, in reality, the kind of information available outside of this circle is huge, and there are very few companies operating in this space,” indicates Pillai. Until now, the B2B model (prototype) has secured a reach among 40 companies in the U.S. and the U.K., and the B2C model has secured 60,000 users in 180 countries.
In the near future, the startup plans to raise US $500,000 to fuel marketing and operations. “Three years from now, we see ourselves as a smart intelligent tool empowering sales and marketing teams with data from structured and unstructured sources. We want to be at the forefront of being an intelligent data delivery company,” shares Pillai.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM STARTUP CHILE
The US $40,000 equity-free capital is a main attraction. At the program, teams will be assigned to monitor how each startup is spending that money.
The company gets a chance to interact with founders of over 100 startups. This creates an opportunity to learn from others’ experiences. And, once the program is completed, the company can continue to exchange knowledge and information with its peers through the Startup Chile dashboard.
There are workshops and networking sessions happening every day, and there is a tendency (for founders) to attend all sessions, to make the best use of the program. In such circumstances, it is recommended that only key personnel travel to Chile so that the day-to-day operations of the startup does not get affected.
Demo day (an activity held on the final day and attended by investors and advisors), is most beneficial only for companies which plan to continue to build a business in Chile.