The real-time startup

The real-time startup

SAP AG, the 40-year-old enterprise software company, is gearing up to partner with a variety of startups around the world


Kaustav Mitra is the Global Program Lead for the Startup Focus Program. As a member of the Chairman Projects team, Kaustav leads a variety of strategic projects for SAP’s CTO and Executive Board Member Vishal Sikka. Mitra came to SAP just over a year ago after 10 years of entrepreneurial experience founding, growing and selling a Managed IT Services firm in Southern California.  Kaustav has a Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India and a Master’s degree in Economics from USC.

Srinivas Netrakanti, CEO, Optessa, a Canada-based software solutions firm that makes software for the manufacturing industry, is focused on solving big data problems for manufacturers. To stay competitive, manufacturers need to respond very quickly to unpredictable events from a demand management, planning and scheduling standpoint. When interruptions happen in a supply chain, a huge amount of data needs to be analysed very quickly to reprioritise the manufacturing plan. Optessa helps several client companies do just that. In this endeavor, it found a partner in a 40-year-old company, SAP, and is a part of SAP’s Startup Focus program and uses the HANA platform to build its software.

Kaustav Mitra, the Global Program Lead for the SAP’s Startup Focus Program, says, “The HANA platform is ideal in situations where big data from multiple sources needs to be processed very quickly.” He highlights another situation where fast processing comes in handy. In airports, security glitches need to be identified as soon as they happen. AlertEnterprise, a Freemont, California-based company, headed by Jasvir Gill, is one such company working to provide security software for airports. AlertEnterprise is also part of SAP’s Startup Focus program and uses the HANA platform.

Mitra says, “Since launching the program after conducting a pilot with 10 companies, we’re now working with 70 companies across the world. We understand how to work with entrepreneurs and startups.” The way SAP engages with these companies is simple; they give them access to the HANA platform and let entrepreneurs do their work. They also ensure that they are not overwhelmed by SAP’s size.

SAP has charted out a four-stage process to recruit startup companies into the program. The first stage is meeting with the founding team in a Startup Forum. Entrepreneurs present their ideas and use cases and get to know more about the HANA platform. Then, from each Startup Forum six to ten companies join the Development Accelerator stage. In this stage, a proof of concept is built and then teams start with conceptualising a commercially viable product. The desirability, viability and feasibility of a product is discussed and participants and now ready to go out and build the complete product.

Once the product is ready to be sold, there is a Go-To-Market stage in which SAP helps the participant companies with licensing, deployment models and actual commercialisation. Once the product is ready to be sold, entrepreneurs can pitch to a US$155 million SAP HANA real-time fund, established by SAP’s corporate venture capital arm, SAP Ventures, for raising money for their ventures.

According to Mitra, the HANA Platform is technologically fairly advanced and at least 18 months ahead compared to rest of the competition. He’s convinced that entrepreneurs can create game-changing applications and solve several big data challenges in real-time on the platform. Globally, SAP has set itself a mandate of becoming the number one database company in the world by 2015. The Startup Focus program is a vital part of its strategy to deliver on this mission.

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