When it comes to growth, a deep tech startup is a very different animal compared to a typical tech startup. For most startups, the primary challenge is market risk—i.e., whether enough people will buy your product. However, with deep tech startups, the biggest risk is not finding the right market but, rather, proving the underlying technology.
Once startups get the technology right, there should be an obvious addressable market, including the potential for applications that haven’t been thought of yet. Having said that, AI ML startups also need a leg-up when it comes to marketing and other growth aspects – albeit a more nuanced approach.
To help entrepreneurs tap into limitless opportunities for growth and development that AI ML offers, AWS launched the first edition of its ML Elevate programme in October 2020 as an accelerator for ML startups in India. The aim was to enable the potential of a fast growing sector and to nurture innovative, deep-tech founders to build and develop their core ML startups. The aim of the programme was to offer AI/ML-led startups a platform they needed to showcase their innovation, connect them with the right resources of mentorship, give them access to VC insights and funding channels and be a hub of learning and growth for startups looking to make a difference across sectors.
September 2022 marked the launch of the second edition of ML Elevate in association with Accel, Intel and YourStory. After receiving applications from 263 startups across India, a selected cohort of founders from 27 startups got actionable insights from 17 curated mentor sessions that included fireside chats and panel discussions, led by 20 experts that included industry leaders, investors, founders, AWS experts, who helped these startups achieve product-market fit, build on innovation, get tips on hiring leadership teams, set up a strong technical foundation for a scalable product, establish go-to-market strategies and customer acquisition, chart sales and marketing engines and develop capabilities to improve their prospects of getting funded.
Here are first-hand examples of how the programme impacted and transformed this year’s cohort of startups.
AarogyaAI found the personalised mentorship transformative
AarogyaAI is a SaaS platform that uses AI-driven data to analyse the DNA sequence from the bacteria and comes up with a patient’s comprehensive drug susceptibility status to help doctors prescribe more potent antibiotics. “It has been a great experience to interact with our mentors and potential investors personally, one-on-one, and get their points of view,” said Varsha Sharma, R&D Manager, AarogyaAI, talking about how the programme was a transformative experience for the startup. Watch the video here.
AiSteth found that the programme was a great fit for them
Medtech startup AI Health Highway’s product, AiSteth, is a next-gen smart stethoscope that screens, detects and predicts cardio-respiratory disorders using art-signal processing and AI capabilities. “The programme is a great fit for us because ML algorithms are crucial to our product,” said Dr Satish S Jeevannavar, Founder and CEO, AI Health Highway, talking about the need for a dedicated and specialised ML accelerator in the country. Watch the video here.
Amikus was able to orient itself better
Legalsense’s Amikus is an AI-powered platform to improve the speed and efficiency of contract drafting and review, using AI to improve accuracy and reduce review time. “Our experience at ML Elevate was splendid. The mentorship sessions in particular helped us orient the direction of the company better as we moved towards technological progress and initial pilots,” said Avi Agarwal, CTO, Amikus AI, talking about how he found the mentorship sessions really beneficial. Watch the video here.
Aspiro found the peer learning opportunity fantabulous
Inner Genius Tech’s salestech product Aspiro enables teams to sell better through highly rep-centric, simulated roleplay-based coaching that improves representative’s skills tactically by leveraging their individual strengths. “India does very well when it comes to B2B or B2C startups, but when it comes to ML and deep tech, the landscape needs work, and ML Elevate is doing fantabulous work in that direction,” said Puneet Lamba, CEO and Co-founder, Aspiro. Watch the video here.
AuraML found customers within the programme
AuraML offers a unified platform for real and synthetic dataset needs powered by AI assisted labelling and proprietary synthetic data rendering engine. Ayush Sharma, CEO, AuraML found the programme “pretty amazing” given that he actually found customers within the cohort itself. “We actually had success finding customers within the cohort itself, who have expressed interest in buying our product,” he said, adding that it was true validation for them. Watch the video here.
Blurgs found the programme phenomenal
Blurgs’ Drone DApp uses real-time image processing and AI-enabled decision-making techniques to assist, automate, and augment the capabilities of drones and drone operators. Speaking about why he found the programme phenomenal, Roshan Raj, CEO and Co-founder, Blurgs said, “I’ve been a part of a lot of programmes in the past, but ML Elevate’s razor-sharp focus on deep tech truly helped us as an ML startup. The programme brought together disparate pieces of the ML landscape together for the startups and it really helped.” Watch the video here.
Boomitra leaned on the tech benefits of being a partner with AWS
Boomitra’s AI uses satellites to measure soil carbon levels and enables corporations and governments to scale their carbon credits and farmers to accelerate sustainable and precision farming to fight against climate change. Anirudh Keny, Director of Business Development, Boomitra saw how AWS’s tech mentorship and tools could be a game changer for the startup. “With AWS we can build pipelines – end-to-end and reiterate them. That’s potentially transformative for us,” he said. Watch the video here.
Downtown Club found the workshops game changing
Downtown Club is a virtual window-shopping destination and discovery-led marketplace for independent brands in India. The platform ensures that every brand gets fair visibility and enables brands to acquire customers. Jaydip Biniwale, CTO, Downtown Club loved the fact that it wasn’t just business focussed, but also tech focussed. “The programme was extremely helpful for us on multiple counts – particularly the workshops on raising funds, iterating product, scale-up, and much more,” he said. Watch the video here.
Dubdub enjoyed the community factor of being part of an ML cohort
Commix’s Dubdub is an online tool to make video content multilingual. It offers cost effective, efficient, faster, reliable, scalable, and shareable using AI/ML dubbing solutions in 40+ languages. Anubhav Singh, CEO, Dubdub loved the fact that the programme put him in touch with ML startup peers who shared the same challenges that he did – giving them the chance to compare notes and think of solving problems together. “Meeting great founders who think alike and have similar challenges was fantastic. Working and collaborating with them really helped us a lot,” he said. Watch the video here.
EDGENeural came back with practical scale-up advise
EDGENeural is a startup that works to decentralise AI and enable companies to leverage AI capabilities on edge devices with an end-to-end workflow solution, focused on improving the efficacy of AI algorithms and models for edge devices. “AWS’s leadership principles, including inputs on how to run a company and scale the business were invaluable,” said Sarvesh Devi, CEO, EDGENeural.ai. Watch the video here.
Expertia saw value in having AWS as a partner
Expertia uses deep tech to discover, develop and deploy skills to build the future of work for organisations and professionals. “The programme gave us exposure to a lot of startups, industry experts, an amazing cohort of people and access to AWS,” said Akshay Gugnani , Co-founder and CTO, Expertia AI, talking about the value AWS brought on board as a partner. Watch the video here.
Flo-Nav received clarity on their value proposition
Flo-Nav’s product, Flo Mobility, is building vision-based autonomous driving technologies to provide autonomy-as-a-service for a range of vehicles including electric scooters to agri-weeders and even lawn mowers. Mohan Sivam, Founder and CTO, FloMobility, spoke about how the programme helped the startup get clarity on their value proposition among other things. “The industry insights from the mentorship programme and networking with deep tech peers at the demo week helped us a lot,” he said. “Preparing for the pitching sessions on the other hand helped us get clarity on our go-to-market, while also providing us with clarity on our value proposition,” he added. Watch the video here.
Kroop AI learned how to approach enterprise-level clients
Kroop AI’s audio-visual data generation technology works to detect deep fakes. It also enables organisations to detect unethically generated synthetic media. Its learning-based platform enables digital avatars and creates data for the Metaverse. The sessions on pitching to clients, strategies to adopt when targeting enterprise-level clients, and lessons on customer centricity, were truly invaluable,” said Sarthak Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Kroop AI. Watch the video here.
MeetRecord benefitted from direct access to industry experts
MeetRecord provides a scalable solution to record and analyse all online meetings to create visibility, drive process and behaviour changes and deliver bottom-line impact. “We had direct access to CTOs and investors as part of the programme – which is very difficult to get otherwise,” said Snehal Nimje, Co-founder, MeetRecord. Watch the video here.
Neodocs derived invaluable lessons from established ML startups
Neodocs is an AI-based platform that is building scalable and innovative healthcare diagnostics and interprets and simplifies medical reports to provide personalised health recommendations. ‘It was wonderful to be among amazing mentors and peers. We also got to learn first-hand from other established ML startups, learn from them and implement their growth insights for our own startup,” said Pratik Lodha, CTO, NeoDocs. Watch the video here.
PiMotion derived great value from the technical inputs
PiMotion’s product Rehabvc is an AI-powered physiotherapy platform that tracks and offers real-time assistance for exercises and ML-powered feedback towards the history of exercises done. Dev Chandan Behera, CEO, PiMotion shared how the startup derived great value from the technical inputs from the programme. “The product building advice and getting technical assistance couldn’t have come at a better time for us, as we were in the process of building new capabilities for the product and testing it out,” he said. Watch the video here.
Reflexion benefitted from the latitude of speakers and mentors
Reflexion.ai is a SaaS-based AI-powered video collaboration platform built to automate metadata extraction and facilitate remote collaboration. “It was an intensive and very well structured program. We got great strategic inputs from the various expert speakers and mentors associated with the programme,” said Chandni Priya, Co-founder, Reflexion AI. Watch the video here.
Ripik is gung-ho about the ecosystem support
Ripik’s AI platform enables manufacturing to be more competitive by helping shop-floor managers and plant teams make better decisions via an AI-ML based DIY platform to run analytics and get recommendations. Speaking about the ecosystem support received at the programme, Arunabh Biyani, Co-founder and Head – Business, Ripik.AI, said, “It’s great to see that there’s such a wonderfully supportive ecosystem––right from AWS to Intel. It’s a growing ecosystem and it’s great to be a part of it.” Watch the video here.
TrustCheckr gives it a tick mark for quality mentorship and interactions
Unoideo’s product TrustCheckr provides real-time APIs with integration and uses AI to statistically arrive at TrustScore that works towards fraud prevention. “We got to meet a lot of AI gurus, get access to quality mentorship and interactions because of the programme,” said Adhip Ramesh, Founder and CTO, TrustCheckr. “It helped us figure out how to proceed with our product roadmap and refine our product strategy,” he added. Watch the video here.
Truefy raised pre-seed funding, and more
Truefy helps to mitigate online reputation damage and assist in deepfake crisis response and decode misrepresented images and videos. The early-stage startup credits the programme for its role in helping them raise pre-seed funding. “Meeting the cohort members, getting technical expertise, doing a demo day and raising pre-seed funding has been a major benefit for our startup,” said Vishal Venkatesh, Co-founder and CEO, Truefy AI. Watch the video here.
The programme helped Upscale empower users with more intelligent choices
Upscale AI is a connected workspace that makes revenue generation data-driven, instead of intuition-based, by automating repetitive tasks to sell smartly through multiple channels and structured sequences. “There were a few core areas where we had to implement key AI practices within our product. We wanted to empower our users with more intelligent choices and the programme helped us through the thought process with multiple use case scenarios to help build a better product,” said Sandeep Singh, Founder and CEO, Upscale. Watch the video here.
Pibit learned about different aspects of the business and connected with a community of ML founders
Pibit.ai is an insur-tech company building an AI platform that helps carriers and brokers to automate insurance workflows. The software uses ML modes with human-in-the loop infrastructure to provide valuable insights from unstructured data. “We learned different aspects of business that included sales, hiring and product. It was great to meet a community of ML founders and brainstorm on different ideas. ML Elevate has been an amazing experience for us, said Akash Agarwal, Founder and CEO, Pibit.ai. Watch the video here.
It was all about building a practical ML business for ValueMatrix
ValueMatrix is a startup that builds a seamless interview and evaluation process along with candidate experiences. Speaking about how the programme was all about how to build a practical ML business and solving very real world problems, Aditya Malik, Founder and CEO, ValueMatrix said, “The ML Elevate team have done a fantabulous job in curating this cohort and providing us with the key ingredients of accelerating – helping us build a practical ML business.” Watch the video here.
Vitra found the mentorship sessions incredible
Vitra.ai is a startup that translates videos, images, podcasts and text for all translation purposes. “The mentor sessions have been incredible. There were a lot of learnings on various subjects from sales and marketing to technology, with real-world examples and learning,” said Satvik Jagannath, CEO, VitraAI, speaking about the role of nuanced mentorship across different subjects. He added that the 100,000 USD of AWS credits and other perks would also help them leverage the full potential of the cloud as a ML startup. Watch the video here.
Zevi liked that the programme dealt with specialised needs of ML startups
Zevi is an AI-powered site search engine and discovery platform to drive increasing conversion in the digital arena by providing best-in-class customer experience through search. “There is company building and then there’s deep tech company building,” said Anshul Basia, Co-founder and CTO, Zevi. talking about the challenges of scaling a deep tech startup, and how the programme was created around the specialised needs of ML startups. Watch the video here.