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165th Roundtable Recap: March 14 – Spotlight On ProductNation, India

Posted on Thursday, Mar 14th 2013

Today’s roundtable put the spotlight on entrepreneurs from ProductNation, an initiative by iSPIRT– a think-tank focused on transforming India into a hub for new generation software products. As you might know, India is a country firmly positioned on the global IT map, but as a service destination. For years, outsourcing has been the nation’s primary IT activity. I deliberately provoked a debate on the subject in 2008 with Death of Indian Outsourcing.

I have, personally, advocated the product direction for many years. On my blog, many discussions have been held over the years on the topic. On March 3, 2007, Sujai Karampuri, a passionate entrepreneur from India wrote a guest post that drummed up active discussion that continues till today, six years later! [Read: Why No Product Companies in India?]

But things are changing. In the 1M/1M portfolio, we have many strong product companies now. Our Million Dollar Club has several as well. And we have recently profiled India’s flagship global product company, Druva.

Thus, I am delighted to see that Avinash Raghava, formerly of Nasscom Emerge, and a lead organizer of the Nasscom Product Conclave, has decided to take the effort to the next level. Avinash has played an active role in building the Indian product eco-system for many years, and with ProductNation and iSPIRT, I am sure will further contribute to its growth.

Let me introduce you to some of the companies we met today during the session.

i7 Networks
First up, Manjunath Gowda from Bangalore, India, pitched i7 Networks, an enterprise security solution aimed to tackle the bring-your-own-device issue. Employees, these days, use all sorts of devices on the enterprise network, and it has become difficult for policies to be enforced. Manju aims to address the problem at the network-device level, instead of the role-based policy level. The problem is real. Bringing an enterprise product to market on a global scale is a challenge that the team needs help with.

Qualitia Software
Next up, Rahul Chaudhari from Pune, India, pitched Qualitia Software, a software test automation solution that already has about 20 strong paying customers. The company looks very promising, and has the potential to make its mark on a global scale. Current challenges primarily center around go-to-market strategy.

Next, Bala Mohan from Bangalore, India, pitched FieldEZ, a mobile solution for field forces that has a number of brand name customers including Wipro and ICICI Bank. The applications are in the realm of customer support and sales. My read on this business is that it needs a verticalized go-to-market strategy, and even within the verticals, there needs to be a precise identification of pain points that would accelerate the sales cycle. Overall, there are positioning and go-to-market issues to sort through.

Then Kevin Carroll from Culver, Indiana, pitched PlacementLoop, a marketplace for talent and opportunities to come together. Kevin is investigating the amateur sports markets to see how the eco-systems flow, and whether his idea can be applied to those workflows. It’s a very early stage company with lots of assumptions and lots of gaps, but that’s where all companies start.

Last up, Nicholas Kwan from California, pitched Medko. After much back and forth, I gathered that Nick is trying to build a Yelp for Medical Tourism, which I think is a decent idea. However, the team has recently gotten into Startup Chile, and has decided to make a pivot from what I think is a decent idea to a not so good one: Yelp for Doctors and Patients in Chile. The latter doesn’t have as good a business model, while the former does.

You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here.

As always, I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables at 8 a.m. PST on:

Thursday, March 21, 166th 1M/1M Roundtable, Register Here.

Thursday, March 28, 167th 1M/1M Roundtable, Register Here.

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