Zone Startups India has selected 15 women led startups for the second edition of its EmpoWer Accelerator Program. The current batch of 15 entrepreneurs were selected out of 376 applicants from across India.
EmpoWer is backed by the Department of Science and Technology, Tata Trusts’ Social Alpha, Microsoft, Amazon, ICICI Bank, PayU, CapitalFirst and FlexiLoans. The selected startups represent various technology themes such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and deep learning, across industries like healthcare, smart cities and enterprise solutions. A panel comprising of 12 mentors and noted industry experts selected the startups after careful examination.
The startups that have been shortlisted will join the six week community programme. All the entrepreneurs will be provided with industry networking opportunities, valuable mentoring sessions, workshops, case studies, peer to peer interactions, boot camp and investor networking. The winner of this Cohort will also get the opportunity to attend a week long business development and personal mentorship programme in Quebec, Canada.
Launched in 2016, the accelerator programme has been designed to identify the need based gaps witnessed by women entrepreneurs. Through extensive research, Zone Startups is gunning to fill the gaps such as a lack of peer group of like minded women, limited financial independence, a risk averse mindset, lack of training in technology and finance among others. In the first edition, $ 23.6 million was collectively raised in funds by the 15 startups which were selected out of 191 applications.
Speaking about the 2nd Cohort, Director of Zone Startups India, Ajay Ramasubramaniam said, “ We believe we have unearthed some solid winners in the final cohort of 15, who will go on to do wonders for themselves and the ecosystem of women entrepreneurs.” The selected startups will be supported by Zone Startups India for up to a year after the programme.
Here Is the List Of The 15 Selected Startups And Their Founders –
Aardra Kannan Ambili – Riot Solutions Inc.
Founded in 2015, Riot Solutions is an IoT-based startup which develops sleep monitoring solutions for babies to track their wellness.
Meenakshi Vashist – Technology Uncorked
Technology Uncorked, led by Meenakshi Vashist, offers a light IoT framework for devices and appliances for energy efficient, Smart and connected Living Spaces.
Komal Goyali – WOWLET
WOWLET runs a mobile application that offers toilet maintenance and cleaning services for household, office complexes, and restaurants. Founded in 2017, the startup gives the user real time information on the cleanliness of toilets.
Neha Bagoria – Tapu Sustainable Solutions
Tapu Sustainable Solutions is into sustainable green solutions and provides waterless urinal solutions such as EcoTrapin Xtra and EcoTrapin Plus to help alleviate issues like climate change.
Vishakha Singh- ICONICbot
India’s first multilingual, AI driven chatbot, ICONICbot, helps to connect influencers and their fans on relevant messaging platforms. Available in English and Tamil, the company claims the bot has processed 2.6 million messages.
Shruthi Gilla – Revol Inc.
Revol is a startup engaged in the creation of smart wallets, such as Cashew, equipped with fingerprint authentication and Bluetooth connectivity. The company, registered in Delaware, USA, has a target to sell 10,000 units globally and generate $1,000,000 in revenue.
Niyati Agarwal – Morph.ai
Morph.ai is an enterprise ChatBot suite founded in 2016. The company introduced the concept of ‘chatbot as a landing page’ to boost lead generation for businesses and engage in personalized marketing and sales.
Chandni Rajendran – Tactopus
The Tactopus team, lead by design innovator Chandni Rajendran, is developing an interactive edtech device such as interactive books for blind children. Children with visual disabilities can listen to audio labels and explanations while feeling and reading tactile shapes with their fingers.
Pria Randolph – Bitgram Technologies
Bitgram is a trust based consent oriented software product which uses blockchain and machine learning for instant, real time exchange of verified information.
Veena Moktali – Periwinkle Technologies
Periwinkle Technologies Pvt., Ltd., is a med tech startup that provides various products for healthcare to enable faster and better diagnostics. The company also developed an affordable device in association with Tata Memorial Center for the diagnosis of cervical cancer.
Vidya Vellala – Faasthelp
Faasthelp is a customer support and engagement platform which helps businesses retain customers, convert new ones and enhance customer satisfaction.
Sivareena Sarika – PregBuddy Technologies
Founded in 2016, PregBuddy is a mobile application that is designed as a one stop platform for smart communication between doctors and patients, especially for pregnant women in India.
Mansi Khanna -The Friday Code
The Friday Code builds products which aid the growth of traditional and new age brands, develop platforms and transform organizations. Founded in 2016, this startup helps brands and agencies increase their returns from investments through efficient tracking and optimization of advertisements.
Geetanjali Agarwal – Bizlem
Bizlem deals in chatbot technologies that tries to solve major business problems using artificial intelligence.
Dr. Tanushree Devi Laishram – CyGen
CyGen is an independent organization which provides unprecedented access to personalized healthcare services. Launched in 2016, this company helps individuals increase their knowledge and understand those opportunities which can minimize healthcare challenges and improve the quality of life.
Leher Versus Clubhouse: Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?
Clubhouse is a new type of social networking platform which is an audio only platform. This means every conversation takes place through audio where users speak to let their thoughts known. Users can create and host rooms where speakers will talk about a particular topic. Originating in the Silicon Valley, Clubhouse attracted some major names onto its platform like Elon Musk, Evan Williams, Reddit co founder Alexis Ohanian, former Y Combinator President Sam Altman, AngelList co founder Naval Ravikant, Ashton Kuthcer, Oprah Winfrey, Drake, Kevin Hart and many others are some of the influential personalities who are on Clubhouse. There is however a catch as Clubhouse is currently limited to iOS.
Leher is an Indian made alternative to Clubhouse and is a similar audio sharing and listening startup. Leher also has video support unlike Clubhouse and is also available for both Android and iOS. However, Leher does not have the biggest names in the world on its platform but it does have significant micro influencers and is growing at a rapid pace. Within 180 days of its beta version launch, the company claimed to have its users spend about 44 minutes every day and 250,000 minutes per month for live video sessions.
We at Startup Stories are curious to see which among Leher or Clubhouse would our readers choose to take part in a virtual discussion. Please let us know your answer in the poll below.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something. There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you. Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes. The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.
These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing. Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more. Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost. Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.
Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements. Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up. If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”
Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition. This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing. Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing. Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”
There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms. Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.
Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present. Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics. We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)” Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort. The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions. Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools. Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.
With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset. The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.
Facebook Launches BARS For Creating Raps To Counter TikTok’s Growing Popularity
Facebook is leaving no stone unturned to tackle the surging popularity of the Chinese video making app TikTok. As part of its redoubled efforts Facebook is launching a new app named BARS which could be used to create and share raps. The core idea behind the app is rappers could focus on creating content without having to worry about investing heavily in production and equipment.
Facebook said, “Audio production tools can be complicated, expensive and difficult to use. With BARS, you can select one of our professionally-created beats, write lyrics and record yourself dropping bars (sic.)” The company also added, “BARS auto-suggests rhymes as you’re writing to keep your flow going. You can also jump into Challenge mode and freestyle with auto-suggested word cues. Choose from a variety of audio and visual filters to take your creations to the next level (sic.)”
The app is now available in the Apple App Store in the United States of America. The invites for using BARS would be sent out in batches beginning in the USA and then expanded worldwide.
This would be the second app which Facebook is launching to counter TikTok’s growing popularity. Instagram Reels was the latest offering from the photo sharing platform Instagram (owned by Facebook) and was launched as a replacement for the video sharing application TikTok. TikTok was enjoying an unrivalled popularity in India as it became a means to keep boredom at bay during the nationwide lockdown which was imposed in light of the COVID-19 virus. However, the Indian government announced that it would ban 59 Chinese applications in which TikTok was one, along with WeChat, Helo, Cam Scanner and many others. This left a sudden void in video making applications, and Instagram realised the need for urgency to capitalize on this void. Therefore, Instagram immediately pushed their latest feature Instagram Reels which lets its users create 15 second videos with music from Instagram’s database. These videos look very similar to the ones made on TikTok and has gained a lot of popularity in India where Tik Tok continues to be banned.
ALSO READ: 4 Things To Know About Instagram Reels
Google also took advantage of the Indian Government’s ban of the viral application TikTok. Google introduced a new feature on YouTube called YouTube Shorts. The feature for all intents and purposes mimics the same features TikTok used to provide. The new feature mimics many of TikTok’s most popular features, allowing users to make and post 15 second videos with built in creative tools encouraging them to add licensed music and more.
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