Browse Day: April 26, 2017

STARTUP THE BUG BUSTERS

Avekshaa checks for bugs in the client’s software code and ensures that all its components run smoothly

By Vishal Krishna

HEY SAY the strength of the chain is in the weakest link. This adage can be ap­plied to, say, data flow management in a connected car ecosystem. The data gen­erated by the car’s telematics system and the mobile device is transmitted through a network and stored in a server. On top of this “pipe” is middleware and a fire­wall protecting the data shared between corporates, consumers, telecom operators and dealerships. If this ecosystem does not maintain a continuous flow and, if any latency in the software sets in, it may be cata­strophic for the company — a system failure can send its fortunes reeling. Hence, the need for experts to avert a situation of this sort. Such an expert is the Bangalore- based startup, Avekshaa.

The company checks IT systems of big companies for bugs in the code and gets the pieces ready for integra­tion. Once the pieces are placed together, Avekshaa’s engineers make doubly sure that all components of the software work in unison. “Failure in information technology.

The assurance space in which Ave­kshaa operates is a lucrative one. Re­search firm Butler Group says com­panies lose $73 billion each year due to bugs and scalability issues in their software. The market size for firms in this space is $8.5 billion and it is growing at 20 per cent year-on-year.nology (IT) systems impacts cus­tomer service and eventually dam­ages corporate reputation,” says Rajinder Gandotra, one of Avek- shaa’s founding partners.

“Traditional IT business services are commoditised and no longer hold the edge in serving complex business practices,” says V. Balakrishnan, for­mer Infosys chief financial officer and now, founder of Xfinity Ven­tures. Considering that IT services firms are grappling with automation and also with employing more people to test complex IT practices, he be­lieves the platform offered by Avek­shaa could change the way assurance businesses operate.

Avekshaa was started in 2010 by Ashutosh Shinde, Arun Ramu, Gan­dotra — all former employees of Info­sys — and Ramnik Singh, with a novel business pitch. They went to the big banks and convinced them that Avekshaa could provide assur­ance, security and scalability of IT infrastructure on an automated plat­form and also give them (banks) a second opinion of the work already executed by the bank’s IT vendor.

Modus Operandi

Of course, the fact that the four part­ners were former executives in large technology companies, where they had won and managed business lines worth $1.5 billion, helped, when they started Avekshaa. “We build compu­tational techniques that automate the migration of core applications and this sets us apart from other companies,” says Shinde.

In a particular case, wljen In- duslnd Bank changed its core bank­ing solution across its 461 branches and 852 ATMs, Avekshaa made sure the system did not suffer on the per­formance front. The system went live in a single day and issues across the technology stack were identified and mitigated well in advance. “With the transformation, the technology al­lowed significant growth in terms of client base and physical branch net­work,” says Paul Abraham, chief op­erating officer of Induslnd Bank.

“They (Avekshaa) helped us im­prove response time, which will ulti­mately improve customer experience with the bank,” says Sanjay Jaiswal, vice-president, IT, of Induslnd Bank.

Axis Bank too, has employed Avek- shaa’s services. “They delivered re­sults by improving efficiency and reli­ability of critical applications,” says R.V.S. Sridhar, president, IT and re­tail banking operations, at Axis Bank.

On The Money

Avekshaa is testimony to the fact that highly-paid successful executives can move out and make their ideas work. They seem to have read the story right because according to ana­lysts, 50 per cent of Indian corpo­rates will go digital by 2020 and

AVEKSHAA

FOUNDED: 2010

USP: Automates testing of the entire IT infrastructure onto a single platform TEAM: 40 members FOUNDERS: Ashutosh Shinde, Arun Ramu, Rajinder Gandotra and Ramnik Singh

INVESTMENT: $500,000 COMPETITION: Top IT vendors such as In­fosys, Accenture, Capgemini and Wipro

would need assurance companies to help scale their IT systems.

To Avekshaa’s credit, it is vendor- agnostic and can ease the pain points of a firm’s products by testing them in a multi-vendor scenario. “Indian en­trepreneurs have been successful in building business-to-business ser­vices. Startups that provide flexibil­ity, with automation, will be the ones to work with large companies,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO of consulting firm Greyhound Research.

Balakrishnan has invested Rs 25 lakh in Avekshaa as a pre-seed fund. It also raised $500,000 from KIT- VEN, the venture fund started by the Karnataka government. “We in­vested in this company because it had big banks as its customers and was solving a critical aspect of the client’s business,” says Manish Kumar of Karnataka Information Technology Venture Capital Fund.

While IT businesses across the world are getting commoditised, profit margins are getting thinner. To survive and maintain margins, com­panies must innovate. Analysts say automation can contribute to 33 per cent of net margins. “Software inte­grators are only looking at their end and not at the whole technology sphere in a corporation,” says Shinde. “In an ever converging world of IT systems, and the cloud, you cannot ignore the working of the entire pipe.”

Avekshaa has executed 250 proj­ects for 18 clients — 16 in India and two overseas. Of course, a corporate firm is bound to work well with a team whose combined work experi­ence is 75 years, and hence can do good business in India. But Avekshaa with its four partners hopes to build a global business in a short time and become a corporate itself.

IN DEPTH PH4RMA WORLD’S DIABETES CAPITAL

WORLD’S DIABETES CAPITAL

  • million

The number of diabetics in India

Rs 5,000 cr

The size of India’s diabetes care market

20% The annual growth rate of the Indian diabetes market

  • million

The number of pre-diabetics in the country

Rs 18,000 cr

The annual cost of diabetes care in the country

Rs 10,000

The average annual spend per patient in urban areas

Rs 6,260

The average annual spend per patient in rural areas

101 million

The projected diabetic population in India by 2030

per cent market share), Abbott has the largest share in the country’s adult nutrition market.

The new glucose monitoring sys­tem is ideal for patients in India, say specialists. “In developed countries, blood sugar tests are done once or twice daily for diabetes patients, but in India it is done once or twice a week, which is a matter of concern since regular monitoring is key to managing the disease, says Abhilash K. Chandran, a diabetologist based in Kerala.

Besides, regular monitoring of dia­betes in patients in India is necessary because of the alarmingly short time it takes to transition from a border­line case to a full-fledged diabetic. While this transition time is at least
10 years in developed countries, it’s just two years here, says Chandran.

“Our two-year-long market survey helped us customise the system (pro­fessional or ‘doctor-read’) and its price,” says Dilip Rajan, general man­ager, Abbott Diabetes Care India.

But the cost of the device would be a challenge for the company in semi- urban and rural markets. “I would still prefer the cost of this wearable glucose monitor to be lower to make it accessible to the masses, as patients who need it more frequently will find it unaffordable,” says Chandran.

Trailing Competition

Abbott Diabetes Care has been pre­sent in India since 2006. The com­pany, which sells a range of glucose
monitoring and diabetes care prod­ucts in the country, has a 15 per cent share in the $100-million local mar­ket and wants to double it in the next few years.

Global rivals Johnson & John­son’s and Roche Diagnostics are currently ahead of Abbott in terms of market share in this segment. Their easy-to-use glucose monitors, Onetouch and Accu-Chek, respec­tively, have had reasonable success in the Indian market. Although these products helped patients in tracking their glucose levels on their own, the need for frequent inter­vention and the finger prick re­mained key constraints.

Abbott Diabetes Care, the global diabetes care technology division of Abbott Lab, currently contributes nearly $1.2 billion to the group’s $21 billion worldwide revenues. Accord­ing to Bates, the aim is to develop In­dia as a key market for Abbott.

“The country has the second larg­est diabetic population in the world after China, but the blood sugar test devices market is still tiny. So, there is a tremendous scope for growth,” says Rajan of Abbott Diabetes Care India.

Industry research reports estimate that the diabetes care devices market in India, which is growing at a com­pound annual rate of 10 per cent, will soon touch $290 million by 2018. While in China, it is already over $800 million and predicted to cross $1.16 billion in the next three years.

As a report by the International Diabetes Federation cautions, “The country’s diabetes burden is expected to cross the 100 million mark as against the earlier estimated 87 mil­lion by 2030 if action is not taken to manage the disease more efficiently.” Well, that’s the bitter truth.