How to spot the next big start-up

Aftab Malhotra’s venture gives start-ups a platform to amplify, who they are and what they do, to the right audience.  

A platform set up by a British-Indian venture that intends to help large corporations across the world identify start-ups involved in cutting edge technology is set to go live on Tuesday.

GrowthEnabler, with offices in London and Bengaluru, believes that its model — which used an algorithmic process to analyse and rate more than half a million start-ups across the world — will help corporations avoid the pitfall that many across the world have fallen into, which is failing to recognise the disruption due to take place in their industry, and avoid “creative destruction.”

“The need to stay ahead of the competitive curve remains more important than ever,” said Aftab Malhotra, at a recent meeting in London, pointing to the research of Yale professor Richard Foster, that found the lifespan of an S&P 500 firm had fallen from 61 years in 1958 to 18 years in 2012, and was set to fall further going forward, making the need for companies to be able to identify disruptive technology early on even more pressing. “Companies will live and die much faster…and our clients have asked us to help them develop the fastest way to filter the ‘hidden gems’ within the start-up sector, and identify whether they are at a stage that they are ready to engage with them or not.”

The venture, set up by Mr. Malhotra and Rajeev Banduni, both former senior Gartner executives. uses an algorithmic scoring system to vet start ups across the world — across different languages — in different technology spaces, and categorises them based on their financial soundness, the financial backing, leadership team, and stage of development, which will help senior executives at corporates keep track of the companies carrying out cutting edge research in the field they work in — whether it’s financial technology, health technology, artificial intelligence, or augmented/ virtual reality, among others. “There are around 1.78 million tech start ups on the planet and this is only going to double with the likes of India and China, but there is a problem with volatility and uncertainty: how do you identify the next Tesla?,” asked Mr. Malhotra.

Early-stage focus

Focussing on the early stages — companies in their first seven years — is critical, according to the feedback from industry, said Malhotra. “What we care about is what is going to affect the biggest companies in the future; when that has already happened and they are mainstream, it’s too late: the senior executives are saying we don’t care when it’s 8 years on...”

He added that for start-ups , the problem was visibility and a lack of an even playing field. “It just isn’t democratised…there are many barriers from elitism, to who you know, do you have the cash to speak to the right media? We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to democratise the process and give everyone a fair platform to amplify who they are and what they do to the right audience?’”

The largely automated nature of the analysis, which uses artificial intelligence, will, they believe, make it attractive for corporates, as will the platform, which enables companies to search through start-ups based on criteria (stage of development from 0 to 7 years, location, sector and so on). The tool will, in the long run, enabled direct communication with them.

So, for example, an executive looking for start-ups working on augmented and virtual reality projects at a late stage (5-7 years) for the automobile sector, could identify the strongest players in that sector globally, enabling him or her to spot potential partners and acquisitions and keep track of the trends too.

“We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to take a manual process and optimise it with robotic process automation and algorithms…and bring in efficiencies that are potentially exponential,’” he said.

Crowdsourcing answers

They also hope to provide a platform for companies to be able to tender out for ideas: “If they can’t find what they are looking for, they can write in their challenge and we’ll fan it out to our community, who can apply; we apply our algorithm and say these are the companies that would like to handle your challenge and could potentially create a customised solution,” said Mr. Banduni.

The fragmented and changing nature of the start-up world makes a coordinated platform all the more essential, said Mr. Banduni pointing to the new places emerging as specialised centres of innovation; from China in the field of medical innovation to India on artificial intelligence.

The founders of GrowthEnabler were cautious about revealing names of customers but said a number of FTSE 100 companies in the U.K. had already signed up.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 4:31:33 PM |

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