Technology major eyes benefits of riding on start-up wave
Oracle, one of the world’s biggest technology companies, is betting big to engage with innovative start-ups in India. From sourcing ideas to influencing direction of new product development start-ups are becoming important for Oracle to plug into the ecosystem to fine-tune its future strategies and outstrip rivals.
“So [as is] typical, Larry Ellison (Oracle co-founder) wants to make sure we are benefiting from being enormous and yet also benefiting from the opportunities of start-ups,” said Oracle chief executive Safra Catz in response to a question from The Hindu during her recent visit to the country.
Though Oracle had unveiled a $100 million venture capital fund almost two decades ago, it has chosen a different strategy this time to engage with start-ups. Instead of investing capital, the company, with more than $37 billion in annual revenue, is offering a mix of advice and access to technology to young ventures through its Startup Cloud Accelerator Programme.
We want to nurture start-ups on our platform, just like we did in the old world. Most large software companies in the world are based on Oracle,” said Ms. Catz. The Redwood City, California-based firm introduced the accelerator as a pilot programme last April in Bengaluru. It is now opening new centres across the globe in Bristol, Delhi–NCR, Mumbai, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore and Tel Aviv.
Following the expansion of the accelerator in the country, Oracle said that it has nurtured two batches of companies as part of this programme in India. The accelerator provides young ventures with six months of mentorship, technology, co-working space and access to Oracle customers, and venture capitalists.
“India was the seed for our start-up incubation centres,” said Ms. Catz.
Unlike traditional accelerator programs, the company said that this initiative is driven by Oracle research and development, and has a focus on re-imagining enterprise innovation through true partnership with startups. “This whole initiative is a learning process for them (start-ups) and us,” said Sanket Atal, group vice-president of development, Oracle India. “We also involve Oracle’s global product development teams to identify opportunities where we can foster co-development.”
For instance, the company said that the Oracle Cloud Platform had been validated to develop applications using India Stack services. India Stack is a set of application program interface (APIs) that allows Governments, businesses, start-ups and developers to utilise a unique digital infrastructure and deliver secure presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery. EzeDox, one of the firms which participated in the Oracle Accelerator programme is eyeing this opportunity. It has built a digital locker that facilitates issuance, categorisation and storage of official and personal documents. “Leveraging India Stack through Oracle cloud is the most open, easy and modern way for our developers to take full advantage of this unique digital infrastructure,” said Veerendra Mishra, co-founder of EzeDox.
Another company, Farebond, which also participated in the accelerator programme, uses data science and predictive analytics to provide an innovative solution to the travel uncertainty problem faced by air travellers.
It enables undecided travellers to ‘lock-in’ air fares for a period of time so they can peacefully plan their trip. “The Oracle accelerator has empowered us with cutting-edge cloud technology to analyse massive amounts of data,” said Naveen Setia, co-founder of Farebond.
Oracle, with 38,000 employees in the country, is also pursuing innovation inside the company to tap the unique opportunities in the country. The company recently announced the availability of Oracle enterprise resource planning cloud in India. It would help local and multinational firms operating in the country to prepare for the country’s transformational tax reforms.