Monday, July 27, 2015

Nasscom warehouse powers Kolkata's startup push

KOLKATA: The startup buzz is catching up in Kolkata. Taking a cue from their counterparts in Bengaluru and Pune, techies in the city are turning into entrepreneurs and developing apps that will help you in various ways, from monitoring your parents' health on a real-time basis to guiding you to the hottest deal at your unacquainted departmental store as soon as you step inside it. 

Software body Nasscom is aiding the process. It has set up a startup warehouse --a co-working space that offers space and other infrastructure to the budding entrepreneurs at a nominal cost--at the Salt Lake area of the city in association with the West Bengal government. 

Eight weband mobile-based app developers operate out of this facility . Nasscom is second in the country as part of its 10,000 Startup initiative to scale up the startup ecosystem. 

Om Agarwal, a final year BA LLB student at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, is one of them and his Easy Coach app is going live in 45 days. The platform, which will be available as desktop and mobile apps, will help students seeking admission at leading educational institutions around the world to take personalised guidance from the alumni and current students of the institutes, Agarwal said. Those offering guidance will get a fee, but only after the student seeking advice is fully satisfied with it. 

Until then, the money will be kept with Easy Coach. "Access is the most important support we get from Nasscom. If we want to get in touch with any institute in the world, Nasscom helps us connect," Agarwal said. 

Supported by Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and Kotak Mahindra Bank, these eight startups have also started acquiring funding from private investors.For instance, Mahesh Bhupati's Changer Mints has raised Rs 1 crore from a Hyderabad-based investor to expand operations. 

Another app going live in a month is Sudip Roy's Tickto. It is targeted at enhancing and personalising in-store shopping experience of consumers. The app en ables retailers to place real-time product promotion directly on in-store shoppers' smart phones, on a location aware, context-aware fashion for increasing sales. 

Roy expects Kolkata, with its low cost and large talent pool, and now with the Nasscom initiative, to see big success in the startup space. "Attrition in other startup cities like Bangalore and Pune is between 30% and 40%, while in Kolkata it's almost nil," he said. 

At the Nasscom warehouse, startups are charged a subsidised rent of Rs 2,500 for each seat, which also comes with a startup kit comprising value-added services and credits worth $25,000 (nearly Rs 16 lakh) from the partners. 

Debjit Kar, a 34-year-old with eight years of IT experience, decided to become his own boss with Pixo and jumped to start the brand powered by Nasscom's aid. "I spend only something to the tune of Rs 10,000 for the state-of-the-art facility. If I ran a similar office at a similar location, I would pay 60% of this cost only as Internet charges," said Kar. Pixo is a cloudbased photo and video storage platform that saves photo and videos as well as classifies and identifies them using features like face identification.

Citation from Economictimes :

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