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START-UP CORNER TRACKING EMERGING INDIA

iCreate Software bets on banking intelligence and emerging markets


Bangalore-based analytics firm is going after emerging markets in Africa and West Asia than chase developed markets, writes Pradeesh Chandran

ts not often a company that was started as an information technology (IT) services provider transforms into a global product company: The Indian IT services industry, pegged at about $70 billion, has seen many companies taking the product route and ending up in the services business. This is, however, not the case with Bangalore-based iCreate Software, which started operations in 2006 as a banking services provider. iCreate has a proprietary product offering for business intelligence and analytics, focused on the banking sector.

The beginning In 2006, Anoop Pai and his friend Naren N S formed iCreate to develop intelligent software that helped banks understand customers and conduct business in a better manner. The company launched its first analytics product suite, Banking Intellisense, in 2009. The product enables banks to transform unstructured data generated through various transactions into structured data and reports. We wanted to develop a glob- (From left ) iCreate Software Co-Founder Anoop Pai, Chief Executive Officer Vivek Subramanyam and Co-Founder & head of delivery Naren N S al product from India. Starting the At present, we are focusing on the emerging markets, like Asia, journey in 2006, we took the serv- pany from iGate. We were fac- see companies and products Africa and West Asia, as banks in these regions are undergoing ices route, as product develop- ing initial challenges and there specialising in the retail, autothe first phase of technology adoption. We expect them to was a need for finan- mobile and telecom segments, ment is capital-intenleapfrog in adoption of technology. We want to be their cial support and guid- emerging from India, said sive. With our efforts partner from very early adoption of technology ance. We decided to Derick Jose, Director at Flutura and commitment, we FACT BOX raise capital to fuel Decision Sciences. were able to release Founded in 2006 VIVEK SUBRAMANYAM According to Frost & Sullivan, growth and this our first proprietary First product Chief Executive Officer, iCreate resulted in series-A in 2011-2012, IT adoption in bankproduct suite, said launch: 2009 funding. The compa- ing grew 14.2 per cent. In 2011, IT son for this is major banks in these nationale De Banque, Bank ManChief Executive ny raised ~15 crore spends by Indian banks stood at regions are undergoing the first diri, HDFC Bank and IndusInd Officer Vivek Raised ~ 65 crore in Series A and B funding from IDG Ventures, about 20 per cent of their total phase of technology adoption. We Bank has already established Subramanyam. expect them to leapfrog in the presence in markets such as Egypt, Subramanyam said. expenditure. However, the team from IDG, Sequoia adoption of technology. We want Ghana, Indonesia and the In the big data and had to overcome sev- Employees: 300 to be their partner from a very ear- Philippines. analytics market, Go-to-market eral hurdles, the pri- Expected revenue by Says Paul Abraham, chief opercompanies typically With the initial funding, the com- ly stage of technology adoption, mary one being the FY15: ~250 crore ating officer, IndusInd Bank, adopt a platform- pany decided to take an innova- Subramanyan said. product model they The company is also of the opin- India: We were looking for a based approach, tive route to sell its product. were adopting. The company claims while installation through which they create a solu- Unlike many organisations, ion that sales cycles in emerging technology partner that could of products by other service provi- tion on a platform. However, now, iCreate decided to skip developed markets are lower than in matured bring a banking-specific enterdomain-based product markets such as the United States markets; it wants to build credibil- prise BI (business intelligence) ders usually takes long, its prod- the approach is likely to become a and the UK, choosing to tap the ity before entering matured mar- solution to the table to manage uct suite is easy to install. After its product was ready, norm in the industry. I feel simi- relatively less competitive mar- kets. To strengthen its presence, informational needs of bank effecthe company found it difficult to lar companies with expertise in kets of Africa, West Asia and Asia- iCreate has recently opened a tively, both on the business, as regional office in Vietnam. Apart well as the compliance fronts. This develop a go-to-market strategy, various domains will originate Pacific first. Currently, we are focusing on from India, the company whose tie-up would assist us in providing getting customers and selling the from India. iCreates model would product. This is when Vivek soon become a template for many emerging markets like Asia, Africa customers include Gulf Investment a single platform for all our enterSubramanyam joined the com- more companies in India. We will and West Asia. The primary rea- Corporation, Societe Arabe Inter- prise BI requirements,

Road ahead According to a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies and CRISIL, the global big data and analytics market is estimated to grow 45 per cent a year and touch $25 billion by 2015. Currently, the market is worth about $8 billion. The report added the market in India was estimated to grow to about $1 billion by 2015. The huge demand for analysed data and intelligence by various industries has led to the growth of Indian startups focusing on the segment: MuSigma, Manthan System, Flutura Decision Sciences and Abiba Systems are such companies. Since 2009, iCreate has launched five BI products; it plans to launch five more within a year. To enable this, Sequoia Capital and investor IDG had recently infused about ~50 crore in seriesB funding into the company. With these funds, iCreate plans to expand its product portfolio and enter new regions, including North America. Says Shailendra Singh, managing director, Sequoia Capital India: We have a significant focus on companies in and around big data. We are actively looking for companies that provide platforms, software and services for enterprises to make better decision by leveraging the big data phenomenon. iCreate is focusing on banking segment and they have a compelling product and a good number of customers, which is very exciting. Says Derick Jose, co-founder and director (big data solutions), Flutura Decision Sciences, and former vice-president at MindTree: The mix of a vertical-focused, specialised model-and-product model of iCreate is quite impressing. Being an Indian start-up, it is looking at a global market, and this is a good sign for Indian start-ups, iCreate, which started as a 25member strong company, has grown into an organisation of 300 vibrant and energetic people, with a 5:50:250 vision among the top five in BI for banking solutions, 50 strategic clients and ~250 crore in revenues by FY15.

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In the current situation, the only way to democratise business analytics is to offer these at low costs and carry out quick deployments. With its offerings, iCreate has cracked this formula for the banking industry. With its product-led model, which reduces costs and implementation time, it is disrupting the traditional system integrator (SI)-led model of implementation. In an SI-led model, any implementation would cost millions of dollars a year or more. To iCreates credit, it has honed its product-and-business model in the white space (a segment no one else is focusing on) markets of India, south-east Asia, West Asia and Africa, before targeting markets in the West. The team was patient in developing a solution. In the enterprise space, it takes four to five years to get the product, pricing, sales engine and market positioning right to ensure the business can enter a high-growth stage. Now, it is in a critical stage. It must convert its momentum into a leadership position within the banking space. The track record of Indian start-ups in accomplishing this transition is poor. Just a few years ago, Cranes, Subex and OnMobile were our hot enterprise start-ups. All these stumbled and fell. This was not because of market issues but due to internal capability gaps. As an industry, we hope iCreate would avoid hubris, learn from others experiences and break this jinx.
Sharad Sharma, Chair of Nasscom Product Forum and former CEO and senior vice-president (R&D) India at Yahoo!