Exclusive: We focus on seed stage proven enterprise models, says Aashish Kalra, Cambridge Innovations

Cambridge Technology Enterprises (CTE), an IT firm focused on the convergence of big data and cloud, launched Cambridge Innovations (CI) in December 2015. Since then, the investment hub has backed nine startups and is aiming to build a portfolio of around 50 companies over the next three years.

It provides up to 25 per cent of seed capital to help startups secure a better Series A round of funding. Some of the most recent investments made by the company include Ourly.help and Valet Anywhere.

In an interview with DEALSTREETASIA, Aashish Kalra, chairman of CI, said, their focus is to find the most innovative entrepreneurs seeking rapid growth for transformative revenue producing businesses and provide them with the capital and resources needed to reduce technology risk. Edited excerpts:

Why are you focusing on big data and analytics in India, where reliable data is hard to come by?

Big Data and analytics are game changers. Michael Dell stated that is “where the next trillion dollars comes from”, and we believe he’s underestimating it. Big data and analytics are transforming how businesses are defined, designed and delivered. The trend is rapid and accelerating. The explosion of smartphones, tablets, sensors on a global scale and the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning has seen 90 per cent of the data in the world created in the last two years alone and it is growing at 40 per cent annually. IDC estimates, there is a resource shortage of 1.5 million managers/analysts and 200,000 data scientists in US alone.

This global resource shortage fuels opportunity for Indian skilled resources to fill the gap and we are building a US-centric business. We have extended our presence in India with delivery offices in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai which help us attract the best talent. We know big data and analytics business software coupled with consulting services will be increasingly needed, and CTE is poised to help organisations seeking to realise their business potential to capture new enterprise value by leveraging the convergence of big data and the cloud. Our focus is on delivering end-to-end services to leading vertical enterprise customers and extending to new innovative startups.


How big is the big data technology market market?

The global Big Data technology and services market is expected to grow at a 26.4 percent CAGR to $41.5 billion by 2018. This is about six times growth rate of the overall IT market. According to research reports, 79 percent of the business leaders agree that companies that do not embrace big data will lose their competitive position and may even face extinction. Whether US or India, enterprises and governments, realise the potential of analytics and have started investing and adopting big data for immediate and long-term benefits.

According to a Gartner study, 83 percent of the business leaders have pursued big data projects in order to seize competitive edge. Another study reveals more than 56 percent of enterprises will increase their investment in big data over the next few years. Big data and cloud are becoming essential elements of nearly every industry from energy, life sciences, financial services, transportation to retail.


Through CI, you only invested in US start-ups since its launch, what are the challenges/issue you face with Indian start-ups?

We don’t like to think as startups as US, or Indian. We believe startups should be global. We believe rapid scalability, both technically and geographically is increasingly defining the global winners. Thus, the Cambridge Innovations thesis is enabling the next generation of startups with the capital and access to 24/7 development with the best people in the world, previously reserved for only the largest companies.

The US drives innovation with its startup ecosystem of approximately 48,000 startups. India is the youngest startup nation, with close to 4,500 startups. We focus on US-based start-ups since the valuations are low, and the products come with innovation and global appeal. We work with startups to bring the best companies in the world to India and are working to develop the potential to make the best companies in the world, in India. We believe this is the seed for India’s future helping develop the core company building skills required to make India a leading force. We are encountering opportunities to give our companies access to the India market where we have strong synergies and it is helping fueling tremendous growth.


What are the new sectors you looking to invest in?

We believe the transformative impact of big data and analytics will impact nearly every sector of the economy. We are sector agnostic, but are seeing tremendous activity in Healthcare, Energy, Transportation, Education and Logistics. We have invested in companies like RoadZen, Valet Anywhere using big data, an analytics to create new and innovative on-demand services for car owners, companies like Authess and MyCrowd which are transforming how organisations conduct assessments and software testing, and companies like Causemo and Ourly.help providing platforms that enable from charities to parents to be more effective.

Our focus is to find the most innovative entrepreneurs seeking rapid growth for transformative revenue producing businesses and provide them with the capital and resources needed to reduce technology risk. We focus on seed stage proven enterprise models with revenue, and let everyone chase unicorns.

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Cambridge Innovations backs Valet Anywhere & Ourly.help