B2C is one of the fastest evolving technology spaces within the start-up arena since consumers today have a very short attention span and are also experimenting a lot more. Can you blame them? With the multitude of options to choose from, consumers are spoilt for choice. Additionally, we now find a lot of digital technologies have converged to create a very vibrant ecosystem for enhanced products and services. NASSOM India has a platform called Product Connect and they have been doing a brilliant job at offering entrepreneurs an audience of peers and mentors to get early feedback about their idea or offering. I had the opportunity to be a jury member for the 100th Product Connect session last month and the topic was B2C Product Showcase. It was a great session with a dozen start-ups making an elevator pitch, showcasing their product and the business model. One thing we can be certain of is that this space is going to continue to amaze us with the rapid deployment of IoT, AI and ML, besides reinventing traditional business models.One of the many great ideas showcased was a food delivery app. We are not new to technology in the food delivery space, but what’s amazing to see is that people find newer, better and more innovative ways to redefine an already existing space. This food delivery app caters to the new health conscious population who crave for some good ‘Ghar ka Khana’. Homemakers are encouraged to offer their kitchens and their cooking to this target audience. What this enables is, not only healthy eating but also allows for homemakers to earn income and thus creates a whole new income generating population (not to forget, it gives these homemakers financial independence). The entire process is tightly controlled and each home, not just the kitchen is food safety certified. It will be interesting to see how this company positions itself in the market. It is great when you have a good idea but what makes a good idea great is good marketing.

Another very interesting trend is the use of hardware and edge computing in delivering enhanced customer experience. One of the start-ups is combining Mobile tech, Location Based Services and Hardware at the retail outlets to hyper-target customers in very densely competitive places like malls. The idea is great. This start up is taking ‘information at your fingertips’ quite literally. The technology has reached a mass deployment stage, so it will be great to see if this start-up can grab the opportunity and scale quickly.

Another space that seems to be using tech very effectively is the Edutech space. The current education system needs a little tweaking as kids as early as 2 years are learning more from technology than what a classroom can teach them. It’s about time that education and technology join hands to enhance the learning experience for all age groups.

Start-ups are using a combination of Machine Learning and Big Data analytics to significantly improve outcomes for students online as well as in the class-rooms. One of the start-ups is giving a holistic assessment of the student-teacher collaboration and helping accelerate learning and creating an active feedback mechanism inside and outside the classroom.

One of my observations was that early stage start-ups need to finetune their pitch and step back from the tech (I know it’s fascinating!) and invest energy on Marketing. Every stage of the start-up needs a different kind of marketing, as you are pitching to focus groups, mentors, funders and so on. The successful start-ups recognise this need and invest time and energy on this critical aspect.

All in all, it was time well spent and I look forward to seeing some of these evolve and grow to be the next set of unicorns from India.

The author is Kumar Mallampalli who is a partner at RheinBrücke IT Consulting. Click here to know more.

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