Axis Bank’s ‘Thought Factory’ aids its start-ups to expand, opens up avenues with investors

Bengaluru, July 21, 2017: Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector bank today, completed the first cohort of its start-up Accelerator Program at its innovation lab 'Thought Factory', in Bengaluru.

Rajiv Anand, Executive Director, Axis Bank, addressing the audience during the Graduation Day Thought Factory, Axis Bank's Innovation Lab

Over the past year, Thought Factory has been a major FinTech ecosystem enabler in Bengaluru, hosting multiple events, workshops, international visitors and other corporate clients; thereby enhancing industry-start-up collaboration. Thought Factory team has collaborated with OCBC Bank & Visa Innovation Lab, Singapore and AWS, India for co-innovating. A Tech Advisory Board comprising of Sharad Sharma (iSpirit), Manish Chokhani (Enam), Vishal Gondal (Founder, GoQii) & Shankar Narayan (Singapore based serial entrepreneur) along with Axis Bank Senior Management form the ThinkTank for Thought Factory. 

Axis Bank is the first Indian bank to launch such an innovation platform, and has successfully mentored 6 start-ups - S2Pay, Pally, Perpule, FintechLabs, Paymatrix and Gieom (details in Annexure I) to create breakthrough technology solutions to disrupt the banking-tech landscape. 

For the first cohort of its Accelerator Program, Axis Bank had selected these 6 start-ups from a pool of 108 applicants. They represent each of the emerging sectors touted to be game changers in the fin-tech space viz. Payments, Investments, Lending Analytics and Credit in rental space. Once on-boarded, in conjunction with its Accelerator Program Managers, Zone Start-ups, India, Axis Bank had facilitated a 6-month long structured mentorship program and access to office space, internal banking experts & mentors and a live test environment. The aim behind the program was to accelerate the overall growth of these emerging start-ups along with exploring novel banking ideas with them.

RajivAnand, Executive Director, Axis Bank said, “We are proud to be the springboard forbreakthrough ideas that can disrupt the banking landscape. Besides theAccelerator start-ups, the Bank, along with the Thought Factory team, has beenworking with other upcoming start-ups too.”

Ajay Ramasubramaniam,Head India Operations, Zone Startups, said, "It has been a great experience for us to bea part of the 1st year, of the Axis Bank Thought Factory Accelerator Program -an eventful year, during we built a strong FinTech community of startups,developers and FinTech enthusiasts in Bengaluru. In addition to the 6 startupsthat were a part of the inaugural cohort, we saw a great deal of interest fromFinTech's that wanted to work with business units from Axis Bank. We willcontinue to offer support to the startups on their growth path, and connectmore FinTechs into the Axis Bank fold, over the months to come." 

Apart fromthe Accelerator, Thought Factory also runs its in-house incubator where it isbuilding a chatbot with Active AI (a Singapore based start-up specializing inAI stack), to provide speedy redressal of customer queries via chat. Anotherinteresting solution is AI based smart video-surveillance, with Uncanny Vision.If successful, the solution has the potential of removing any manualintervention in surveillance. Worxogo is another interesting startup that usesPersuasive Technology for aligning work behaviours with work processes. Withthe Bank, they are building an Innovation Management Platform to mobilize itsinnovation efforts at an organization-wide level. 

Besides theprogress at the Accelerator, the past 6 months have been quiet eventfulfor the start-ups, Perpule won the semi-final round of Next Money FintechFinals‘17, and raised a seed funding of $650K from Kalaari Capital; S2Pay and Gieomonboarded multiple new clients; FintechLabs & Paymatrixexpanded theirservices portfolio while Pally evolved in its product idea and expanded itsteam. 

The ThoughtFactory is also conducting a startup boot camp, a 2 month program for gradstartup ideas, under its “Future of Jobs” initiative. 5 student teams of2-members each will be provided a hands-on mentorship program for pursuingtheir ideas and converting them into real businesses. The objective is to helphigh-potential students, with the know-how and resources across mentorship, industryaccess, capital and an overall “Founder Development” platform, that will helpthese young talent to spin out successful ventures; which in turn can createlocal knowledge jobs in the economy, and secure the “Future of Jobs”, in India.

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