IIT (M) has incubated a start-up that aims to help other start-ups and entrepreneurs to navigate through the unchartered waters of entrepreneurship during its early days. This initiative intends to enhance the success rate of early-stage start-ups by using tools and techniques based on data sciences and machine learning.
Founded by Prof. Thillai Rajan YNOS Venture Engine CC Private Limited was incubated at the Incubation Cell of IIT Madras. YNOS utilises technology and research insights to offer intermediation services and information to entrepreneurs during the early stages of their start-up journey. Using market analytical tools, the YNOS platform offers estimates of valuation and also helps in the identification of appropriate investors for start-up ventures.
Prof. Thillai Rajan is a professor in the Department of Management Studies at IIT Madras and has been researching the Indian Venture Capital Industry for almost a decade. Prof. Thillai Rajan also brings out an annual report on the private equity and venture capital industry in India, offering his insights on the growth and funding issues faced by start-ups.
In early 2019, YNOS Venture Engine CC Private Limited launched the Delphi platform to support start-ups in technology and deep innovation sector. This platform aims to connect entrepreneurs and start-up ventures with the top-notch scientific expertise in higher education institutions throughout the country.
The Delphi platform enables entrepreneurs from all over the world to identify the faculty members they would like to work with. Faculty members from IIT Madras, IIIT Bangalore, IIT Delhi, BITS Pilani, IITDM Kanchipuram, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Mandi, IIT Ropar, NIT Trichy, NIT Raipur, NIT Warangal, and IIT Palakkad are part of the Delphi platform.
In an interview with edInbox, Prof. Thillai Rajan offered insights about the Indian start-up ecosystem, YNOS Venture Engine CC Private Limited and its Delphi platform and how the IIT-Madras incubated start-up intends to accelerate the growth of other start-ups by connecting entrepreneurs and academic researchers.
An insight into his academic and professional journey that motivated him to launch this initiative?
Presently I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Management Studies at IIT Madras. My specialisation in teaching and research include Venture Capital, Project and Infrastructure Finance, Corporate Finance and Public-Private Partnerships.
Before becoming an academic, I was working with multinational organisations such as Infosys Technologies and IL&FS Investment Managers. I also bring out an annual report on the private equity and venture capital industry in India.
My professional, academic and research background puts me in a position to understand the funding difficulties of start-ups, and as a result of this, YNOS Venture Engine CC Private Limited was incorporated and incubated by the IIT-Madras to helps other entrepreneurs and start-ups.
What motivated you to launch Delphi? How has the response been from other institutions?
I think that India has no shortage of talent. However, a large proportion of start-up fails within the first 3-years of their launch. While there is a culture of innovation and research in India, it is still much less compared to the levels in the West. Also, there is an absence of a collaboration between academics researchers and entrepreneurs.
So far the platform has received support from other institutions such as IIIT Bangalore, IIT Delhi, BITS Pilani, IITDM Kanchipuram, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Mandi, IIT Ropar, NIT Trichy, NIT Raipur, NIT Warangal, and IIT Palakkad.
How does the Delphi platform intend to help other start-ups adopt innovation and technology?
The Delphi platform has over 128 faculty members as a part of the platform. These faculty members are associated with institutions of higher educations as IIT Madras, IIIT Bangalore, IIT Delhi, BITS Pilani, IITDM Kanchipuram, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Mandi, IIT Ropar, NIT Trichy, NIT Raipur, NIT Warangal, and IIT Palakkad which are all a part of the Delphi platform.
Start-ups operate on a shoe-string budget during their initial years of inception with literally zero-budget for research and development and innovation beyond the entrepreneur’s expertise. The Delphi platform then allows entrepreneurs to connect with a faculty member of their choice for exploring the possibilities of using and commercialising their research.
How did IIT Madras help you in making Delphi a reality?
IIT Madras fosters an active entrepreneurial culture with strong curricular support and through the IITM Incubation Cell. YNOS Venture Engine CC Private Limited was incubated at the Incubation Cell of IIT Madras and is managed by a team of faculty, students and alumni of IIT Madras.
The Delphi platform was once again launched during the Chennai Demo Day, an event organised by IIT Madras. The platform aims to enable entrepreneurs to leverage the research and expertise of the academic community within the country.
What are some of the most prominent obstacle start-ups in India are experiencing?
Some of the most prominent obstacles that start-ups in India experience are lack of access to business leaders and investors, ability to convert an idea into a commercially successful business and assimilation of research data and information which is presently scattered across the nation.
Why do Indian Start-ups and India lack in Innovation despite a billion plus population?
In my opinion, there is innovation in India but focus on innovation is less compared to that in the West. There is a wide gap in the research and development budgets of Indian and Western businesses, with the West dedicating a higher proportion of their revenues towards R&D, which is not in the case in India.
Further, the concept of R&D is absent in most start-ups and SMEs in India, considering most operate on limited cash and low-profit margins, leaving no scope of investing in research and development.
Reasons for Research and Development in India is restricted to a selected few Multinationals in India?
Most research in India is undertaken by large corporates and higher education institutions. While corporates utilise and commercialise their research, the study conducted by academicians is often limited to research papers. India is yet to witness the commercialisation of academic research.
The Delphi platform aims to act as a bridge between entrepreneurs and academic researchers to enable start-ups to adapt, innovate and commercialise the untapped and untouched academic research.
What is Delphi’s revenue model and how does Delphi plan to monetise its expertise?
The entrepreneurs registered on the Delphi platform will be required to pay a subscription fee. Also, there will be a revenue sharing arrangement in place with the registered academicians on the platform who earn revenues from the platform with entrepreneurs connecting with them and commercialising their research
How is the Delphi platform different from other management consultancy firm?
The Delphi platform is not a management consultancy firm, but a bridge is connecting entrepreneurs and academic researchers. The Delphi platform is purely involved in helping start-ups engaged in science and technology and do not offer management support.
YNOS Venture Engine CC Private Limited actively seeks to engage with more members of faculties from technical high educational institutions. Faculty members interested in commercialising and witnessing the true potential of their research can register with YNOS and the Delphi platform.