Marking its territory in the battle to woo emerging ventures, IBM has launched BlueMix in India, a free platform for startups to develop and host mobile applications within minutes.
IBM’s BlueMix will add to the already growing ecosystem of platforms like Microsoft’s Azure, Google’s App Engine, Citrix’s XenApp environment, Salesforce’s Heroku and Amazon’s Elastic BeanStalk -all of which are being pushed by corporations through their startup accelerators and ‘entrepreneurship’ programs to Indian developers. Some like SAP’s HANA accelerators are focused only on startups building apps for the platform.
“It’s becoming a battle of the application programming interfaces. Once developers start using a platform they become its evangelists and it expands the ecosystem, benefiting a corporation,” said Ravi Gururaj, Chairman of Nasscom 10,000 Startups, and former head of Citrix Accelerator.
The Big Blue plans to play it big in the growing startup ecosystem of India this year, by entering into business partnerships with local accelerators and startups. The world’s oldest company which made piano sized wooden tabulating machines in 1880s, cheese slicers to clocks in early 1900s, typewriters and mainframes in late 20th century -IBM credits its survival to preserving a startup culture.
“To survive that long, you have to think like a startup. We have one goal as a company -To live forever,” said Mauricio Sucasas, Asia Pacific lead of IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program, who drives the 103-year old company’s program out of Beijing.
“In the traditional model, a developer would take two weeks to buy a domain, server storage and integrate it with a database. With Bluemix, developers can do it within 30 seconds,” Sucasas added. “Free tools and credits by such platforms really help in early days of a startup, when every penny counts. It easier to migrate back, as most are based upon open standards,” said Kunal Lagwankar, CEO of AdSparx, which provides technology for in-video ads. AdSparx migrated its apps to Microsoft’s Azure, after becoming a part of its accelerator.
“The new goal for most large corporations and their clients is to become a part of the startup ecosystem, so that they don’t get behind in the game of technology,” said Mukund Mohan, director at Microsoft Ventures.
From this year, IBM will start partnering with Indian accelerators, such as Kyron, as well as VC funds to identify tech startups. Unlike Intel, Cisco or SAP, IBM does not own an investment arm. “We are not in the VC game. There are plenty of accelerators in the market, and our focus is to encourage the ecosystem, than compete with it,” explains Sucasas of IBM. It is also organising `SmartCamps’ -two day contests -for technical startups.
IBM has also partnered with startups such as Temando, which provides e-commerce solutions for faster fulfillment of products. In Kenya, IBM has partnered with a startup called MoDe, which lends mobile prepaid users additional balance when they give it a missed call.
MoDe received the lend money back whenever a subscriber recharges his balance. “Telcos don’t want to get into credit business. As we handle all major telcos in the world, we take technology of such startups to the world,” said Sucasas.