Articles

Our Summary of TechSparks 2021: Enterprise SaaS, Edtech, Conversational Commerce and More

November 4, 2021
,

TechSparks is India’s most influential technology, innovation, and leadership summit. TechSparks 2021 was a virtual event that took place October 25-30, 2021. According to the event website:

“TechSparks 2021 will be an agenda-setting global leadership summit that enables what’s next as it brings together diverse perspectives, learnings and voices of global leaders, technology startups, enterprises and ecosystem stakeholders who are rethinking the future through disruptive technologies and innovative solutions.”

We attended each day of the virtual event. In this post, we’ll share learnings and takeaways from some of the sessions we attended.

Earned Wage Access: Deconstructing the traditional monthly pay model

On Day 2 (October 26, 2021), the keynote was delivered by Chitresh Sharma, CEO and Co-founder of Refyne. 

Chitresh spoke about a concept wherein employees can analyze their expenditure and lifestyle trends. Chitresh notes that people tend to take out loans with a higher obligation than they’re capable of paying. His solution is to help people avoid over-leveraging their savings. 

According to Chitresh, “Gone are the days when people saved 80 percent of their earnings and spent 20 percent. Today, people are spending way too much and it boils down to the lack of understanding of personal finance and budgeting.”

Fintech forward: Scaling to newer heights with compliance

Also on Day 2, we attended “RoundTable: Fintech forward: Scaling to newer heights with compliance.” The panelists were:

  • Nitya Sharma, Co-founder & CEO, Simpl
  • Ashish Singhal, Founder & CEO, CoinSwitchKuber
  • Lizzie Chapman, Co-founder & CEO, ZestMoney
  • Karthik Prabhakar, Partner, Chiratae Ventures
  • Adhil Shetty. Co-founder & CEO, Bankbazaar.com
  • Sanket Deodhar, Vice President – TATA Group & Unicorns Business, SAP India
  • Priya Sheth, Senior Anchor, YourStory

Here’s a summary of selected audience questions:

Q: What platforms are used for scalability? What is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is user experience and trust of customers. Secondly, India has some of the best financial infrastructure companies including SAP, UPI and Aadhar. The industry has strongly invested in technology, machine learning.

Q: What are the top priorities for successful fintech companies?

A: Leveraging Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), which has been deployed in India since its creation. Other priorities include user experience with hyper-personalization and efficient use of AI, including its use in fraud detection.

Q: What’s an example of crypto technology in India?

The panel discussed CoinSwitch, an app-based cryptocurrency exchange for retail investors in India. 55% of its users are from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India. In India, the average age of a crypto investor is 25 years old. The plan is for CoinSwitch to diversify its portfolio of offerings to create more investment options for users.

Enterprise SaaS – The secret sauce to success

A panel discussion titled “Enterprise SaaS – The secret sauce to success” featured the following panel:

  • Vaibhav Khandelwal, Co-founder & CTO, Shadowfax
  • Vishal Chaudhary, Co-founder, Zetwerk
  • Vasant Sridhar, Co-founder & CSO, OfBusiness
  • Adarsh Kumar, Co-founder &  CEO, Tagbox
  • Prayank Swaroop, Partner, Accel
  • Madanmohan Rao, Research Director, YourStory

The panel noted that post-pandemic, there has been a shift in strategic distribution systems and fulfillment cycles among local players in India. For digital B2B logistics solutions, the panel noted successes with IoT with machine learning and AI. An overview was provided of Project Nakshatra by SAP, which allows Indian startups to partner with SAP for small-to-mid-level engagements.  

Edtech from a new lens, the rise of ed-infra

We attended a fireside chat titled “Edtech from a new lens, the rise of ed-infra.” The participants were:

  • Mihir Gupta, CEO & Co-founder, Teachmint
  • Chahat Jain, Senior Anchor, YourStory

Mihir and Chahat discussed the significance of video as a service platform and digitization in teaching. Technology advancements have reduced go-to-market timelines for edtech players and created a better user experience for teachers and students. 

95% of edtech users take classes on a mobile device rather than a laptop. Currently, the student-teacher ratio is high: 29 students to every teacher. As a result, edtech platforms have been created with the goal of reducing this ratio.

Building an unlikely unicorn in the B2B e-commerce space

We attended a case study session featuring Rahul Garg, Founder of Moglix.com. Rahul noted that his company’s focus was to build a product exclusively for the Indian market to serve the unique needs of India’s B2B sector. 

Moglix has more than 500,000 products in its catalog. Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been a benefit to the company since it unified the tax structure across states and made it easier to do business. Rahul notes that in the future, supply chain and data financing capabilities need to be frictionless.

Fuelling consumer behavioural shift with conversational commerce

We attended a session titled “Panel discussion: Fuelling consumer behavioural shift with conversational commerce: Challenges and opportunities ahead.” The panelists were:

  • Yash Dayal, Chief Technology Officer, Zivame
  • Rashid Khan, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Yellow.ai
  • Michiel Gaasterland, Evangelist, CM.com
  • Madanmohan Rao, Research Director, YourStory

Post pandemic, there has been an exponential increase in conversational commerce interactions. Last year, about 100 conversations happened in a quarter. That number has now grown to one billion in a single quarter. 

Language barriers have been addressed with the development of auto-translation and the creation of native libraries and validated words. The panel noted that 70% of global communication is voice-based. 

Expectation versus reality for payments data monetization

We attended a session titled “Panel discussion: Expectation versus reality for payments data monetization.” The panelists were:

  • Himanshumali, Manager, Solution Architect, MongoDB
  • Shrini Viswanath, Cofounder, Upstox
  • Rohit Sharma, Product Leader, Cashfree Payments
  • Shivani Muthanna, Senior Associate Producer and Senior Anchor, YourStory

Himanshumali from MongoDB discussed the benefits of data monetisation:

  • Efficiency of internal operations
  • Better services to customers
  • Value-added service: using machine learning and analytics to build more services

That’s a wrap

We had an active and fun-filled week at TechSparks 2021. We had a chance to attend a lot of interesting virtual sessions. We’re looking forward to TechSparks 2022 when perhaps we’ll return to an in-person experience.