Over the past decade we have seen a visible increase in big tech’s participation in enabling the startup community.
This effort as I like to think, is partially altruistic and partially strategic as the tech community seeks to give back, support founders and innovators and of course identify great ideas to invest, acquire or partner.
The next ten years, I anticipate this trend will further proliferate as disruption continues to keep the world’s brightest technology companies on their toes, but also because I believe that the industry has seen the tremendous contributions and when startups are enabled with the resources and tools required for success, their impact could be substantial.
This past year, IBM launched the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator, which was interesting, and after reviewing the accelerator, I worked with IBM to get a bit further under the hood to put an analyst lens on the program as well as some of the startups that garnered the attention of IBM throughout the process.
Introducing The IBM Accelerator
The IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator was launched in June of this year targeting startups with a focus on high security, compliance driven industries like healthcare and financial tech.
The plan was to attract a volume of highly innovative startups in those secure industries where IBM could support a small number with deep resources and technology enablement.
Providing Tools For Startups
Most startups seek financial resources to drive their business forward, but what I found particularly compelling was the focus on guidance, mentorship and tools that this particular accelerator offered.
Given IBM’s strong position around secure workloads on LinuxONE with IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services delivering mainframe caliber protection in the cloud, the company realized that the cost of building the solution could be prohibitive. Furthermore, startups that want to build applications that can protect highly sensitive data on and off prem need tremendous infrastructure investments that most startups cannot afford.
With Hyper Protect being delivered in a consumption model in the cloud, and the finalists being given up to $120,000 in IBM Cloud credits, the heavy lift of infrastructure investment to build the applications and secure them, will be achievable.
I also like the access to a large mentorship pool that will engage the finalists in workshops, design assistance and technical support. While as I mentioned, startups may typically be seeking financial support, this type of support offers an intangible that money cannot replace, while concurrently offsetting costs, which any entrepreneur would see as a 1:1 replacement for capital.
Identifying the Best: 15 Finalists Selected
After much deliberation and an intimate series of discussions with nearly 150 applicants, the accelerator team sought to narrow it down to a total of 15.
The final 15 came from 9 countries and unsurprisingly due to the security focus of Hyper Protect, the companies came from 3 major industries (Healthcare, Financial, Insurance)
As part of my analysis, I spent a bit of time speaking to three of the finalists, which spanned healthcare, commercial finance and peer-to-peer payment solutions. The companies spoken to include
- Px Pulse: This U.S. Based healthcare company has a very interesting solution delivering real-time patient experience, prediction, and intervention framework + platform, dashboard, and chat solution that also increases CMS reimbursements. The company has already won a proof of concept with one of the largest children’s hospital networks.
- Wayapay: This peer-to-peer payment solution company is based in Kenya. The solution is a person-to-person money remittance and EFT provider enabling users to send money at a lower cost and quicker than the market from any country to Africa (targeting US, Australia, UK, and Canada); first focus country is Kenya; funds received via mobile money wallets
- Verge.Capital: Verge is led by a passionate female founder and is based in Greece. The company saw an opportunity to provide banking services to those that haven’t built traditional credit. The solution places Verge.Capaital in the market as a Pan-European credit score provider empowering EU citizens with access to credit, while expanding the consumer credit markets for financial institutions; helps bank the unbanked with AI, ML, and behavioral modeling
My assessment from speaking to the 3 finalists about their respective journeys in the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator was that each company found the resources invaluable in helping their startup execute their visions.
Of course, all of the startups are still in an early phase and the next phase will ultimately provide them significantly more resources that will help these companies scale their infrastructure and/or go to market with their product.
I’m bullish on continued investments by big tech in the startup community. The area that IBM focused on here was a road less traveled, as security and data privacy is often overlooked when companies are seeking fast-scale growth.
I also appreciate the diversity in selection to have inclusion from a broad variety of geographies including North America, Africa, India and Europe. It was also great to gain perspective from a female founder.
It will be interesting to track the final 15. Based upon my assessment, the pool of applicants had strong and compelling ideas, but many were still very early stage. The test of resources and tech as opposed to money itself will be make for an interesting next phase for these companies. Having said that, I do believe that the resources being delivered from IBM will serve as a potential catalyst to garner attention from angel and VCs that can provide the financial resources these startups will ultimately need.
Learn More About the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator
The IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator Powered by IBM LinuxONE was designed to build and scale the next generation of fintech and healthtech companies with solutions engineered to keep their sensitive data highly secured.
The accelerator spanned four phases – call for entries, startup identification, an in-person workshop and ongoing mentorship – selected startups will work with IBM and our collaborators IBM Alpha Zone, Queen City Fintech, MEDICI, the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, and Healthtech Women to help them develop their ideas into sustainable and scalable companies.
The selected startups (15) will have access to technical workshops from IBM, an experienced network of business and technical support, connections to Queen City Fintech’s 300 business mentors, business value design assistance, curated curriculum specifically designed for startups, and up to $10,000 monthly in IBM Cloud technology credits that can be used within that month to access IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services running on IBM LinuxONE. By the end of the program, the cohort will have had the opportunity to each receive up to $120,000 in credits.
For even more information about IBM Hyper Protect Class of 2020, visit http://ibm.biz/classof2020.
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Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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