Meet the Draper winners at TiE50

Ritu Jha-

Basepair, Fluentpet, Proptexx, and VELMENI made it to Meet The Drapers show at TiE50 where several early to mid-stage startups from across the world contested in the event held at The IndUS Entrepreneurs Conference (TiEcon) 2024.

TiE Silicon Valley 2009 started the TiE50 program and in 2020 partnered with the famous venture firm The Drapers which also runs the “Meet the Drapers” TV show. Approximately 10 to 12 companies from the 50 winners were selected by the Draper’s Team to make their pitch at TiEcon 2024 and four now have a chance to win a spot for the Casting on season 7 of the “Meet the Drapers” show.

Angel investor Kumar Sripadam, co-chair of TIE50 was pleased to see the participation and the enthusiastic Q and A during the Meet the Drapers pitch, and told indica this year they had very enthusiastic participation. “We saw as many as 46 out of the 50 winners from all across the world attend the TiE50 awards program at the conference ‘in person’.”

He added that though AI has been the underlying trend and technology formed a good chunk of the winners, there were sizable winners from other domains. Education, Greentech and Cleantech, Digital Health for chronic pain and disease cure and management kept the audience engaged.

Taz Singh, a first-time judge at TiE50, who has invested in several TiE SoCal Startups, told indica, “I love the TiE50, especially the pitching competition. I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the investing world.”

Anand Jagannathan, TiE50 Awards Program co-chair told indica, “Four were chosen for the next stage of the ‘Meet The Draper’s TV program: Basepair, Fluentpet, Proptexx, VELMENI.”

Mini Suri, co-founder & CEO of VELMENI

About TiE50 winners he said that eight startups were judges’ choice after they watched company presentations and asked questions at the TiEcon event: Core Mobile, Kencor Health, Garuda Aerospace, NagaEd, Jogo Health, Qapita, Omni Design, and Rockfish Data.

“The 50 winners were chosen after a selective process from a much larger number of applicants. The winners were chosen based on a combination of factors: technology innovation, customer/market traction and impact on society,” Jagannathan said.

The ratio of B2B to B2C companies was about 80/20. Some of the innovative solutions featured by the winners:
– Platform to help humans communicate with pets – dogs and cats.
-AI and Machine Learning solutions to make hospital workflows more efficient
-AI to analyze 2D and 3D dental X-rays for dentists and insurance carriers
-Robotics in healthcare to help staff deal with tasks that are labor intensive and reducing wear and tear on nursing staff.
-Wearable sensors and AI to treat pain and neuromuscular conditions
-Bridging the education gap for tribal and indigenous communities in India
-Generative AI synthetic data platform to bridge the gaps between enterprise data silos.

TiE50 Draper winner Mini Suri is the co-founder & CEO of VELMENI – a company invested in dental AI. “When your x-rays get taken our AI can find all the hidden conditions that naked eyes cannot see. We do all kinds of X-rays, whether 2D or Dental Cone Beam CT scans, also called 3D X-rays within seconds. Oral health is a gateway to general health, and early diagnosis can save people from something bigger. It’s important that doctors don’t miss anything, one-third of the time, the diagnosis is missed. But with AI, we make sure that all the findings are very colorfully shown so that the doctors can see and, then show them to the patients. We reach out to the doctor’s office and also on the insurance side. We try to do this whole supply chain where the entire dental chain can be disrupted using AI,” Suri told indica.

Suri believes that TiE adds a lot of value to her firm. “I got involved with TiE in 2019 and since then this organization has given a lot to me. I was appointed as a board member, this is my second term, and this year is very important because we have a lot of women on the board. We also have a woman president at TiE SV, Anita Manwani. We are doing a lot of work for women, TiE global women, and the women’s network. We are inviting many women to be part of this TiE ecosystem. TiE means a lot to me because as a first-time entrepreneur, I have this amazing network, guidance, and mentors. There are people who help me and take the time to answer my queries. In this organization, whoever I talk to is willing to give back,” she added.

Amit Sinha, founder of Basepair Inc., another TiE50 Draper winner develops enterprise software for genomic data. Our customers are in pharma, R & D, and clinical diagnostics.
“My company is seven years old and this is the first full-time venture. I did not want to start a startup because everybody else was doing it. I was working in academia. I was in Harvard Medical School using genomics for cancer research. That is where I saw this exponential growth of genomic data and not enough software to analyze it and make sense of the data. When I found a meaningful problem, that is when I left my academic job and started Basepair,” Sinha told indica.

Amit Sinha, Founder, Basepair Inc

Sinha says that he often visits India because “we’re setting up a team in India as well”. “TiE50 is easily the most well-connected network of Indian entrepreneurs and executives. It’s such an honor to be part of it. Some legendary people are here at TiE50 and I feel proud to have got a chance to meet them and present to them my idea. And so it’s a real privilege here.” Sinha’s success is especially sweet owing to the numerous hurdles he had to pass. “Genomics used to be a small niche field. Most VCs did not care about it much. Genomics has been around for a few years but it has not hit the mainstream yet. But it’s getting there. One of the challenges for us is that most VCs don’t realize how big this sector is going to be. And once it has the ChatGPT moment, then everyone will suddenly line up to invest, like it is happening in AI.”

Leo Trottier, Founder of FluentPet, a TiE50 Draper winner is originally from Canada and now lives in San Francisco. “The Draper team and other judges selected me for one of the four spots. FluentPet makes tools, community, and educational resources to help people teach their dogs and cats how to communicate like a small child. We’re making Doctor Doolittle into a reality. Words like play or outside or food, and dogs and cats learn to press those buttons to ask for what they want. Back in 2019, a woman showed that it was possible to teach her dog to use these kinds of buttons. She wasn’t the very first person to do it, but she got very popular on Instagram. Her name is Christina Hunger. We all got together and figured out a better way to put these soundboards together. And that turned into FluentPet. There is a lot of potential for AI here. My background is in cognitive science and AI, so it’s a natural extension. I think the AI will come to bear when we have potentially, like, whole households, a smart home that is helping your dog or your cat learn to communicate.”

Leo Trottier, Founder of FluentPet

won the TiE50 Draper for his innovative idea that revolutionizes real estate, especially for home buyers. “Our company is an AI for real estate. We empower users to engage with property listing sites where they can visualize the interior from the comfort of their homes by changing the interiors and renovating the house before committing. They can actually visualize how the house would look, and how they would live there. We’re changing the photos according to the customers’ preferences.

Stefan Gunnarsson, Founder & CEO at PropTexx

We’re allowing the home buyer to engage with the listing itself. It’s the first time that this is being done, ever. We’re a tech company that integrates into platforms like Zillow. I got the idea for this venture while buying a home in Asia. I have a house in Phuket. It took me a while until I found it. But the problem that I went through to find my type of house gave me the idea, I wanted to solve it. AI was the choice to make it scalable. So, we built up our own AI solutions, and AI models that we’ve been doing over the past four years. And we went live with that in November 2023,” Gunnarsson told indica.

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