Zeroth.AI accelerated and invested in the first cohort of startups in India. The AI focused accelerator is working with Deepcore, a Japanese incubator and fund that is part of the SoftBank group. Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Sachin Unni, the partner at Zeroth.AI, to know about the accelerator’s plans in India. Zeroth plans the opening of two new programs — one in Bengaluru and in Tokyo — which will be run by Sachin Unni and Hajime Hotta respectively.
Unni is a serial entrepreneur and a tech advisor with almost a decade of experience with startups. He is actively involved in the startup ecosystem with angel investments and as a mentor to multiple product companies.
AIM: Tell us about Zeroth.AI and its AI-focussed model
SU: Zeroth is one of Asia’s first accelerator program backing founders working on emerging technologies like AI. We invest capital into visionary founders at the pre-seed and seed stage, and partner with them over three months to build their startups through a team of experienced entrepreneurs, a network of partners and investors, and a community of other founders. In just over a year, Zeroth has invested in over 33 companies from 15 countries. Zeroth companies have attracted top venture investors from around the world, and continue to grow rapidly.
AIM: Tell us about the recent achievements of Zeroth.AI and the impact it has made
- Zeroth has invested in 33 companies with the central location as Hong Kong. Now with new cohorts, we have almost doubled the number of investments
- In a little more than a year, we have expanded to two new locations (India, Japan) and in 2019, we will be making our presence stronger in other strategic locations
- Partnered with DeepCore — a Japanese incubator and fund that is part of the SoftBank group, to use resources on deal sourcing and other collaboration around artificial intelligence
AIM: Can you talk about Zeroth.AI’s India plans and reasons for entering the Indian market?
SU: As mentioned earlier, I have been in the startup ecosystem for many years but unfortunately, I have witnessed a lack of support for multiple product startups. The reason being the need for funds “that have patience”. This is the basis of our accelerator and our idea of supporting early-stage startups in the frontier technology. India as a market or breed grounds for tech talent is of no surprise but we have noticed a major spike in product startups making it out of the garages and aiming for a global reach with the power of data. If given the right launchpad, the product startups from any geo-location can solve problems or innovate the available solutions and India is one of the key locations.
AIM: What kind of startups are you looking for?
SU: Pre-seed and seed stage startups working on frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics.
AIM: What are the best ways to reach you and convince Zeroth.AI to accelerate an AI-based startup?
SU: A team that can explain the idea and vision in chorus with no separate versions. Even though some error rates are acceptable due to individual perspectives. The Zeroth Partner team consists of ex-founders with experience in products and company exits including fundraising during the lifetime. Everyone understands the grind that’s needed to bring a product from idea to reality, we do not ignore the fact that there will be pivots in strategies or roadmap but if the founders who have reached out to us can explain their idea, approach, research notes on their company then there is no stopping us from selecting the startup regardless of revenue or traction numbers.
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As a thorough data geek, most of Abhijeet's day is spent in building and writing about intelligent systems. He also has deep interests in philosophy, economics and literature.