Forty years after its inception, SAP still has the heart and soul of a startup. That was the overarching message at the SAP Startup Forum in Palo Alto, California on March 7. The inaugural event brought together 26 startup companies for a day of collaboration, learning, and competition. “Being part of two startups before my career at SAP, this is a topic very close to my heart,” said Dr. Vishal Sikka, member of the SAP Executive Board, Technology & Innovation.

The theme was big data, and the participating startups shared one thing in common: the challenge of handling terabytes and even petabytes of information. “This means they have exciting potential use-cases with SAP HANA,” said Dr. Sikka, who spoke at the event. The SAP HANA platform, a combination of SAP in-memory software and SAP partner hardware, can query multiple types of data sources in real time, at unprecedented speeds and volumes. “We provide you with the [HANA] platform,” said Sikka to the audience. “The rest – what you do with it – is limited only by your imagination.”

Thirteen of the participating startups presented at the event, pitching business cases and software solutions ranging from optimized planning and scheduling solutions for the manufacturing industry to an online gaming and simulation platform. Several presenters detailed how they hope to implement SAP HANA to optimize their offerings.

SAP backs startups

SAP HANA wasn’t the only star of this show. Nino Markovic, head of SAP Ventures, an independent Venture Capital (VC) firm backed by SAP, was on hand. Markovic stated that in its 15 years of operation, SAP Ventures has funded more than 125 companies globally, with an average of 10 initial investments per year ranging from $3 million to $15 million. Funding from SAP Ventures, Markovic explained, has a unique value add – startups benefit not just from capital gains, but by being able to leverage the international presence of SAP and its ecosystem.

“We’re just as excited about big data as you guys are,” Markovic said, inviting startups in attendance to reach out to SAP Ventures to explore possible relationships.

Attendees interested in engaging further with SAP Ventures had the opportunity to do so in a breakout session where the VC further explained its engagement and investment model. Three other breakout sessions also took place: “Engaging with SAP” focused on the business aspect, and two sessions focused on the hard-core technical stuff:  “HANA Architecture Deep Dive” and “Mobile Architecture Deep Dive.”

After the breakout sessions, participating startups took their pitches public in a tradeshow of sorts attended by nearly 300 SAP employees based at the SAP Labs Palo Alto Campus. Attendees viewed live demos of each startup’s products, technology, and/or services, and then competed in a funding game. With mock euros, individuals backed the company they believed to have the best chance for success. The company that received the most “funding” was awarded a trophy, and top honors. The SAP employee choice for most likely to succeed was Zettaset, which provides a complete enterprise-ready solution for creating, managing, controlling, and securing Apache Hadoop clusters. (Apache Hadoop is a framework for running applications on large clusters built of commodity hardware.)

Other categories, judged by a panel of participants from the morning sessions, were awarded as follows:

  • Best Big Data Solution – Zettaset took this one too.
  • Most Innovative – AlertEnterprise, delivering a unifying software layer that combines situational intelligence with command and control capabilities to protect critical infrastructures both physical and virtual.
  • Best User Experience – LongJump, providing enterprise cloud services that enable users to visually build process driven enterprise-grade applications.
  • Best Twitter Solution Description – Next Principles, a company in the social CRM space offering an easy-to-use, immediately-actionable social media measurement solution for marketing campaigns, events, and other programs.

The March 7 event was the first in a series of SAP Startup Forums. The next event takes place June 7, 2012, and will focus on Mobile on SAP HANA. SAP Startup Forum events are by-invitation-only. To express interest, and for updates as they become available, go to

List of Presenting Startups (excluding those previously listed as winners):

Forio Online Simulations offers a platform for building and sharing strategic planning and training simulations for mid- and senior-level managers – often in the form unique and engaging form of apps or games. They also offer custom simulation development.

Claritics is a provider of intelligent analytics for social and mobile application developers, enabling them to track user behaviors in real-time and gain actionable insights to improve their reach, retention, and revenue campaigns.

Thingsquare is a software platform for what the company calls “the Internet of Things.” Thingsquare connects wireless sensors and everyday objects to the cloud, and provides software that helps its clients collect, transport, store, analyze, and act upon the massive amounts of data thereby generated.

Spotzot directly connects brands and merchants with mobile consumers that demonstrate high purchase intent. For consumers they provide ShopMagic, a web and mobile app that visually displays current deals from the top 1,000 chain retailers and restaurants.

VSSOD business agility solutions focus on real-time exception management on the web and on-device.

Optessa offers solutions for assembly line scheduling and sequencing problems in manufacturing.

AlienVault is a network security company focused on the SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) and Unified Security Management space. AlienVault is the creator of OSSIM, the de facto standard Open Source SIEM.

Chiliad is self-described as “search on steroids,” with deep analytics for commercial and government markets. Chiliad is the world’s most advanced provider of inter and intra–enterprise information discovery and knowledge extraction solutions. A use-case example is the Department of Homeland Security, which uses Chiliad software anytime anyone makes a plane reservation, to find out in real time if the prospective passenger is on the no-fly list.

Passenger has services specializing in building social brand intelligence through an innovative online community software suite.

Watch this video about SAP Startup Forum to geht more information.


Other attending start-ups: 10 Jumps, BoxFish, GoodData, Intrigo, Metavana, Taulia, BitYota, Cataphora, Inkiru, Lithium, Remedy Interactive, and uCirrus.