India, a home to more than 3,000 vibrant tech/ digital start-ups, is the fourth largest base across the world. Since 2010, The Indian Technology Start-ups landscape has seen a sharp rise in the creation of new start-ups and this number reached almost 3,100 by the end of year 2014. It is a hyper growth inflection point for the Indian start-up ecosystem, with growth, capital and acquisitions all coming together creating a perfect storm. Inspite of these promising statistics India still has a long way to go to replicate the success of Silicon Valley or Israel.
The founders of some of the promising startups shared their views about their startup journey and what helped them to script their success.
A2Zapps.com is an enterprise cloud computing company headquartered in New Delhi, India, specializing in business software on a subscription basis.It offers a cloud-based work platform at an affordable monthly subscription fee.
Origin of the idea: A2Zapps, CEO Kantanu Kundu and Co-promoter and Dipanjan Purkayastha realised that there was a significant gap in the enterprise tech space, especially for SMBs, who want powerful and nimble yet affordable automation that help them remain competitive, and it is this gap that they planned to bridge. The objective of creating A2Zapps was to build a mobile-first enterprise cloud ecosystem that helps businesses use all the work and collaboration automation they need, within hours and without coding in an affordable manner. A2Zapps’ Cloud OS formally launched in February 2014 and since then there is no looking back.
A2Zapps is helping businesses automate their employees and partners (B2B) as well as their customers (B2B2C). It has bagged a multi-year contract from one of India’s top media houses, to help build their top digital consumer product. This product is projected to add 2 million+users to the A2Zapps platform within the next 12 months. A2Zapps has launched the A2ZTab, a tablet that boots directly to its Cloud OS.
Future perspective: A2Zapps is in the pre-launch mode of its MobifyStore product, which is a e-commerce-in-a-box offering for firms that want to quickly establish an online retail experience for their customers as well as vendors. MobifyStore, which runs on the company’s Cloud OS, helps businesses open a simple online shop or a complex marketplace, within hours, with integrated payments, logistics as well as a full-scale back-end ERP. Going forward, A2Zapps targets adding 5 million users on its Cloud OS, at a revenue run rate of $10 million, by FY17.
Formed by B2B marketing experts with extensive experience, and backed by India’s pioneering demand generation company QEDbaton, LeadEnrich is a full service marketing data management company providing cutting edge solutions to enable B2B marketers to reach their audiences more precisely and cost efficiently.
Origin of the idea: CEO & co-founder Santosh Abraham informs that prior to LeadEnrich, he was heading the data practice at parent company (QEDbaton). QEDbaton has been helping B2B marketers with demand generation and marketing data related services was one of the core offerings. While doing this he had the below observations:
*Dumb in-house repository: In-house marketing data with pockets of intelligence spread across multiple marketing apps working in isolation, not making sense at individual capacity.
*Unavailing external data sources: Access to every possible data source in market, but huge amount of efforts required to deep dive and identify the net new data for a campaign.
*High data acquisition costs: Huge amount of investment in the form of time and money required to get the right data for a campaign
LeadEnrish realised a strong need of solution that could act as a single source of truth as for customer marketing data needs. LeadEnrich is a marketing data platform that enables B2B marketers to reach their audiences more precisely. Total enterprise customers are 25-plus and total projects delivered are 800-plus.
Future perspective: Santosh Abraham says, “We understand that a static format for unified customer view is old-school and doesn’t equip the marketer to analyse their marketing data with various data sets and intelligence on the prospect accumulated across the organisation. LE 360 would be a fully customisable 360 degree view of the customer that would allow the marketer to score and activate prospects more efficiently.”
Faircent.com provides a virtual market place where borrowers and lenders can interact directly, without having to go through the traditional financial intermediaries like banks, who have become such behemoths in today’s time that they dictate all terms and conditions for both borrowers and lenders.
Origin of the idea: Vinay Mathews, founder & COO, says, “The idea germinated when my co-founder Rajat Gandhi in 2011, observed that a colleague who wanted to buy Royal Enfield motorcycle and did not want to pay high rates of interest, posted it on his Facebook seeking contributions from his friends and family to buy the motorcycle. This got us thinking and we thought can we do it on a scale? And build an exchange where friends, family and maybe complete strangers could help each other? More we thought about it, it occurred that it could be a win-win situation! People who borrow would save on interest and people who lend would earn additional interest rates.” Thereafter, the two partners set out to build the platform and team which could deliver this value proposition to borrowers and lenders. Today that dream is a reality. In nine months of its launch, Faircent.com has over 8,500 registered borrowers and 2,500 registered lenders. On the company’s platform, lenders have committed over R2 crore to lend. “Borrowers are seeking on an average R2 lakh of loans. Top two reasons for borrowing is to pay off their high costs credit card debt and wedding event,” says Mathews. On the other hand lenders are looking at returns of upward of 13%. Average interest rates on the site are 17-18% and Faircent.com has disbursed nearly R90 lakh in loans.
Future perspective: Mathews says, “We have been in revenues since our first month of operations. Our current focus is to scale up loan transactions; we are targeting over R5 crore of loan origination in the first year of operations. And in the third year of operation our objective is to achieve over R500 crore of loan origination on the Faircent lending marketplace.”
AdPushup’s A/B testing platform allows web publishers and bloggers to create and test different ad placements, sizes, and types to see which ones make the most revenue. It enables businesses to multiply advertising revenue from their website.
Origin of the idea: Founders Ankit Oberoi and Atul Agarwal has worked with a lot of user generated content (UGC) websites and monetised them using ad networks like Google AdSense. He would often run various a/b tests (sometimes called split testing) on those websites and use that data to improve the advertising revenue. This was when they realised that there was no tool to automate this, so, one day Atul had an idea about how we can apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to increase ad revenue for publishers and finally the two partners settled on a minimum viable product that was AdPushup. AdPushup has built a SaaS platform for web and mobile publishers which allows them to test and optimise their advertising layout for higher advertising revenue and improved user experience.
Future perspective: Before the end of the year, AdPushup plans to start optimising 2 billion impressions, monthly.
SmartBuildings™ is a breakthrough technology for energy conservation, management and monitoring in buildings. It complements today’s hi-tech buildings by enhancing energy efficiency, data center reliability, comfort and analytics.
Origin of the idea: Anil Gupta, had worked for five years at California Energy Commission in US and gained significant domain expertise in energy efficiency. With this background he brainstormed ideas with potential customers for over six months, found two other co-founders, and this team began development to create an innovative solution to solve unmet needs. SmartBuildings finished version 1.0 of product in Jan 2015. The product has been well received by customers and domain experts. SmartBuildings has three billed customers, twelve employees in Bangalore, and is cash flow positive.
Future perspective: To deploy SmartBuildings solution in at least one million sq ft over the next year, sign up at least three value added resellers and find suitable partners for Series A funding. They see good interest in the US via partners in Silicon Valley and also opportunities in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Gupta firmly believes that energy conservation in commercial buildings takes less capital than building power plants. “Conservation is more environmentally friendly than even solar or wind. Conservation needs no land. And it materially reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Our intent is to take this vision to large scale globally,” he says.
FinfurClass is a search and discovery platform providing comprehensive information on extracurricular activities and hobby classes for kids
Origin of the idea: Prior to starting FindURClass, Rina Nathani was a director with KPMG Advisory in New York. While looking at some activity classes she realised how cumbersome and tedious the process was. It was at this point that she jumped off the corporate bandwagon to do something about it—and started FindURClass. Findurclass.com is a search and discovery platform that makes the entire process of finding the right activity or hobby class for your kids easy and hassle free. In a short span of time, FindURClass has already reached 15,000 visitors per month.
Future perspective: The future of the business is bright, says Rina. “Our trip with Nasscom has opened many doors and garnered interest from investors in the valley. We plan to scale nationally to tier 1 cities in India with half a million classes in the next 9-12 months.”
Nifty Window is a content marketing platform that delivers rich content via virtual display windows and interactive products & services catalogs from national and regional brands such as yours to help influence local searchers.
Origin of the idea: With the onslaught of e-commerce in the past few years, chains with brick & mortar stores have been on the back foot with many wondering if the digital era would result in the end of offline retail. Their typical
response has been to open their own e-commerce store giving up on their unique offline network advantage across the country. There was no solution in sight that helped such stores attract consumers from the online channels.
Sujit Thomas Zachariah, founder & CEO, says, “Given our domain expertise in local search marketing, I and Rakesh Raghuvanshi decided to put our heads together and come up with a platform that would help attract consumers. Nifty Window was born as a result of that effort and encouraging us was plenty of supporting data showing that this concept with proper strategy and execution can be disruptive in helping offline brands turn the tide.”Nifty Window is a hyper-local discovery and omni-channel conversion (online-to-offline and offline-to-online) driven platform for brands with brick & mortar presence. It leverages brands’ offline assets and drives online consumers to nearby offline stores.
Future perspective: Interest in Nifty Window platform has been extremely strong and many new brands are being added each month. Currently they are working closely with brands like Domino’s Pizza (F&B), Unilever (FMCG), Harley Davidson (Automotive), Kansai Nerolac (Home Improvement), Future Group etc.