The Growing Breed of Indian Startups at International Incubators

The Growing Breed of Indian Startups at International Incubators

Wednesday September 19, 2012,

10 min Read

This article is part of the series called Startup Hatch, about incubators and accelerators in the startup ecosystem.

You have heard of Indian startups getting funded from various VCs and Angel Investors from India. There’s also a category of startups, and this category is burgeoning; the one looking ‘outwards’ for their funding needs. International Incubators such as YCombinator, RocketInternet, 500Startups, Startup Chile and JFDI have groomed some Indian startups and the number is on the rise. YourStory delves into the world of such startups that have been incubated or accelerated at internationally.


YCombinator needs no introduction. Though YC funds all types of startups, it’s especially interested in web/mobile applications. YC also helps founders deal with investors and acquirers. They teach founders how to pitch their startups, and how to close a deal once they've generated interest. YC also supplies not just advice but protection; people are more likely to treat you well if you come from YC, because how they treat you determines whether in the future we'll steer deals toward or away from them.


Markupwand is a tool that takes the design file and gives out clean and maintainable HTML and CSS. It also lets the developer customize the code to his taste, in a few clicks. Markupwand is targeting the segment of companies with professional designers and freelancers. Freelancers who do design can deliver HTML/CSS as well, but after using Markupwand, they can deliver it and are earning more than earlier. The number of pages created using Markupwand has been growing 83% week on week from the time they launched. Users either buy monthly subscription packages or pay per page they create. They wish to change the workflow of how websites/webapps are designed and developed. In future, no developer would have to write HTML/CSS by hand.


InterviewStreet focuses on and makes the hiring process simpler. During recruitment, filtering the right set of candidates from countless resumes has always been a tough job and this is the problem InterviewStreet aims to solve. Interviewstreet is basically a place for programmers to hang out, solve interesting challenges and also get connected to amazing tech companies if interested.

Vivek and Hari have had a very interesting journey to success. Graduating from National Institute of Technology, Trichy, they joined IT companies but the idea which had germinated during their colleges’ placement season kept on tugging. They quit their jobs and started working on the idea. Being a part of the Batch 3 at The Morpheus, Interviewstreet went on to become the first Indian company to be selected by YCombinator.


Telephony is complex. Plivo focuses on lowering those barriers, by offering simple and powerful APIs that make it easier for businesses to develop telephony applications. It all started in 2010 when Mike and Venky, accidentally exchanged messages over Github, while trying to integrate telephony into their web applications. Both of them realized that telephony application development took a painstakingly long time and unreasonable effort.

The time they spent at YCombinator has been memorable and the growth has been stupendous. YCombinator has been great in terms of exposure and connections and this is almost a taken now when someone speaks of an incubator of the caliber of YC. They had applied for YCombinator to get feedback on the product they had built and never thought they would get accepted. It has 12 clients in business and has built applications ranging from cloud based video conferencing to remote call centers on the fast growing startup platform.


TapToLearn is a startup which develops educational applications for touch screen devices. The co-founder of this company, Roby John says, “The number of users has grown enormously post our incubation, from 150,000 users earlier to over 1.5 million currently.” It got picked up by YCombinator when John showcased his company's product at a US-based technology event. It has also got funding from various sources like Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel, Jim Pallotta, Shasta Ventures, ENIAC Ventures, Khosla Ventures and BackFlip Studios.


500 Startups, as they describe it, is an accelerator that has been blowing startups since 2009; they provide early-stage companies with funding ranging from $10K to $250K via seed investments. 500 Startups helps early stage ventures with three important things- Design (Great products start with a great user experience), Data (Helps make informed product and marketing decisions) and Distribution (scalable, cost-effective customer acquisition). YourStory recently interviewed Paul Singh of 500Startups and got to know about their plans for India. "We're very bullish on India", said Paul Singh. 500Startups has also invested in Shareaholic which has offices in Boston and Bangalore.


Founded by Vineet Devaiah, Teliportme is the first startup from India to undergo the program, at 500 Startups, which started on April 2nd, 2012. Teliportme lets you explore places through the images and panoramas taken by users through the Android app – 360 .


mygola is a travel planning service where you get a personal human guide to do all the online research and bookings for your trip. The general hypothesis of mygola is that really hard problems can be solved by a combination of 90% technology and 10% human judgment, and travel planning is one of them. Started in 2010 by Anshuman Bapna, mygola’s technically a US company with an Indian subsidiary. Anshuman used to work at Google in NY before this and manage their largest partnerships especially in travel and that’s where the idea came from.


Rocket Internet GmbH is a German online startup incubator founded in Berlin in 2007 by Marc Samwer. Its business model is to clone successful e-companies and launch them in un-penetrated markets such as Germany. The company has successfully done this with Groupon from USA. Rocket Internet is highly successful with this model because of a targeted HR strategy; the company hires MBA-trained executives, with experience of multinational banks and consultancy firms, to be 'Founder and Managing Director' of its clone businesses. Its journey into the ecommerce business started in Mexico with the venture called: Linio. Linio México is an online store, featuring more than 1000 brands and covering a wide variety of tastes from fashionistas to geeks, from gadgets to necessities, every aspect is covered.

Jabong is an Indian ecommerce company that caters branded products across India. caters to the fashion needs of men, women, and kids, across footwear, apparel, jewelry and accessories. It also has facilities like Cash on Delivery and a 30-day return policy for the comfort of its customers. An early player in the Indian ecommerce boom, Jabong has had its ups and downs and has emerged as a fighter in the domain.


Founded by Akhilesh Bali and Amit Kohli, FoodPanda is a Rocket Internet Incubatee. FoodPanda’s value proposition is to make ordering food for home delivery fast and hassle free for the consumers. Instead of hunting for the number of the restaurant from where you want to order food, and going through the whole process of repeating your contact information and delivery address, you just call on FoodPanda’s central delivery number or place the order online or through the mobile application, and they will get the restaurant to deliver the food hot and steamy to your door step.

FoodPanda had a beta-launch in Gurgaon last month and some BTL marketing to generate some business. The promotions at a full-scale begin in the month of June as FoodPanda expand their offerings to all of Delhi-NCR and subsequently to other cities.


21Diamonds in India, an online jewelry store where you can design your own jewelry.With 21Diamonds users can choose the design, stone, and metal and prepare a customized ring. 21Diamonds is present in 17 countries and the India operations is headquartered in Gurgaon.


PrintVenue is primarily focusing on small and medium enterprises as its prime customers. This Gurgaon-based startup has been launched as an online service providing printing solutions in India. The venture is backed by Rocket Internet. The company is founded by Saurabh Kochhar, who was earlier associated with McKinsey & Company.

Startup Chile

Start-Up Chile is a program created by the Chilean Government, initiated by the Ministry of Economy and executed by Corfo that seeks to attract early-stage high potential entrepreneurs to bootstrap their startups using Chile as a platform to go global. In line with the national goal of converting Chile into the innovation and entrepreneurship hub of Latin America, the program plans to bring 1,000 startups to Chile by 2014.


Imaginate is a startup working on augmented reality products using cutting edge technologies in the field of computer vision and virtual reality, developing innovative visualization products in retail sector. Founded by Hemanth Satyanarayana, a mechanical engineer with a B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Imaginate has a couple of interest piquing products up its sleeve: TRIALAR (Trial using Augmented Reality) and TRIALAR-Web (for ecommerce companies)


FoodKhoj is a one stop food ordering portal that allows you to place orders across various restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. FoodKhoj allows you and your friends to order the food of your choice from nearby restaurants according to your convenience of time and place.


Touristlink, a social platform, drives transactional trust between travelers and travel businesses by letting members post reviews, by individual vetting of businesses and by having businesses directly show contact details. Touristlink lists attractions based on their members’ rankings. As membership increases this will be a significant value add and users will be able to sort attractions based on interests or demographics.


Diabeto is a non-intrusive Bluetooth powered hardware device which enables the transfer of glucose readings from a user’s glucometer into an android device. The readings can then be analyzed easily with the help of an android application; one can select the time frames, analyze the sugar shifts and can even email the graph to the diabetologist for his opinion.


Picovico is a video creation tool that makes it easy and fun for everyone to create and share excellent videos using their own pictures, words and music. Simply upload your pictures, choose your style, add words and music, and create a professional like video. Picovico does its magic and in minutes brings it all to life with a beautiful production you can directly export to Facebook, YouTube, share it on other social media pages, or burn them in DVDs.


It is an online platform that is dedicated to sustainable development. EcoSwarm makes it easy for the user to keep up with his/her green interests. It helps one discover the latest in green technologies, business practices, lifestyle choices, products, services, and jobs - filtered and sorted based on what matters to the concerned person.


A stealth mode travel startup that goes by the tagline-

JFDI.Asia (Joyful Frog Digital Incubator)They are the first TechStars Network member in South East Asia.15 startups had been selected for the bootcamp in Singapore in January 2012 for the JFDI–Innov8 2012 Bootcamp. The startups receive S$15,000 in seed funding in exchange for equity. These startups undergo 100 days of intense mentorship with JFDI and mentors as they build their businesses and prepare to pitch to international investors at a Demo Day at the end of the bootcamp. The startups were chosen from over 300 applicants and 1,000 participants at 6 Startup Weekends in Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, India, Indonesia and Thailand. The founders come from 12 different countries: Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, India, New Zealand, Canada, France, Argentina, the United States and the Netherlands.

Jobs Bolega

Indian startup ‘Jobs Bolega’ were chosen from Airtel Startup Weekend held in Gurgaon. Jobs Bolega (Jobs will talk), is aimed at people in the lower-income bracket. This category of people may not have access to the internet, but have a mobile phone. Using mobile voice technology, essentially the Jobs Bolega team is getting employers and employees in a network like LinkedIn to get them a job. Krishanu Dutta, a founding member of the team, says, "We are creating a voice resume (CV) for them."

- Edited by Shyamal Dave

[The list has been prepared based upon the available data. Do comment if we've missed out any.]

[Image Credit: Ashoka India]

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