Mu Sigma is one of the fastest growing companies in the world. It has raised a gargantuan grand total of 163 million dollars in funding over nine years of its existence, and holds the unique distinction of securing the largest funding round ever by a business analytics company. For its founder, Dhiraj C Rajaram, it all started because of three reasons: one, his unending urge to learn; two, to separate noise from signals – in terms of information that comes to businesses in their day-to-day life. And three, his belief that innovation in businesses is nothing but chance. Read the story of his inspiring journey on YourStory..
We at YourStory have had a great relationship with redBus and have been associated with them since the beginning. Having seen the company’s meteoric growth in the past few years, it was interesting to know what founder Phanidra Sama thought about the acquisition. He told us in the initial days, their focus was to solve a problem with technology. "None of us ever thought of how big this would become or where this company would go five years from now. But halfway through, we began to think that we’re onto something," he said, adding that the best from redBus is yet to come.
This is the story of Sachin Kate, who hails from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. From selling newspapers to being a school-going office boy at a computer institute, the road to starting up wasn't smooth sailing for Sachin. Part-time jobs gave him confidence to startup. His venture, Clear Car Rental (http://www.clearcarrental.com/) provides both local and outstation travel solutions. The services grew to 150+ cities within India and has a home team of 100 who manage the operations. A local hero in Aurangabad, Sachin was far from the limelight before this article.
In what would be a dream for most entrepreneurs in the Indian startup ecosystem, Housing.co.in (http://housing.com/in) raised a second round of funding in less than a month of its previous investment. Over a dinner meeting with former Network 18 CEO, Mr. Haresh Chawla, the team closed on the funding deal. Advitiya Sharma, Co-Founder Housing.co.in, told us how the investment boosted the team’s confidence. “The manner in which the investment happened and more so, the person who’s behind the investment has really got everyone in the team pumped up. Haresh Ji has done quite a lot through his career,” he told us.
Founded by five IIT Bombay alumni, ideaForge (http://www.ideaforge.co.in/web/home) is in the business of developing alternative energy charging devices for various consumer electronic products and developing high-end technologies in the field of autonomous aerial vehicles. The first product from the company is called Netra, a collaborative work with DRDO, deployed to scan the air space in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand in hope of locating missing survivors. Netra is a completely autonomous hovering Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) ideal for short range missions and requires very short training time.
Six friends from NIT Allahabad, landed on an idea for an app while still in college. They eventually started Rootwork, (http://rootwork.co/) making apps for any smart devices that are around you today (smartphones, smart TVs, phablets, tablets, Google Glass), and everything smart that’s going to arrive tomorrow. "At Rootwork, we materialize our own ideas by publishing apps through Zitrr Studios. But as an ITeS company, our mainstream business is to create and deliver bespoke apps to businesses, startups and individual app publishers," they said.
A machine for almost every Indian, who has spent hours in the kitchen. That's Rotimatic (http://rotimatic.com/). It will help you make rotis at the click of a button. Rotimatic comes from Zimplistic, a venture founded by Singapore-based Pranoti Nagarkar. Zimplistic is one of the 15 Singapore startups which has received a total grant of $6 million from Spring Singapore. Rotimatic also has an impressive board which will help scale up the company. The major demand will come from South Asia and Indian expats living abroad.
An ambitious effort by a group of BITS Pilani Goa graduates to change the way transport works in India, Cubito (http://cubito.in/) offers shared cab services and started with a six-month pilot run in Goa. Cubito pools people sharing the same route (as opposed to the regular source –destination pooling solutions) and arranges for a common cab to transport them. Cubito has introduced their services in Bangalore for daily commuters initially for weekly and monthly booking and have made the pricing simple at Rs7.5/Km (introductory offer for people registering in July is Rs. 6/Km).
The arrest of Sandeep Aggarwal – who is at the helm of ShopClues, (http://www.shopclues.com/), a Gurgaon-based marketplace and an earlier Silicon Valley-based Internet analyst -- shocked many. He was arrested by FBI agents in San Jose, California (US) alleging insider trading charges. Following the arrest Southern District of New York administration announced criminal charges against Aggarwal. ShopClues had raised more than $16 million, including $10 million in March 2013 from Helion Venture Partners, Nexus Venture Partners and Netprice.com, a Japanese business group based in Tokyo.
Ritesh Agarwal got into the thick of the web very early in life, at 13. And by 17, he had started his first company, Oravel. Oravel started as an Airbnb clone but the model has undergone a twist. Oravel received a seed round of funding from Venture Nursery. This story was how Ritesh got selected for the final round of “20 Under 20” Thiel Fellowship, a prestigious two-year program where fellows receive $100,000 and mentorship from the foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs, investors and scientists (like Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Elon Musk and Peter Thiel).
Bangalore-based eCommerce company, Myntra (http://www.myntra.com/) hogged media attention when it shipped orders in less than an hour. COO Ganesh Subramanian told us how he did it. "Optimizing the supply chain is the key. There are technological improvements involved but the basic problem solved is to reduce the queue time." He also told us about the supply chain at Myntra, how they decided to set up their own logistics division in 2012, setting up last-mile operations and so on. After you’ve hit a certain scale, delivering via your own logistics is cheaper, he said.
With Adister, (http://adister.in/) graduates from IIT Rourkee, Shubham Agrawal and Anubhav Goyal bring print advertising to notebooks, and sell student notebooks at a very nominal price (40% less than the market price, they claim). While there are large players like Classmate, which are quite popular among the urban students, a lot of India’s students still buy from local notebook brands from their local stationary shops. The low cost of an Adister notebook, like a newspaper, is subsidized by the ads that it carries.
Rikant Pitti's father used to travel a lot and always used to book his tickets via his travel agent. This was in 2005 when OTAs were not that popular. One day, Rikant checked the price of the tickets online and found that the travel agent was charging Rs 1500 more. With the number of trips his father took, the loss was over Rs 20000 per month. Rikant started booking tickets for his parents, then relatives, friends of parents and so on. EaseMyTrip (http://www.easemytrip.com/) has over 275 employees on board and is a multi-crore company. Rikant is looking at a turnover of at least Rs 1,200 crore in 2014.
Airwoot (http://www.airwoot.com/) is a New Delhi-based social media listening and analytics startup founded by Saurabh Arora and Prabhat Saraswat. They met in 2008 at the Technical University of Denmark, pursuing Masters. Prabhat continued his doctorate in Denmark while Saurabh went on to pursue his doctorate in cloud computing architectures at Hasso-Plattner Institute in Berlin. Midway, they both dropped out and returned to India. They did different things before coming together to start Airwoot — a social customer support helpdesk.
Santhosh D Singh worked with IT majors like Dell, and America Online before starting Amrutha Dairy Farms. To make it a success, he leveraged the expertise around project management, process improvement, business intelligence, analytics, and resource management he had accumulated over years of professional life. "I decided to get into dairy farming, as this was a relatively stable and profitable business in the unpredictable world that is Indian agriculture sector," he told us. He won the NABARD awarded Silver Medal for taking initiatives to get into dairy farming.
Chennai-based Frilp (https://www.frilp.com/) is an application focused on connecting users with local services and businesses through recommendations from friends and colleagues. From the business owners’ perspective, Frilp helps the 40 million SMEs and consumer facing businesses to get an online presence when they are recommended by their happy customers. Ex Goldman Sachs analyst Shyam Anandaraman was keen to startup and he joined hands with Senthil Kanthaswamy on Frilp.
When Prashant Kulkarni was working with Infosys, he ate pani-puri from a roadside vendor, fell sick and had to stay off his favorite street-food for months. This prompted him to look for hygenic pani-puri. He found that there were no brands selling this popular snack. Prashant launched ‘Gapagap’, India’s first pani-puri brand. Today, under his venture Chatar Patar, Prashant and his team manages Gapagap and other several products like 80 types of bhel, 27 types of chaats, pohas, etc. Chatar Patar sells pani-puris in 112 different flavors.
Following a successful career as an investment banker with UBS in New York, Poornima Vardhan returned to India to become an entrepreneur. While she was planning to make her move, she observed that people generally focussed on looking good rather than feeling good. “There was a fit for every kind – slim fit, petite fit and more. But I did not find a confidence fit anywhere; clothes and accessories that make us look and feel confident,” says Poornima. Thus began her entrepreneurial journey with 335th, (http://335th.com/) with a concept of ‘Fitwear’.
Shiladitya Mukhopadhayaya was at his friend Sahil Anand's house when incessant rains led to flooding in Mumbai. Almost marooned, Sahil and he got talking about RFID (radio frequency identification). Shiladitya had done a RFID project in 2005 for Texas Instruments. The duo raised money from their families and started Rasilant Technologies, a global automation solutions and system integration services company. They have had 35 major projects till date, including Bajaj Auto, Reliance (multiple companies) and IL&FS.
Social media agency Viral Curry was founded by engineering graduates Garima Juneja and Gaurav Mishra. A team of five, Viral Curry works on a simple revenue model – retainer fees for a minimum three months with a fixed monthly package. Garima says, “We basically think about the brand’s present image and what we can relate it to while keeping the most important thing in mind – Things with which the audience can relate.” So far, they have had over 15 clients.
MYMO Wireless Technologies is one of the many innovative companies incubated at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. In a team of electronics and communications engineers, many in the top level management are PhD scholars, who have gone through the pains of having to leave projects because of various constraints. Tools like MW1000, developed by them, allows researchers to concentrate on the algorithms without having to worry about the nitty-gritties of coding for DSPs and by the looks of it, people are willing to shell out a bomb for it.
An integrated solution brings together cab agencies, cab drivers and travellers, seamlessly on a single technology platform — a technology backbone for cab agencies. That is what 360Cabs aims to be. In simple terms, it is a technology solution for unorganized cab agencies to streamline their business and scale it to the next level. It equips cab agencies to service their customers better, retaining the existing customers as well as adding new ones. Lokesh Bevara, who started 360cabs, told YourStory about his startup.
Rana Atheya, Vizal Atheya and Shalesh Visen, passionate dog-lovers, started Dogspot.in in 2007, as a place for dog lovers to connect. Their site grew in popularity and the trio got fulltime into it in 2009. They introduced technology to the dog shows across the country by automating their processes and had their foot in the doors of everything related to dogs in India. In 2011, they decided to enter eCommerce and there hasn’t been any looking back. DogSpot has about 3500 products listed on the site (not only dog products) and does close to a 100 deliveries a day with an average ticket size of INR 1300.
BuyHatke, an online product and price discovery service, started out of frustration with online shopping portals. Now BuyHatke has an inventory of over 4 crore products on the net and claims to receive over 500,000 unique page views monthly (traffic stats on Alexa). They also recently launched their Chrome extension and a separate mobile comparison platform. Envisioning to become the single starting point of every purchase made online in India, this ambitious site strives to keep improving their product.
Alma Mater is an online store providing apparel and memorabilia to alumni students from schools and colleges across India. Founded by Varun Agarwal and Rohn Malhotra in 2009, the company has shipped 3,00,000 units till dates and is continuously innovating to push this number. They give an option called Play, which lets you doodle on tees. It has over 2000 art vectors and over 800 fonts to choose from. You can upload your school/college or company logo. They have worked with over 2500 school/colleges, 600 corporates, 400 private groups, 100 start-ups in 180 Indian cities and six countries.
Tune Patrol is a social music discovery platform that works towards developing and connecting a thriving community of independent musicians and their fans in India. The product was launched in March 2012, hosting content from close to 150 bands. Tune Patrol is one of the star companies from the new breed of startups coming from BITS Pilani and it had also managed to raise angel funding to the tune of Rs 10 lakh. Brijesh Bhardwaj, Saurabh Gupta, Karthik G, and Pronoot Barkakati, the co-founders at Tune Patrol, told YS how they won an exit.
Sandeep Aggarwal was a stock market analyst, who provided research coverage on global Internet giants like Google, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Expedia. In 2010, Sandeep wrote a sector defining report for the India Internet and also launched research coverage on MakeMyTrip. When he came to India for this, Sandeep identified room for eCommerce. He built on the technology front while in Valley and came to India by September 2011 and subsequently launched ShopClues in November along with his core team.
Handybook, the brainchild of Umang Dua and Oisin Hanrahan, enables online booking of ‘handy’ services from cleaning to plumbing to painting. It is expanding base in New York, Boston and San Francisco. Umang told YourStory what motivated the duo to quit Harvard Business School to pursue this dream. The duo had launched Handybook while still at B-school and when the business started to get traction, and they saw the potential to build something big, they decided it deserved their unwavering attention. "The fascination of being able to take something from an idea to a real business that people can actually use," spurred them on.
Sumit Jain, Lalit Mangal and Vikas Malpani wanted to develop a platform that could bring together people who live in gated communities and came up with CommonFloor.com in November 2007. CommonFloor is now in 120 cities across the country. Around 60,000 communities are listed with them today, constituting more than 50 lakh homes. "We have more than 60,000 projects listed on our portal and this is the largest compared to any property portal in India. The number of property listings has grown by more than 500% in the past financial year," Sumit told us.
Webandcrafts, a web solutions company, provides companies with web designing, web development, graphic designing and internet marketing services. The firm started in Chennai in 2009, then shifted base to Thrissur, Kerala, in May 2012. Today, the startup has successfully hosted over 2,500-plus websites. The startup has a client list of over 500 clients, including Australian construction company Strong Force, Thomson and SMR, which Webandcrafts founder Abin Jose Tom counts as their most prestigious clients.
Manoj Gupta is Founder/CEO of Craftsvilla.com, (http://www.craftsvilla.com/) an online marketplace for Indian products. Earlier, he was Principal at Nexus Venture Partners, an India focused $600 million Fund, and the board member of multiple companies, including Yebhi.com and Sohanlal Commodities in India. He told us the story of how he downsized from 80 to a lean and mean 8-member team. "The ’lazy’ ones were the first to go, ’talkative’ species the next one, ’political’ crap the third lot and ’less skilled’ ones were the last. Only those who were hard working, passionate, remained and are now shaping next journey of Craftsvilla,” he told YS
TaxiForSure idea materialised over many conversations between Raghunandan G and Aprameya Radhakrishna on cab availability in India. Over those, they stumbled across the idea to be an aggregator for radio taxi industry in India. Founded in late 2011, Taxiforsure’s first set of unknown customers came from intranet posts in companies by employees who had used its service. Later, Facebook ads and radio campaigns widened its reach. The venture does extensive online and offline marketing campaigns, facilitates over 2,000 bookings per day across two cities Bangalore and Delhi (NCR).
This article written on July 26, 2013, was an interview with Zomato founder, Pankaj Chaddah just as their India business hit even. He spoke extensively on their present and future expansion. Calling the break-even milestone "a great validation of our business model", Pankaj told us: "Honestly, it only encourages us to grow faster. It gives us great confidence in our business model, both B2B and B2C, and now it is a question of replicating it in enough places. We haven’t had the time to sit back and think about the past and journey so far, and I hope that we don’t get that time either."
Anirudh and Michael, who had met at Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, started Tripoto (http://www.tripoto.com/) to bring together travellers from around the world, share and discover real, and actionable crowd-sourced travel stories. The startup maps every single destination in the story, along with the associated content and pictures. A travel itinerary tied to a traveller profile provides additional information, such as the nature and interest of the traveller. It adds to the authenticity of the content. Further, people can connect with these travellers and ask questions related to their trips.
From McKinsey, to Amar Chitra Katha and to starting up at Urban Ladder, Ashish Goel’s professional progression bears no sign of being conventional. Every stint, however, was as successful as the other one. Ashish explained his choices by blaming them on his unquenchable thirst to learn. Ashish spoke at length about starting Urban Ladder. Their secret to success is marketing, he said: “Marketing is our trade secret. Our target market is an online shopper who has made a purchase of a lifestyle product at least twice a month. At least, that is our ideal customer.”
Agrawal brothers, Abhinav and Raghav, started with Trutech Webs, a cloud computing solutions company based in Mumbai. They built a testing platform iLiftOff, and soon branched out into a totally different product called 'The Fluid Motion'. (http://www.thefluidmotion.com/) using gesture-based technology. The Fluid Motion team believes that gesture technology shall surpass the touch based technology primarily because it can be used with huge sized screens, with the user standing up to 15 feet away. Their product has information application, retail application, computer control boardroom application and 3-D application.
Kaamastra is an online store for adult products started by Rahber and Maqsood Nazir. The site sells bedroom lingerie, role play costumes, intimate massage and bath products, lubricants and erotic body jewelry. Their customers are not just the urbane individuals of metros, but enthusiasts from Tier 2 & 3 cities like Patiala, Lucknow, and Chandigarh as well. The products are delivered in a black cardboard box with no distinguishing names or logos. If you pay online, you are billed under a completely different name (not Kaamastra) to maintain your privacy.
Darshan Dhruv joined his family business of packaging after four years with an MNC abroad, but wasn't satisfied doing “the regular stuff”. People around him were surprised when he spoke of his plans to sell 'farsan' (Gujarati snacks) online. Today, FarsanKart sells farsans from Vadodara’s leading farsan stores like Payal, Sukhadia, Jagdish, and mukhwas from Vadodara’s famous JK Mukhwas. He is tapping the large population of Gujaratis abroad with www.global.farsankart.com, which caters to the UK, USA and Canada. Darshan plans to reach 160 countries in another two years.
During their college days at IIT-Bombay, Kovid Kapoor, Rohit Shroff, and Prateek Chauhan were always on the lookout for weekend holiday destinations. They soon exhausted all the travel options available online and realized two shortcomings in the industry: “The destination choices offered by most websites are limited and generally populist in nature, leaving very little options, especially if one is a power traveller. In such a scenario, travellers have lesser independence in choosing a destination and have to depend on what is being offered,” Rohit found. That’s the idea of Holidify.
To individuals, CityShor tells what’s best in Ahmedabad in food, fashion, travel, events, home décor and entertainment -- the unusual and unheard stuff of Ahmedabad. To businesses, CityShor is a visually heavy online media company that aims to fill the gap left by print, radio, and hoardings -- one which can help cover/promote a product. Pallav Parikh and Pankaj Pathak started this out of their personal passion for travel and writing. The duo claims to have covered every nook and corner of Ahmedabad on CityShor and wants to scale this model to reach more cities.
Divya Raheja and Harsha Chordia, college friends from Chennai, wanted to design footwear. They found a cobbler, who helped them and started Mink in 2010. While in college, they custom-designed their friends’ old sandals, crocs and even jazzed up medical shoes for people they know. They started selling their products on Facebook and soon broke even. “Even when you are ready to invest money the manufacturers are not ready to try anything new, at least with young entrepreneurs. We want to get into manufacturing our own footwear other than just custom-designing them,” Divya said.
With a simple mantra: deliver apps well and fast, Saurabh Singh started AppStudioz in April 2011. Just over two years old now, App Studioz already has more than 160 employees and has served more than 230 clients across the globe. Concentrating mainly on mobile apps across platforms, AppStudioz builds apps in various areas, including 3D/2D games, Enterprise, and now also in wearable computing. AppStudioz has built more than 700 apps till date and bank heavily on quick turn around with quality work to keep the client satisfied.
Maku Textiles, a designer brand which encourages the use of handwoven cloth, was started by Santanu Das, a designer from NID, Ahmedabad, and Chirag Gandhi, an engineering graduate from Nirma University. The duo designs the fabrics and gets them woven from weavers in West Bengal and Kutch, Gujarat, Earlier based in Ahmedabad, they have moved to Kolkata. “We want to create a better ecosystem for these weavers so that the craft is not lost and it is a fair deal for everyone in the game, from the weaver to the middleman to the end customer,” they told us.
Abhishek Daga and Chitra Gurnani Daga, the husband-wife team behind Thrillophilia, have been working on the startup for about three years. They first raised an undisclosed seed amount from a US-based investor in 2011, and the next round was for $200,000. Abhishek told us, “While in entrepreneurship, the lines between personal and professional lives are blurred. In our case, there is no line! We talk a lot about business, even at home, at holiday and everywhere. While that might not always be great, but it’s really exciting for VCs, as we’re a team that’s literally, always thinking about the business!”
PayU India, online payment company, launched PayUPaisa, a web-based product which empowers buyers to pay and sellers to get paid online. The product is free for sellers and provides beneficial selling tools like a free webstore, free storefront and email invoicing. On the other hand, PayUPaisa has a strong dispute resolution centre to safeguard buyers and keep their money safe even when they have paid for a product or service. It has a strong dispute resolution centre to safeguard buyers and keep their money safe even when they have paid for a product or service.
Hi-tech security system, smart device management and other home automation systems that posh apartments in Bangalore boast of are powered by one startup – Silvan Labs. Dr. Giri Krishna and four others - Avinash Gautam, Ajay Gupta, Nandakumar and Mohan G - are the brains behind the company. All of them have had stints at Texas Instruments before starting up Silvan Labs in 2008. When they began, Silvan Labs placed themselves as a product provider. “One of the biggest learning for us was that Indians don’t buy products, they buy solutions,” told us Giri.
“Swaniti was originally conceived at Harvard in 2009. Two of my colleagues and I had noticed that there was this incredible interest from graduate students at Harvard to want to work with political leadership in India. Some students had even gone back to India after graduation and decided to work in politics and development. However, there were a number of students who could not secure a project/position with a political leader because he/she often lacked the network,” Rwitwika Bhattacharya, who started Swaniti to address this need, told us.
Dineout, web-based restaurant table reservation and deals service, pop up on the radar of many in the restaurant business as a friend, because of the business that they generate for restaurant owners and as a fierce competitor to other players in the segment. The startup competed with 40 other companies to win YourStory's WebSparks prize in January 2013. Co-founders Vivek Kapoor and Sahil Jain shared details of their entrepreneurial journey with us in this story.
Shycart is an e-commerce startup which deals with products that people shy to buy at physical stores. “Necessity is where the idea for Shycart came from. Vivek was the one to come up with the idea. And it hit the chord directly. I understood the potential of the idea as I knew e-commerce can help,” co-founder Arul Oli told us. They focus largely on adult hygiene and adult entertainment, besides lingerie.
Co-founded by Richa Johri along with her husband Vipul, Shortcircuit exclusively focuses on the idea of corporate and retail gifting by adding a personal touch to the products. “Weird things attract me a lot and I always had an instinct to start something of my own. We make products targeting a niche market because for every product we make, we add some personal touch,” Richa said when we asked why the name 'Shortcircuit'. Shortcircuit is a team of seven. Richa is the creative head while her husband looks after the financial and legal matters of the company.