India has always been a land of entrepreneurs. Just look at all the kirana stores in your neighborhood – small-time, low-risk businesses, but entrepreneurship, no less. In terms of technology and big-game startups, there has been a significant push in the recent past. Bangalore is fast evolving to become a global hub for startup activity, closely followed by Mumbai and NCR. But apart from these a host of other cities are evolving. Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Coimbatore etc. are a few cities who are fast gaining ground.
Today let’s focus on Pune, often called the ‘Oxford of the East’.
Much like Bangalore, Pune is one of the biggest hubs for talent owing to the large number of colleges in the city, a friendly climate and a vibrant outlook. And the potential that it has is fast showing results. 2010 was the pivotal year for startups in Pune, when a large chunk of them came into existence. India, as a whole, hasn’t been rated as a very good place to startup in and was placed at a lowly 132nd in the world. But Puneites rate Pune slightly higher in terms of ease of starting up which is an encouraging figure.
Several startups from Pune have already raised significant amount of funding and a few have even been acquired. These include companies like Druva Software, a pioneer in enterprise laptop backup and retrieval that was founded in 2007. Starting up from Pune, the company now has offices in the US (now headquarters) and UK. Druva provides advanced enterprise data-protection solutions for data at the edge of corporate networks.
Pune has a healthy mix of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs like Sarang Lakare have already built products like the IntouchApp which are being used by a global audience. Then we have people like Ravi Handa who are democratizing the test preparation industry by making material available at affordable rates, and driving the trend of online classrooms.
Other startups which have either been funded/acquired are:
Wicfy - Launched in 2010 by BITS Pilani alumnus Arun Purohit and software specialist Rajeshwari Joshi, Wicfy offers a web-based price comparison and discussion platform for users to share cheap pricing, products and sellers. Wicfy enables users to search for products across various categories in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata.
TastyKhana - TastyKhana is aiming to bring better food to the people by offering consumers healthy, convenient ordering options and is striving to empower local businesses by helping them meet technological demands as well.
Mobikon - Its CRM tool Konekt is a customer engagement tool, that helps restaurants understand their customers better by generating insights from various entry points like Konekt Feedback, the social engagement platform kicks in. Mobikon has so far raised raised 2.2 million USD, engages 650+ restaurants in India, Singapore, Manila, Dubai, London and is powering 60000+ reviews every month.
FirstCry - one of the largest online store for kids and baby products.
Helpshift - a CRM for mobile apps which lets the app users to get in touch with the developer.
Pubmatic - a media tech company which gives integrated data, inventory and advertising revenue optimizing platform for digital publishers.
Sapience: A product of InnovizeTech Software, Sapience is a product designed to deliver Enterprise Effort and Time Productivity.
ShopSocially - a social commerce platform for retailers, its suite of applications can be used to achieve improvement on metrics which includes onsite conversion ratio, new customer acquisition.
Swipe Telecom- Swipe is a telecommunication corporation which works on producing innovative smartphones, tablets and slates.
TrueSparrow – TrueSparrow built consumer internet product and worked on user experience and technology. Founded in 2007, TrueSparrow was acquired by Fab.com.
MindTickle - MindTickle is a web-based learning platform that combines the power of social, mobile, cloud and gamification to make enterprise learning more efficient and effective.
kPoint Technologies Pvt Ltd - kPoint is a B2B solution in India with clients in the technical and manufacturing domain (e.g. Cognizant in tech and Kirloskar in manufacturing). The product is targeted towards companies that offer training to their employees and the clear mandate is to improve the internal know how within a company.
Dhingana: The online streaming platform of Indian music which was founded in 2007 was acuired by Rdio earlier this year.
Now, let us look at 15 promising startups from Pune that you should watch out for. These are in no particular order and the list has been curated based on the team, innovation, market size and their current execution stage.
CarIQ is a plug ‘n’ play device for cars. The device comes with an in-built GSM technology which collects data from the car without any human intervention. This data is then sent to the cloud where it is processed and users can receive the result over the web or smartphone apps.
Its hardware collects data from various electronic systems in your car such as the engine, ABS, air bag system, among others and sends information about service requirements, critical alerts, engine health, driving data, and fuel economy. The product is compatible with the major car manufacturers like Toyota, Mahindra, Tata, Hyundai, etc. manufactured after 2008.
This device is being made in Pune by an experienced team led by Sagar Apte. The device is available for pre order at the crowdfunding platform Catapooolt.
Letsride.in wants to solve the traffic woes that plague our country by connecting driver to the rider, through their social networking platform. The idea is to get both these parties onto the social platform and entice them enough to post updates about their rides, every time they embark on the ride.
Founded by Rohit Gupta and Anuj Tandon, Rolocule Games is an independent game development and research studio. Rolocule is dedicated to creating high quality console-like interactive entertainment software for next generation platforms like smartphones and tablet.
Launched in 2011 by Rohan Dighe, ViralMint is a viral marketing platform that helps businesses acquire new customers, increase sales, improve conversion rates and build up engagement. For instance, if you’re running an online store, integrating ViralMint will allow you to push offers at appropriate times, increase post purchase experience and other such things which ensure that the customer buys more.
Jhamobi.com, a mobile application development company, has developed its flagship mobile app, Yo!, which connects people and businesses around them. o! is a local connectivity app to explore your surrounding by connecting you with nearby people/business. With Yo! one can share what’s around them through micro blog or chat. Importantly, it notifies users about offers, campaign and ads straight from local merchant and view local classifieds to buy-sell products locally and quickly.
Ashish Agrawal quit his fancy job at Google to build RoomLion - a discovery and reservation portal for short-term rentals and serviced apartments specifically for no-nonsense temporary housing, which does not include hotels, cheap guest houses, PGs, couches, igloos and even tree-houses.
Started by Akshat Srivastava and Arun prabhudesai, MOC has an open courseware portal, MyOpenCourses - an interactive channel to access more than 16000 hours of content created by the top Indian universities and academicians including the IITs and IISC. This portal has almost 1.5 lac users. They also have a product- MyOpenCampus, which is a Free Campus Collaboration tool that brings offline campuses online.
AdSparx caters to Internet Video Publishers who distribute live events, linear TV and on-demand video content to mobile and internet. It enables dynamic, in-stream user targeted pre and mid rolls across all internet devices for these publishers. Internet TV is driving the internet video consumption on different devices. Monetizing this traffic on the internet still largely remains a problem and AdSparx addresses this problem by offering a single solution for in-stream video ads for multi-screen devices.
Started by Chinmoy, AllizHealth is creating a centralized repository of health information with the active collaboration of users and limited dependency on healthcare providers. The goal is to bring together all the healthcare eco-system players and promote various technology-driven transformational approaches. Users can build their medical profile — update medical history, share medical records with specialists, upload medical documents (reports, prescriptions, bills), etc. There are some solid but fragmented efforts in the area and AllizHealth wants to put it all together.
Savetime was founded with a vision to bring patient-centric innovation to the masses in a simple manner saving their time and money. As a first step, Savetime is focused on helping migrants in large cities find the "right" doctor based on a simple conversation about their symptoms, problems or needs. Savetime is available on the web, over the phone and for Android smartphones.
This start-up helps e-commerce companies in customer conversions by bringing offline buying experience online.For certain verticals like apparel, jewellery, watches, vacations etc. offline experience influences the buying decision. For example, if you like two sarees, how do you decide to buy one without asking for an opinion from someone you trust? Also customers in these segments expect a certain level of personalization. Based on the intent and loyalty exhibited by the customers, at traditional offline stores salespersons tend to make a judgement call and provide a discount specifically to that customer. Instaclique brings this behavior to the e-store for their customers.
Flynx is a lightweight floating browser that loads web pages in the background and enhances the user’s productivity by giving him or her more time to work on something else in the meantime. The app intercepts any type of link; you can tap on it from almost all applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ etc, and it opens the link in a very simple, intuitive and uninterrupted manner. A user can open a link from any Android application using Flynx and continue using the app that they were currently in without wasting time waiting for an entire browser to open, followed by the loading of the webpage.
Launched in June 2012, Pune-based price comparison platform Shoppingwish rebranded itself as Scandid in January 2014 to completely focus on mobile first shopping experiences. Scandid is a barcode scanner based shopping app which helps you find the best deals on products both online and offline. The startup had launched the app in September 2013 with the aim of providing an omni-channel shopping companion which helps users simplify their shopping decisions across both channels (online and offline). It also made it to the finals of the Seedstars World Final Event that will be held in Geneva in February next year.
Started by Sahil Khan and Hrishikesh Rajpathak, Quinto (previously called Dishoomit) is a crowdsourced dish discovery app for iOS & Android that helps you search for and rate the best dishes around you.
Megavenues, founded in 2013, is a marketplace for event venues that allows venue owners to list their properties such as banquet halls, open air venues, meeting and conference rooms, wedding and reception venues, art galleries and enables users to search and connect with them instantly.
There are several other startups who are doing well. The list above is intended to be neither a ranking of Pune startups nor an exhaustive list of all startups. A few of them are listed below:
Freecallapp - Brainchild of Jitesh Lalwani, Aquib Maniyar and Dhiraj Bijlani, FreeCallApp provides free calling for 15 plus countries. Importantly, it’s made keeping the Indian audience in mind and provides calling feature that can even be used over 2G connection.
Programmr - This startup has taken the programming lab to the cloud, eliminating the need for complicated desktop tools, removing one of the biggest impediments to learning to code. Users can access the latest coding technologies from any browser.
Praxify - India’s first cloud & iPad based specialty specific electronic health record (EHR) with practice management capabilities for physicians. The app comes with several features that allow, for example, easy appointment scheduling, and completely digitized patient records that enable quick and precise billing. The app is delivered using the SaaS model, allowing various stakeholders to use the app on the go, without worrying about security and integrity of the app.
ProfitBooks - Launched in September 2012 with an aim to provide an affordable cloud accounting solution to small businesses, ProfitBooks is presently being used by over 3000 unique businesses from different sectors. The startup regularly conducts workshops for startups in Pune. Last month's 'Skill Up to Scale Up' workshop was attended by various Pune-based startups.
According to software products thinktank iSpirt, at least five Indian product companies have crossed or are on track for a $1 billion and the names include two from Pune - QuickHeal and Pubmatic. Quickheal is all set to go for its IPO. Relatively cheaper infrastructure costs along with good connectivity, pleasant weather and a growing economy, make the city a good place to startup. But the city has its own challenges:
Hiring - Although this huge talent pool is present, majority of them don’t possess a startup mindset. These colleges haven’t fostered entrepreneurship and graduating students look for traditional comfortable jobs. Culturally, as a whole, an average Puneite would stick to a conventional job. And this makes hiring a challenge.
Lack of angels from Pune - Even after being very close to the financial hub, Mumbai, there is a lack of angels in the city who can put in fundings of 30-50 lacs. Of late, more institutional investors are putting the focus on Pune, a trend which was started by Helion who pledged $25 million for Pune-based entrepreneurs.
Limited organized activities - There is a significant lack of activity in the city, in terms of meetups. However, three of the biggest proponents in the Pune ecosystem have been TiE Pune, Pune Open Coffee Club, and Pune Tech who organize events and keep the Pune flag flying. TiE supports startups through its Nurture Program and apart from this they also hold their annual event TiECon Pune.
Even with the few shortcomings, we at YourStory are confident that Pune will grow into a very big startup hub.
PS: Special thanks to Ravi Handa of HandakaFunda for helping include more information and refining the list.