[Startup Watchlist] What is the end game for these startups?Jubin Mehta
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One starts up for multiple reasons- Trying to break free, chasing a dream, solving a problem for self and then finding meaning in scaling it, making money, because there is an opportunity or well, getting noticed. The reason can be anything and there are no wrong or right reasons but it is a given that to see your startup to succeed, it takes a lot of focused effort and hard work. India has seen enormous activity in the startup space and we've seen many sectors mature to be at par with the global trends.
I get about five pitches for coverage each day and it raises a lot of questions. What will become of most of these startups? Few will ofcourse succeed and become big but the others? Shutting down, getting acquired or growing and finding a sustainable model are answers but it's a curious inquiry. How does someone start up now in markets like eCommerce or online real estate? I'm looking at some such startups in this watchlist:
Speaking of a cab in India now conjures up images of an Ola or TaxiForSure or Uber. These startups have come a long way to become mainstream and a lot of investor money has gone in to make it possible. After aggregation of flights and then buses, cabs were the next market which is now being taken head on.
The online cab rental space is very crowded but still we see a lot of companies starting up encouraged by the success stories (and there is no harm in it). Here, we're looking at Cabs4Share which was started early in 2013 by an industry veteran in Bangalore as an online cab rental site (not aggregator) and has now pivoted mainly to long distance one way cab sharing model. There is room to survive but what is the end game here. Another much younger startup doing the same thing in tier 2 cities ig Gujarat is Oneway.cab. Will they get acquired as the market consolidates or fizzle out and die or is there a possibility to carve out a business model to coexist?
Online real estate is another crowded space. The likes of MagicBricks, 99acres, IndiaProperty already existed and then CommonFloor and Housing (more recently Grabhouse) came in to disrupt the market with technology. And there are still plenty of other players who want to enter the space. Refind wants to come in with 'open property data'- this company is concentrating on building a repository of high quality property data by having its own team on the ground and then shaking up the market a bit by offering pieces of this data. Refind has been around for more than a year and is building up from Bangalore.
Local content. Nothing new and there are tonnes of sites with localized content across the globe. What's special here? Well, India is an emerging market and localized content players have a big role to play for technology to make inroads in India. For instance, OurVadodara is an initiative of an engineering student who wanted to provide good positive English Media to his city. The site is currently getting more than 500 views every day and the site makes money via ads. Now, will OurVadodara (and hundreds others) grow for a while and then plateau or will a bigger player come in to consolidate things?
The initial drive is strong for entrepreneurs but what can help to take one closer to the light at the end of the tunnel? These are all questions that don't have definitive answers but open up interesting possibilities and it is important for entrepreneurs across the spectrum (young and senior) to make sure the startup machine remains well oiled. I'd love to hear what you have to say!