News, e-commerce, payments and counselling: meet the 7 startups in Axilor’s second batchMadanmohan Rao
The first batch of startups joined the accelerator programme of Axilor in March 2015. Its second batch, for Winter 2015, has been announced. The intensive 100-day program is designed to improve the odds of success of early stage entrepreneurs (see earlier interview with Ganapathy Venugopal, CEO of Axilor and former Head, Strategy and Planning, Infosys).
Here’s an inside view of the companies in this batch; YourStory asked each of them to share insights on how they started off on their journeys, how they acquired their first customers, and where they expect to be headed after their accelerator program!
Awesummly positions itself as ‘Facebook for short news.’ In real time, their engine curates news, keeps tracking related social activities worldwide in various international languages, and transforms gathered information into personalized short content of about five lines.
The founding team consists of Ankit, Nitin and Deepak. They hit upon the idea when they wanted to check on what happened to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, but realised that none of them really reads newspapers.
The first users were their friends and colleagues, and then their extended networks. Facebook page promotions, post boosts and shares were their next step. Their target is to be on 10 million mobile devices in the next three-five years.
LetsPool lets users pool money and make group payments with friends. LetsPool enables users to collaborate, concur and evolve consensus for all group activities, besides enabling payments, money splitting and even collecting money back that is owed.
The founding team includes Anshum Verma (ex-Nokia, Yahoo and DCE) and Deepak Nair (ex-Nokia, Saffron Labs, TenCube, OnMobile, Sasken; and IIM-B, Bangalore University). Early team members are Vijay Bhaskar (ex-Nokia, Sasken) and Rejish Rajagopala (ex-Nokia, Sasken, CSAM).
The team hit upon the pooling idea while working on another project: last minute gifting service Cheripo. The first set of customers came through friends' circles who pooled money to purchase gifts for a newly married ex-colleague, and for an ex-colleague's newborn. Subsequently, users have come by word of mouth.
A leading B-School in Bangalore also used LetsPool to enable group payments for an alumni reunion. The startup exhibited at the recent NASSCOM Product Conclave conference and expo in Bangalore (see photo gallery). The founders’ vision is to see LetsPool as an ubiquitous group payment system, across online and offline channels.
My-Dream-Wear is a mobile-only fashion technology platform for renting ethnic Indian designer wear, co-founded by Soma Kohli and Priya Maheshwari. Their backgrounds complement each other with technology and business, and the passion for fashion is their common motivator.
My-Dream-Wear positions itself as a complete fashion technology platform to fulfil that dream to make every women look beautiful and feel special without burning a hole in the pocket. The team aims to offer designer clothes, jewellery, bags and styling at a fraction of the full price.
Peersome is a self-drive car rental online marketplace. Started by IIT graduates in 2015, the team is working on solving the problem of the availability of self-drive cars, and aims to become the ‘AirBnB of self-drive cars.’ Peersome is now operational in Bangalore (see YourStory review of other players in this space).
After having taken self-drive cars on rent multiple times in Bangalore, founders Sayanta Ghosh and Laxmi Pavani realised that customers face a lot of hassles with the unorganised market of local vendors - on availability, pricing, vehicle quality, refunds and documentation.
But the other organised online market seemed too expensive. Hence the Peersome offering for those who love driving and going on weekend road-trips with friends and family, or for people who like having an independent way to get around the city in a hassle-free and affordable way.
The founders were earlier at Flipkart, and started Peersome on 15 August, 2015 in Bangalore. They identified colleagues and friends who loved to travel and proposed the idea of using the online service for their next road-trip. In the next few months, the team plans to expand to other cities, and enlist established big players.
Perapy aspires to build a single platform where individuals with similar problems can meet, share their stories, discover peers and help each other in fighting their problems. The team of Gagan Babber and Siddharth Kajaria also has experts on board to provide professional counseling to users who are in need.
This is techie Gagan’s second startup, and Siddharth is a coder and designer. The founders realised that there was a significant improvement in the attitude of students if they could find someone to talk to and share their problems. Venting out your problem to a right audience helps you in resolving your problem by 50 per cent, the founders claim. Online help can reduce the social stigma of coming out to seek assistance.
In the next three to five years, the founders want to bring over a thousand professional therapists on board, helping people every day, all across the globe.
Storewalk aims to make offline shopping a delightful and refined experience for its users, by finding apparel, accessories, and other collectibles they would otherwise struggle to find in city markets on foot. It connects stores with their prospective shoppers, thus increasing their business.
Co-founders Aashit and Ateendra met through a common friend at work, and realised that offline shopping for fashion could be speeded up online. Their first customer was Juxt-a-pose, a store with a great collection but very little walk-in traffic. A simple demo showed how a digital catalogue of the store could be accessed by their target customers anytime anywhere.
“We validated the learnings across different kinds of fashion retailers and easily converted more than 50 customers in two months. Currently we cover major markets like Commercial Street, Brigade Road and Jayanagar for shoppers using our app,” the co-founders said.
Early adopters of the app were friends and their networks, and the first order was for apparel from a store in HSR Layout. Storewalk reports more than a thousand downloads so far, and plans to expand to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as well.
Fulfil.IO is a SaaS offering to help small and medium sized multi-channel retailers fulfil orders efficiently and manage inventory transparently across the sales channels with a high degree of forecasting. The ten-member team includes Sharoon Thomas (CEO / Founder), Rituparna Panda (Product Manager), Tarun Bhardwaj (Tech Lead), Prakash Pandey (Solutions Architect) and Rohit Pawar (Product Marketing and Sales).