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Indore may emerge as next big startup hub, here are startups to prove why

Mukti Masih
13th Aug 2016
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A majority of the 500+ startups in Madhya Pradesh are in Indore and Bhopal. From a traditional business city, high on food and Maheshwari sarees, to now a vibrant ecosystem of technology and tech-enabled startups, Indore has truly arrived.

Almost every national-level aggregator has to compete with local equivalentshere. Indore alone has three local autorickshaw aggregators – Telerickshaw, Tuktuk and Dhanno competing with Jugnoo. Then there are the others: GetIronman and Remphi (laundry service); Oye 24 and Bingage (food); Calipso (salon on-demand); Locate and CitizenCop (safety apps), which are bringing services on technology platforms.

Startups-of-Indore

“Right from e-commerce, fresh veggies, utility services, organic farming and food, niche snack bars, readymade meals, grocery, city transportation, laundry services, these startups have brought everything to people’s doorsteps. I believe once we started focussing on making our products robust without depending on investors, even investments have started to flow here in the past few years,” notes Atul N Bharat, Founder, Indore Entrepreneur Network and Founder IPR Protection Cell with CII, National Entrepreneurship Network.

Indore’s startups are aware that the local consumer database is invaluable for bigger players who may consider acquiring or partnering with a local aggregator. Medd – a diagnostics and imaging tests marketplace from Indore– that had bagged a funding round of $150K in October 2015 was acquired by 1MG in July this year.

Knowledge resources

Indore no longer has a dearth of knowledge resources. Along with the Indian Institute of Technology (Indore) and Indian Institute of Management (Indore), several colleges and institutes have active e-cells that provide incubation and entrepreneurship facilities. There are more than 20 startup groups such as Indore Startups Community, Indore Entrepreneurship Network, IEC Mumbai’s Indore Chapter, Indore Management Association (IMA), National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) Indore chapter that organise meetups and workshops from time to time inviting industry leaders. One such organisation is e-Chai Ventures, which has been working the past few years to mentor and help young founders. E-Chai’s Indore Chapter Leader and startup evangelist Kavita Singh says, “Despite having innumerable workshops on business plans, pitching events and bootcamps the core aspect of innovation in the startup is sorely missing. That's why when anyone shares their startup idea my first question is, 'What's the USP?' I don't expect an answer immediately but if I can chance upon something really different about the venture idea, I love to back it up,” she adds.

Some stress on the collective leverage that needs to be forged by the ecosystem. “As a solution, there is a strong need for creating a larger city ecosystem specifically in terms of access to trends in the industry, domain experts, mentors and investors. The programmes run for developing the ecosystem need to dramatically scale up and focus on knowledge and skills access, rather than plain networking,” opines NEN Senior Manager Marlina Ramchandran.

Indore doesn’t lack in government support either. Indore District Collector P Narhari is a huge startup enthusiast and often extends support. Country’s first Data Center Park (DCP) is being built in the city that will further open doors to global players here. Consultant to the DCP and founder of RackBank Narendra Sen shares, “Due to the DCP, IT companies and startups will get exposure of global players in tech hardware, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, security, network, open computing along with creating thousands of jobs.” Central India’s first angel network Swan Angels Network is also headquartered here that’s not only financing startups but also providing the much needed mentorship.

These are the top 10 Indore startups to watch out for:

  1. WittyFeed

Headquartered in Indore, this startup helped mark the city on the global map by becoming the world’s second largest viral content company. Bootstrapped from November 2014, it gets 60 million unique visitors per month and had a revenue of Rs 30 crore in the last financial year. It’s worldwide rank is 260 in terms of traffic, content, search engine optimisation and reputation. Founded by brothers Vinay and Parveen Singhal and their college friend Shashank Vaishnav, WittyFeed has successfully beat India’s largest content company ScoopWhoop and is now only behind world leader Buzzfeed. The company that shifted to its new 10,000-sft swanky office recently is known for its progressive work culture.

  1. Shopkirana
  • Tanutejas Saraswat, Sumit Ghorawat, Deepak Dhanotiya founded Shopkirana, a platform for the good old kiranawala (grocery store owner) empowering him to find goods that he needs most. It’s an Android-based mobile application that can be downloaded for free where retailers can find the goods they want, order through the app and pay cash at the time of delivery. Founded in February 2015, Shopkirana closed a funding round early this year from Samsung’s Atul Jain and Anil Gelra, Founder, Hola Chef, along with a few other FMCG veterans. It has scaled up in Indore and Mumbai growing 100-percent quarter-on-quarter with more than 100 brands on board, 4,000+ stores and more than 10,000 retailers. It has plans of expanding to other cities in the next six months.
  1. Zipi App (previously Zootout)

Founded by Sukrat Ray, Pranav Singhi, Sumay Dubey in January 2016 (with a new name), ZiPi is a chat-based mobile commerce platform that provides a one-stop solution to the users to get things done faster. So, from ordering food to summoning a plumber to one's home, ZiPi fulfills almost every need. It has so far crossed 15,000 downloads on iOS and Android combined. ZiPi is currently building a technology that would be needed globally and the startup hopes to cross national borders soon

  1. RetailReco

Founded by Anand Katakwar, RetailReco is one of the few analytics startups in the region. Incorporated in December 2012, it offers an omni-channel personalisation product suite for retailers through its patent pending predictive analytics algorithms using big data technologies. The startup has developed a predictive analytics tool that enables retailers – online and offline – make accurate predictions about the future buys of their old and new consumers. These predictions are based on their breakthrough in predictive analytics, for which they have now filed a patent. With over 35 customers in the USA, India and Australia, Retail Reco is challenging traditional methods of e-commerce customer acquisition. Their product suite with American clients has been a hit and the startup plans to target more overseas markets this year.

  1. Maalgaadi

Founded by Anirudh Garg and Saurabh Raj, Maalgaadi is more than a logistics aggregator, providing loading vehicles on an application. Founded in 2015 by two chartered accountants, Maalgaadi has transformed the lives of more than 200 drivers of loading vehicles. It has so far made 28,000+ trips and clocked gross freight value of Rs 1.30 crore, serving more than 1,500 customers in the city. Maalgaadi regularly organises meetups for its drivers where trainers from institutes such as IIMs, ICAI etc hold talks with them. The profitable startup has plans of increasing the fleet size to 500 in the next six months and further improve customer services before scaling up to other cities.

  1. Instacar

Founded by Ishan Vyas, Anurag Gupta, Priyanshi Choubey Instacar is a marketplace for outstation taxis founded in February this year. Due to lack of standardised rates, last-minute planners or frequent travellers often end up paying exorbitant amounts of money as their bargain ability diminishes at time of need. They are never aware of how the car would turn out to be. Following a rigorous 15-point quality scale for standardising outstation taxis, InstaCar is solving the problem of getting cars for outstation trips. Within three months of its launch this year, the Indore-based startup has on-boarded 500+ cars in Madhya Pradesh itself. Instacar has more of an AirBnB model where users get to see and choose the exact car. Since Ola recently launched its outstation taxi services, Instacar is open to list Ola cars as well. Several investors from India and Dubai have shown interest in investing in Instacar.

  1. MotorBabu

Founded by Aditi Chaurasia, Mayank Pratap Singh, Avdhesh Singh Solanki, MotorBabu is a product of web and mobile app development company Engineer Babu. The on-call vehicle service booking platform is only five months old, and picks up the user's vehicle for servicing/repair/washing or oiling and drops it back at their place. Apart from the usual repair jobs, MotorBabu also provides on-call assistance during break-downs. What’s truly remarkable about MotorBabu is that it has channelised unemployed men from nearby villages, trained them in vehicle repairs and provided them with accommodation in town so they could work with the startup regularly. On the other hand, it has standardised the vehicle repair/service process on-boarding 25 service centers based in the town. Currently, MotorBabu is serving 20 clients per day and plans to expand to New Delhi soon.

  1. ShopitDaily

Founded by Abhishek Bhatt, Saurav Shrivastava, ShopitDaily was launched in August 2014. It now has a consumer base in Indore and Vadodara and is catering to more than one lakh orders per month. ShopitDaily is a hyperlocal grocery delivery platform that offers a 90-minute-delivery proposition to customers within 25km of the city limits. The service also caters to canteens at corporate houses and companies along with retail segment. Apart from online, the service can be availed over phone and WhatsApp. The startup recently closed funding round of Rs 1.5 crore from Sai Capitals – a firm dealing in Capital Structuring and Startup Funding. Sai Capitals is a one-year old company active in startup funding in cities like Indore, Nasik, Baroda and others. ShopitDaily aims to now expand to Nasik and other Tier-II cities this year, apart from launching its own brand in food segment.

  1. Med108

Founded by Avinash Mahajan, Himanshu Sharma, Alok Kumar, Chetan Pushpad, and Jitendra Sharma this January, Med108 provides ambulance services right in the application, a service available within 15 minutes. Apart from doctor’s appointment, discounted medicines and doorstep pathology facilities, Med108 also provides a comprehensive live blood donor list, which updates automatically at the time of sign-up. Med108 is planning to raise Series-A funding and is in talks with various investment firms. It aims to expand to other Tier-II cities within the next six months and to other 45 cities within a year. The platform has more than 2,500 users and 120 paid service providers in just five months.

  1. Pyoopel

Founded by Swati Choudhary and Bharat Patodi, Pyoopel is a portal that offers free online video coaching with extensively researched courseware. Bootstrapped since December 2014, Pyoopel has now reached 18,000+ students through eight free test courses. The site stands out among portals offering free tests in that students will not have to pay any money at all to avail the tests, as opposed to others who provide some tests free of charge, but have a pricing model for tests taken later. The site is, in that sense, truly MOOC (Massively Open Online Courseware). The free test prep courses include mocks tests like IBPS, CAT, CMAT, CLAT, GRE, SSC, NDA and CDS. Why Pyoopel is a vital addition to Indore’s startup ecosystem is that it’s a truly crowd-sourced and crowd-funded platform, where one section of the crowd helps other section without charging money. They earn from revenues generated through sponsorships from universities and colleges.

Some honourable mentions

Vaayu Hybrid Chiller : A startup that has created a hybrid of cooler and air conditioner that comes at a tenth of an AC’s running cost. It’s a patented technology.

FlapApp: An events-discovery mobile application that allows users to managed personalised evens and discover public events. More than 10,000 downloads.

Indore has no dearth of talent and now with benchmarks set by these startups, the entrepreneurship temperament is only bound to flourish further.

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