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.
“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.
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:
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.