The year 2016 started with a bang with the ‘Startup India, Stand up India’ initiative rolled out by the government. It was the year when cockroaches dominated the discussions over unicorns, when we spoke about checks and regulations rather than competitiveness, when startups’ hiring and firing made news more often than ever, when an announcement impacted the whole startup ecosystem like none other before, and when the ecosystem detected the weather change.
We told more than 10,000 stories of passion, success, failure, determination, perseverance, honour, grit, pain, and learning in 2016.
For our local languages readers, we published a similar number of stories across 12 Indian languages.
While we enjoyed telling each story, our readers showered extra love on a few of them. We bring to you the 50 most read stories of 2016 -- in no particular orde.
The agriculture sector has been the largest employer in India’s economy, but there aren't many good things to read about in this sector. While issues like farmers' suicide and their migration to cities (as daily wage labour) keep plaguing this sector, it’s heartening to see a positive story. Getting the fundamentals right and hard work have earned many farmers a fortune. In this story, we speak to four such crorepati farmers, who fought everything unfavorable to be the silver lining and inspire others.
This story of a Delhi-based fashionista who revived her father’s business and put it on a fast track of growth generated the curiosity of many. In this story, Anusha Jain shared the challenges of turning her passion, to introduce offbeat styling and designs in socks, into reality by creating Bonjour. Over the last four years, she has contributed significantly to Bonjour’s success story.
This is an unbelievable account of how Renuka Aradhya went from pushing a handcart under a blazing sun to now owning a fleet of 1000 plus cars, from transporting 300 dead bodies to ferrying foreign tourists who left tips in dollars, from failing to clear class X exams to now rubbing shoulders with the industry’s who’s who.
Thirty-seven-year-old Madhu Chandan Chikkadevaiah is probably the most important person for hundreds of Mandya farmers. A place, which had reported 20 farmer suicides in a month and more than Rs 1200 crore owing to banks (loans), is going through a transformation, thanks to Madhu who left his software engineering job in California and came back to his roots.
Ninjacart is an online platform through which retailers and merchants can source fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers. It started as a hyper-local grocery delivery company, but after six months pivoted the model to become a full-fledged Business to Business (B2B) marketplace. Last reported monthly turnover of the company was more than Rs 4 crore.
This is a story of 25-year-old Ankita Jain, Co-founder of GoPaisa.com, a cashback and coupon site. She co-founded the venture in 2012 with her husband and has come a long way to be associated with more than 550 brands today. The company is bootstrapped and profitable, and going strong.
Co-founded by husband-wife duo in Indore and backed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Vayu Hybrid Chiller is a hybrid of a cooler and an air-conditioner that comes at a tenth of an AC’s running cost.
Son of Dalit migrants from a village in Karnataka, Raja Nayak ran away from his home when he was 17 years old. Today, he runs businesses with a total turnover of Rs 60 crore. From selling export reject surplus shirts on the roadside to owning multiple businesses, Raja’s story inspires millions. And throughout his journey, he never used any reservation to climb up.
This is a story of three women – Trisha Roy, Rituparna Panda, and Yosha Gupta, who went to the USA to find their dreams. Startups by all three women are backed by 500Startups. While Trisha started a vertically integrated home decor brand, Rituparna’s startup helps small businesses migrate to cloud and mobile technology, and Yosha runs cashback and coupons app.
Internet technology is turning out to be the single biggest form of addiction among millennials. This story covers the behavioural study on smartphone addiction and answers ‘how much is too much’. The article is one of the most exhaustive accounts of this issue.
This is an unusual story of a fourth generation individual from a business family, who broke the legacy to start a company which owns the brands Collectabillia, Imara and Wrogn (Virat Kohli) today. This 28-year-old runs a Rs 61-crore business which is well on its way to becoming a Rs 100-crore business by the end of this financial year.
Ishika Taneja is a Guinness World Record Holder airbrushing expert who shot to fame earlier when she was makeover expert of Hollywood stars like Britney Spears and beauty pageant winners in many countries. She dedicated her world record to the courage and bravery of Nirbhaya and gave away all the funds raised during the event to the Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust.
Founder of a high-end fashion rental startup, Liberent, Sahyujyah Shrinivas’s story teaches the importance of persistence like none other. Being a girl from a conservative middle-class family, she faced a lot of restrictions and challenges.
In this story, she shares he she went from pillar to pillar and chased her dream to reality.
Arpita Khadria’s story is a testimony that predictions are often useless in a journey of an entrepreneur. After quitting her job a brand manager in 2012, Arpita wouldn’t have imaged that merely 4 years later, she will be running 3 ventures. Arpita is the founder of an app and game development company, a brand consultancy and a not for profit organization.
The gifting market in India is a growing industry witnessing an annual growth in the range of 20–40 per cent. Read about Saman Pahwa who started Handmade Junction. Handmade Junction allows users to order personalised, handmade and custom gifts online and have it delivered to their doorsteps.
Even as logistics and shipping remain the very backbone of the e-commerce revolution, the logistics industry has been unorganised since it came into being. Twenty-three-year-old Bhavik Chinai Bhavik crafted Vamaship India’s first aggregator for logistics companies that ship through air, water as well as road to create a win-win for all stakeholders.
Twenty-two-year-old Namit, Founder and CEO of KagazkePhool, started a unique venture where you can get a book written as a gesture of affection towards a loved one, narrating their lives and how they have touched yours. The idea is to rekindle the urge in people to pen their stories and relive past moments.
In this story read about Aprameya Radhakrishna, Co-founder of TaxiForSure, his life after starting his venture with Rs 8 lakh and selling it for $200 million. He speaks about his investment philosophies as well which are interesting and simple.
Zeeshan and co-founders Sameer Ramesh, Fatema Hussain, and Ruhan Naqash started Climber, a youth-run education startup, currently incubated out of NSRCEL at IIM Bangalore. Through their curated events and youth programmes, the startup aims at mentoring young students to make informed career decisions
At a time when everyone is looking at urban and hi-tech, CallFREE – a telephonic news portal started by co-founders Sanjiv Gupta and Madhubhushi Raghavan brings on-demand news and popular content toll free to villagers, defying the wave with a rural focus and very low-tech disruption.
Reportage on fashion never fails to gloat about how we Indians are finally meeting western standards of what is referred to as high fashion. But the day we decided to ape and achieve these standards itself is perhaps the biggest blip in our cultural history.
A mother-daughter duo Aditi and DivyaBajpai, created Almirah that grew out of a passion for textiles and love for Indian techniques like weaving, quilting, printing, and hand embroidery. Almirah is a treasure trove of simple, quirky clothes and bedding for children between ages 0 and 12.
The potato might be a humble vegetable but it is also the most popular, consumed across the world in a variety of delicacies. From the business point of view, India is the second largest producer of potatoes and the crop is responsible for scores of success stories. One such success story is of Hemant Gaur, Founder and Director of Siddhi Vinayak Agri Processing (SV Agri), a Pune-based potato supply chain company. With revenues of Rs 60 crores, the company has also raised Rs 25 crore funding in a Series B round.
Sidharth Oberoi's LetsShave is a platform focussed on men's grooming industry. The startup aggregates quality razors at affordable prices, getting razor blades from the manufacturers directly to the customer's doorstep.
Lucknow-based Ankit Srivastava found his passion for creating Android apps during college. Earning good money from it at the age of 20 was an added incentive. Ankit’s music player app La Musique, named after a French phrase meaning ‘the music’, has had more than 30 lakh downloads and has generated a revenue of Rs 45 lakh.
A collection of interesting anecdotes and trivia from the charismatic BookMyShow chief Ashish Hemrajani. Read the story to know why Ashish deleted his Facebook account, why he has more 50,000 unread e-mails and what he looks for in his employees.
The father-daughter duo of Bharat and Mitali Tandon offers the ultimate solution for party animals – Morning Fresh, the antidote for nasty hangovers. Completely natural, the product is derived from mulberry extract and saves those who have had a drink too many from the unpleasant effects of a hangover.
Sagar paliwal founded Delhi-based AutoKartz last year to cater to spare parts and accessory needs of car owners and offer services like restoration of a classic. The company is currently clocking sales of over Rs 1,00,000 a day, with a turnover of over Rs 3 crore in a year.
This is an in-depth story on leading foodtech player Swiggy’s amazing journey. With more than a million app downloads, eight cities and 5,000 restaurants – Swiggy’s 17-month journey from bootstrapped to closing three funding rounds has been an inspirational one in the food delivery space.
Most startup founders are driven by the lure of VC funding, but not Sridhar Vembu. His company, Zoho, is now one of the fastest growing companies in the software industry, currently having seeded four productivity tools and experimenting with over 100 different ideas. Sridhar also believes that B2B startups should learn how to build themselves without funding and learn to make customers pay for their services.
Existing PGs, hostels, and apartments often lack the three basic requirements of a millennial – entertainment, socialising opportunities, and most importantly, WiFi. Uday Lakkar and Amber Sajid understood this and saw a market just waiting to be tapped. And thus, CoHo was born.
Shruti Shibulal may be one of the richest young women in the country today, owning a significant stake in Infosys, where her father, SD Shibulal, was CEO, but her heart lies in hospitality. Shruti has a series of niche, eco-friendly projects to her credit under her Tamara Group. As she puts it, her aim is to provide her guests with a “relaxed and beautiful experience amidst nature, far from the hustle-bustle and pollution of cities, without destroying the ecosystem around.”
Forty-two-year-old Sridhar Pinnappureddy may be at the helm of the Rs 250-crore Tier-4 CtrlS Data Centre Limited, but he’s had his share of setbacks. From incurring losses during the dot-com bubble burst of the early 2000s, to having a significant PE fund leaving his company during the 2008 recession, Sridhar is now the proud founder of three companies, the third of which is the disaster recovery startup, Cloud4C. Today, his competitors include the likes of Google, Amazon’s AWS, and Facebook.
Generally speaking, the father-daughter relationship is understood to be one of responsibility rather than partnership, as it is in the case of a father-son relationship. But times are changing, and these startups prove it.
A sedentary life, particularly defined by long hours in front of a computer screen coupled with excessive junk food and stress, seems to be the bane of our times. This is especially true for those working in IT, and Pragya Bhatt was no exception. Before she knew it, she was heavier than she’d ever been. That’s when Yoga found her, as she puts it. Yoga not only helped Pragya shed those extra kilos, it also changed her as a person.
We live in a time when anything desi has a large and welcoming global audience, with Yoga and Ayurveda taking the cake. At the helm of this ever-growing industry is Haridwar-based Yoga guru Baba Ramdev's Patanjali. Famed for his televised Yoga camps, Baba Ramdev relaunched his PatanjaliAyurved, which began a decade ago. The company has now gone past its Ayurvedic roots, now selling everything from detergents and personal care products to even!
Sarvesh lived to perform, excelled at every sport he experimented with, played cricket professionally for his school and his State, Tamil Nadu, and was steps away from being selected for IPL. But there was something else in store for him.
One of the youngest app developers in the world today, Tanmay Bakshi can be found jet-setting around the world, delivering key-note addresses and demonstrating his apps before awestruck audiences. But recognition and success didn’t come easy. The whizkid faced several rejections before his app finally got published on the app store.
In her own words, “I was the Jon Snow of writers, I knew nothing! I didn’t know where it would go, whether it would even get published, if people would want to read it. Heck, I didn’t even know what ‘it’ was and what I was doing with ‘it’. I was simply lending words to this HD picture in my head, I knew the characters and I knew the places and of course I knew the story – I was inside it! I was driven to my desk each morning by a passion beyond my understanding. It went on for months, my fingers typed relentlessly, and I only got closure when I wrote the last word.”
26! Yes, you read that right. And yes, it does sound super-human. That’s not all, Ritesh Malik has been listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 in the Finance and Venture list (Asia) 2016. Here's more about the Doctor-turned-Entrepreneur.
Even as a child Aakanksha was always fascinated with the relocation industry, something she had seen her father do. She joined her father’s company, PM Relocations, not as the boss’ daughter, but as a regular employee. Two months into the job, Aakanksha decided to take up the challenge of expanding the business in Bengaluru. There has been no looking back since.
There were a lot of skeptics who often doubted me because of my age, family background and education. I worked hard to ensure Svatantra spoke for itself and it has – we will be breaking even this year!
India’s startup hub Bengaluru plays hosts to not only entrepreneurs but also some very charming cafes, both for food and the welcoming ambiance. But how much innovation can happen on a café after all? Dialogues Cafe is the answer. A curious disruption in the coffee house space, Dialogues Café is situated in Koramangala. Time is the currency in Dialogues Café. You can have as much snacks as you want, enjoy the free wifi, and even relax with a book in a comfortable arm chair or bean bag – and you pay only for the time spent there.
Bahaar had completed her five-year BBA, LLB course before her stint as a Senior Associate at a prestigious Law firm in New Delhi for five years. It’s not that she was unhappy with her legal career as she was doing well at her job and was representing many top clients. But art had always been her passion. And she followed her passion.
The Satyam Fraud of 2009 wiped out many an investor’s savings and made many others cautious and suspicious of investing in general. But not many know that it even inspired a company.
“I was watching the Bollywood cult classic Gangs of Wasseypur in 2014 . Being a South Indian, the language used in the movie was alien to me. As a person, I’ve always been open to different genres of music, and found the music in Gangs quite interesting, though I couldn’t understand what they were saying,” Somesh Chandran says. This got Somesh thinking about how there would be more people like him who were struggling to know what certain words and sentences in songs and movies meant.
For Dhiren Makhija, Kannan Kandappan and Yogesh Joshi, travelling abroad would mean bearing the pain of dealing with multiple Forex vendors and negotiating on the best possible foreign exchange rate for their money. Finding this to be a challenge that had no particular solution, the trio started Cashkumar, an online aggregation platform for Forex vendors in June 2014. However, a small market size and the inability to control the end customer experience made the trio reconsider their product.
Arjun Pratap admits to having no background in HR whatsoever. This may come as a bit of a surprise to people who know what he does successfully now. His HR automation platform HireAlchemy is an active part of the recruitment process for five multinationals firms in India, including names like Wipro, HCL, Dell, and Microland etc.
While the ecosystem hails fundraising in the journey of successful startups, Testament never raised any capital. “Founders from top-notch institutions have easy access to investors and media but we were from a lesser- known institute and had no access to any foreign capital, connections to VCs, or media groups,” says one of the founders.
He is a 28-year-old self-taught photographer who quit a promising career in Chartered Accountancy to follow his passion. Using the humongous web of social media to its fullest, he has made it to the top, with seven lakh Facebook followers and 12 lakh Instagram followers.
Eight individuals learned how to escape the tyranny of the 9 to 5 work cycle and taught themselves to earn sitting at home. For many of them what started as a hobby, has now become full-fledged businesses. Here’s what these self-taught, top earning bloggers can teach you a thing or two about keeping your bank accounts warm with these cool tips.
It's common to seek inspiration from the lives of successful people and change our lives based on the learnings from theirs. 2016 was also the year when our readers were constantly looking out for motivation to crack the code for achieving their goals. Our most read article with a whopping 3 million+ views stands a testimony to it. Read this article on morning schedule of successful people to know more.
Which was your favorite story? Let us know in the comments below.