These are only a small glimpse of the offerings from the 24 startups selected as winners of the Maharashtra Startup Week held in June 2018. The event aimed to provide a comprehensive platform to the next generation of entrepreneurial talent by helping the best ideas and innovations come to fruition with concrete “work orders” of up to Rs 15 lakh, helping the startups pilot their innovative solutions and connecting various stakeholders of the startup ecosystem with each other. For a majority of these startups, getting the Government of Maharashtra on board as a customer is also a validation of their solution’s credibility and can go a long way in better customer acquisition.
Here are the 24 startups and their innovative solutions in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, governance, human capital (education and skills), smart cities (infrastructure and mobility), sustainability (clean energy, water conservation and waste management) fintech and cybersecurity:
Founded by Abhinav Girdhar and Shrutika Giridhar in 2013, Bodhi Health Education aims to make the recruiting process for health professionals smoother and hassle-free. The Gurgaon-based startup’s SmartHire solution helps hiring managers effectively evaluate candidates for medical roles such as a nurse through tests which are in the form of simulations based on the role the candidate is being interviewed for.
Tactopus aims to revolutionise education by creating resources that can benefit all children, even those with disabilities. Co-founded in 2017 by Chandni Rajendran and Saloni Mehta, the Mumbai-based startup creates products with audio-tactile features, which allows children visually-impaired children to learn through touch and sound. The startup also aims to create a fun learning experience for children by allowing them to use multiple senses at a time.
“We are hoping to serve the state of inclusive education in Maharashtra, and contribute to the creation of accessible, tactile, and interactive books for school students who are blind or visually impaired on a large scale. Being able to work hand-in-hand with the government at this pilot stage will be hugely beneficial for accelerated learning and implementation,” say Saloni and Chandni.
Orage Digital Pvt. Ltd. offers a hyperlocal content distribution platform which does not rely on internet or data connectivity. Founded in 2015 by Amit Shah, its solution Offee is a personalised blended learning solution to engage students and teachers anytime, anywhere on any device in any classroom without using internet or data connection.
“The lack of internet connectivity, teachers with little familiarity with technology, and difficulties working in existing classroom structures have prevented educational institutions from benefitting from all the resources available today. Offee is a personalised blended learning solution to engage students and teachers anytime, anywhere on any device in any classroom, and enhance the learning outcome without using internet or data connection,” says Amit.
This startup, co-founded by Samrat, Greeshma Unnikrishnan, Mahesh Kumar Rathor and Binil Jacob in 2014, aims to provide innovative customer-centric and affordable healthcare solutions. One of their products is Cilika, a first of its kind microscope integrated with a smartphone. This allows images to be downloaded and shared with peers immediately.
“The chance to run a pilot with Maharashtra government will enable us to validate our product in the field, giving us great deal of credibility while approaching other governments, investors and collaborators. It will help us fine-tune the product for better user experience. It will also enable us to collect data and feedback for the development of some other products that are in the pipeline,” says Greeshma.
The startup founded by Teena Paul aims to help students with learning disabilities though early identification and remediation. They offer early digital screening solutions; teacher parent workshops and additional support through digital medium to facilitate their goal.
"Giftolexia’s mission is to help children with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. Maharashtra has been a pioneer in according benefits to students with learning difficulties. The Bombay High Court, in a landmark judgement in 2017, made the RPWD provision for compulsory screening for dyslexia before the age of 9, mandatory in schools across the State. Being associated with this visionary state will help open conversations with other states in this important intervention area,” says Teena.
Saral Designs aims to solve problems around menstruation and female hygiene, such as the lack of availability of sanitary pads in rural areas. The Mumbai-based startup founded by Suhani Mohan and Kartik Mehta in 2015 has developed an automated machine that decentralizes production of sanitary napkins, making them more affordable.
“Our aim at Saral Designs is to set up our sanitary-napkin making machine “Swachh” across every district in India, thereby ensuring every woman and girl has access to safe and high-quality sanitary napkins to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This programme will be a very important stepping stone for Saral towards achieving our vision. We believe that with the support of the Government of Maharashtra, the dream of empowering women and girls and increasing last mile access will soon become a reality,” says Suhani Mohan (Co-Founder and CEO).
Hasiru Dala (translated; The Green Force) was started by Shekar Prabhakar, Nalini Shekar and Marwan Abubaker in 2015 in Bangalore with an aim to improve the lives of waste pickers. It offers services that allow both individuals and bulk waste generators to a sustainable turn in waste management.
“Being one of the winners will help us expand beyond Bangalore into a new geography and test our model in a different urban local body set up. We hope to get support from the Maharashtra government to help deploy a pilot of our wastepicker franchisee and variable pricing model for waste management services for bulk waste generators in a new city,” says Shekar
Co-founded by Capt. Nikunj Parashar and Mridul Babbar in 2015 Sagar Defense Engineering aims to provide Unmanned Marine Vehicles solutions for Commercial, Defence, & Scientific purposes in the maritime sector, where technological competency is a must as even a small mistake can prove expensive. They recently built unmanned ocean robot for the Indian Armed Forces which can collect ocean data in real time and unpredictable conditions.
“We have been lucky so far as the technology we have developed has been successfully deployed in the Indian Navy which is our credibility. This project will help our startup to build systems and applications which cater to the Unmanned Marine and Submarine industries. With this pilot project we want to showcase our technology not only to the Indian government but also at the world stage, as such technologies have only been available in the west till now,” says Capt.Parashar.
S4S Technologies was founded by Dr. Vaibhav Tidke in 2015 as a food preservation company that use innovative technology to build food processing machines such as solar powered dehydrators in order to create sustainable supply of processed food products without using artificial additives or preservatives.
Aurangabad based Ecosattva co-founded by Natasha Zarine and Gauri Mirashi aims to use its solutions to eliminate waste completely, by treating waste water using natural Root Zone technology and making it reusable as well as increasing bio diversity and green cover through Ecoscaping and Dense Forestry.
“We build eco-sensible solutions for waste water treatment and green cover management for urban, rural and private spaces. Our solutions fall in line with two of the state and Central government's flagship programs: Swachh Bharat Mission and Green Maharashtra Mission, we hope that this recognition from the state govt will enable us to do work for the government that otherwise is reserved for large empaneled agencies,” says Natasha Zarine.
Pune-based Arcatron founded by Ganesh Sonawane, Kunal Kamble, Laxmikant Banjarey and Dewraj Baruah in 2015 aims to bring up the level of safety and comfort for assisted living in a dignified manner. They are currently building the next generation of devices that provide solutions for elderly care and those with limited mobility.
Greenovative creates eco-friendly energy management solutions that facilitate efficient operations over a long term. The startup was founded by Vinit Kulkarni and Harshal Samdani in 2011. In order to take a step towards a greener earth, they provide services that monitor energy usage across Industrial, Commercial, Institutional and infrastructural facilities.
MakersAdda Technologies Pvt Ltd
MakersAdda is a platform that allows users to collaborate on projects of any kind, whether individual or community. Based in Nashik, the company co-founded by Pariskshit Sunil Jadhav
and Sabiha Aliyavar Inamdar creates spaces that act as a gathering point for tools, mentors, creators and other resources that allows you to make things efficiently. The team understands the value of collaboration and works to help minds come together for the purpose of creating.
Pune-based WorkApp provides solutions that allow for easier management of work. Founded by Rudrajeet Desai, MVS Murthy and Shankar Borate, the startup allows users to spend less time managing work giving them more time to actually do work. It contains features such as reports, that allow users to analyze progress at work. This platform works across all devices and is free for individual users.
“Our solution is an Information Management and Broadcast Application for Municipal Corporations, which will help them keep their citizens informed about rules, events, alerts in real time. We expect to get exposure and learning about the root problems in Governance, which can give opportunities for startups to solve them,” says Rudrajeet.
Founded by Ashwani Rathore and Harshal Ingale in 2015, the Pune based startup now known as SpiderG has created a productivity app which eliminates the need for emails, phone calls and physical documentation. It facilitates easy bookkeeping though e-invoicing and related activities such as managing to-do lists, tracking expenses, maintaining pay-roll leave, among others.
“The only expectations from this programme is that it will give us an opportunity to provide product/services to the Government of Maharashtra. This will help us get validation and will be a huge boost in our sales effort. Companies will trust our capabilities to deliver considering government organization is our customer,” says Ashwani.
fonePaisa, founded by Ritesh Agarwal in 2014, seamlessly combines mobile technology and e-banking by allowing users to access all sources of funds: bank accounts, credit/debit card and e-wallets. It integrates both retail management and billing system to allow easy transactions. It also facilitates better financial inclusion and allows users to not only go cashless, but even cardless.
“We expect a long-term product approach from the government than a one-time software development project. We wish to productize the Maharashtra state government’s financial transaction needs, which may also be extended to a larger solution, beyond subsidies. Such products shall place fonePaisa on a higher pedestal of product-based fintech,” says Ritesh.
CredAble aims to triple the working capital in the country with solutions that transform supply chain finance. The Mumbai-based startup, founded by Nirav Choksi and Ram Kewalramani in 2017, provides vendors with digital financing solutions, giving them instant access to working capital. Vendors have access to discounts in exchange for their receivables.
“We look forward to support from Maharashtra government for exploring opportunities and deploying CredAble’s receivables financing platform in the government departments and projects. We are confident that with our product we will generate higher treasury yields for the government firms and would also improve their vendor satisfaction levels. Our product model is already proven with a number of large corporate firms. Partnering with large government institutions will give us an opportunity to prove our product value in the government space and would also add to our credibility,” says Nirav.
URVI Agrotech, founded in 2016 by Vinita Bidikar, makes agricultural solutions that make jobs such as weeding and cultivation more efficient and less burdensome. The products don’t use fossil fuel and are either hand or foot operated, making them more cost-efficient.
“Statistically small farmers and marginal farmers are a huge majority in India. Yet, there is a paucity of well designed, affordable, good quality products made for them. We make products for small farmers and by partnering with the government, we hope that the benefits of using our equipment reach those farmers that need them the most,” says Vinita.
Thane-based AutoNxt founded by Kaustubh Donde in 2016 aims to revolutionise the tractor industry through technology. Tractors that are being used today are expensive, difficult to maintain, and can cause spinal injuries and hearing loss. The startup is focused on releasing a new version of an autonomous, electric tractor which reduces the health risks and is affordable.
“Our product saves four times the operational expenses in comparison to a regular tractor. We expect to get government support in terms of finance and brand value creation. Farmers will want to try our innovative product with more faith and enthusiasm as they will know that it is backed by the government,” says Kaustubh.
Based in Mumbai, Krishi Trade from Lai Televentures directly connects farmers and consumers and eliminates middlemen. A private marketplace for trade in agricultural produce integrated with supply chain, the startup, founded by Sachin Nikumbh in 2013, allows farmers to sell directly to buyers via online auctions. It also provides an efficient supply chain, and value-added services such as sorting, grading, packaging etc.
“We offer agricultural market linkages for farmers to sell directly to end buyers integrated with logistics on our e-trading & bidding platform. The program could help us liaise with relevant government officers / departments / entities / stakeholders, as a nodal agency and help us implement our pilot,” says Sachin.
The startup, founded by Shakti Swarup Sahu, Aagam Mehta and Rahul Singh in 2017, makes quality art available to everyone. Based in Mumbai, the startup collaborates with photographers, artists and galleries in order to create fine wall art. This is then available for users to rent through a monthly subscription.
“As part of this programme, we would like to showcase the transformative effect of art on different kinds of spaces. Being part of such a novel initiative is going to play a significant role in spreading word about our company and service, thus garnering much needed visibility and recall amongst potential individual consumers as well. As we execute projects under this programme, we’ll not just get the chance to fine-tune our service end-to-end but also get the opportunity to interact and work with a wide range of artists. This will be a great help going forward,” says Aagam.
FarmGuide, founded by Nikhil Toshniwal is a farm data management service integrable in the agro supply chain for directly benefiting every stakeholder such as farmers, FMCGs, financial institutions and co-operative societies to list a few.
“By collaborating with the government of Maharashtra, we want to build solutions that ensure cost-effective and targeted policy measures in the state. We want our success stories to be representative of the work we do and the impact we have in terms of farmer welfare, benefits for agri-businesses and the Government of Maharashtra,” says Nikhil.
Founded by Anirvan Chatterjee, Haystack aims to provide genomics based exhaustive diagnostics solutions to “non-glamourous” diseases which affect the weaker sections of society, starting with tuberculosis. A population scale implementation of the technology would enable reduction in disease burden and show measurable reduction in medical expenses of the patient and health system.
“As a startup which is focusing on creating an at scale solution for infectious diseases, it's very important for us to get a buy-in of the government as we believe they are going to be our primary customer. Among other things, winning the competition gives us the opportunity to do a pilot with the government immediately, and our team is already pleased with the direction of the follow-up conversations with various government bodies which are actively working towards the same purpose,” says Anirvan.
Founded by Ajnikya and Rekha Dhariya in July 2018, Pune-based Padcare Labs works to provide sustainable and eco-friendly waste management solutions