[Startup Bharat] Startups’ Own Country: how Kerala has gone on to foster tech startups and great innovation
Think of Kerala, and you immediately call to mind Ayurvedic spa retreats, elephant rides, and leisurely boat trips across the many backwaters. But while all these factors make the state a sought-after tourist hub, Kerala is also quickly earning a reputation for fostering innovation.
Tier I cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru are considered startup hubs and magnets in the country, but cities like Kochi in Kerala are slowly marking their presence in the ecosystem as well.
And the State government is pulling all the stops: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had recently inaugurated an Integrated Startup Complex under the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in Kochi. Spread across 1.82 lakh sq ft, this is considered as the largest startup hub in India. With assistance from entities like KSUM, the state is now looking to become another startup hub attracting innovation and talent.
YourStory draws up a list of some of the startups that are making a splash in God’s Own Country.
Did you know that 80 percent of standalone apps are deleted within three months of download? Bavani Srinu, Co-founder of Swapp, points out that this is why small businesses lose customer loyalty to big brands. Moreover, it is expensive for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to develop and maintain mobile apps.
To tackle this issue, Bavani and Ashwin Panicker developed Swapp, an easy-to-use app for consumers to interact with businesses, organisations, or people that are a part of their daily lives.
Launched in Thiruvananthapuram in November 2017, Swapp is a B2B2C platform that helps SMBs to get a mobile app for their business up and running in a few minutes via templates. And all that at the cost of a taxi ride.
Schools, churches, clinics, restaurants, fishmongers, and pet shops are some of the examples of businesses that can host their app on Swapp instantly. One can get the basic version for as low as Rs 499.
Based in Kochi, Appmaker was developed by software developers Saleeh K and Mohammed Anees. It is an app manager as well as an app builder, with its primary focus being on creating native apps for Android, iOS, and Windows phones, in seconds.
It helps manage native apps, and can also be integrated into any existing app. Its tool extends to various use cases such as ecommerce, retail, media, events, and education.
Appmaker started off with open source platform WooCommerce’s app development. Later, they extended their services by providing WordPress and ecommerce apps.
Additionally, Appmaker’s USP is app content management system (CMS), a dashboard to create and manage app updates in real time. This is extendable to different use cases and existing apps on Playstore/Appstore.
Today, Appmaker has more than 400 clients across 35 countries, including the Middle East, the US, and Canada.
This Thiruvananthapuram-based startup aims to make the process of job hiring easier with its app, Hyreo, which is based on machine learning. Hyreo was founded by college mates Arun Satyan and Mahesh Raju.
It has developed a chatbot that tracks the status of an application at a company, following which the firm’s Human Resources department can clearly communicate with candidates.
Algorithms matching CVs with job requirements, parsing relevant information, crawling the web for details, social data, and chatbot are some of the services the startup provides.
Arun and Mahesh
“In India, estimates say that in the technology industry, over 70 percent of candidates are rejected after the first round of interview. Also, in the current scenario, offer acceptance by candidates is less than 50 percent. Combining these factors we understood that significant amount of effort taken by hiring teams in the recruiting process does not have any results,” says Arun.
Hyreo aims to provide a round-the-clock automated chatbot mechanism for hiring teams and candidates to interact, assess capabilities, provide feedback, and create a more predictable experience for all stakeholders.
It plugs into all HR management systems, and pulls information from HR databases about requirements and positions that need to be filled in, and also connects to the right candidates.
CVs from different sources are matched against the job, and based on the score, Hyreo will reach out to these candidates via email or SMS.
4. Green Worms
Jabir Karat was working in the development sector when he realised that unscientific garbage disposal is a relevant issue that needs to be addressed , and can potentially be a future social business.
Jabir thus started Green Worms in November 2014 in Kozhikode with Rs 5 lakh capital, and a five-member team in a remote village.
Today, Green Worms is an organisation with 120 employees, spread across five districts in northern Kerala. It manages 450 ton of dry waste per month, runs three recycling units, and 11 material recovery facilities, with an annual turnover of Rs 2.5 crore.
The current consumer base includes individual homes, apartments, gated communities, school canteens, malls, and shopping complexes. Other than waste collection, they also offer composting solutions to homes and businesses, as well as event waste management services for weddings, conferences, and exhibitions.
The company charges a monthly waste disposal fee from the waste producers, based on the quantity and quality of waste generated and kind of services expected. Secondary source of revenue is from the segregated waste materials and its value generated through recycling process. It also resells products like individual household composters, community composters, and eco-friendly cutlery.
In an effort to raise awareness about scientific waste management, Green Worms provides training in educational institutes, and municipal waste management consultancy to local city corporations.
5. Concept Owl
Started by former Police Commissioner Rajan Singh, ConceptOwl helps prepare students from Tier II and Tier III cities for entrance exams right in Kerala, without them having to go to Kota and Hyderabad. Started in Thiruvananthapuram, ConceptOwl provides affordable science coaching programmes across Tier II and Tier III cities in Kerala.
The platform, with a website and application, has tied up with Kota's Bansal Classes for tests and practice. Homework, assignments, and tests are given online, and all students enrolled in the startup’s courses are required to have an Android device with internet support.
In 2017, Rajan, along with Bansal Classes, started classroom teaching for students of Class IX to XII, offering Maths and Science coaching in an independent centre.
At present, ConceptOwl's coaching programmes are available at Rs 20,000 per year, for Classes VII to X, and at Rs 30,000 for Classes XI and XII, and are a combination of online and offline courses.
GenRobotic was founded in 2015 by Rashid Bin Abdulla, Vimal Govind MK, Nikhil NP, and Arun George. Based in Thiruvananthapuram, GenRobotic specialises in powered robotic exoskeletons with remote-controlled humanoid robotic systems, and artificial intelligence, in order to find the best solution for socially important issues.
Vimal Govind, Co-founder, GenRobotic, told YourStory earlier, “We are working towards a mission to use robotic technology to eliminate manual labour from areas like sewer cleaning, which results in 9,000 – 10,000 deaths every year. “
Taking in the tragic death of three sewage workers on Bengaluru outskirts, these engineers decided to build an automatic robotic system for manhole and sewer cleaning to eliminate manual scavenging.
They also have created an AI-powered Transformers-esque “robotic skeleton”, which can be used for defence purposes, space application, weight lifting, and anywhere that requires some extra power and protection.