Ola, Zomato, and Practo: meet the 5 successful businesses that were started by college friends
Friendship has often been the stepping stone to something larger. And having your best friend as the co-founder can only make things a little smoother, especially if you are staring a new venture.
While many professionals warn against going into business with close friends, many examples prove that it can work. From Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s Microsoft to Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s Google, these two multinational tech companies are also founded on friendship.
Even the Indian startup ecosystem has seen many such successful stories. YourStory lists a few startups built on friendship and trust.
IIT-Delhi graduates Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal started their career in two different companies. In 2015, when Sanjeev called Vidit from Tokyo to understand the Indian startup scenario, Vidit asked “Why would you join a startup? Let’s start one of our own.” And that was the start of their entrepreneurial journey.
(L-R): Sanjeev Barnwal and Vidit Aatrey, Co-founders, Meesho
The two college friends came together to start Meeshom a social commerce platform. In late 2015, Meesho began in a small two-bedroom apartment in Koramangala, Bengaluru. Sanjeev and Vidit’s first desk was a dining table, and today, the 2BHK flat has converted to a four-storey office in the same locality.
The mobile-first platform for small businesses uses WhatsApp and Facebook to keep in touch with customers. The startup went on to bag an undisclosed amount from social network giant Facebook. It was also Facebook’s first investment in an India-based startup.
Ride-hailing unicorn Ola was founded by IIT-Mumbai batchmates Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati. While still in college, the two of them never thought of taking the entrepreneurial path. Right after graduation, Bhavish went to work for Microsoft and Ankit worked for several startups, including Makesense and Wilcom.
After spending two years in Microsoft, Bhavish started an online holiday and tour-planning service. His friend Ankit, who was a travel enthusiast, joined him.
(L-R) Ankit Bhati and Bhavish Aggrawal, Founders of Ola
In 2010, Ankit and Bhavish started Ola Trips. While Bhavish would be out in the field trying to on-board more customers, Ankit would always sit in an old apartment, coding the website. But when the two realised that people were more keen on booking cabs for the airport and other social events, they started Ola.
Backed by marquee investors, including SoftBank and Ratan Tata, Ola is now valued at $6.2 billion.
IIT-Delhi graduates Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah worked as analysts at Bain and Company. Once, while sitting in the company’s cafeteria, the two realised how the employees were struggling and standing in long queues just to take a look at the menu and place their orders.
Deepinder Goyal, Co-founder and CEO, Zomato
It is then they decided to start their venture, FoodieBay. In November 2010, they renamed the startup as Zomato. The restaurant discovery platform went on to become a foodtech unicorn, now delivering food in 500 Indian cities, adding four new cities every day.
Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal were batchmates at National Institute of Technology, Karnataka. In 2008, while still in their final year BTech (Computer Engineering), the duo founded Practo Technologies.
Practo was initially called Turbodoc.in. The idea hit Shashank while he was struggling with his father's medical records and scanning them to send them for a second opinion from an American physician.
Shashank ND of Practo
Unable to access enough information about the doctor, Shashank wasn't sure if he was making an informed decision. Thus, he founded Practo along with his friend Abhinav.
Backed by Trifecta Capital, Matrix Partners, RSI Fud, Sequoia Capital, and Altimeter Capital, among others, Practo is predicted to be a 'Soonicorn'.
Civil engineering graduates from IIT-Bombay - Prabkiran Singh and Siddharth Munot began printing T-shirts for college fests and received a decent amount of orders. But they didn’t wish to continue doing this.
However, once college was over, the duo started up in the same space and launched Bewakoof in April 2012. The startup, which sells apparels and mobile phone covers, relies on quirky, funny, out-of-the-box messaging on its products to connect with the customers.
Initially starting with an investment of only Rs 30,000, Bewakoof is backed by Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, and former IDFC Securities MD, Nikhil Vora.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)