From pals to co-founders: the story of Indian startups that have their roots in friendship

On Friendship Day, YourStory brings you stories of these Indian startups that were born out of friendship and have now reached unimaginable heights.

Entrepreneurship can be the true test of an individual’s mettle, but many in the Indian startup ecosystem have shown us that it is also a litmus test for friendships.

Endless cups of coffee during work breaks or pints of frothy beer on Friday nights can lead to some great ideas, but does going into business with a good friend really make sense? Does it not hurt your relationship, especially when the going gets tough or when you disagree on crucial decisions affecting your startup?

On Friendship Day, we allay those fears by bringing you some great stories from the Indian startup scene that show that you can preserve your friendship and be a success too when you start up with your buddy.

YourStory lists a few startups that were born out of friendship and have now scaled unimaginable heights.


Ola needs no introduction.

The ride-hailing startup was founded by IIT Mumbai batchmates Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati. Bhavish worked for Microsoft after his graduation and after almost two years, Bhavish chased his entrepreneurial dream.

Ankit, on the other hand, worked for several startups including Makesense and Wilcom.

Bhavish, who has always loved adventure trips, started an online holiday and a tour planning service. When that didn't work out, he changed the business in December 2010, to the one we call 'Ola' now.

Batchmate and travel enthusiast Ankit soon joined Ola as the cofounder. And the rest, as we all know, is history.

Ankit Bhatti and Bhavish Agarwal - Founders, Ola


Way before we knew Zomato for what it is today, the platform was called FoodieBay. IIT Delhi graduates Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah became friends when they started working as analysts at Bain and Company.

While still holding their day jobs, the duo started up with the idea to create an online directory for restaurant menus. 

By 2008, they had become the largest restaurant directory in Delhi. Two years into operations, FoodieBay rebranded to Zomato.

The foodtech unicorn now delivers food in 500 cities in India, adding four new cities every day. In fact, Zomato is now aggressively growing, launching across Tier III and Tier IV cities for greater scale.

Deepinder Goyal, Founder and CEO, Zomato


redBus was founded by batchmates from BITS Pilani - Phanindra Sama, Sudhakar Pasupunuri, and Charan Padmaraju.

The initial idea for redBus was a site that allowed customers to book bus tickets in a location-independent manner that was triggered by Phanindra’s inability to visit his family during Diwali, due to lack of an available bus ticket.

After working with ST Micro for two years and spending another almost three years in Texas as a Design Engineers, Phanindra got his batchmates Charan and Sudhakar to work on the bus-ticket booking platform. In 2006, the three of them founded redBus.

Prakash Sangam


Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal go way back. They were childhood friends and, in fact, they also went to school together. However, their paths diverged when they pursued engineering in different colleges. While Rohit got into IIT, Kunal opted to do engineering in the US instead.

The came back together in 2008 to start an offline bus-booking business. A year later, the duo launched Snapdeal.

The Delhi-based ecommerce was founded in February 2010.

Pocket Aces

The story of digital entertainment startup Pocket Aces is that of three best friends. Founders Anirudh Pandita and Aditi Srivastava were childhood friends who grew up in Kuwait. Ashwin Suresh, also Aditi’s husband, grew up in Dubai. The idea of the startup was conceived out of a conversation between Anirudh and Ashwin and, later, Aditi joined in.

They started the company in 2014 and launched its first ever show in 2015.

The Mumbai-based startup now operates through three content channels – FilterCopy (short videos), Dice Media (longform videos), and Gobble (food and lifestyle videos). They also operate through B2C platform Loco (live esports application).

Pocket Aces has created some of the popular shows in India including Little Things, What The Folks, and Adulting. In fact, they have also signed a multi-show deal with Netflix in India. They clock approximately 500 million monthly video views.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)


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