[Startup Bharat] 5 startups from Odisha combining innovation with entrepreneurial spirit
Odisha, famous for its heritage sites, temples, and beaches, is now betting on innovation to become India's tech hub. There are a host of founders who are increasingly making Odisha, mainly capital Bhubaneswar, as their headquarters, proving that innovation can come from anywhere.
Keen to make Odisha a top startup hub, the government of Odisha has also been launching a series of Startup Odisha initiatives to further help state-based startups.
Let’s meet five innovative startups from Odisha:
SaaS for hotels with BookingJini
In the last decade, India's hospitality industry has grown thanks to the emergence of online travel agencies (OTAs) and tech-led hotel aggregators, but most of the innovation and disruption have happened on the front end. The backend, meanwhile, continues to be dependent on legacy processes and/or old software, especially if it’s a small and medium-sized hotel.
While large hotel chains have their in-house tech teams to build customised products, the less affluent properties get left out of the digital landscape. It is this underserved segment in the hospitality business that Bhubaneswar-based startupcaters to. Founded in late 2016 by ex-banker and serial entrepreneur Sibasish Mishra, the hospitality SaaS (software-as-a-service) startup began with the aim of helping hotels convert “lookers to bookers” by making passive visitors on their website transact instead of letting them drop to completing the booking on aggregator platforms.
BookingJini piloted its platform in January 2017 with the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) at their Bhubaneswar and Puri properties. The same year, BookingJini also received a grant of Rs 20 lakh from Startup Odisha.
BookingJini Founder-CEO Sibasish Mishra (L) with Director of Technology Manoj Pandia
Besides improving operational efficiencies, it also helps hotels bypass OTA commissions that can be as high as 35 percent, often eating into small hotels’ revenues.
BookingJini claims to have onboarded more than 2,200 B2B (business-to-business) customers and handled over 1.27 lakh direct bookings worth Rs 261 crore so far. It has processed 1.3 million transactions and impacted 2.3 million travellers through its platform.
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Cannabis-based medicine with Vedi Herbals
During his trip to Odisha in 2016, Sourab Agarwal met a tribal community that changed his perception of medicine. He observed that the community had integrated the principles of Ayurveda in their everyday lives and used it so intrinsically, that they’d been able to cure common ailments with just herbs and plants found in their surroundings.
Sourab had, at the time, been toying with the idea of exploring the medicinal uses of cannabis following his experience with the herb in the UK where momentum around CBD oil and other cannabis derivatives was growing. The trip to Odisha led him to finally find an opportunity.
He decided to bring together the worlds of cannabis and Ayurveda, and revive ancient Indian medicines in his own way through Hempcann Solutions, a Bhubaneswar-based startup he founded in 2016.
-owned Vedi Herbals, the company’s consumer-facing brand, sells various Ayurveda products such as ashwagandha, and shatavari, along with cannabis-infused medicine that targets a host of ailments such as insomnia, chronic pain, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, depression, and migraine, among many others.
Vedi Herbals’ cannabis-based medicine comes in the form of drops of oil that people can ingest, or in the form of tablets. Apart from Ayurvedic herbs and cannabis medicine, the startup has recently ventured into the hemp body products space, where it is concocting body washes and liquid soaps using cannabis and hemp oils.
The startup sells directly to consumers via its website, as well as out of its Vedi Wellness Centres in Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar. Its products are AYUSH-certified.
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Fertility-care provider Santaan
Fertility and reproductive health in India have mostly been considered as a private affair, resulting in neglect. Bhubaneswar-basedis aimed at making people more aware of their fertility health and make fertility care accessible to all.
Founded in 2014 by Raghab Prasad Panda, the medtech startup offers multi-centre fertility care, training academy, and research lab facilities.
“Infertility is a big issue and there is a challenge in the supply of quality infertility care in, Tier II, III, and IV cities. We launched Santaan to address this challenge,” Raghab, Founder and CEO of Santaan, tells YourStory.
Image Credit: Santaan
The DPIIT and Startup Odisha-recognised startup won the “Best Startup” by Times Business Award in 2020. It also won the title of one of the top fertility clinics in Odisha for fourth year in a row last year.
Santaan fertility centres provide end-to-end services starting from diagnosis and tests to IVF procedures and conceiving — all under one roof. Santaan operates two patient experience centers in Berhampur and Bhubaneswar, which provide services including IUI/ IVF, semen banking, egg banking, sperm freezing, and embryo banking. It also has one research centre in Bhubaneswar, which is developing new products using the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
The company is also currently working on a product called Fertilite, which will help couples undergo treatment from the comfort of their homes. Apart from this, it is also working with IIT Hyderabad for building Mobile Embryoscope, a time-lapse system for monitoring the embryo. The startup also provides an AI powered IVF lab monitoring solution and an IoT and AI enabled biological sample carrier.
Apart from this, Santaan also has a training lab to provide hands-on training to embryologists and IVF specialists. The founder reveals that it has also done a training session in Africa.
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Impact Health at doorstep
India is the largest provider of generic medicines globally, The Indian pharmaceutical sector also meets over 50 percent of global demand for various vaccines. Globally, India ranks third in terms of pharmaceutical production by volume and 14th by value.
However, despite this, the pharmaceutical supply chain in the country has been underutilised and scattered, according to 23-year-old Anshuman Sahoo. To solve this problem, Anshuman, along with his friend Ashish Rawat, startedin 2020.
The startup aims to connect end-to-end points in the public healthcare system and make it affordable and accessible for everyone, especially for Tier II, III, and rural India.
The Bhubaneswar-based healthcare logistics and technology startup has created a platform for end-to-end health journey. It has helps providers, doctors, pharma companies, and diagnostic labs on its platform. Through its flagship Patient Support Program (PSP), the startup ensures the patient gets diagnosed and receives follow-up check-ups, medicines, tests, and even injection directly at doorstep.
The founders aim to make healthcare accessible, especially for Tier II, III, and rural India, and at the same time make it affordable with quality making it inclusive for everyone. Anshuman and Ashish initially invested around Rs 6 lakh from their savings to develop the tech models for the startup and to run a pilot project. Being a part of Startup Odisha is now helping them to meet day-to-day operations.
Going forward, the startup is looking to raise a pre-seed investment to design and implement sustainable healthcare models for NGOs and CSR entities, and scale up its team in small towns and rural areas for the PSP with pharma and corporate entities.
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Building cold-storage infra with MachPhy
Cold-chain infrastructure in India gained importance amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Stable cold-chain facilities are important to ensure better efficiency in the supply chain, be it pharma, health, agriculture, dairy or frozen foods.
Bhubaneswar-basedis developing cold-chain solutions to address these issues. Founded in 2017 by Pradeep Rout, Suraj Kumar, and Gaurav Anand, the startup has developed low-temperature storage and transportation devices.
The BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) and Dept of Biotechnology-supported startup is incubated at IIT-Delhi. The startup has also been working for last-mile vaccine distribution and blood samples collection. Suraj and Gaurav left MachPhy in 2019 during the product development period, and the cold-chain startup is now being led by Pradeep. MachPhy is involved in building low-temperature storage and transportation devices and caters to several sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, and food processing units.
MachPhy claims to have more than 40 clients using its cold-chain solutions across sectors, including Nestle, Mati Farms, Soul Souk Farms, Endeavour Clinic among others.
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