[Startup Bharat] With technology at their core, these 5 Madhya Pradesh startups are bringing a change to the country

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital adoption across India. This trend has led to increased demand for online-first products catering to Bharat. And, Madhya Pradesh-based startups are only getting started.
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Madhya Pradesh — popular for its tiger reserves, caves, and Narmada river — is also home to several startups, operating in some of the most funded sectors, including edtech, commerce, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). 

While most of these startups originated in Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Gwalior, etc., with the help of the state government’s incubation, seed funding support, and pushed by the booming internet adoption — Madhya Pradesh’s startup ecosystem is only expected to grow in coming years.  

YourStory lists five such Madhya Pradesh-based startups:

From Gwalior to the world

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit India, Nitin and Jia Pamnani, Founders of Gwalior-based D2C startup iTokri, found their orders stuck with several thousand artisans across the country. 

“During the first lockdown, we were unsure how things would pan out. But there was one shortage in the country and something that everyone needed — masks. We started procuring and making our masks through artisans and we sold them. That’s how we survived the pandemic,” says Nitin, Co-founder, iTokri. 

For Nitin and Jia, challenges weren't new. The duo had already faced an almost impossible undertaking when they decided to start the D2C brand. The couple started the business with a focus on young artisans and people in Tier II and III India. 

With the initial investment of Rs 30 lakh, they started a small home office and warehouse facility. iTokri buys stock directly from the artisans and uploads the product details on its website. 

During this festive season, the startup recorded over 500,000 visitors. With the gradually increasing rate of the export in handicraft and handloom industry post-COVID-19, iTokri reported a 20 percent growth during the 30-day sales event.

Read the full story here.

One-on-one learning 

Nikhil Bhatnagar always wondered about the education gap among kids from rural, urban, and developed countries. When he started taking tuitions during his college days, he realised no educational platform or school focused on one-on-one learning.

To fill this gap, Nikhil started Home Guruji, along with his friend Mayank Shrivastava in 2020. The Jabalpur-based edtech startup focuses on one-on-one live learning in a language comfortable to the student — Hindi and English, or both. 

The startup’s journey began in 2013 when Nikhil was studying at SGBM Institute of Technology and Science, Jabalpur. He wanted to be financially independent and he started giving home tuition. 

He realised each student is different and started giving one-on-one tuitions to them and started coaching educators too.

The one-year-old platform — with a core team of 12 people — has a community of 500 teachers and educators from institutions like IIT, NIT, Delhi University, and Jaipur University, to name a few.

Read the full story here

Giving local businesses an online customer base

Increased digitisation has given a push to the ecommerce segment. While businesses are making the online transition amidst the pandemic, digitising local businesses might require more steps than just having an online presence.

Indore-based Byloapp is looking to help local businesses and merchants digitise their businesses and connect with users online. 

Image Credit: Byloapp

Founded in 2019 by Rohit Verma, Byloapp provides a location-based informative socio-commerce platform where users can search and connect with local businesses.

Initially, Byloapp was launched as a platform to find deals and discounts at local businesses. However, while doing the market research, the team saw a larger problem of digitisation among local merchants.

While many local businesses might have a social media presence or online website, most of their operations happened offline.

Post the COVID-19-led lockdowns, Byloapp pivoted once again to create a network of businesses where they could communicate with each other and the customers online. The startup also launched a search engine platform to help businesses get an online presence and connect with users directly.

Read the full story here.

When small retailers get their digital fix 

Despite increased digitisation, a huge section of people still struggle with digital tools. People find it difficult to book a ticket, buy insurance, or make online bill payments by themselves, relying on local agents, cyber cafes, e-service centres, and even kiranas

On the other hand, small retailers find it difficult to sustain with a single format store. 

In a bid to solve this two-sided problem, Indore-based Jitendra Soni and Sumit Chordiya conceptualised VOSO Store (visit-offline-shop-online) in 2019.

The startup aims to get small retailers to revamp their business to become all-inclusive centres for a variety of online services. It aims to help “non-tech-savvy” people avail multiple services at a single physically accessible store. 

Launched in June 2019, VOSO has ‘reconditioned’ over 2,000 stores across states, including Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. It is witnessing a monthly growth of 25 percent. 

The bootstrapped startup — registered under parent company Tracknovate Technologies Private Limited — is headquartered in Indore, with a staff of 150 people. 

Read the full story here

Entering the Saas race

The COVID-19 pandemic helped us realise the potential of moving businesses online. However, growing businesses online can be difficult, especially for small businesses.

Jabalpur-headquartered MBG CARD — which stands for My Business Growth Card — is solving this problem. 

Founded in 2020 by Abhinavv Dubeyy and Prakash Bajantri, the startup aims to help its clients grow their businesses online through its B2B SaaS product.

MBG Card provides fully operational websites, Android apps, and automated marketing tools with over 20 features to its clients.

Abhinavv says, as part of his previous job at FabHotels, he visited several cities and small towns. He realised most businesses, especially SMBs, were not getting traction because of low visibility and discovery.

At present, the startup claims to have acquired over 5,400 customers across 100+ business categories. Abhinavv says last month, MBG Card acquired about 600 customers.

Read the full story here.

Edited by Suman Singh

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