When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. TATA NEN Hottest Startups top 30 finalists embody this saying.
Despite a slowing economy, India has a thriving entrepreneurship community, as witnessed in the TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards that closed with 588 nominated startups in December 2008. In India’s first
community-chosen awards for startups, a combination of public votes and expert ratings selected the hottest 30 startups.
On paths that large companies might cautiously tread, especially during recession time, these 30 startups are daring to try. With small but highly motivated teams, scope for growth, and space for creativity, these entrepreneurs are tapping pockets of opportunities — and profitably so!
Though these startups hail from different sectors, what makes them stand out is their spirit of exploration, experimentation, and ideas founded on common sense. Here is a peek into some of the strategies that India’s top 30 hottest startups follow.
Invest in the young
India is uniquely positioned as the world’s second-most populous country to become the largest provider of working-age manpower. And entrepreneurs, in unique ways, are helping India unlock this potential.
For example, Elements Akademia is ‘grooming’ the youth of tier-II and tier-III cities for jobs, attracting 200 new student enrollments every month. ITCONS e-Solutions, an IT product company, has developed software that provides optimal recruiter matches for job-seeking youth. Its customers now place 44 candidates every month against an industry average of 11.
Meanwhile, Lakshya, a dream-child of four IIT graduates in Patiala, is helping students from small towns make it to the country’s top engineering and medical colleges. Two hundred and fifty five of its students have made it to top institutes in two years. Bangalore-based Greycaps India focuses on “quizzing” as a platform for educating young students. The startup is growing at over 100% year-over-year. Another startup, GoSports, targets budding sportspersons by guiding aspiring Olympians, including swimmer Virdhawal Khade and badminton player Anup Sridhar.
Movers are the new shakers
It is no still life for today’s professionals. With today’s mobile working-class population, a few of the Hottest Startups finalists provide 360-degree services for people on the move, on work or for play.
Rentimental.com offers the world on rent! The website today has around 150 to 200 visitors with around 30 to 40 registrations per day.
A group of IIM-Ahmedabad graduates has started Mantis Technologies to ease last-minute bus bookings, by connecting bus operators to agents on an online platform. At present, transactions worth around Rs 35 lakh happen every day on their website.
Equally active is Inasra Technologies’ online hotel network that benefits low-budget travelers by providing them accommodation options in over 460 towns at affordable prices.
Healthcare still healthy
Despite the recession, the healthcare sector continues its upward growth trajectory, especially in the lesser-known field of radiology. Perfint’s product enables radiologists to access very small tumors in a minimally invasive mode that would help diagnose early-stage cancer.
On the other hand, Medsphere, with its software solution helps deliver radiology services from leading doctors to patients in remote villages.
The startup world is going green. Daily Dump empowers customers to compost daily domestic waste. Ecomove Solutions aims to facilitate cycling as a mode of urban transport. One startup is literally going green. Fieldturf Tarkett produces a next-generation, maintenance-free artificial grass that can help you acquire a lush green lawn or a sports field in a matter of days. The company has over 1,000 clients in India.
Buyers buy in
Who doesn’t love a good deal when shopping? This consumer instinct has rung in profits for The Loot, a retail chain that sells over 100 apparel brands with year-round discounts. Their turnover in fiscal 2007-08 was Rs 53 crore, and the number of chains increased from 17 to 70 during this period.
With efficient distribution models, Librarywala and Cafegadgets pass on their savings to customers. Librarywala customers select books online that are delivered to their doorstep within 24 hours and at low cost — the cost of reading is reduced from Rs 500 to Rs 30 per book.
Cafegadgets, a one-stop online shop for gadget lovers, offers over 4000 branded products to its 120,000 customers.
Farmers reap benefits
Startups increasingly turn towards rural regions for business, realizing huge opportunities in the agriculture sector. Star Agri Warehousing and Collateral Management, a Kota-based startup, is changing the very nature of agri-marketing by streamlining warehousing, procurement and collateral management. The company began with a paid-up capital of Rs 5 lakh in 2006 and, as of August 2008, had raised a capital of Rs 5 crore.
Another startup, Wyn Brands, manages the supply chain for fresh vegetables for restaurants like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and Domino’s, assuring on-time supplies in ready-to-use cut sizes.
For the People…
Never has the common man received such attention before.
Patna-based Sammaan Foundation helps rickshaw cyclists provide services like mineral water, juices, mobile recharge, courier and bills collections for their customers, opening new income channels. What started with five cycle rickshaws in 2006 has now grown to a pool of 100,000 rickshaw operators.
Sacred Moments combines tradition with modernity. They have pioneered designer pooja kits customized for various festivals in India. Their sales this year is expected to touch Rs 1 crore with a net margin of 18%.
Meanwhile, Evam Entertainment, a ‘theater entrepreneurship’ venture, dabbles in the business of spreading happiness through storytelling. This effort definitely makes the Evam team happy — turnover for the year 2007-08 crossed Rs 50 lakh.
In a different take, Takeovercode.com understands that legal compliance in India is complicated for the layman. Thus, they have developed an online platform for providing techno-legal help. The portal has 2,600 registrations, which includes owners of India’s top law firms.
Innovation transplant — the new IT
Despite the market slowdown, smaller IT companies are coming of age. A former Satyam team wanted outsourcing to be more than a cost-arbitrage decision. Thus, they founded Anantara Solutions to deliver high-value solutions that provide competitive advantages for their clients. Formed in 2006, the startup already has customers from 15 countries including USA and mainland Europe, and over 5,000 people in its global delivery partner network.
Activecubes Solutions, formed by ex-Infys, is another startup that breaks the back-office stereotype. It is a business intelligence consulting firm delivering solutions for global markets by helping analyze and make sense of large volumes of business data to drive decision-making and profits.
Addressing the problems of SMEs are new startups like A2Z Applications and Ennovasys. A2Z Applications has taken the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) revolution to a new level. They provide a platform for developing and deploying vertical-agnostic business applications in days rather than months. Ennovasys is a software company helping SMEs track and monitor enterprise assets in real time.
In the radio frequency identification field (RFID) is Rasilant Technologies, tackling the critical issue of security. Business has picked up since 11/26, as they have developed a car-tracking solution for building and parking lots.
Some startups such as Vayavya Labs and ValueMinds have streamlined the testing process for hardware and software developers. Vayavya Labs’ patent-pending technology helps with automation of embedded design processes and activities such as device driver generation and chip verification test case generation.
‘IT professionals’ as customers is also gaining popularity. Two-year-old ValueMinds brings convenience to software testers with their online toolbox that requires no local installation hassles besides bringing in new paradigms like SaaS and OnDemand tooling in the area of software testing. ValueMinds’ test documentation process claims to reduce over 70 % of effort on the regular tedious documenting process, largely conserving human resource and time.
Meanwhile, Deskaway provides a project collaboration service that help distributed teams organize, manage and track their project from a central location, without depending on cumbersome emails, multiple files and spreadsheets.
More articles on www.nenonline.org. Content provided by NEN
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