Fintech laughed all the way to the bank, while food startupsburnt their fingers in 2016. It’s a new year, and as always the Indian startup story will have more twists. With the dawn of 2017, we bring you a list of 17 startups to keep an eye on in the year ahead
Peer-to-peer lending marketplace
Founders: Rajat Gandhi & Vinay Mathews
Faircent’s Rajat Gandhi
Government policy has done a lot to boost the fortunes of peer-to-peer lending platform FairCent in 2016. From RBI’s draft paper with guidelines for the industry to Digital India, FairCent benefited last year and looks to grow further in 2017. “From disbursing Rs 15-20 lakh loans a month, we are now disbursing Rs 1.5 crore a month. India’s shift to digital payments has put us in a sweet spot,” says Rajat Gandhi, founder, FairCent. The company, which began operations in 2014, helps customers get cheaper loans based on their creditworthiness and helps lenders earn high returns from their peers or community.
AI-driven solutions for retailers
Founders: Atul Rai, Abhishek Sharma
Staqu co-founders Atul Rai, Chetan Rexwal, Pankaj Sharma and Anurag Saini
70% of all data online comprises images and videos — a fact that excites Atul Rai, whose company helps users search for products using images rather than words. “If a user wants a floral print dress, she should be able to upload a picture and find similar products,” says Rai, who set up Staqu in June 2015 to provide artificial intelligence (AI) driven solutions for e-commerce. Its product can be integrated into the search technology of e-commerce companies. Among Staqu’s clients are Roposo, Karbonn and Panasonic, and Staqu is staring at a big opportunity as e-commerce is yet to hit the big league in India. The Gurugram-based company raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Indian Angel Network in June.
Online fish, meat delivery
Founder: Shan Kadavil
FreshToHome founder Shan Kadavil
Shan Kadavil, who founded online fish and meat delivery service FreshToHome in Bengaluru in March 2016, has been doubling sales every three months, and is looking to expand to 20 cities in 2017. It has more than 80,000 customers in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Delhi. “We have a centralised processing model, so it is easier to scale,” he says. FreshToHome has angel investment from Mark Pincus, founder of gaming company Zynga, and Google Ventures CEO David Krane. Google India managing director and angel investor Rajan Anandan says the company has achieved the fastest zero to $5 million revenue in the e-commerce sector in India.
Packaged ready-to-cook idli/dosa batter, chappatis
Founders: P C Musthafa, Samsudeen T K, Abdul Nazer, Jafar T K & Noushad T A
The iD Fresh Foods team
Bengalurians consume 1 crore idlis a day. In that fact P C Musthafa sees a daily opportunity of Rs 3 crore (at Rs 3 an idli). That’s what pushed the IIM-B graduate to start iD Fresh Foods with four of his cousins in 2006, delivering homemade batter in Bengaluru. Today, its idli/dosa batter is available in 14 cities, and iD’s revenues crossed Rs 100 crore last year. “From the beginning, we were clear that we were not a ready-to-eat brand. Ours is ready-to-cook food,” says Musthafa. iD seems to have cracked the risky fresh food business and 2017 might be the year they cross revenues of Rs 200 crore with plans to launch vada and ragi dosa batter.
Online food delivery
Founder: Rashmi Daga
FreshMenu founder Rashmi Daga
The food-tech sector has really faced fire in the past two years, but one of the few startups to emerge unscathed is FreshMenu, which cooks and delivers food from its own kitchens in Bengaluru, Mumbai, New Delhi and Gurugram. Founder Rashmi Dagga, an IIM-A alumnus who set up the company in 2014, says the company registered 3x growth in the number of orders in 2016. FreshMenu is backed by Zodius Capital and LightSpeed Ventures. In 2017, the company plans to increase its product catalogue as well as expand to Hyderabad and Pune.
Digital financing platform for SMEs
Founders: Gaurav Hinduja and Sashank Rishyasringa
Capital Floats’ Gaurav Hinduja and Sashank Rishyasringa
Bengaluru-headquartered Capital Float considers 2016 a remarkable year for fintech startups. “The sector attracted $150 million in funding. Digital India and demonetisation will only give further impetus to the sector,” says Gaurav Hinduja, co-founder, Capital Float. The company, which started in 2013 with loans to SMEs, has come up with innovative products such as ‘Pay Later’, which gives loans to retailers against data on PoS machines. Capital Float, which primarily handles e-commerce finance, has seen 8x growth in 2016, its biggest so far. From Rs 150 crore loans disbursed in 2015, it disbursed Rs 1,000 crore in 2016. Capital Float tied up with 45 new players, including Amazon, Yatra and Ola.
Product discovery services for ecommerce companies
Founders: Pavan Sondur and Prashant Kumar
Unbxd’s Pavan Sondur and Prashant Kumar
Unbxd works with 1,200 ecommerce companies in 40 countries, and almost 80% of its revenue comes from outside India. It works with e-commerce companies such as PepperFry, Lenskart and Caratlane to power search, navigation and product recommendations. Engineers Pavan Sondur and Prashant Kumar set up the company in 2011, and have since been backed by Nirvana Ventures, IDG, Inventus and Indian Angel Network. The Bengaluru-based company claims to have grown almost 10 times in 2016 and is looking to strengthen its hold in the North American market in 2017.
Lifestyle tracking platform
Founders: Tushar Vashisht, Mathew Cherian & Sachin Shenoy
HealthifyMe’s Tushar Vashisht and Sachin Shenoy
HealthifyMe recently crossed a million downloads in app stores, the second healthcare app to touch this figure (the first was doctor listing and aggregator platform Practo). The company, which was started in 2012 and incubated at Microsoft Accelerator, is growing at 25% month on month. The app, which helps users identify the calorie value of Indian foods, offers paid services from fitness experts and nutritionists. Around 5% of users pay for premium services, and the average revenue per user is Rs 5,500 a year. Founder and CEO Tushar Vashisht says the company is looking to raise more funding later this year. The Bengaluru-based company raised $7 million in funding in 2016 and was featured as one of the best apps on the Playstore.
Designer clothing rental
Founders: Pranay Surana, Shreya Mishra & Tushar Saxena
The Flyrobe founding team
It’s just over a year since IIT-Bombay grads Pranay Surana, Shreya Mishra and Tushar Saxena started Flyrobe, a designer apparel rental startup, in September 2015 but they’ve already raised a total of $7 million from Sequoia Capital, IDG, GREE Ventures and angel investors. It offers brands such as Sabyasachi, Ritu Kumar, Masaba Gupta, Armani, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein. Flyrobe is currently in five cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bengaluru — and plans to open offline stores in Delhi and Mumbai in 2017. Its other plans for the new year — 10x growth and 300 designer collections on the platform.
Online community for travellers to share stories and itineraries
Founders: Anirudh Gupta and Michael Lyngdoh
Tripoto’s Anirudh Gupta and Michael Lyngdoh
The startup founded in 2014 is looking to expand its user base and monetise the travel itineraries posted by real travelers this year. Tripoto has itineraries and experiences from travellers on the road, and this is the unique aspect that they’re hoping to monetize. “We are looking to increase the number of contributors on the platform. Casual users who share their travel experiences on Instagram and Facebook can find like-minded readers on Tripoto,” said Michael Lyngdoh, co-founder. The startup has funding from IDG Ventures, Outbox Ventures, 500 Startups, Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, among others.
Big data analytics for trade
Founders: Nidhi Ramachandran and Sachin Chhabra
Peelworks founders Nidhi Ramachandran and Sachin Chhabra
Founded in 2010, Peelworks helps around 3,000 retail stores across the country by improving efficiency in distribution and marketing. Chhabra spent more than 14 years with FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever, understanding the problems in the distribution chain. The company’s solution helps its customers analyse information on performance, incentives, promotions and skills of employees. The Mumbai-based startup, which has raised a little under $5 million so far, boasts of clients such as HUL, Reckitt Benckiser, GlaxoSmithKline, Airtel and TataSky. The company employs 200 people and is looking to register $5 million revenue this fiscal and is expecting to double its income in 2017.
Platform to get local businesses online
Founders: Jasminder Singh Gulati, Nitin Jain, Ronak Kumar Samantray & Neeraj Sabharwal
The NowFloats team
Hyderabad-based NowFloats made headlines in mid-2016 when it acquired LookUp, which was backed by the heavyweights of the startup world — Khosla Impact, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures. NowFloats, which has raised two rounds of undisclosed funding from Omdiyar Networks since it was founded in 2012, has over 500 employees. It claims to have a customer list of over 2 lakh businesses, of which 80% are paid. “More small-time retailers from tier-2 cities like Ajmer, Coimbatore and Kolhapur are opening up to the idea of going online,” says co-founder Jasminder Singh Gulati. The company looks to leverage that in 2017.
Logistics management software
Founders: Gaurav Srivastava, Gautam Kumar, and Kushal Nahata
The Fareye founding team
FarEye is in the business of helping enterprises streamline their logistics operations. FarEye’s product keeps hundreds of delivery agents and sales personnel connected, giving visibility to the company and the customer. Founded in September 2014, the startup claims to handle over 2.5 million transactions a day for 75 clients. In mid-2016, the Delhi-based company raised $3.5 million in Series A funding from SAIF Partners, after getting initial finding from IAN, and is looking to expand globally. “We don’t want to be a vitamin pill that people take on and off. We are an essential drug that every company with field agents needs and must use to drive efficiencies,” says co-founder Kushal Nahata.
Facilitates loans for young professionals
Founders: Abhishek Garg and Riddhi Mittal
Finomena founders Abhishek Garg and Riddhi Mittal
Started by Stanford University alumnus Riddhi Mittal and IIT-Delhi alumnus Abhishek Garg in October 2015, Finomena uses algorithms to assess the creditworthiness of young working professionals, who would be denied loans from NBFCs and banks, and helps them get micro loans for consumer electronics. Early in 2016, it raised a seed round from Matrix Partners. “To avoid dealing with defaulters, we don’t cater to students. We are trying to educate people to take loans only if they need it,” says Mittal. The Bengaluru-based team, which charges a commission from its financing partners, aims to launch in 10 more cities in 2017. Finomena got 100,000 app downloads on Playstore and claims to be the only fintech company that has reached the number in nine months.
Prototyping and testing platform
Founders: Vipul Mishra and Manish Jha
CanvasFlip founders Vipul Mishra and Manish Jha
CanvasFlip works with companies to improve their mobile user experience with real-time usability testing. “As Indians, we are very good at building products that are like global apps but the creativity element is always missing. We want to change that,” says co-founder Vipul Mishra. The company works with over 250 clients, including Paytm, MakeMyTrip and Myntra. It has been a part of TLabs and Microsoft Accelerator and was the third Indian startup to be part of Google’s Blackbox connect, a two-week residential programme for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
Payments solutions for credit/debit cards, loyalty programmes
Founder: Lokvir Kapoor
Pine Labs founder Lokvir Kapur
Payment provider Pine Labs says the volume of online transactions trebled in 2016, even before the grand finale of demonetisation. “From handling about 10% of card payment transactions in India, we have grown to 20%,” says Lokvir Kapoor, CEO, Pine Labs. In terms of volume, it has seen a growth to Rs 10,000 crore a month from Rs4,000 crore in January 2016. With clients that include Armani, Jimmy Choo and Pizza Hut, the company feels there more opportunities to grab in the year ahead. “We have more than 60,000 retailers in India and will be heading overseas. We will be setting shop in Singapore with a partner bank,” says Kapoor.
Founders: Anirudh Coontoor and Faizan Aziz
Myra founders Anirudh Coontoor and Faizan Aziz