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Indian Startups

INNOVATIVE INDIAN STARTUPS: SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS

Almost every entrepreneur has a role model. In India, there are many successful entrepreneurs who are looked up to as pioneers. Sachin and Binny Bansal, who started Flipkart out of a two-bedroom apartment, put India on the global e-commerce map. Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma started with ₹10 in his pocket and went on to build a billion-dollar company. Ritesh Agarwal of OYO Rooms was recently on the the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the consumer tech sector. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. More than 2,000 Indian startups have raised $15 billion over the last decade. It seems India, the gentle giant, has woken up! What’s Up, Germany? takes a look at five innovative Indian startups.

FORUS HEALTH

 SCREENED 800,000 EYES WORLDWIDE
Forus Health is one of the earliest hardware startups in India’s low-cost healthcare segment. Its portable device, 3nethra, enables mass prescreening of eyes, especially needed in remote areas, and can detect common eye problems in less than five minutes. Forus Health raised a Series B funding (the second round of financing by venture capitalists) of ₹50 crore in 2014.
 Coolness factor  The company aims to help 20 million people in the next three years.

CULTURE MACHINE

 DIGITAL VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE INTERNET GENERATION 
India is the second-largest market—after the US—for Facebook and YouTube. Culture Machine spotted this trend and understood it like no one else! Through its 350 channels on YouTube, it clocked over 400 million views in 2014. The startup raised $18 million in a second round of funding.
 Coolness factor  Video Machine, the company’s software, takes seconds to produce music videos of songs in different formats.

CHUMBAK

 MADE WITH LOVE IN BENGALURU 
With a growth rate of 300 per cent in five years, Chumbak has created a real hockey-stick curve! Born as a local souvenir company, this startup evolved into a full-fledged lifestyle brand with flagship stores in all major Indian cities and 100 stores in Japan. Fuelled by a $2 million Series A funding (a startup’s first round of venture capital financing) in 2014, this growth story has just begun.
 Coolness factor  Desi power rocks! This diverse range of India-inspired products bring a smile to your face every time you look at them.

EDUREKA

 STAY ON TOP OF YOUR GAME THROUGH LIFELONG LEARNING 
Need to pimp your Excel skills? Want to learn how to code? Then Edureka is for you! This interactive e-learning company has grown around 3,000 per cent in three years—an amazing “Made in India” success story!
 Coolness factor  Edureka is offering $1 million worth of scholarships to learners from small towns and rural pockets.

TRULY MADLY

 ONLINE DATING APP FOR MILLENNIALS 
We all yearn for love. Prudently so, India’s entire film industry is based on this theme. The founders of TrulyMadly have taken it to the next level: on mobile screens. With 200,000 app downloads so far, this startup has raised ₹35 crore in funding.
 Coolness factor  The proprietary tool Trust Score which only allows users with a 30 per cent or higher score to initiate contact online.

STOP OUT OF COLLEGE!

graduation-iconSome leading Indian colleges (BITS Pilani, MIT, a few IITs and NITs) have started offering students a time-out to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. Should the startup fail, the students can return to complete their courses. This academic break is increasingly getting more takers. Deepit Purkayastha took a one-year break from IIT Kharagpur to start News InShorts, a mobile app that delivers news in 60 words. Once the app was launched, he returned to campus to secure his computer science degree. Potential investors are not looking at formal qualifications; they’re interested in a disruptive idea. So stop thinking and start doing!

Famous college dropouts who became successful entrepreneurs in the tech world: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Daniel Ek, Azhar Iqubal, Matt Mullenweg, Rahul Yadav, Arash Ferdxowsi.

The Thiel Fellowship

This fellowship, created by entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, is intended for students under the age of 22 and grants them a total of $100,000 over two years, as well as guidance and other resources, to drop out of school and pursue other work, which could involve scientific research, creating a startup or working on a social movement.

Against the backdrop of changing global dynamics, India is being looked at as the next big propeller of economic growth. Back at home, while there are systemic challenges impeding the Indian economy’s resurgence, the atmosphere appears lively. The startup sector in particular has witnessed significant activity in recent times. It is thriving with numerous promising prospects, making it a lucrative destination for domestic and overseas investments. These [Indian] startups have the potential to not only enhance India’s economic prowess, but also address some of the pressing challenges that the country is facing today: a bulging youth population, unemployment and poverty, among many others. While the potential for this sector to grow exponentially remains, the existing ecosystem is far from supportive or encouraging. Corruption, lack of ease of doing business and archaic laws have become hurdles that restrict startups. The government’s latest “Start-up India” initiative is perhaps a much-needed step in the right direction. If implemented earnestly, it can nurture and guide startups to transform into critical contributors to India’s growth story.
— Girija Shivakumar, founder, Koan Communications