From HackerRank To Innov8, Tracing YCombinator’s Association With Indian Startups

From HackerRank To Innov8, Tracing YCombinator’s Association With Indian Startups

The day has finally arrived. Y Combinator, one of the top three accelerators in the world, will finally be here in India this week as part of its visit to 11 countries – Nigeria, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Israel, and India.

YC Partners Tim Brady and Adora Cheung will be in Delhi today and Bengaluru on September 25 to kickstart the famed YC Office Hours. Startups will receive  practical advice from the YC partners in a 25 minutes one-on-one interaction.


Following that will be a fireside chat at Innov8 where startups can listen to Tim Brady, Adora Cheung, and YC alum ClearTax and Razorpay, ask them questions and find out what it’s really like to start a startup.

Interestingly, this is Y Combinator’s first visit to India to meet founders in Bengaluru and Delhi and gather insights right from the ground about the Indian startup ecosystem. The visit comes almost two months after it announced the induction of three Indian startups into its summer batch, making it by far the largest representation of Indian companies at one of Silicon Valley’s most sought after accelerator programmes.

As a kickstart to YC’s exciting visit, we decided to take a trip down memory lane to the years when YC selected an Indian company to be a part of its accelerator programme, starting from 2011 when HackerRank (Interviewstreet back then) became the first Indian company to earn the YC Badge!



Startup: HackerRank

Status: Active

Founders: Vivek Ravisankar and Harishankaran Karina Nidhi. 

Co-founded by Vivek Ravisankar and Harishankaran Karunanidhi, HackerRank (formerly known as Interviewstreet ) is a Y Combinator graduate and is a technical talent platform used by programmers to hone their coding skills and by companies to streamline their recruiting process. The platform streamlines the process from phone interview to on-site interview saving on average, 80 developer hours for every single hiring made. Interestingly, the Bengaluru-based startup was the first Indian company to make it to the rigorous three-month programme in 2011.

Last year in July, it secured $7.5 Mn as a strategic investment from Recruit Holding’s HR Technology Fund. Prior to this HackerRank had raised $9.2 Mn Series B funding from Khosla Ventures and Battery Ventures, $3 Mn in Series A and $200K in seed round from a group of investors including Khosla Ventures, Start Fund, SV Angel and ZenShin Capital.




Startup: TapToLearn

Status: Active

Founders: Roby John, Sreejit Jayanthan, and Avinash Pander. 

June Software, which operates under the brand name TapToLearn, develops educational applications for touch-screen devices. Founded in 2010 by Roby John and, this Pune/Palo Alto-based startup, received over $1 Mn after it passed out of the Y Combinator Program from luminaries including Ron Conway, Andreessen Horowitz, and Yuri Milner. Other investors include noted angels, such as Ari Emanuel, Jim Pallotta, Shasta Ventures, ENIAC Ventures, and Vinod Khosla’s Khosla Ventures.

Speaking about his  experience with YC, Roby stated, “Being able to do Office Hours with YC partners like Tim and Adora is pretty significant for the Indian startup ecosystem and will help talented founders and disruptive companies find the right advice faster. After doing office hours with PG and Harj onstage we applied to YC and ImagineK12 and were the first startup to do both programmes at the same time in W2012.

It was pretty hectic but twice the learning to do Tuesday and Thursday dinners.

The Office Hours and being with a great batch of founders helped our entire team learn the most while we were doing the programs. It was great to learn from PG, Harj, Sam, Geoff and Tim who were our advisors during our batch. Without all of them it would not be possible to even get through demo day and the growth we experienced going from 500K installs to 2 Million installs right during the programme.”

Once we finished our programme we learned a lot about fundraising and assembled a great set of investors and advisor.  We continue to get great advice from our advisors at YC who have been the go-to resource for us for anything that we have needed. Our batch and connection during YC remain our most trusted set of friends and advisors for life, also we have grown significantly since then with a great team and over 55 Mn installs of our games worldwide.”

Roby concludes that all in all  YC is an unforgettable experience that “we wish every startup can be a part of.”


Startup: Plivo

Status: Active

Founders: Venky Balasubramanian and Michael Riordan. 

Plivo is a cloud-based API Platform for building Voice and SMS enabled Applications found by Venky Balasubramanian and Michael Ricordeau in September 2011. The San Francisco/ Bengaluru-based startup got selected by Y Combinator in 2012. What followed was a $1.75 Mn Seed funding from heavyweights like Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Qualcomm Incorporated, and SV Angel in December 2012.


Startup: Markupwand

Status: Shutdown

Founders: Raj Natarajan, Alagu Muthuraman, and Suren Mahendran

Founded by front-end developers Raj Natarajan, Alagu Muthuraman, and Suren Mahendran in 2012, Markupwand had created a web application that allows developers to upload Photoshop files and get back well-written, the cross-platform code in a matter of minutes. Markupwand has, however, shutdown now.



Startup: ClearTax

Status: Active

Founders: Archit Gupta, Ram Gupta, Srivatsan Chari, and Ankit Somani. 

Fintech startup ClearTax facilitates users to file taxes and returns online. Founded in 2011 by Archit Gupta, his father Raja Ram Gupta, Srivatsan Chari, and Ankit Solanki, it was backed by Y Combinator in July 2014.

After ClearTax raised $120K in seed funding from Y Combinator in July 2014, the startup was also backed by One97 Communications in October 2015. It then raised $2 Mn in Pre-Series A round from FF Angel and Sequoia Capital and $1.3 Mn  in Seed funding from PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Scott Banister, an early investor in Facebook and Uber. Others investors in the round included heavyweights like Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList; WhatsApp Business Head Neeraj Arora; and Ruchi Sanghvi VP Operations at Dropbox; Y Combinator alum Sumon Sadhu; and Flexport’s Founder & CEO Ryan Petersen. In June this year, a $12 Mn Series A round of funding led by Ravi Adusumalli of SAIF Partners was raised by the startup.



Startup: Razorpay

Status: Active

Founders: Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar

Razorpay is an online payment startup founded by Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar and had raised $120K funding from YCombinator in March 2015. The startup was then able to raise another $2.5 Mn from investors such as Ram Shriram, an early Google investor; Jeff Huber, senior vice president at GoogleX; Justin Kan, a partner at Y Combinator; Kunal Bahl & Rohit Bansal; Punit Soni; Abhay Singhal, Amit Gupta & Naveen Tewari; Kunal Shah & Sandeep Tandon; and Bill Gajda.

It then went on to raise $9 Mn in a round led by Tiger Global. The round also saw participation from Matrix Partners. Recently, it raised an undisclosed amount from MasterCard as part of its collaboration  to speed up the adoption of online and mobile payments among small businesses in India.



Startup: Kisan Network

Status: Active

Founders: Aditya Agarwalla and Sanjay K Agarwalla. 

Founded by the father-son duo, Kisan Network enables farmers in rural India to sell their produce directly to institutional buyers, such as producers of packaged foods, thus bypassing the traditional network of opaque local negotiations and middlemen who often take outsize commissions. The startup was part of the Winter 2016 YC batch.




Startup: Innov8

Status: Active

Founders: Ritesh Malik, Sumit Ranka, and Shailesh Gupta. 

Co-working space Innov8 is the latest entrant to the YC club along with Meesho and JustRide this year. Innov8 Co-working, which had started its journey with its Delhi centre in October last year, has recently opened its second centre in Chandigarh. The Delhi centre had received a whopping 1,000 applications when it opened, and now houses 50 companies and 150 members. Co-founder Ritesh Malik told Inc42,

We’re super excited to be a part of YC Summer’16 batch. It’s an honour for us, as YC is super selective, getting into YC is infinite times harder than getting into Harvard etc. From India, very few companies have been a part of it in the past 10 years. It’s a completely transitional experience, you learn so much and the exposure of Silicon Valley and product-first mindset is imbibed into your thought process.


Startup: Meesho

Status: Active

Founders: Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal. 

Bengaluru-based Meesho helps merchants to manage their ecommerce businesses on WhatsApp and Facebook. Founded by IIT graduates Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, Meesho is a mobile-first ecommerce platform for the specific needs of small businesses in India. Businesses can create an online shop, share on WhatsApp and Facebook.

After being picked by YC for this year’s batch, Meesho has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from a group of angel investors in August. This round saw participation from VH Capital, Kashyap Deorah, Rajul Garg, Oyo Rooms’ Maninder Gulati, Abhishek Jain, Jaspreet Bindra among others.


Startup: JustRide

Status: Active

Founders: Ashwarya Pratap Singh, Hemant Kumar Sah, Vasant Verma, Abhishek Maha Jan, and Amit Sahu. 

Founded in April 2015 by Ashwarya Pratap Singh, Hemant Kumar Sah, Vasant Verma, Abhishek Mahajan and Amit Sahu, JustRide is a self-drive car rental service provider based out of Mumbai.

This March, JustRide, has raised $400K in Pre-Series A round of funding from a group of angel investors including Dheeraj Jain, partner at Redcliffe Capital. Prior to this, in November last year JustRide, raised a funding of $2 Mn. On being selected by YC, Ashwarya Singh, CEO and co-founder of JustRide told Inc42,

Over the years, Y Combinator has churned out a plethora of startups that have revolutionised the tech industry. JustRide’s aim is to change the way cars are purchased and used. Our association with Y Combinator would assist in bringing this vision to fruition. A three-month mentorship programme is currently underway at Mountain View, California. Our experience at Silicon Valley has been enlightening as we have received key inputs from our mentors on tweaking our model and technology to better serve the burgeoning rent-a-car industry in India.

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