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30 Startups To Watch: The Startups That Caught Our Eye In April 2021

30 Startups To Watch: The Startups That Caught Our Eye In April 2021

Inc42 brings you a curated list of 30 early-stage startups that are disrupting the way businesses used to operate

In our 15th edition, we have as many as 12 startups that are addressing SME pain points with SaaS solutions, while six are dedicated to improving healthcare and nutrition segments

These startups are making a mark in the market with their unique business models and product offerings

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is raging through India, and businesses across the country are reassessing their pandemic playbooks. But new ideas from the Indian startup ecosystem are still flourishing and positively impacting the nation.

As we sat down to shortlist the startups for April, the full impact of the uncertainty facing the Indian population hit us hard. But there is a silver lining. The Indian startup ecosystem has taken the lead in mobilising resources to battle the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. And some of the companies on the frontlines of these initiatives have been listed here.

However, due to the uncertainty regarding the Covid impact on a few startups and the never-ending struggle of keeping their teams safe, some companies could not interact with us on time. But to keep the tradition alive, we have decided to go ahead with 25 innovative startups while keeping the space for five more. The idea is to include them as and when they can respond to us, and we will keep updating the list. 

30 Startups To Watch: April 2021

In April, we have taken a deep dive into early-stage startups with business models tailored to work around the disruption caused by the pandemic. We have listed the startup solutions that try to make life easier for those stuck at home or help those trying to keep their businesses operational despite lockdowns and curfews. We have looked at nutrition-focussed companies, senior care specialists and employee healthcare startups providing quick access to better healthcare for individuals across age groups. 

We have startups that combine learning, upskilling and recruitment for people entering the workforce in these trying times. We have also explored companies that enable SMEs to switch to the digital mode of operations by addressing their pain points across collections, marketing and supply chains. Finally, we have looked at a range of SaaS solutions that make remote working more productive and convenient for businesses of all sizes. 

Interestingly, the startups listed here are less than three years old. But the way most of them have built a large clientele over the past year shows how relevant they are in the current scenario. Many of them are funded by leading investors who are betting on the efficacy of these solutions in a very different world from what we knew in 2019.

Check out the 15th edition of Inc42 Plus’ 30 Startups To Watch list (25 for now). 

Editor’s Note: The list below is not meant to be a ranking of any kind. We have listed the startups in alphabetical order.

1. AarogyaAI

Why AarogyaAI Made It To The List

In the game of survival, the human race has to play catch-up with deadly pathogens that cause a slew of dangerous diseases such as plague, HIV-AIDS, polio and, most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic. Bengaluru-based medtech startup AarogyaAI aims to solve part of this problem using genomics and AI-powered precision diagnosis to track infectious diseases before it is too late and suggest the most effective drugs to help patients. AarogyaAI’s first product is an AI-based testing solution that helps diagnose drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR TB) 100 times faster than the existing gold standard, the company claims.

Set up in 2019, the startup is backed by California-based Illumina, the largest genomics company in the world, besides the Indian government, its policy think tank NITI Aayog, the Startup India initiative and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Delhi-based non-profit organisation, among others. 

AarogyaAI aligns with the National TB Elimination Program (NTEP) as India aims to eliminate the disease by 2025. The company’s first product to track and fight drug-resistant TB is deployed on GE Healthcare’s India Edison Accelerator platform. Its testing capabilities have been expanded from first-line TB drugs to the second line of medication to provide a comprehensive report to patients and suggest the most effective medication based on specific TB mutations.

Clinical validations for AarogyaAI’s testing platform are already under way. A robust, multi-centric study will enable pilot deployments of the testing solution and scale access across the country to serve the masses. This made-in-India product can also help other high-TB-burden countries. In the long run, the company plans to scale the solution to other infectious diseases with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that do not respond to medicines due to mutations.

 2. Asanify

Why Asanify Made It To The List

The 60 Mn+ SMEs operating across the country form the backbone of the Indian economy and contribute around 30% of the GDP. However, these small and medium businesses are almost always short-staffed. This often results in error-prone and inaccurate payroll management as too few people are available for these tasks, and most of the SMEs manually do the payroll accounting. Besides, such routine tasks take the valuable focus away from building the business.

Asanify founder Priyom Sarkar had personally experienced these issues when helping his father’s business with payroll compliance. Realising that there was an operational gap on most HR platforms when it came to regular but essential tasks such as filing expenses or applying for leave in an engaging format, he launched Asanify, an HR SaaS platform for small businesses, in 2019.

Small business owners in India spend more than 25% of their time in payroll compliance and HR operations and often lack access to legal templates for leave policies, job offers or even salary slips. So, Kolkata-based Asanify has developed an engaging platform to manage employee lifecycle and automate payroll compliances via a subscription model. Interestingly, its proprietary AI engine helps download payslips and apply for leave directly on popular messaging platform WhatsApp or business communication platform Slack. 

Asanify may soon launch on the platform several employee benefits such as health insurance. Its long-term vision is to become an Amazon for the workplace and provide HR and payroll operations, employee benefits and personal loans for the 60 Mn-odd small businesses and their employees.

3. Beldara

Why Beldara Made It To The List

When small businesses join trade listing platforms, they have to shell out multiple charges for various services like online security. But Mumbai-based Beldara, a global B2B ecommerce marketplace for sellers and buyers who deal in bulk procurement, wants to address this issue. 

The company was set up in 2018, and its primary clientele includes wholesalers, retailers, resellers, importers and exporters across MSMEs in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Beldara offers free listings for sellers besides logistic support and payment protection. It only charges a fee from a seller on a confirmed order, and the amount depends on the product category. It has also started providing credit services to buyers in partnership with a few fintech companies.

Beldara has raised $7.4 Mn from Hindustan Media Ventures. Its long-term goal includes growing into the ecommerce portal of choice for Indian businesses.

4. Credflow

Why Credflow Made It To The List

Based on his personal experience of running a B2B procurement startup, Credflow founder Kunal Aggarwal knew the hassles around managing accounts receivable and accounts payables, among other cash-flow-related concerns. In fact, he spoke to 500+ SMEs before building the platform that could address these issues.

Set up in 2019, Delhi-based Credflow is a cash-flow automation SaaS platform catering to Indian SMEs. It enables businesses to reduce their cash-flow cycles by 25-30% by automating the entire cash collection cycle with timely nudges to debtors, better control over credit, and visibility and democratisation of information while integrating these features with accounting solutions like Tally. 

Credflow aims to build a full-stack solution on top of this SaaS solution, enabling businesses to access cash-flow-based financing, treasury management and payments management from a single platform. The platform was launched in May 2020, and 5,000+ businesses are already using it. The company claims that it has synced up a whopping 80,000 Cr invoices in the past 11 months.

5. Emoha Elder Care

Why Emoha Elder Care Made It To The List

Given the increasing prevalence of nuclear families in India, the migration of young people from their hometowns to work across geographies and the rise in life expectancy, the ageing population is often left to fend for themselves and experiences a poor quality of life due to increased health risks and social isolation. As a result, elder care in the country has been largely compromised. It has become even more challenging as India (and the world) are passing through a health emergency triggered by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Delhi-NCR-based Emoha Elder Care was born out of the age care labs built by Lumis Partners, an investment firm. The company uses the power of technology, social networks and the gig economy to address the issues faced by ageing societies all over the world. For instance, the Emoha app caters to elderly needs like doorstep delivery of daily essentials, home safety monitoring, and on-demand medical assistance and offers subscription plans for six and 12 months. Founded in January 2019, the platform acts as a safe haven for elders to stay secure and engaged at home.

Emoha Elder Care and its team of medical experts, nurses, attendants and care buddies are currently working round the clock to provide vaccine-related assistance to the client base. 

The startup has a firm footing in Delhi-NCR, and now it has taken its services to the national level, focussing on northern and western India. It is also working on setting up ageing hubs for dementia/Alzheimer care.

6. Flatheads

Why Flatheads Made It To The List

Coming from an ecommerce background, Flatheads cofounders saw an immense scope for the growth of D2C brands in India. In fact, their research revealed a $1 Bn opportunity in the premium casual footwear segment.

Bengaluru-based Flatheads is an online footwear brand that designs and creates all-day casual sneakers for long-lasting comfort in the Indian climate. It mainly sells its products online, either on its website and or on ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon and MensXP. The company claims to be the first Indian brand to launch bamboo-fibre sneakers, which are cool to the skin, moisture-wicking and perfect all-day footwear for the tropical climate. Launched in 2020, the brand claims to have grown 5x in FY21 and is consistently growing at 20% month on month.

Given the second wave of the pandemic, the startup plans to innovate around work-from-home use cases for footwear in the near term and transform Flatheads into a premium lifestyle brand in the long term.

7. GroCurv

Why GroCurv Made It To The List

India has a $5 Tn goal for its economy, and much of this development will depend on the millions of SMEs looking for ways to grow even in Covid times. GroCurve cofounders had earlier worked in sales and marketing for large enterprises and then started an SME-focussed consulting company called Hypersonic Advisory. For more than two years, they interacted with 250+ SMEs operating on the demand (clients) and the supply sides (agencies) to realise that services procurement for small and medium businesses had always remained an unaddressed but large and profitable market.

Therefore, Delhi-NCR-based GroCurv was set up in 2018 as a managed marketplace, helping SMEs find the right service agency partners for sales and marketing, digital marketing, PR and branding, among others. The startup has developed a tech platform that enables clients to create solid project briefs using a dynamic scoping engine, source the best-fit agencies and curated service providers, and access collaboration tools and workflows to negotiate, make contracts and monitor project executions. Project payments are 100% secure as these are done through an escrow arrangement on the platform. Plus, the company offers several monetisation models around the marketplace. Currently, there are no subscription or registration fees for clients or agencies.

The marketplace has recently integrated multiple APIs like ZOOM and WhatsApp to ensure a smooth workflow with real-time collaboration and transparency that will benefit clients. It aims to become the go-to marketplace for SMEs and agencies and wants to take its solutions to global markets like the US, the UK and Southeast Asia.

8. LearnVern

Why LearnVern Made It To The List

Before starting LearnVern, both cofounders ran an offline training business and scaled to 20 locations across India, while more than 100,000 students received training. But during the 12 years of business growth, the duo realised that most students learn better if they are trained in their mother tongue. That was not the model they followed at the time, but the sole reason behind their success was the strong focus on training quality and placements. Most students from Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities do not get access to good trainers and good employment opportunities, while employers are always looking for job-ready talent. Also, with deeper internet penetration all over the country, students keen to build a meaningful career are now able to learn all relevant skills online and get connected to employers.

Given this scenario, Ahmedabad-based LearnVern was incorporated in 2020 as an online coaching centre that offers free courses recorded by industry experts in Indian languages.  As of now, the country is home to more than 2 Lakh training centres and coaching Institutes offering courses in Python, Tally, AutoCad, digital marketing, graphic design and more to more than 4 Cr students. But LearnVern stands apart as it charges its students only when they need course certificates or placement support. LearnVern’s website and Android app have 40+ courses in Hindi and Bangla, currently used by more than 550,000 students from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. 

The company is on track to develop 250+ courses and enrol 2 Mn unique students on its website and app by the end of FY2022. It is also in active discussions with colleges and universities to tie up with them and offer training and placement programmes for college students. 

9. LiL’Goodness

Why LiL’Goodness Made It To The List

Good eating habits, especially food choice, need to be taught early for a healthier next generation. Undernutrition and poor nutrition affect nearly 100 Mn children in India. So, the cofounders of Bengaluru-based Lil’Goodness wanted to create a business model that could impact the food and nutrition of 100 Mn Indian kids with the focus on snacking where the most unhealthy food consumption takes place. 

As the people behind this business had earlier run a business that supplied fresh meals to schools, they knew a lot about the eating habits and preferences of nearly 30,000 schoolchildren. Providing about 300,000 meals and fresh snacks gave them deep insights into the state of things. And that knowledge came in handy when they launched LiL’Goodness, created new products, worked on the packaging and made effective use of customer feedback to refine the product line. 

The startup was launched in 2019, and some of its products have already undergone at least five-six rounds of taste and packaging iterations over the past nine months. Its products are sold both online and offline. 

The company plans to grow its business 10x in the next 12 months and scale its digital footprint through its website besides Amazon, BigBasket, Flipkart and other relevant channels. It also aims to reach as many as 500 stores over the next six months once the Covid situation stabilises.

10. moEVing

Why moEVing Made It To The List

As the Covid-19 pandemic triggered ecommerce adoption in 2020, the industry’s demand for fleet vehicles skyrocketed. This prompted Delhi-NCR-based moEVing to tap into strategic opportunities and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for two- and three-wheelers by offering electric vehicles, or EVs, to fleet owners for last-mile deliveries. It approached a few e-commerce companies and got an overwhelming response to electrifying their fleets.

The B2B startup is just three months old, but it aims to partner with EV manufacturers to onboard 1 Mn vehicles by 2030 through an integrated approach to demand aggregation, supply optimisation and connected charging infrastructure. The company says it is on a mission to drive sustainable mobility and sustainable livelihoods for drivers by providing them with more earnings. As of now, the focus is on third-party and green last-mile logistics.

Even in its short span of operations, the startup has deployed 100+ two- and three-wheelers to five clients in Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru and Pune. It plans to expand to Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata soon and aims to reach 100+ cities by 2030.

11. Neokred

Why Neokred Made It To The List

Bengaluru-based Neokred is an infrastructure provider for neobanking products and trying to promote open banking. It provides the technology backbone/infrastructure to fintech companies and corporate houses so that they can design their fintech use cases. 

Launched in 2019, Neokred’s B2B2C platform claims that it can set up any financial services platform within 10 days, which is particularly useful for digitising remote banking services. The company’s mission is to create a socially empowered nation that should move away from traditional banking services and be more millennial-friendly in technology and robustness. Hence, it is focussing on developing solutions for contactless payments. 

12. Nova Benefits 

Why Nova Benefits Made It To The List

Platforms consolidating employee health benefits have been on the rise for some time, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has made it essential. While many companies offer group health insurance schemes to employees, not many people can fully utilise these benefits. Those who make insurance claims often end up with bad experiences due to misinformation and a lack of comprehensive coverage of critical health conditions. 

Bengaluru-based Nova Benefits was launched in 2020 to address this pain point. The B2B health and wellness platform claims to ensure a 10x better insurance experience to employees and save costs for companies. Nova also enables access to a slew of services such as doctor-on-call, mental health counselling, maternity wellness, fitness rewards and more. In brief, the startup aims to make health insurance more reliable and engaging for employees and make things smoother for HR departments managing those benefits. Nova is now catering to more than 100 companies with 15,000-odd employees. 

13. PillarPlus 

Why PillarPlus Made It To The List

Any architectural floor plan requires engineering blueprints for HVAC, fire safety and plumbing. Architects and builders usually hire local consultants, who often carry out the design tasks manually without focussing on safety parameters. In fact, due to a shortage of experts and round-the-clock monitoring, engineering regulations are frequently violated in many cases. A fatal fire in 2019 in Gujarat, triggered by faulty construction, motivated PillarPlus cofounders to develop a proprietary software programme that tracks and monitors such violations in blueprints. The algorithms were evolved into automated AI tools, directly generating blueprints that will comply with local building codes.

Set up in 2020, the Bengaluru-based B2B software firm automates construction design blueprints, calculates the bill of materials and estimates project costs. It offers a subscription-based model that optimises costs and delivers the output 20x faster than manual designs, claims the company.

PillarPlus has already completed 300+ projects in India, Dubai, Nepal and Ghana, working with many prestigious brands such as BMW, Hugo Boss, Golden Tulip and Indian Oil (IOCL). The startup plans to add two more offices to its current count of four and bring in new technologies to its application.

14. Puresh Daily Foods

Why Puresh Daily Foods Made It To The List

Cofounders of Ranchi-based Puresh Daily Foods noticed that the regions in and around Jharkhand faced a massive shortage of branded milk, mostly brought into the state from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat in tankers. They also realised that the organised milk market in India accounts for just 15% of the overall dairy sales. As the country is the largest milk producer (180 Mn tonnes/year), there is a vast potential to grow the organised dairy sector, add value to products and boost rural livelihoods. 

So, in 2019, this dairy startup was set up to cater to Ranchi and a few other cities in Jharkhand based on a hub-and-spoke dairy supply chain model that can be replicated across the country. The startup assures 100% pure cow milk directly from farms where the produce is free of adulteration, added hormones, chemicals and preservatives and comes in plastic-free packaging (only glass and earthen vessels are used). The company grows its green fodder using farm waste (sourced from farmers and others) and Azolla (an eco-friendly biofertiliser and livestock fodder) and uses hydroponic farming to produce the livestock feed. Customers can procure the final product through a simple app managed via a cloud-based ERP that allows complete traceability of the product. 

As of now, the company has franchises in cities like Delhi-NCR, Patna and Lucknow. It has also found that many mid-size dairy farms have 30-50 dairy cattle, and these can be scaled up using the franchise model that Puresh Daily has in place. The startup hopes to take its solution to 500+ Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India and also to overseas markets if this strategy works. With the recent seed funding in its kitty, the company will enhance its technology stack, expand to 10 more cities this year and increase its user base to 20,000 from the daily subscriber base of 1,200.

15. SkilloVilla

Why SkilloVilla Made It To The List

India churns out more than 1.5 Mn engineering graduates every year, of whom barely 20% are employable. This is the pain point that Bengaluru-based SkilloVilla wants to address. In their market research, cofounders discovered some common traits among jobseekers, including a lack of exposure to industry-relevant curriculum, a lack of exposure to the corporate world and a strong desire to upskill for aspirational jobs. 

Founded in 2020, the startup has designed industry-relevant curricula, with live classes and a recruiter connect thrown into the model. After completing these courses, students can be connected with 300+ partner companies to help them get suitable openings. All these come at a monthly fee of $23-83 for two to six months, depending on the course.

SkilloVilla claims that its live classes have consistently got 4.9 ratings, and 93% of the students complete their courses on time. As some of its first-batch students are about to complete their courses, the startup’s immediate focus is to ensure good placement opportunities, especially in this harsh economic environment badly hit by the pandemic. SkilloVilla wants to increase its course offerings and build better course-fit prediction models for students in the long term.

16. Solus AI

Why Solus AI Made It To The List

Brands today struggle to create relevant engagement with their customers at scale. It is often a one-off effort, too little and too late, mainly due to the overall complexity. The Solus AI founding team has a collective experience of 50-plus years in helping brands nudge customer behaviour by using data. Their extensive work with more than 200 brands across 10 countries led to identifying the gap in the global market. 

Launched in 2019, Mumbai-based Solus offers an AI-powered platform for hyper-personalised customer engagement. The enterprise SaaS platform includes a stack of machine learning and AI algorithms for recommendations, triggers, content generation and contact optimisation. The company says it has hit the $1 Mn annual recurring revenue (ARR) in April 2021, recently got its first international sales in the APAC market and initiated sales in the US.

Over the next 12 months, it aims to scale to more than $3 Mn ARR, focussing on retail, quick service restaurants and consumer packaged goods. The 36-month plan is to reach $16 Mn ARR and expand to North American and APAC markets.

17. Superpro.ai

Why Superpro.ai Made It To The List

The Covid-19 pandemic triggered the shift towards remote work/work from home (WFH), and most businesses think this trend may continue for years. Understandably, video communication is the backbone of collaboration among remote teams, while there is rising demand for high-quality remote customer service as business travel is shrinking due to the virus onslaught. Interestingly, Bengaluru-based Superpro.ai aims to empower this new working model by making ‘remote’ on a par with (if not better) ‘in-person’ business.

Set up in 2020, Superpro.ai enables its clients to offer customer services through video communication, with plug-and-play SaaS workflows integrated right into client websites or apps. As the data and insights from these conversations appear on a unified client dashboard, businesses get the smoothness and scalability of automated workflows and the efficiency of video communication, thus saving thousands of development hours and millions in investments to build a similar system from scratch.

Superpro.ai has in place a pay-per-use model because an account-based model either becomes very expensive or has a lot of wastage for businesses, say the cofounders. Additionally, businesses can use its service without making any huge upfront investment in development. The startup is currently investing in developing its product and is likely to raise a pre-Series A round of funding in May.

18. Thunderpod

Why Thunderpod Made It To The List

With each passing wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies struggle with the uncertainties around employee performance and productivity management as the scenario keeps changing and evolving. As for those working from home, it is not feasible to use traditional metrics such as the time spent on the system to determine productivity. But Mumbai-based Thunderpod rose to the occasion with a goal-oriented productivity platform tailored to meet remote working requirements.

Founded in 2018, Thunderpod is a SaaS platform that helps companies maximise workplace ROI. It simplifies and automates critical activities like goal and performance measurement, thus reducing admin time and company costs. The startup also offers a range of solutions such as gamified performance measurement, employee growth and learning tracker and well-being tracker. 

Its immediate goal is to onboard 100 U.S. companies which can use Thunderpod solutions for workplace management. Its long-term plan is to evolve into an automated HR operating system that reduces the costs and efforts of the companies and provides an excellent work experience to employees.

19. TruNativ

Why TruNativ Made It To The List

The Indian population is plagued by severe nutritional imbalances like malnutrition and obesity that often impact immunity and the quality of life. Therefore, Mumbai-based TruNativ focusses on the FMCG sector’s general nutrition market and has launched a range of macronutrients to help people quickly fulfil their daily nutritional requirements.

Set up in 2019, TruNativ is a D2C smart nutrition brand that offers affordable and healthy food and beverage options to health and fitness enthusiasts. The Indian government has also recognised the startup for its contribution to the food and nutrition category across the country. It is now building its network of influencers, including gym and yoga trainers and nutritionists, to run its referral and loyalty programmes. TruNativ is looking to sell its products through multiple channels, but its primary focus will be online commerce.

20. Zeda.io

Why Zeda.io Made It To The List

Whether businesses are working remotely or from office premises, managing product life cycles across different teams and employees is always a challenge for product-focussed companies. After years of personal dissatisfaction with product tools, Zedo.io cofounders Prashant Mahajan and Vaibhav Devpura knew that they must develop a well-synced collaboration tool for product managers. There are plenty of tools for other specialist teams such as Figma for designers, GitHub for developers, Salesforce for salespersons, HubSpot for marketing and so on, but nothing much for PMs.

So, the Delaware- and Bengaluru-based cofounders decided to tap into this market and build a global SaaS business out of India. Zeda deals with fragmentation and inefficiency in product development and helps product teams define, manage and collaborate in one place just like a product management super-app would do. Simply put, it enables product teams to find anything needed to build a co-ordination platform to keep product information in a centralised manner and collaborate with stakeholders via integrations. It means PMs can focus more on users and their problems instead of operational issues. Revenue comes from a pay-per-user licence based on monthly/annual subscription. 

The company got funded and launched its first product in April 2021. Its immediate plan is to get a product-market fit by constantly working on customer feedback, increasing product offerings and growing the team.

21.  Zeo

Why Zeo Made It To The List

Zeo cofounders tracked a few gaps in the route optimisation solution market where the cost of most software solutions was way beyond the budget of Indian SMEs. Even when large enterprises spent millions on route optimisation, it was not translating into promised savings. It happened because drivers were not following the prescribed routes as the platforms were not driver-friendly by design. Hence, in 2019, Zeo was launched to make a driver’s life easier. Today, the startup claims to have customers in 190 countries and is growing at 30% month on month.

Based in San Francisco and Mumbai, Zeo helps drivers and businesses save time and money by providing tools for efficient route planning via Android and iOS apps (for drivers) and a cloud-based platform on the Zeo website for businesses. It aims to be a one-stop platform that a service-based business will ever require to manage orders, customers and drivers. Currently, it caters to several sectors, including courier services, home deliveries and real estate. 

In the short term, Zeo plans to improve the tools for drivers and businesses through image recognition and ML technologies to help service their routes faster and save money. It will also develop additional tools in the long run for order processing and customer, inventory and payment management. 

22. Zoko

Why Zoko Made It To The List

Ideas beget ideas or, should we say, pain points trigger new startup concepts? While helping their relatives with their apparel business through WhatsApp marketing, Zoko cofounders Arjun Paul and Aromal Sivadasan came across a gap. The duo realised that WhatsApp was a powerful channel for ecommerce and decided that a SaaS model on the popular messaging platform to help businesses carry out their operations would make more sense. In brief, they wanted to offer a technology layer that enables ecommerce on WhatsApp. And Zoko was born.

Launched in 2018, the Bengaluru-based company sees itself competing with the likes of Haptik and Yellow Messenger as businesses use their services to reach a wider audience via WhatsApp. The Zoko SaaS platform helps online merchants with sales, marketing and customer support on WhatsApp and charges a monthly subscription for platform services.

Incidentally, Zoko was among the 2% startups funded by Y Combinator in its winter batch of 2021. 

23. Zolve

Why Zolve Made It To The List

The need for a global neobank is best explained by the use case of immigrants worldwide. Millions of people migrate every year for education, better career prospects and a better standard of living. But when they land in a new country without local ID proofs and local credit history, it becomes tough to access essential financial products, be it opening a bank account, getting a new credit card, raising a loan, making remittances or buying insurance as per standard practices. San Francisco- and Bengaluru-based Zolve aims to make it easy for the millions of migrants and other people also keen to access overseas financial products and make investments globally.

Zolve is building a global neobank that can provide equitable access to financial services to people worldwide. Its vision is to create a financial world beyond borders. The startup partners with banks and other financial institutions around the world to create a seamless user experience for global citizens keen to use financial products from anywhere irrespective of their current location. As of now, it wants to help the US-bound immigrants with opening bank accounts and getting credit cards. In the long term, it aims to become a full-stack financial services provider through partnerships with global financial institutions.

24. Zopnik

Why Zopnik Made It To The List

In the post-Covid era, online shopping and doorstep delivery have become the new normal as there has been a massive shift in consumer mindset and a sharp decline in customer walk-ins. As local shops did not have the means to go digital overnight and showcase their products online for customers to pick and choose, they lost business in a big way. There was simply no way to retain and re-engage with customers as most people shifted to online shopping. On the other hand, attending multiple phone orders was inefficient and time-consuming for a shop.

Delhi-based Zopnik is trying to resolve some of these problems by developing a technology platform to enable local shops to build their online stores in local languages. Plus, there will be an AI-powered full-stack solution for ease of delivery and marketing to engage with customers and retain them. This will help small shops compete with larger app-based platforms. 

Set up in 2020, Zopnik is currently offering the app-based solution for free but will later introduce a freemium model for value-added marketing services. Its immediate plan is to expand across North India with the Hindi variant of its app. 

25. Zotalabs

Why Zotalabs Made It To The List

India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand have 340 Mn students at the K-12 level, and 50% of them come from the ‘aspirer’ category where parents have growing income levels and global aspirations. In fact, they are looking for global-standard education (beyond school learning), which will be holistic in nature but affordable. At the same time, a large number of top-quality teachers want to go digital and find students beyond their geographical boundaries. Pune-based Zotalabs has built a content platform to enter this market and connect educational content creators with K-12 learners. 

For students from the countries mentioned above, it is an intensive and extensive B2C learning platform that features a wide range of courses created by the world’s top teachers. One only needs to pay a single,  pocket-friendly subscription for an entire course. The platform also facilitates peer learning.

Launched in 2019, Zotalabs has already onboarded 100 teachers, content creators and edtech companies. Some of these educators are leaders in their respective categories, claims the startup. Now it wants to onboard 500 teachers and content creators and 100,000 learners by March 2022.