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

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

Inc42 has curated a list of 30 early-stage startups, founded after 2018, that have carved a niche for themselves in the recent past

This month’s list has 8 out of 30 startups coming from the enterprise tech sector and 7 from fintech

Some edtech and agritech startups have also made it to this month’s list for their  unique business models 

The new year has begun, leaving behind one of the toughest periods for the humankind. With India launching the biggest vaccination drive to inoculate its population against Covid, businesses and economy are brimming with hope and confidence. Employees working remotely have been called back to the office, business travel has also resumed and many meetings have moved out of Zoom Calls to greet people in person, offline again.

The pandemic and the time away from the hustle-bustle gave an opportunity to entrepreneurs and investors to look back and restrategise. After realising the need to be sector agnostic, early-stage investors are now relooking at their funding strategies and also guiding their portfolio companies better than before.  More than growth, their focus is now on startups that can ensure business continuity at all times.

30 Startups To Watch: January 2021

This month’s 30 Startups to Watch Out list features startups that have been outliers in recent months.

India’s enterprise tech sector continues to capitalise on the opportunity that the pandemic has offered. Startups from this sector, just like the last few months, continue to dominate this list. In our January list,  8 out of 30 startups are from the enterprise tech domain.

Edtech startups, too, continue to be among hot-favourites.  Although with schools reopening, there could be a slump in the growth of edtech startups. But for now, they continue to rule the roost. Other sectors that have made it to this month’s list include fintech, media and entertainment, consumer services, D2C and ecommerce.

Here is the Inc42 Plus list of 30 startups to watch out for in January 2021.

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

Agri10x

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

Why Agri10x Made It To The List

With the pandemic pushing retailers towards emarketplaces to survive, we are seeing many startups in the space further widening the horizon. Artificial Intelligence and blockchain-enabled emarketplace startup, Agri10x, claims to bridge the gap between farmers and buyers through its digital platform.

Leveraging new-age tech, this early-stage startup claims to help farmers get fair pricing for their produce than what they get offered at mandis (wholesale market) or by arthias (commission agents). Additionally, it provides features like instant payment into a farmer’s account and value-added services like digitised warehouses, quality assaying and logistics and aims to build an end-to-end post-harvest management system, which is traceable and transparent in nature.

Agri10x is currently active in four states including Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat and is working towards expanding operations across 8 states in India including Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Telangana, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Tripura

It has also hired market analysts who give insights on marketing  a product better.For example, using analytics to predict needs across the world, it helped Tripura farmers export their pineapples to Dubai and was also instrumental in exporting Muzaffarpur’s famous litchis to London.

The startup’s immediate plans include onboarding 10 lakh farmers on its platform as well as providing fintech solutions to both farmers and buyers with the help of NBFCs.

Aqgromalin

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

Why Aqgromalin Made It To The List

With 85% of Indian farmers being small landowners, owning less than 2 acres of land, farm diversification is a very effective way of increasing revenue for farmers. Aqgromalin assists farmers in diversification of portfolios into segments of animal husbandry and aquaculture with its ready to implement micro-farms. These farms are designed in a way that farmers can manage with very little space, and investments are not very labour intensive to implement.

“We find that it has become a very useful tool for the women farmers to contribute to the household income. As the investment and space requirement is low we’ve had more farmers take this up in addition to the existing activities,” says Prasanna Manogaran, cofounder, Aqgromalin.

The startup has set up close to 100 micro-farms, and claims that the farmers were able to increase their income by 240%. It aims to set up 500 such farms in Tamil Nadu, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh. “Our objective is to ensure that our partner farmers are able to at least double their household income. We want to empower more women farmers as we strongly believe they can create a strong impact in these sectors,” he adds.

BeyondSkool

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

Why BeyondSkool Made It To The List

In 2020, edtech startups witnessed massive growth. According to Inc42 Plus, edtech segment last year received $1.4 Bn in funding, compared to 443.64 Mn in funding the previous year.

While test prep and certification startups received the highest amount of funding last year, career assessment and counselling platforms are also gaining traction from investors and entrepreneurs alike. As edtech continues to be a lucrative segment, many new models are emerging within the sector.

BeyondSkool is one such startup trying to find its niche in offering an online upskilling academy for children in the age group of 5 to 15 years.

The startup offers an Integrated UpSkilling Certification Programme across age segments -early years (4-6), primary years (6-9) and middle years (10-13). It trains children for holistic cognitive development, including Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Creative Quotient (CQ) at the same time.

Its product offering is in the K12 segment, where monetisation is primarily through the learning fee of the programme. The edtech startup will soon be expanding its product portfolio across age groups and categories along with building its own technology platform for enhanced learning and seamless experience for children. In the near future  it would expand operations internationally as well.

BiteSpeed

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

Why BiteSpeed Made It To The List

Ecommerce brands have traditionally relied on email marketing as the default way of engaging with their customers. But this mode of reaching out to customers has  become saturated over the years. At the same time, chat apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger seem to have maximum consumer attention and high engagement rates. BiteSpeed helps ecommerce brands upgrade their marketing strategy through its conversational commerce platform on Shopify.  It is used by 1200+ Shopify brands in 50+ countries around the world.

Its SaaS platform helps ecommerce brands move away from impersonal email marketing and embrace chat apps like FB Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram as the new way of selling to their customers.  The startup operates on a freemium SaaS business model, relying on self-service product-led growth to sell to small and medium ecommerce businesses globally.

The startup aims to build the conversational commerce stack across all chat channels for ecommerce brands globally.

DcodeAI

30 Startups To Watch: The Startups That Caught Our Eye In January 2021
Why DcodeAI Made It To The List

One of the key challenges that educators and learners face in artificial intelligence (AI) teaching is to engage students in its practical aspects. It is difficult to import data sets and training models on real-life problems.

DcodeAI wants to address these issues through its low code/no-code tools to smoothen the process of grasping complicated concepts of AI. It has launched new DIY learning platforms including Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision (CV), Data Science for children aged between 12 and 18 years. It aims to democratize AI learning among primary and secondary level students across 10,000+ schools that are currently part of its network.

It claims that even those without any coding background can learn and implement AI models. The new set of DIY learning programs is designed for students to hone their skills in data manipulation, data visualisation, statistics, machine learning, deep learning and more. According to the startup, these learning programs are suitable for students who want to learn about developing Chatbots, Image Recognition Models, as well as Voice Recognition-based Bots and Home Automation Systems.

Decentro

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

Why Decentro Made It To The List

Companies that have to integrate with legacy banking institutions face several challenges when it comes to their product cycle. Not only are their APIs and documentations old and incomplete, they are also riddled with multiple errors and loopholes. And the business side of integration and partnership feels like a never-ending Temple Run between different departments of a banking institution. Rohit Taneja, cofounder, Decentro, also faced these challenges in his first venture.

“I also saw my acquiring companies (Wibmo & PayU) struggle with the same problems of banking infrastructure. And globally also, there is a movement towards embedded finance and banking happening across all domains,” says Taneja.

Thus, Taneja and his cofounder, Pratik Daudkhane, launched Decentro, a full-stack API banking platform where companies can come, select their desired financial modules, integrate it in a sandbox, and launch their fintech products in just a couple of weeks. It claims to simplify the onboarding and integration process with legacy financial institutions by 10X and reduce the overall capital expenditure as well as operational expenditure by 80%.

The startup, with a per-transaction based business model, offers multiple plug-and-play financial modules, ranging from KYC (Know your customer), KYB (Know your business), accounts linking and creation, UPI based automated collections and payouts, white-label or co-branded virtual and physical cards, and many more.

Digantara

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

Why Digantara Made It To The List

In June 2020, the Indian government opened up the space sector for private players. It also formed a dedicated unit called Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre or IN-SPACe to authorise and regulate private innovation in spacetech.

Post this, many Indian startups have started seeing heightened interest from investors.

Digantara is one such spacetech startup developing India’s first space-based surveillance platform to track space objects. Its constellation of high (one centimetre) resolution space object tracking nanosatellites will help its clients know the accurate situation about and around their multi-million-dollar-valued space assets protecting them from being destroyed in in-orbit collisions.

The company plans to enter the market with a technology demonstration mission, whose data will be verified with the early adopters to create value in the market. Early adopters of Digantra’s services include European origin company Telespazio and Germany based start-up Okapi Orbits GMBH. Digantara also intends to generate secondary revenue  by providing Smallsat/Cubesat design and fabrication services to its customers.

Do Your Thng

Lets Dive Why Dive Made It To The List The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.  Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.  “Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That's why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.  For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people. 

Why Do Your Thng Made It To The List

Using content to attract visitors and turn them into customers is becoming a winning strategy for brands. However, the key is to find the right creator who can deliver the eye-catching content while keeping the brand image and positioning in mind.

Thus Do Your Thng (DYT) offers a creator-first branded content marketplace helping brands get high quality personalised content created at-scale within quick turn-around time.

According to the startup, this model flips the campaigning process in a brand’s favour. They can scale by collaborating with as many creators as they want. There is also an element of filtration to the model. Since there is a chance of rejection, the onus lies on creators’ shoulders to create compelling content.  Besides, the startup claims to leverage only brand advocates, creators who have had a positive experience with the brand. The approach makes the brand-creator relationship more natural, and that comes through to followers, creating more engagement, it says.

A brand opens the campaign brief to creators. They, in turn, pitch their branded content upfront. The brand can buy what they consider best from the variety and volume of eye-catching content received. The chosen creators then upload the purchased content on their social profiles.

Doceree

Lets Dive Why Dive Made It To The List The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.  Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.  “Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That's why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.  For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people. 

Why Doceree Made It To The List

While consumer marketing has evolved remarkably in the digital realm over years, pharmaceutical marketing in the digital space is still in its nascent stage globally. Doceree is aiming to resolve the same. It offers a global network of physician-only platforms for programmatic marketing.

Its product is categorically an ad exchange where advertisers and the pharmaceutical companies, after getting access to the platform, can curate their campaigns. Through tech integration, the startup brings the digital platforms’ ad inventory on its platform which pharma brands can access to create campaigns and achieve their business outcomes.

The Delhi NCR-based company launched an integrated programmatic email ad-serving solution in September 2020 and a text-based programmatic ads for pharmaceutical brands in November 2020.

In the short term, the startup wants to become an ideal source of revenue generation for doctor-only digital platforms. In the long term, it believes the platform can reduce the cost of pharma marketing by about 18% which would eventually reflect upon the pricing of drugs.

Finsall 

Lets Dive Why Dive Made It To The List The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.  Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.  “Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That's why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.  For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people. 

Why Finsall Made It To The List

Currently, general insurance premium has to be paid upfront for any insurance policy. As a result, the penetration of insurance in India is still less. Finsall aims to increase the affordability of insurance for both retail and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) customers by providing them with an option for Insurance Premium Financing.

The insurtech startup provides a platform to insurance intermediaries to finance any type of general insurance policy for both retail and SME customers who are unable to pay the entire insurance premium amount upfront.

Finsall’s proprietary platform has tied-up with banks, insurance companies, NBFCs, brokers and other intermediaries to ensure the customers have a seamless experience in premium financing. It charges a fee from the lender, out of the interest that the customer pays to the lender.

By offering bite-sized payment options, Finsall believes that customers can now safeguard their health, motor vehicles, buildings and other assets against accidents and calamities without worrying about a high upfront amount.

Finsall has partnered with Oriental Insurance- a PSU insurance company- and has started integrating multiple lenders on its platform.

GrowFix

Lets Dive Why Dive Made It To The List The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.  Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.  “Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That's why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.  For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people. 

Why GrowFix Made It To The List

In 2020, fintech emerged as the best performing sector for the Indian startup ecosystem, in terms of the amount of funding raised. Fintech startups raised $2.1 Bn in funding across 131 deals.

Many fintech startups are tapping into the addressable market opportunity for fintech products and higher investor confidence in the sector.

GrowFix is a digital investment platform for securitised debt instruments (SDIs), that recently raised $2 Mn in a seed funding round led by Zerodha’s fintech investment fund Rainmatter, and participation from Better Capital.

The startup believes that given the scenario where fixed deposits (FD) and debt mutual fund returns have come down considerably, there is a vacuum for products that give 2-3% higher returns than FD and are less volatile than equities.

GrowFix offers high net-worth individuals and retail investors, asset-backed fixed income products which offer higher returns than fixed deposits.

Founded in January 2020 by Ajinkya Kulkarni, Abhik Patel, Shashank Chimaladari and Anshul Gupta, the company offers GrowFix Gold and GrowFix Wheels, with an underlying asset of gold loans or vehicle loans, where retail investors are promised fixed  interest rates of 10-11%.

Gully Network

Lets Dive Why Dive Made It To The List The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.  Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.  “Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That's why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.  For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people. 

Why Gully Network Made It To The List

The Indian grocery retail industry is largely unorganised and deprived of technology. There is no single comprehensive solution to solve all real-life pain points of retailers. The retailers thus waste endless hours comparing prices on B2B apps and following up with traditional distributors, along with managing day to day operations and handling customers.

Gully Network is building a tech-enabled modern retail network of mid-sized grocery stores. The company partners with existing stores and transforms them into its franchisee stores while increasing their income and automating their operations end-to-end. It believes that the need for an integrated retail-tech which automates the front-end, centre, and back-end is currently underserved and has a great market opportunity.

The startup recently raised a pre-series A round taking its total funding raised till date to $2Mn. The startup aims to capture the Bengaluru market in near future and will be adding additional revenue streams for its partner stores, which it claims will improve their bottom line significantly.

KiranaKart

Lets Dive Why Dive Made It To The List The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.  Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.  “Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That's why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.  For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people. 

Why KiranaKart Made It To The List

The instant grocery delivery space is still in its nascent stage. Companies in the space are held back by specific problems like unit economics and inventory management.

It is difficult to get groceries delivered instantly and reliably online in most Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities across the country.  Cofounders of Y Combinator-backed KiranaKart, Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra thus decided to build better technical approaches that are laser-focused on those problems.

The startup claims that the software it has designed ensures that customers order groceries on the app and get it delivered within an hour from high-quality stores in their community. The company has recently built out the capacity to deliver groceries across Mumbai by onboarding many kiranas and major retail chains to deliver to 80% of the city. It will be live across the city in the next few days and plans to make the first 150K deliveries at a delivery cost of INR 1. In the near future, the startup plans to replicate the same model in other metros.

KIWI

Lets Dive Why Dive Made It To The List The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.  Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.  “Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That's why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.  For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people. 

Why KIWI Made It To The List

The gig economy is going through a transformation, and post-pandemic, more and more skilled workforce is looking at freelancing as a full-time career option. Some are looking at gigs to increase their monthly income as and when needed. KIWI is creating an ecosystem of services, which would enable gig workforce across the globe, to move to freelancing at their convenience.

The real-time freelancing platform onboards experts across sectors, who can choose between being a full-time freelancer or look at extra income, as per their convenience and time availability. This is also a win-win for many companies and individuals looking for freelancing experts instantaneously to complete a pending task or project.

KIWI claims to connect customers with an expert freelancer, within 180 seconds, for issues that can be resolved within 10 mins to 2 hours. The experts pay the startup a monthly subscription fee to be listed on the platform.

The startup went live in Jan 2021, and already claims to have more than 5K freelancing experts across domains like WordPress, Shopify, digital marketing, photoshop and video editing. These 5K+ experts have successfully serviced more than 12,000 customers, on a real-time basis, it says.

Lets Dive

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

Why  Lets Dive Made It To The List

The pandemic has made remote working mainstream. However, we are still navigating the social structures of working remotely. Isolation is still one of the biggest challenges of remote work. This is primarily because it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with colleagues when one is working remotely.

Lets Dive is working towards solving this problem  by making remote working fun and fulfilling every day. The startup offers a social platform where one can hang out with people the way they like. Lets Dive is a virtual cafeteria, where one can socialise by indulging in hundreds of fun activities.  One can play games, get to know each other, talk about common interests or just chat. Many teams from companies including Swiggy, Facebook India and others use Lets Dive  to kill isolation and build strong relationships with colleagues. The Bengaluru-based startup offers a software as a subscription model with a freemium subscription.

“Different teams have different requirements and we strive to delight every user. That’s why Lets Dive is hard at work to ramp up the servers globally,” says Nitesh Agrawal, cofounder, Lets Dive.

For the longer-term, the startup will be investing heavily in building a technology which gives customers new ways to express, connect and build authentic relationships with people.

LimeChat

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

Why LimeChat Made It To The List

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) is the new buzzword for consumer brands, so much so that even traditional businesses are rethinking their selling strategies.

LimeChat is tapping into the D2C opportunity by offering AI chatbot to boost sales for online D2C brands. The chatbot offers personalised and contextual conversational experiences to customers wherever they are in the buyer’s journey on mediums like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.

With integration across CRMs, store management platforms, payments networks, and logistics platforms, the startup takes great care of end-to-end customer interactions for its clients. Its data analysis engine helps online brands for their business intelligence and marketing campaigns, the company says.

The startup claims to have validated the need for a virtual sales assistant by interacting and noting down the pain points of 50+ D2C brands across the verticals of fashion, beauty, wellness, etc. The chatbot company also claims that its clients have already seen a 20% sales conversion rate via its personalised conversational commerce platform as compared to the typical 2-3% conversion rate on their websites. The company has been able to automate upto 75% of support tickets for such brands as compared to the industry standard of 40%. It is also currently working on expanding its scope of services to help with retargeting campaigns to help increase customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Nat Habit

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

Why Nat Habit Made It To The List

With an increasing number of consumers today opting for D2C brands and products that are eco-friendly, many brands are capitalising on the same.  NatHabit is a D2C brand producing natural and fresh home remedies for skin and hair care, inspired by ancient kitchen recipes.

The company, which currently has about 100 SKUs across face, body and hair care categories, creates everything from besan packs to pumpkin scrubs to curry leaf & methi hair masks, adopting processes and formulations similar to Ayurvedic methods.

NatHabit products, the company claims, are made fresh every day without any chemicals and preservatives and only natural and pure ingredients like fresh milk, curd, flowers, leaves, fruits, nuts, cold-pressed oils are used. To keep their freshness and efficacy intact, the products are prepared in small batches in its manufacturing setup and are refrigerated and delivered in cold packs.

In the past six months, the startup has expanded its product portfolio four times to create a catalogue of about 100+ fresh and natural personal care products. Till 2020, NatHabit was serving only Delhi NCR. In January 2021, it began pan-India delivery for a set of products. Within the first 5 days of the launch, it claims to have delivered to places like Kochi, Mysore, Shimoga, Shimla, Bhubaneswar, Goa, Amritsar, Jodhpur and Jammu.

ProtectPay

Why ProtectPay Made It To The List

ProtectPay is a digital escrow platform that safeguards the funds for all transacting parties. A trusteeship has management oversight of the ProtectPay escrow account and verifies all payments.

ProtectPay has built a B2C transaction model which digitally verifies all transacting parties, their bank accounts and secures their transaction documentation and funds till the transaction is completed and verified by a trusteeship. To use the platform, one needs to register by verifying his/her identity with instant digital KYC, choose a transaction, let the platform know the purpose for which one wants to use it and enter details like email ID, and phone number. ProtectPay, then,  notifies the seller about the payment once the amount is received from the buyer. It then pays to either the buyer or seller as per the agreed terms and conditions.

The startup has also built an escrow-as-a-service SaaS platform for enterprise customers in India. Corporates as well as SMB’s can now seamlessly execute secure transactions and payments while saving on time, cost and resources, the company claims.

Saveo

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

Why Saveo Made It To The List

Indian pharmaceutical industry is currently highly fragmented. Information flow is broken, making it one of the most opaque industries in India in terms of trading, knowledge gap and awareness.

While the online industry has evolved bringing convenience to patients, the traditional industry hasn’t changed much. It is high time to digitise traditional industry, bridging the gap between online and offline, empowering pharmacies to grow business.

Saveo is tapping into this opportunity by offering a B2B e-commerce managed marketplace for pharmacies to digitise everything from procurement to running the store. It aims to ensure no prescription shall bounce in India. It offers a single procurement point for all SKUs such as allopathy, generics, surgical, ayurvedic, OTC, speciality, to pharmacies with real-time tracking and timely delivery. The company is currently serving 2K+ pharmacies across Bangalore and 3K+ pharmacies across Karnataka and looking to capture 100K+ pharmacies across India in the next 18 months, spread across 100+ cities in India.

SBNRI

SBNRI Why SBNRI Made It To The List SBNRI focuses on a niche Indian segment, which is non-resident Indians (NRIs). The Delhi NCR based startup has partnered with multiple banks in India for easing out NRI banking experience through its platform. The startup will soon be launching a mobile app to help NRIs with services such as opening an NRI bank account at ease. It claims that the users can sign up directly for the account from their phones and earn up to 7% tax-free tax deposit rate along with other services. Already 7,633 NRIs from 30 cities have signed up and joined its waitlist. The startup claims that it will give priority to those who have already registered. They will also be informed regularly about the latest changes and amendments concerning NRI rules. SBNRI is open to all geographies around the world with an initial focus on the USA, Canada, UK, Malaysia, GCC and Africa.

Why SBNRI Made It To The List

SBNRI focuses on a niche Indian segment, which is non-resident Indians (NRIs). The Delhi NCR based startup has partnered with multiple banks in India for easing out NRI banking experience through its platform.

The startup will soon be launching a mobile app to help NRIs with services such as opening an NRI bank account at ease. It claims that the users can sign up directly for the account from their phones and earn up to 7% tax-free tax deposit rate along with other services. Already 7,633 NRIs from 30 cities have signed up and joined its waitlist.

The startup claims that it will give priority to those who have already registered. They will also be informed regularly about the latest changes and amendments concerning NRI rules.

SBNRI is open to all geographies around the world with an initial focus on the USA, Canada, UK, Malaysia, GCC and Africa.

ShopG

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

Why ShopG Made It To The List

With social commerce becoming popular within the ecommerce sector, many startups are seeing an uptick in growth. ShopG has built a social commerce  platform powered by micro-entrepreneur also called community leaders (CL).

ShopG provides a curated range of good quality small brands that are ShopG certified or D2C owned brands via the community leaders. In addition, CL and customers interact and transact on ShopG through a bunch of new-age social features that make the experience easy, fun, engaging and rewarding to buy online.

The startup currently has 1000+ community leaders serving over 1 lakh customers. It has also built a customer analytics engine that defines clear actionable next steps to help grow CL’s businesses with minimal efforts. The CL lifecycle from onboarding to managing orders, delivery and earnings is gamified so as to ensure CL loyalty and stickiness.

In the next one year, the company plans to expand to twenty Tier 3 cities of Karnataka and create a network of 30K CLs to serve 3 Mn customers. It also plans to partner with 25+ small brands and launch 20+ D2C SKUs to meet the aspirations of these customers.

Siply

Why Siply Made It To The List

With banks, financial institutions, and fintech companies not being able to focus on micro-savings for the lower economic group, it remains largely underserved. This was the segment that was most impacted due to Covid and needs help in rebuilding their savings.

Siply offers tech-enabled micro-savings starting at INR 1 for the underserved masses, to help save for financial goals, in a wide range of financial instruments, which are accessible anytime for withdrawals. These services are made available in vernacular languages for better accessibility.

The Bengaluru-based startup recently crossed a milestone of 100K transactions for a total quantum of INR 10 Cr worth of savings through its platform. It plans to add more financial products on the app, sign critical institutional partnerships, and apply for a payments aggregator license by June 2021. Additionally, it also aims to acquire 1Mn users for a total volume of INR 100Cr through its platform in the next 12 months

Skuad

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

Why Skuad Made It To The List

Modern workforce works from different locations. Skuad offers a global employment platform that allows companies to hire, pay and manage globally distributed teams. Leveraging the platform, companies can hire remote talent in any country in a locally compliant way without setting up their legal entities there, the startup claims.

Skuad’s platform takes care of many processes such as salary processing, benefits, taxation and all other local compliances that are needed to hire someone as a full-time employee. The startup supports hiring in over 130+ countries. It aims to help create remote jobs, especially in emerging economies by connecting them to opportunities in growing organisations across the globe.

The Delhi NCR based startup claims to help organisations overcome their scaling challenges by enabling them to hire remote tech talent beyond their geographies in a matter of weeks.

Toddle

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

Why Toddle Made It To The List

According to KPMG and Google report, the edtech market is expected to reach $2 Bn by 2021. Online tutoring, edutainment, online test preparation, web-based e-learning platforms are the few segments within edtech that have gained the most till date.

However, with the pandemic bringing edtech to the fore, we are seeing many sub-segments such as gamification, B2B SaaS startups for schools and teachers, online platforms for extracurricular activities and more.

Toddle, one such startup with a unique offering, recently raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round led by Matrix Partners India. Founded in 2019, it works in collaboration with International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) to offer a unified platform for teachers to collaborate and plan, encourage student agency, personalise learning and engage with parents, track analytics and more.

The platform enables schools and educators to learn from each other’s classes by capturing teaching and learning sessions through photos, videos, audio notes and more.

The company caters to more than 10K teachers on its platform through its Reggio Inspired Preschools, K-12 World School and others. It further aims to simplify the entire teaching and learning cycle with one seamless and intuitive solution for teachers.

Turnip

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

Why Turnip Made It To The List

The advent of powerful smartphones and cheap data rates have pushed gaming into the spotlight in India. The boom in gaming is also supported by talented game creators who are taking over platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. Millions of fans are tuning in to watch and interact with their favourite creators, pushing them into stardom.

Turnip believes that there is a huge potential in enriching these engagements via its platform. It thus offers a live streaming and gaming community platform. The startup enables creators to stream on YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and runs interactive experiences for their communities and monetise the engagement. Gamers can join communities of their favourite creators, discover all experiences being offered and become a bigger part of the show.

Launched five months ago, the Turnip app on Google Play Store has gained 250K+ users. Turnip plans to expand its reach to millions of gaming communities by building a scalable and seamless product. It also plans to hire talented individuals who have a shared passion to build the future of gaming.

Udayy

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

Why Udayy Made It To The List

Udayy is another edtech platform that has gained traction in the recent months. The one-year-old startup offers live learning courses for children in grades 1 to 5.

It recently raised $2.5 Mn in its seed funding to focus on curriculum development and expanding its product suite, as well as hiring across the product, curriculum and engineering teams.  The Delhi NCR based startup offers Maths and English lessons to children in the age group of 6-11 years. It claims to have users from 45+ cities and towns across India, with 400+ classrooms being run on a daily basis.

Udayy also claims to have a 97% retention rate for its paid courses focussing on mathematical thinking and speech development with 3-5 children per live classroom. Besides, the startup also recently launched a free app for daily worksheets for children.

“An outdated education system is failing Indian parents and children. Udayy is making learning fun and engaging for children by bringing ‘learning by doing’ methodology through games, roleplays, and activities to our classrooms,” said Saumya Yadav,  cofounder and CEO of Udayy.

With this model, the startup competes with BYJU’s, Unacademy and others catering to the K-12 segment. According to Udayy, its competitive edge in the thriving edtech space is its flipped classroom approach, where students drive their own learning pedagogy, customised as per each student’s individual capability.

Vasitum

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

Why Vasitum Made It To The List

Vasitum is an AI-driven advanced hiring platform, enabling recruiters to hire top talent effortlessly. It is a full-stack recruitment automation platform which automates the entire recruitment lifecycle including sourcing, screening, assessment, interview scheduling, background check, and documentation.

Since its launch in 2019, the startup claims to have strived to disrupt the traditional recruitment process by using ML (Machine Learning) and NLP (Natural Language Processing). Vasitum has been successful in carving a niche for itself and has garnered attention from the Indian and the global audience.

Vasitum has so far onboarded 27 enterprises to resolve their hiring woes and reached 250K employees to find jobs online.

“As we all are moving out of COVID forced lockdown and experiencing a surge in economic activity, our immediate plan is to start monetisation in India, which got delayed because of the pandemic,” said Vikram Wadhawan, founder and CEO, Vasitum. The startup also plans to launch Vasitum in the United States soon.

Vidyakul

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

Why Vidyakul Made It To The List

While edtech has been a booming sector this year, there have been apprehensions about its reach to Tier 2, 3 cities. Vidyakul aims to tap into this market with its vernacular e-learning platform. The startup offers live lectures and pre-recorded courses for classes 9 to 12 in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Hinglish to help state board students excel in academics.

“During our research before launching, we found out that the number of state-board students is 10X that of CBSE students. When it comes to the quality of education, they are far behind others from both school and online learning due to the mismatch in the language. We, therefore, decided to target these students with an online, problem-solving solution,” says Tarun Saini, cofounder, VidyaKul.

Due to the pandemic, the startup has seen rapid growth in users coming beyond the top metro cities. “They are looking for online classes and want to study in apni bhasha,” he adds. The startup claims to have delivered close to 100K live classes which were viewed by over 3 lakh students.

The Bengaluru-based startup plans to continue investing in creating solutions in more regional languages and will soon launch content in four more languages.

YPAY

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

Why YPAY Made It To The List

Financial exposure is something that parents have been passing on to their children for ages. For today’s digitally-savvy kids, learning about smart and digitally equipped methods of payment has become important. To cash in on the demand, YPAY has introduced a smart card that allows teens to exercise their freedom to pay, parents to control financial exposure to kids and schools to run a cashless yet an efficient environment for learning.

The smart money card for young teens claims to ensure safety, security and yet provides financial freedom to kids in a controlled manner just as a parent would like. Its various services include instant transfer money to kids’ cards, real-time notifications, wet spend limits, turn card on or off from the app and a tracker about last usage.

It basically ensures children don’t need to carry physical money but are still able to pay for shops, canteen, library, stationery, among others. YPAY has tie-ups with more than 1Kservice and product providers from different segments and plans to launch its services in 10 cities soon.

Zluri

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

Why Zluri Made It To The List

Zluri is a SaaS (software as a service) SaaS platform. According to the startup, IT teams and CIOs have lost control over the fast mushrooming SaaS apps landscape.

Zluri helps IT teams discover, manage, secure, and comply with SaaS applications from an intelligent command centre. In short, Zluri puts the IT team back in control of their new SaaS landscape. “A fact that blew us was that a 200-employee company today, on average, uses 150 SaaS applications without any process or governance over it. The average spend per employee on SaaS can be as high as $10K in companies in the US,” says Sethu Meenakshisundaram, cofounder, Zluri.

The startup has built machine learning models that help teams discover SaaS application sprawl. It enables collaboration on the technology front on a real-time basis with finance, procurement, operations, and business teams.

Correction Note | 13:40, February 8, 2021
The name of Escrowpay was wrongly mentioned as Escrowffrr. The same has been rectified.