The Inc42’s annual series, Startup Watchlist brings together the list of top growth stage startups to watch out for in 2020 across industries including — agritech, deeptech, logistics, healthtech, edtech and more.
While the second quarter of FY21 began with a number of rules to help businesses reopen and get their operations going, there is still a long way to go for the world to see any semblance of recovery. Amid the chaos in the market, US tech giants were summoned to answer a huge list of privacy and business-related questions in the US Congress, while in India, the debate around data sovereignty raged on with more Chinese apps facing a ban now.
But as usual, startups are continuing to plod away and innovate. If short video apps are the current rage, then enterprise tech and automation-related deeptech applications and services are also climbing up the charts in terms of adoption.
30 Startups To Watch: July 2020
This month’s 30 Startups to Watch Out list shines the light on the innovative disruptors that are making a difference, not just in the Indian market, but also overseas. The most buzzing startups these days are from enterprise tech, with eight such startups featured in our list.
India’s enterprise tech sector is confronting its biggest opportunity yet and this sector has grown in great prominence. Of course, one cannot ignore the meteoric rise of edtech and OTT-focussed startups. Despite the utter destruction in the global markets, there’s plenty to be optimistic about when it comes to Indian startups.
It is also interesting to note that 19 startups, more than 50%, of the startups this month are B2B companies, while the rise of D2C brands in the FMCG sector and media & entertainment startups is also noteworthy. So here’s our list of 30 startups for July 2020.
Editor’s Note: The below list is not meant to be a ranking of any kind. We have listed the startups in alphabetical order.
Why AiKaan Labs Made It To The List?
As we enter the era of IoT, 5G and connected devices, it becomes imperative for businesses to facilitate developers to quickly create and deploy applications. Bengaluru-based enterprisetech startup AiKaan Labs claimed to be spearheading innovations in the space and are in an advantageous position as it has already filed a couple of patents related to IoT Edge technology.
Backed by Axilor Ventures, NetApp and JioGenNext, the company offers a SaaS solution to businesses that need to manage IoT edge devices and applications across industries, including electric vehicles, industrial IoT, smart surveillance, digital signage, content caching and smart energy. AiKaan has built an application orchestration and drive management system for IoT Edge that monitors, manages and securely access and upgrade IoT Edge devices.
It uses system telemetry data collected from the devices and applications to identify failure and sub-optimal operations.AiKaan claimed that its analytics-based management system helps IT teams increase the uptime of applications running on the IoT Edge, alongside reducing the operation cost of managing the vast population of remotely connected devices.
“As every piece of equipment in an enterprise becomes a computing device, the job of IT management becomes more complicated,” said Siddharth Munot, cofounder and COO at AiKaan Labs, pointing at the enormity of data collected from the IoT sensors and devices.
During the Covid-19 lockdown phase, AiKaan witnessed a dent in its business as all installations were put on hold, but things are turning around Munot claimed. “Use cases such as industrial automation, mask detection, social distance maintenance, thermal screening using smart cameras and many more are core examples of edge computing. Such use cases are bringing us more business and help us gain more business traction post lockdown.”
Why Anka SumMor Made It To The List?
Even as D2C brands are looking to eliminate middlemen and go straight to consumers, bigger FMCG companies in India continue to use multi-layered and fragmented supply and distribution. Even big brands like HUL, Amul, Britannia, Nestle and ITC have multiple distributors in any large city. However, these same brands struggle with their long tail when it comes to creating unique brands as the system is geared towards selling, explained Rajiv Joshi, founder and COO of Anka SumMor.
Changing the mindset of FMCG brands, Bengaluru-based Anka SumMor has developed a supply and distribution platform for FMCG challenger brands, which includes the likes of Yoga Bar, McVities, Bombay Shaving Company, Paper Boat, Wai Wai, Wingreens and LuvIt Chocolates among others.
Backed by Fireside Ventures, the company claimed that its brand partners have seen significant revenue growth in nine to 12 months transparent order and sales visibility at the outlet level, reduced expiry and zero trade scheme leakage at significantly reduced S&D costs up to 50%.
Currently operating in Hyderabad and Chennai, the company follows an inventory and working capital model, where ownership of stocks move to Anka SumMor. The company earns its revenue from the margin on the sales from retail.
In the coming days, it plans to expand to Bengaluru, where it envisions to service 15K relevant outlets in three cities. Anka SumMor is also looking to raise INR 100 Cr to expand to the other Metro’s and Tier 1 cities in India with the distribution reach of 100K relevant outlets and become a pan India operation by FY25.
“We will continue to offer market insights for brands to leverage while developing consumer connect/demand for the brands by providing them data for hyperlocal marketing activities, and becoming a ‘go-to market solution’ for challenger brands, along with setting up regional storage and logistics hubs for brand partners to improve stock rotation and lower logistics cost,” added Ashok George, founder and COO.
Why AugLi Made It To The List?
Even though this is a well-publicised concept, the Indian education system continues to depend on rote learning and other age-old metrics of skill assessment. There are definitely some instances of workshops or summer camps that focus on nurturing 21st-century skills in students, but at large, there is no structured effort towards building these skills.
Gurugram-based AugLi is looking to empower children in honing skills in terms of digital literacy, communication and critical thinking skills in a personalised way. The company believes that these skills are important for building emotional intelligence as well.
AugLi gamifies the learning experience for students, with help of quizzes and leaderboards. Each skill on the app has been bundled under a superpower such as News Surfer, Active Reading, Captain Precise, Magneto, and Debate Ninja among others. These superpowers can be won by children after completing various battles.
AugLi’s monetisation plan includes an annual subscription plan of INR 3650. However, the premium modules that will have International Partners will be higher priced, added Tiwary. Out of the current user base, 20% of AugLi’s users are paying customers.
The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for AugLi as it accelerated the impact of its app. The company said that this has given them the opportunity to offer holistic growth to children, beyond the curriculum.
“There is a greater appreciation for constructive screen time with Covid beyond gaming and academics so AugLi fits very well there,” said Anjali Tiwary, founder of AugLi, sharing the impact of the pandemic on their business.
Why CloudWorx Made It To The List?
No code (or low code) is a movement that’s fast gaining ground among developers in recent times and is giving rise to ‘citizen developers’ that are creating products at an unprecedented pace. According to the latest market research report, the low code market is estimated to reach $24 Bn by 2024, compared to $4 Bn in 2020.
Paying a way for low code, CloudWorx has developed a platform called AutoCode, which is designed to work in the fashion of a software suite for smart homes and IoT companies. “It isn’t exactly a solution nor a product or platform,” clarified Yuvraj Tomar, the founder of Cloudworx.
The platform allows a developer to start rolling out applications just by using a spreadsheet and a UI template, with a visual programming interface.
“Users can quickly prototype their use cases with app templates, develop their features in a drag-and-drop manner, and publish the app on over 18 platforms without writing any code in the process,” explained CTO Pushpahas Bettad.
In terms of the revenue model, the company charges users $99 per month and for the cloud $1 for every 1K API hits (requests). Also, in-app purchases such as UI templates and add-ones range from $10-$200. Sharing the future plans, the company said that it will be scaling the product to international markets (specifically US and EU) and adding a lot of AI and ML features in the product. For this, it plans to raise INR 1.3 Cr in funding in the coming months.
Tomar told Inc42 that due to the pandemic, the company’s initial plans to onboard our customer pipeline had to be postponed and it had to come up with new ways to reach out to potential customers. Further, he said that this allowed them to spend more time on getting feedback from them and implement it back in their product. “On those lines, we’re coming up with a new version of AutoCode targeted for a global launch by the next quarter,” he concluded.
Why Doqfy Made It To The List?
Managing legal documents is one of the most cumbersome tasks for enterprises. From agreements to affidavits, deeds, bonds and e-stamps can get all over the place and hinder the progress of core operations of the business. Digitising the entire process for enterprise, Bengaluru-based Doqfy is building what it claims is a user-friendly and secure document automation SaaS platform, integrated with legal ancillary services and built-in electronic signatures, workflow management and document builder.
Doqfy offers its product to enterprise customers as well as SMBs and individuals. For enterprise and SMB customers, the company said that it will provide access to its platform via open APIs and a secure repository. In addition to this, the platform offers personalised, templatization and eStamping services to its businesses as a secure data repository.
At present, it has collaborated with the legal teams at various banks to ensure compliance of local laws and saving over 80% of resource time and over 45% in costs for companies like JLL, Swiggy, Colliers, HDFC Bank and others.
Since its inception in 2019, Doqfy has expanded to six states, including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and others. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the company has acquired 50 new customers and has seen 30% usage jump, where it has supported businesses to complete their documentation through secure digital stamping and signature options. “The Covid-19 impact was a boon in disguise for our business,” Vilaas BV Rao, cofounder CEO of Doqfy, told Inc42.
Why Flyx.me Made It To The List?
Flyx.me was born out of the real struggle to find something to watch and cofounders Shashank Singh and Mayank Mishra eventually ended up asking their friends and family for suggestions. According to a market research by Nielsen, 66% of video watching behaviour is influenced by friends and family. In another study, on an average, people end up spending more than 24 minutes to find something to watch.
Flyx told that its core principle of developing such a platform was to reduce the time for users in the decision-making and discovery. Singh feels there’s a huge need for a social platform where people can connect with people they trust and discuss and share their thoughts and views on movies and shows. Flyx competes with the likes of Just Watch, Flixjini, likewise and others in the aggregation and discovery space. With the likes of JioTV+ coming soon, aggregation and discovery is about to shoot up as a model.
After focussing on the US market so far, Flyx is now turning its attention to India, where over 35 video OTT players are jostling for a share of the subscriber base. The company said that it differentiates itself from competitors by offering an interactive and fun social platform, where users can engage with their friends and followers through stories, private and group chats, watch trailers, read news, create shareable lists and exchange notes and comments.
Flyx is linked to 100+ streaming providers including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, Hulu, iTunes, Apple TV+, HBO MAX, Google Play, among others. Though the app is not fully available to Indian users yet, Flyx said that it was launched in private invite-only beta earlier this year and it was planning to launch in June, but that had to change due to Covid-19.
Speaking of Covid, OTT platforms have witnessed a massive surge in viewership. Flyx said that it is focusing on India as it is home to dozens of OTT platforms and more and coming every month. India is the second-largest market predicted to reach $5 Bn in size by 2023. During this time, the company claimed that it saw a huge spike in activity within their small group of 500 private beta testers. “We are now accelerating our product development roadmap and have quite a few very exciting features launching soon,” concluded Singh.
Why Forbidden Foods Made It To The List?
After having worked at various consumer ventures, including BIRA 91, a home-grown leading craft beer brand in the country, Coca-Cola, Hector Beverages (Paper Boat), Mobikwik, ITC, Lavazza, and Reliance Retail among others, the cofounders Anuj Krishan, Abhishek Agarwal, Apurva Anand and Tanmoy Mukherjee came to the realisation that there hasn’t been much innovation in the packaged snacks space in India — neither in terms of the product nor on the branding front to appeal to the burgeoning young population of the country. “We set out to correct this anomaly,” quipped Krishan.
New Delhi-based Forbidden Foods, ventured into the foodtech space by launching its first consumer snacking brand BRB Popped Chips in early-January.
Backed by Globevestor, Secocha Ventures and First Cheque, Forbidden Foods’ BRB looks to become the go-to choice for young Indians for their snacking cravings with gluten-free products.
Competing with consumer giants like ITC, PepsiCo, and Haldirams among others, the company said that it has spent almost one-and-a-half years in product development. “We sourced the best quality ingredients from around the world, potatoes from France, sweet potatoes from the US and seasoning and spices from India, and came up with the recipe for BRB Popped Chips,” added Anand.
Talking about the product, Agarwal said that the flavours themselves are differentiated, unique and diverse, ranging from an Indian street-food inspired flavours to global cuisines.
In a short span of time, the company has expanded its distribution to over 300 outlets across Delhi and Gurugram. BRB products are also available on all leading ecommerce and grocery delivery platforms such as Amazon, Bigbasket, Milkbasket and others, as well as in hundreds of vending machines. Forbidden Foods told Inc42 that it will be looking at expanding to other metro cities across India.
Why Gigforce Made It To The List?
With rising unemployment due to the impact of the Covid-19-led economic recession, Indian jobseekers are now looking at alternate and flexible ways of generating income. For companies that are looking to solve the workforce crunch, Bengaluru-based gig economy startup Gigforce has come up with an on-demand staffing platform offering curated and pre-trained gig staff on a task, hourly, weekly or monthly basis. Gigforce connects available staff to short gigs in their locality spanning from a day up to a few months, with proper training, documentation and payouts.
Backed by Unitus Ventures, Gigforce claims to have early traction in the market of delivery, sales, retail and driving gigs, and have about 2,000+ positions. Gigforce believes that the shift in gig-economy pioneered by tech startups like Swiggy, Uber and Flipkart will now penetrate very quickly to other organisations who want to do this but may not have the technological bandwidth.
Coming to the revenue model, Gigforce charges a management fee for every staff (Giger, what the company calls) deployed at typical staffing agency rates. Hence, even though the organisations pay the same amount that they are used to paying to traditional staffing agencies, they get access to better technology and efficiency of managing their workforce which in turn leads to lower overall workforce costs, said Chirag Mittal, cofounder and CEO of Gigforce.
Anirudh Syal, cofounder and COO said that the pandemic has accelerated the shift in enterprise mindset where they want to adapt quickly in the next couple of years rather than in a decade. “So the demand for the new hiring on third party staffing may be low due to external factors but many enterprises have shown keen interest to shift their workforce strategy to our platform,” he added.
Further, he said that since Gigforce has an integrated learning platform, a few companies are considering shifting their furlough workforce on our learning platform for us to keep them updated with new skills. “In these pandemic times, it comes at no cost to the enterprises or Gigers, as we benefit by increasing their pool of pre-trained staff,” Mittal.
Why Gobbly Made It To The List?
At present, the institutional retail market in India is highly unorganised and fragmented. Despite having a range of brands in the retail market, many other commercial spaces such as societies, corporate and colleges don’t have the same penetration. Based in Gurugram, Gobbly looks to bridge this gap in the market by developing next-generation automated retail.
In an attempt to do so, the company aims to ensure the safety of the customers and also provide fresh produce directly sourced from the farm and made available to the residents within 24 hours of harvest that is available at any suitable hour of the day, thereby making lives easier and hassle-free. Gobbly app is currently available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
The company has set up refrigerators in the select locations, and users can scan a QR code to make purchases and make payments automatically. “Digital payment, ease of use, personalisation of products, instant gratification, and 25/7 availability are some of our key features,” said Amit Ahuja, cofounder of Gobbly.
With this automated retail model, Gobbly can sell anything as per the demands of the location, including fresh food, fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, bakery among others.
Optimistic about the roadmap ahead of the company, Ankur Agarwal, cofounder at Gobbly said that by the end of FY21, they aim to capture 80-100 locations with an ARR of INR 15 Cr- INR 18 Cr.
Why goDutch Made It To The List?
Financial services targetted at generation Z audiences is expected to be the next big thing in the Indian market, as fintech startups look to find the niches that are currently underserved.
Y Combinator-backed goDutch is targeting this set by allowing individuals to seamlessly record, spilt and settle group transactions via mobile app. It competes with the likes of Splitwise and other traditional payment apps such as Google Pay, PhonePe among others.
Started by three roommates who were living in the same hostel at the IIT Bombay campus and used to go out on trips quite often and order food to their hostel rooms, but had trouble splitting the bills. “That was quite irritating and inconvenient,” shared Aniruddh Singh, founder of goDutch.
To differentiate itself from rivals, goDutch offers a virtual card called goDutch card, in partnership with CSB Bank. It enables groups real-time time splitting of payments at any online or offline merchants. It said that users can get the free virtual card instantly by signing up on the app.
Interestingly, the company launched its app during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. Launched on July 1, 2020, goDutch claims to have seen over 1K downloads.
“This growth was driven primarily by early adopters discovering us through social media and sharing it and making it viral,” said Riyaz Khan, cofounder of goDutch.
Khan said that they are now targeting the massive use cases like ordering groceries and food, OTT, subscriptions and more, to further fuel the adoption of the app, “The beauty of this product is that there’s a lot of inherent virality and network effect built into the nature of the product since it’s a product you use with your own social network, including friends, flatmates, colleagues,” added cofounder Sagar Sheth.
Why Hapramp Studio Made It To The List?
Blockchain-based internet and social networks are expected to drive the Web 3.0 revolution in the near future. Backed by Huddle and Anand Mahindra, Hapramp Studio is looking to create a decentralised social network and blockchain-based applications. Founded in 2018, HaprampStudio was started by IIIT Vadodara alumni Ankit Kumar, Mofid Ansari, Rajat Dangi, Shubhendra Vikram and Pratyush Singh.
Hapramp Studio’s social media platform 1Ramp.io is the first of its kind built on the Steem blockchain, which allows creators to protect their content, monetise their expertise and earn cryptocurrency based on the upvotes received on their content.
In 2019, the company launched GoSocial App (a platform for creators) and Asteria Protocol, the technology that enables security, privacy and monetisation to further build up its tech platform.
GoSocial allows artists and creators to conduct various creative challenges like photography, art and writing among others, and helps them earn rewards. In addition to this, the company has built various campaigns and concepts, which claims to enable content creation with a purpose.
Why Kaagaz Scanner Made It To The List?
Launched about two weeks before the ban on Chinese apps, Kaagaz Scanner is an app built by Sorted AI, which is an year-old file management platform. Kaagaz’s launch was driven by the company’s realisation that scanning is where the document storage process starts for millions of Indian users. Founder Snehanshu Gandhi said that Indian users scan documents in an app, and they also want to use the app to peruse the document storage solution.
“They want to go back and refer to that scanned Aadhaar copy in the app, and even use it to share with someone. So it is also a storage solution for them and that is where we felt the need for a scanning app,” said Gandhi.
At the moment, Kaagaz Scanner is an independent product being developed by the team and is not linked to the Sorted AI file management platform. That’s because the utility of scanning documents has a wider appeal than file management. However, in the long run, Gandhi envisions the merging of Sorted AI and Kaagaz to provide users a more holistic experience from scanning to document management. This will also differentiate Kaagaz Scanner as a product in the crowded document scanning market.
Why KhaaliJeb Made It To The List?
Again targeting the rising students and youth market, KhaaliJeb is a payment and banking app focused on making banking lucrative for young consumers. The company has built a UPI payment service provider (PSP) app, which can be used to make digital transactions.
On top of these transactions, the company is also testing a members-only discount programme for users under the age of 29 years. KhaaliJeb has partnered with over 350 Bengaluru restaurants and salons to offer member discounts. Post the pandemic, the company shifted its focus towards online brands and claims to have already onboarded over a dozen such brands.The discounts programme is expected to go live pan-India in the coming weeks.
Further, KhaaliJeb has also built an API-based B2B product called ‘Verify by KhaaliJeb’, which aims to help brands in identifying their student customers and running discount campaigns for them. Company’s major revenue sources include transaction-based commissions, subscription fee, listing fee collected from merchants and brands and advertisements sponsored by brands.
“In the next six months, we want to build a digital savings account, add products features like management, tracking and settlement of expenses using UPI, and build a goal-based savings product,” said KhaaliJeb Founder, Prakash Kumar.
Why NebulARC Made It To The List?
Post-Covid, one of the major challenges faced by most companies was the lack of real-time visibility in their supply chains. NebulARC is solving this gap by building a supply chain orchestration platform that simplifies tracking and traceability using AI and IoT capabilities.
Such a platform allows 24×7 supply chain visibility to the companies in order to eliminate the chances of errors and to reduce uncertainty. Further, NebulARC also provides IoT and AI-based analytics to help companies make informed decisions and thus make supply chains profitable. Besides predictive supply chain visibility, the company also equips enterprises with an automated virtual assistant that uses AI to help companies automate supply chains.
Other features offered by the company include order fill rate analytics, inventory optimisation, signature and traceability of high value assets, freshness and shelf-life management for perishables, and effective route planning, among others.
Why Nimo Planet Made It To The List?
Looking to challenge tech giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and even Jio with JioGlass, Kerala-based Nimo Planet is looking to make smart glasses the focal point of productivity.
Nimo Smart Glass has features like HD-equivalent display for each eye, an unnamed Qualcomm-based processor, up to 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and support for WiFi, and Bluetooth connectivity. It has launched the product in beta with a select set of 200 testers.
Nimo Planet’s Smart Glass is not only proprietary hardware that’s custom-made for the company, it also runs a custom Android-based operating system called Planet OS.
It is said to have features such as multi-screen multitasking, support for 1,000s of work and productivity apps, compatibility with existing laptops and mobile devices.
Talking to Inc42, Nimo Planet founder, Rohildev Nattukallingal said that the hardware is fully compatible and optimised for Planet OS, which is built on top of the Linux kernel and Android. This helps the company to ship with low-powered hardware that can fit in the body of the glasses and optimise the software experience more thoroughly.
Why Odwen Made It To The List?
Despite the push for supply chain structuring and technology to drive the growth of smaller brands, one of the biggest challenges is that organised warehouses – the lynchpin of distribution to cities — prefer to work with brands and key accounts, leaving smaller brands and emerging D2C companies that require small warehouse spaces for short durations in a vulnerable place. Noida-based Odwen is solving this pain point by democratising discovery and booking of curated warehouses.
The company has added two layers of value in the product including physical standards and layer of software. “This helps in better customer experience and hence higher occupancy rate for warehouse owners/ operators,” Odwen founder Vijay Anand noted.
Some of the features that Odwen offers include listing of warehouses, logistics players and solutions, and other value-added services. Similarly, for its customers (on the demand side), it facilitates the discovery of curated warehouses, customisability of services, online booking and warehouse management system for inbound and outbound inventory transactions.
Why Pickright Made It To The List?
With behavioural science is just as important as sound business knowledge when it comes to investing, it is quite apparent to financial technology platforms that there is untapped value in tracking the behaviour of investors and advisers and applying the latest ML/ AI techniques to optimise investment outcomes in today’s uncertain and volatile markets. PickRight is a financial advisory market ecosystem that gives advice to investors through such analysis.
The platform’s unique selling point lies in its ability to constantly learn from the investment behaviour and advisory history. Post which, it is able to channel these insights to find a good match between the investors and financial advisors. Going forward, the platform wants to integrate a broad spectrum of asset classes and stakeholders.
Why Plum Made It To The List?
With over 30 general insurance and over 24 life insurance companies, India is a bustling insurance market with penetration in rural areas too thanks to public insurance policies and plans. Having played a crucial role in building up this market, the traditional insurance giants are now starting to feel the effects of a tech-dominated world. One of the areas that is fast gaining prominence among digital players is employee wellness and group insurance programmes.
Plum has built a modern health benefits platform that understands the needs of a business and uses data science to guide them to smart choices, reducing the time it takes to set up employee health insurance plans from over 60 days to as little as 60 seconds. To achieve this feat, the company claims to have built robust underwriting and fraud detection rails with insurance companies. This has also enabled Plum to offer pricing that may be up to 80% cheaper than existing market rates.
It is essentially a one-stop platform for insurance that covers distribution, pricing, insurance provider and compliance.
Since the early beta release, Plum claims to have brought over 100 companies on board including startups like Fampay, StayAbode, Posist, Jiny, RevvSales, Swiflearn, The Label Life, and GrowFit.
Further, multinational companies such as Twilio, Instawork and Livongo, along with traditional brands like Lambda Group, Sunidhi Group, Rosmerta Group have also partnered with the company.
Why Rephrase.ai Made It To The List?
With over a dozen new short video apps looking to fill the TikTok-sized hole in the market, content creators will need all the help to spread their message and create content as quickly as possible. But beyond that videos are also the focal point of training and education, which many deeptech startups are looking to address with machine-created videos.
Rephrase.ai is building a generative AI tool to automate the video creation process. This tool is capable of taking any piece of text and turning it into a video of a person speaking that text. Some of the use-cases for such a tool include HR training videos, edtech content creation, personalising videos for sales, making characters speak in AR/ VR, giving a face to digital assistants, A/B testing digital ads to increase and marketing return on investment (ROI) among other applications.
It also allows users to add animations, music, and custom backgrounds to the video. It has three pricing plans with the basic plans starting from $50 for 10 videos.
In the post-Covid world, where content creation is a huge challenge for smaller companies that struggle to gather all the right resources and stakeholders, Rephrase could help accelerate business growth for those startups that need to create videos to spread word about their products and for learning content.
Why Rizzle Made It To The List?
In a crowded short-video app market, the key for success will be differentiation. Investors that have backed some of the super early-stage apps claim that while acquiring users will be difficult through cash burn, short video apps could garner success by capturing pockets and niches.
With a team in Hyderabad and operations in the US, Rizzle is looking to differentiate itself by allowing creators to collaborate remotely and produce skits, debates and talk shows among other content categories. Rizzle claims to have a plethora of original series of different genres being produced by creators across the globe. With one minute episodes, vertical series and talk shows, Rizzle wants to bring a shift in the way people binge content.
In the future, the company aims to become a video content portfolio for creators where actors and artists use their stock of Rizzle videos to apply for auditions. The company also plans to build partnerships with talent and casting agencies to enable this vision.
Rizzle calls itself the Netflix for short video series and aims to create a comprehensive directory of quality short films and original series by creators to capitalise on the craze for snappy video content.
Why Sensegrass Made It To The List?
While a lot of the focus of the market has been on digitising small businesses and MSMEs, one cannot forget that agriculture forms the bedrock of pretty much all retail businesses. With Covid-19 completely devastating some farmers, the need of the hour is on sustainable farming to bring things back to normal
Sensegrass’ AI-based agritech platform predicts and prescribes inputs to farmers on sustainable practices that improve yield output with the minimum use of chemicals. The company’s USP is its AI platform which takes inputs of various sources and gives actionable insights that improve with time with a closed feedback loop. Sensegrass’s current monetisation model is led by an annual license fee coupled with a one-time sale of its hardware platform. It counts large government bodies, FMCGs and retail chains as its customers.
These businesses and organisations use Sensegrass to monitor and maintain standards with contract farmers/locals while understanding soil replenishment, sustainable farming, and quality.
Sensegrass soon plans to launch microservers with a subscription-based SaaS product at a more affordable cost for smallholding farmers.
Why Simple Energy Made It To The List?
At a time when the mobility industry has taken a severe hit, the discussions are rife that electric vehicles will see the next big wave of adoption as consumers look for a safe and efficient mode of travel. Trying to tap into the space is Suhas Rajkumar-led Simple Energy, which aims to achieve an affordable electric scooter with long-range and fast charging. Having completed the Mark 1 prototype in December 2019, it began work on Mark 2, its launch model.
In the burgeoning space with heavily-funded players like Ather Energy, Bajaj Chetak, Revolt Motors and others, Rajkumar told Inc42 that despite being a bootstrapped business, the company’s bikes offer 3x more range than competitors at a more affordable price and with fast charging support. Rajkumar claims that Mark 2 has a range of 260 km in eco-mode, 220 km in normal mode and 180 km in sports mode with a charge of 0-80 in 40 min at home fast charging dock and 20 min at its charging stations.
The company says its 4.2 kwh usable capacity lithium-ion battery is removable and gives a top speed of 100 kmph. However, the pandemic has caused a few disruptions in operations as the company faced few issues on the supply chain. This has pushed its timelines by 3-4 months and it also had to pause its plans of raising $1 Mn in funding. Rajkumar said that since the company was in the R&D stage, the pandemic didn’t hurt any sales, but the delay will impact the launch.
Why Smol Coach Made It To the List?
Part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2020 batch, Smol Coach is enabling small businesses, experts and solo professionals to begin virtual classes and training sessions without going through multiple enabling platforms. The idea was born out of founder Sowmya Rao’s last startup, Gigi Benefits, which focussed on providing financial products to gig workers.
Rao said that after seeing how Covid-19 impacted them, many freelancers and gig workers pivoted to running independent businesses via video. Which is why Smol Coach was born to focus on helping them manage this transition. Launched in April as a side project, the startup was initially built using no-code tools.
“There was an overwhelming demand from people who used it to take short classes – this gave us a good idea of the feature set we would need to build a compelling product. When we finally decided to make Smol Coach the focus and main product of our company (in early June), we used this feedback to build our initial MVP,” Rao told us.
The brainchild of a lawyer with over a decade of experience across law and public policy in companies like Google and Uber, the company is now in private beta after user feedback. It charges a flat fee from professionals or businesses on the basis of features being used. We focus on professionals and businesses – and we price for each according to features. Plus, it plans to support multiple video conferencing platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom and JioMeet.
Essentially, the product is being showcased as Shopify for professionals and small businesses to kickstart virtual classes and sessions without going through multiple providers and platforms.
Why Stupa Sports Analytics Made It To The List?
While fitness tracking and activity monitoring is commonplace these days with a host of devices focussed on the overall performance and sports market, technology startups that specialise in a particular sport are expected to be the next focus area. Targeting the burgeoning table tennis market in India, Stupa Sports Analytics is tackling in-game challenges for athletes and trainers.
Stupa helps coaches and athletes improve performance through actionable real-time analysis based on machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms and IoT devices. Next, it is looking to focus on solution-based online programmes such as Fit Tech for sports-specific fitness, physiotherapy and injury prevention, online sports education, coaching and so forth. The startup will soon be extending its tech to other racket sports like badminton, squash and lawn tennis.
Based in Delhi, Stupa Sports Analytics currently claims to have clients such as US table tennis players Kanak Jha, Lily Zhang; Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, and India’s Manav Thakkar who is ranked number 1 in the world in the youth category. It also has a partnership with USATT to assist the USA national team and the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for providing in-depth match analysis in preparation for upcoming Olympics and Youth Olympics games.
Why Uable Made It To The List?
With India’s revamped National Education Policy 2020 coming into play soon, edtech startups need to rethink their approach to online learning as well. Bengaluru-based Uable is taking a differentiated approach by focussing on creative intelligence. It helps students explore different sectors at an early age and develop future-ready skills to achieve their goals. Launched in February 2020, students can explore courses in science, technology, art, design, programming, entrepreneurship, investigation, mass communication and aspire to be future authors, entrepreneurs, detectives, coders, astronauts and more.
Led by Saurabh Saxena, cofounder of edtech app Vedantu, Unable is targetting students in the age group of 6-14 years. Saxena explained that the company leverages active learning principles, where students spend time visualising ideas, discussing, debating and collaborating with their peers. Built on a subscription model, the company offers 12 sessions, after which parents can choose whether their child should continue in the same domain or switch over to a new course.
According to a World Economic Forum report, the most sought-after occupations or skills in today’s world did not even exist 10 or five years ago, and this rate of change is expected to accelerate in the coming years. Given this, there is a need for children to be able to apply their learnings to real-world situations, and understand their world and wander in it.
“I have been an educator and an entrepreneur for the last 15 years… As a professional educator, I have seen that part of the world — conventional education system, star teacher, content, exams, rank, grades, marks, the entire journey — but over the last few years I started to realise that we need to see education from a different lens and we are only pushing them into a rat race by pushing them into a conventional system,” Saxena told Inc42 in an earlier interaction in July 2020.
Why Unlu Made It To The List?
With India’s undying love for Bollywood and penchant for entertainment content, it’s only fair that a social media app that connects celebs and fans is making waves in the market.
Essentially a social media app that is geared towards fan bases, Unlu charges a fixed platform fee for its users to connect with celebrities over a video call or request video messages and other interaction. Himanshu Perwal, cofounder, Unlu told us that the company also has multiple engagement models catering to multiple tiers of fans and celebrities and over 80% direct celebrity agreements as well as partnerships with Flipkart, Bookmyshow, JioSaavn, Cred and others.
Currently, the company offers a video shout out to celebs with messages costing INR 499-INR 30K. Perwal said the company now plans to launch a video call feature, which allows a group of fans to connect with the celebrity on a zoom call. It is also beta testing products focused on tier 2 and 3 cities.
The growth for the platform has been aided by the pandemic helping it to push for the product. In the 2019 fiscal year, the Indian film industry was valued at over INR 180 Bn and was expected to reach up to INR 260 Bn by 2024. Notably, India has consistently been the world’s largest producer of films since 2007. At the same time, Bollywood actors make a huge amount from advertisements and endorsements.
Why Vadoo Made It To The List?
Soon after the lockdown was announced in late March, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) asked OTT players to lessen their burden on internet pipelines in order to avoid congestion issues as usage surges due to more people working from home. To address the congestion on networks, Bengaluru-based SaaS platform Vadoo has built a solution for video streaming platforms to reduce latency for users and bandwidth cost for companies while ensuring quality of video remains the same.
Latency refers to the average total time that it takes a mobile device to send data to the server, and back to your device. Anything below 50 milliseconds is considered to be great, while anything over 150 milliseconds could result in noticeable lag.
Ankur Singh, cofounder, said he found the gap with regards to cost of content delivery networks which was high due to high bandwidth consumption. To address the same, the duo have launched a self serve platform which can be accessed by developers and streaming platforms.
The company claims to help in bandwidth saving by upto 50% for video distribution and latency reduction by upto 40% for video distribution.
Singh said that the company found its product market fit with OTTs, edtech platforms, etc during Covid-19 as with video as a core to all content and communication has accelerated the product’s need in the market.
Why Vegrow Made It To The List?
India’s agritech space has seen the flux of technology products, with startups trying to cater to farmers’ needs while others try to help them get a fair price for their crop. Here, Vegrow is trying to build an end-to-end support system, as it is using technology to monitor, predict and suggest actions to consistently give return on investment to the partner farmers.
It is trying to increase farmer profitability either by increasing the land utilisation or by fetching a higher price. It is also aggregating supply and selling to organised demand through partnership. The company works with small-hold farmers on a profit-sharing model and aids them across the various stages of the farming cycle using technology. Its primary business is to provide farmers access to high-quality farm inputs, monitor their adherence to best farming practices and enable them to sell their harvest to the right buyers for the right price.
Cofounder Shobhit Jain believes that farming is very remunerative but is not consistent across farmers or even years. Hence, the solution of Vegrow, which it claims has seen good initial traction but wants to productize every aspect of the supply chain for scale. Jain said that the company hopes to be ready to scale model in the next 6-12 months.
According to DataLabs by Inc42+, the agritech sector recorded a total funding of $244.59 Mn in 2019, an increase of over 350% in the amount of funding in the agritech sector from the previous year.
Why Walrus Made It To The List?
Even though India is yet to come to terms with teenagers working part-time like in the West, Walrus is trying to enable financial management for teenagers that are taking their first steps towards financial independence. As a neobanking startup, the platform is offering mobile banking platform to teenagers with UPI and also a virtual and physical debit card.
The users can install the app, load money and use the app to pay any merchant via UPI QR code or using the debit card at any point of sale. Bhagaban Behera, cofounder and CEO, told Inc42 that Walrus also allows the users to save money or invest via mutual funds after permission to parents, give loyalty points for rewards, an offline debit card etc.
It has also added the attraction of exclusivity with ‘Club Walrus’ which is a teens-only network where teenagers socialize and learn “cool” things like entrepreneurship, building products, marketing etc from experts.
The company makes money via interchange fees on transactions as well as up-selling curated products and services to teenagers and their parents. After launching a beta in May, Behera said that Walrus has seen high engagement and retention.
Even though neobanking is a new business in India, there is no dearth of players trying to broaden the customer base and increase awareness in this segment. The likes of Namaste Credit, NiYO, SBI YONO, Kotak 811, Hylo, PayZello, InstaDApp, 0.5Bn FinHealth (YeLo), Forex-Kart, Walrus, Epifi, Neo-Bank, Amica, Finin.in, RazorPay X among others have already been gaining significant attention from consumers, industry and investors.
Why Zomentum Made It To The List?
India’s IT services market is a massive behemoth and many credit the IT industry in fuelling the wave of startups that are disrupting markets everywhere. The likes of Infosys, Wipro and other IT services companies not only found success in India, but also rapidly expanded abroad to target global enterprises with their services and software. But these days, the focus of IT services and enterprise tech companies is around aiding small businesses deploy IT solutions within their operations.
With an HQ in San Francisco and an engineering team in Bengaluru, Zomentum is helping IT service providers deliver modern cloud solutions to businesses and manage the deployment. Founded by Shruti Ghatge and Rahil Shah, Zomentum operates as an aggregator for IT services sales channels, targeting large and small enterprises.
Cofounder Ghatge said that Zomentum empowers IT channel partners with an all-in-one sales tool to manage not just leads, but also assess requirements, generate proposals and manage billing. The company earns through monthly subscriptions and the platform integrates with most prominent enterprise applications as well as productivity tools. It claims to have clients across four continents, with the US being the biggest market, Ghatge added.
Zomentum adds that its business has been growing 45% month-on-month since January this year. According to a recent report, the global sales enablement platform market is expected to grow from $1.1 Bn in 2019 to $2.6 Bn by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8% during the forecast period (2019-2024). The growth of the sector is said to be fuelled by various factors such as reducing the sales cycle, collaboration with other departments within the company, improving the efficiency of sales representatives.
So that’s our 30 Startups watchlist for July 2020. Inc42+ members can access our picks for the past three months here. To nominate a startup or suggest a name for us to check out, please email at [email protected]