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

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

Inc42 brings you a curated list of 30 early-stage startups set up after 2018 that are disrupting the way businesses used to operate

In our 16th edition, we have looked at startups that are addressing major pain points across fintech, SaaS, edtech and HRtech to help businesses and individuals cope with the second surge of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns

We have listed six fintech platforms trying to address niche financial requirements and five HR and edtech platforms helping students and jobseekers find the best and most convenient learning and employment opportunities

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic may have slowed down, but it is certainly not over yet. Lockdowns across states have been extended and stringent measures have been implemented as the nation tries to cope with the unprecedented medical crisis.

As we sat down to shortlist the startups for May, we wanted to highlight a number of upcoming companies whose products and services are geared towards the scenario generally mentioned as the new normal. Such solutions are most suitable for ecosystems under lockdown and restricted access. 

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

30 Startups To Watch: May 2021

In May, we have taken a deep dive into early-stage startups whose solutions help people and businesses thrive in spite of the pandemic’s onslaught. Unlike 2020, the current phase of the pandemic-induced lockdowns has not yet led to massive job losses and pay cuts. But the long-term impact of death and destruction cannot be gauged right now. Businesses and individuals alike have been displaced and are looking for a fresh start. So we have looked at companies that can help us do just that.

In the current list, we have startups helping people with financial literacy and professional guidance in a world where it will be increasingly difficult to trust one’s gut feeling or rely on personal connections alone. In fact, fintech companies are looking beyond their in-house products and leveraging the massive pool of financial advisors and experts to build marketplaces for democratised financial information. We also have startups that are helping homebound college students develop job-ready skills beyond academic training.

Interestingly, the startups listed here are less than three years old. But the way most of them have built a large clientele over the past year or so shows how relevant their solutions are in the current scenario. 

Check out the 15th edition of Inc42 Plus’ 30 Startups To Watch series (25 this time).

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

Asvin Tech

Asvin Tech

Why Asvin Tech Made It To The List

Founded in 2020, Patna-based Asvin Tech focusses on digital solutions for automating the workflow of Indian dentists. Generally, dentists in most developing countries use manual tools to take dental impressions and follow an archaic workflow to get the dental implants and other appliances made out of those impressions. There are too many uncertainties involved in this process, including delays, errors and recurring costs, leading to a rejection rate of 60% or so, claims the startup.

Its flagship product called DENTRA is an affordable intraoral 3D scanner for quick and error-free services. As soon as a dentist scans a patient using DENTRA, the 3D scans are automatically uploaded on the company’s servers. Finally, Asvin collects the output (implants and the likes) from partner dental labs, and DENTRA does quality checks using the scan data.

The startup caters to dentists running their own clinics, dental hospitals and institutions like the Smile Centres. A monthly maintenance fee is charged per device along with a pay-per-scan subscription fee. However, the official product rollout has been delayed by three months to July 2021. Interestingly, the cofounders are positioning DENTRA both as a product and a platform with several quality checks and diagnostics options. In the future, the company aims to launch a number of AI-powered diagnostic tools on this platform, including caries detection, plaque analysis and oral cancer detection tools, among others.

Banksathi

Banksathi

Why Banksathi Made It To The List

Traditionally, financial products in India are sold through a network of trusted agents and advisors. Even now, most people look for reliable and experienced financial advisors with adequate knowledge of the latest products. But sound advice is hard to come by, and small investors tend to lose their money for the lack of awareness and hand-holding. To deal with this challenge and give some much-needed assistance to the uninitiated, Delhi-NCR-based fintech startup Banksathi was set up in 2020.

The company has developed a robust platform that connects a customer to the right financial institution for the right product through a network of trusted advisors. Apart from advisory services, it also undertakes retail distribution of financial products across insurance and credit.

As of now, Banksathi has onboarded more than 5,000 advisors across 700 India PIN codes and offers 45 products from 15 financial institutions (FIs). The startup has developed a well-structured growth strategy and aims to bring in 1 Mn advisors by the end of the current financial year. It will also distribute 150 products from 50+ FIs through the BankSathi app during this period. Over the next three years, it plans to add 5 Mn advisors, while 500 products from 100 FIs will be available on the platform.

BASIC Home Loan

BASIC Homme Loan

Why BASIC Home Loan Made It To The List

Gurugram-based BASIC stands out from the rest of the fintech startups as it offers a dedicated platform for home loans for low- and middle-income people looking for affordable housing.

Cofounders of BASIC realised that banks mostly focus on big-ticket loans as they operate through a fixed-cost, branch-based model that often hinders loan disbursal in non-metro regions. Of course, a fair number of regional housing finance companies (HFCs) can cater to that segment, but they are often crippled by the lack of quick and easy loan disbursal mechanisms. Then there are government initiatives for housing finance, but the lack of awareness of such schemes is the key reason for low adoption among the eligible masses. BASIC aims to make home loans quick and stress-free for its target segment with an automated platform for faster loan disbursement. Think of it as a matchmaking app for home loan seekers and HFCs.

Launched in 2020 with a team of 30, the fintech platform runs a commission-based business model and onboards financial advisors, real estate brokers and chartered accountants so that they can match the customers (home loan seekers) with suitable lenders. It is now building and training a network of agents in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and currently present in 130 districts across 25 states. As of May 2021, 25% of the loans disbursed by BASIC have benefited the people opting for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. 

BlissClub

BlissClub

Why BlissClub Made It To The List

The Bengaluru-based D2C startup wants to bring a wide variety of products to the women’s activewear market, but there is a marked difference. Unlike popular global brands, this company offers clothes specially designed for Indian women, keeping in mind their size, body shape and daily activities. Besides manufacturing the most suitable activewear, BlissClub builds a women’s community where they share, educate and motivate each other in their ‘movement’ journey. 

In recent years, women have grown more aware of health and fitness, but they take their exercise regime even more seriously during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. And BlissClub is keen to tap into this fast-growing market

Set up in 2020 by Minu Margeret, a national-level frisbee player, the company’s mission lies in spreading happiness through ‘movement’ instead of solely focussing on getting fit, often attributed to losing weight and achieving the so-called ‘perfect’ figure. BlissClub’s flagship product is The Ultimate Leggings.

Its community-first, women-centric platform also helps build body confidence as learners, enthusiasts and budding instructors in dance, yoga, workouts and more come together to deal with fitness issues and actively network during fitness events. BlissClub claims to have built a strong community of 15K+ women across India in less than a year since its launch.

Celcius

Celcius

Why Celcius Made It To The List

Mumbai-based Celcius claims to be the only cold chain marketplace in India, covering both reefer logistics (refrigerated containers for carrying pharma products and perishable food items like dairy, fruits, seafood and more) and cold storage warehousing. The platform, available in web and app formats, verifies all shippers and transporters before listing them, centralises booking and helps collate all relevant data for operational ease. It also monitors temperature and tracks shipment location in real time.  

The startup was launched in August 2020 when the cofounders anticipated the demand for contactless deliveries and the need for a robust cold chain for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. It also offers a multitemperature loading option, a multilocation pickup-and-drop service and a rating system for transporters and shippers. In addition, it has an online bidding system for pricing negotiations and earns on a commission basis from services. 

Celcius claims to have transported more than 3,000 tonnes of perishable cargo across 90 Indian cities and distributed vaccines in seven cities. It aims to create a digitally-driven, transparent and asset-light network to connect shippers and transporters and optimise the operational efficiency of the existing cold chain units. In the long term, the company plans to offer warehouse and transport management solutions as part of its software.

Clinify

Clinify

Why Clinify Made It To The List

The edtech market in India has immense potential for students, educators and the startup ecosystem. As educational institutions have been shut down due to rising Covid-19 cases, many startups have sprung up to ensure that the learning process should continue without any disruption. Bengaluru-based Clinify is one such startup that has built a massive student community and provides them with a one-stop platform to learn new skills, network with peers, apply for internships and grow as an individual.

The company was set up in 2020 by two young people who were themselves in college and coping with remote learning for the first time. The idea came as the duo tried to bridge the gap between what they were taught and what was expected of them during job interviews. As a result, they have come up with Clinify, a marketplace for live and interactive cohort-based courses for students to learn new and relevant skills, while instructors get an opportunity for additional income while teaching. Its earnings come from the students’ fees for each course.  

The startup claims to be one of the largest student communities in the country, with over 37,000 students from 2,500+ schools and colleges. Clinify primarily focusses on colleges in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. And its immediate goal is to emerge as the platform of choice for students seeking to acquire job-ready skills.

EasyLokal

EasyLokal

Why EasyLokal Made It To The List

Although website localisation and translation services have been here for more than two decades, there has not been much improvement in the translation management system (TMS) when it comes to short projects involving limited text.  For instance, when a business wants to localise its mobile app/s and website/s (simply put, the content is translated into a target language), it has to follow a highly manual and lengthy process involving more than 10 intermediate stages. Moreover, this procedure must be repeated every time a new piece of content is added or changes are made to the existing text.

But this laborious workflow is now getting a tech makeover, according to Gurugram-based EasyLokal, a SaaS platform launched in April 2021, that helps businesses add multilingual options to their mobile applications and websites. The startup provides cloud-based tools (dashboards, APIs, SDKs and integrations) to automate the entire localisation workflow, making it up to 90% faster than the time taken at present. Businesses can create their customised workflows by adopting a 100% machine-powered system or choosing a hybrid model that will involve more than 100 native linguists, available on the EasyLokal translation dashboard at a single click. As these experts are made available through a marketplace model, it is easy to have constant access to quality work.

EasyLokal’s primary revenue model includes a monthly subscription for its dashboard, APIs and other tools. It also earns revenue from translation services. The company mainly caters to Indian startups across financial services, gaming, agritech and healthtech, which have their users from non-urban and non-English backgrounds. Its immediate plans include getting around 50 companies on board and validating the product-market fit. In the long term, it wants to establish itself as the pioneer in providing business-specific AI/ML solutions to power accurate and real-time translations at scale.

Enthu.AI

Enthu.AI

Why Enthu.AI Made It To The List

Automating call centres (units focussed on customer calling) and contact centres (omnichannel customer management platforms) to improve customer experience and operational efficiency may soon become essential for companies to gain a competitive edge. Therefore, Chandigarh-based Enthu.AI uses speech-AI and a ‘conversation intelligence’ platform to help these crucial customer interaction points optimise the quality of their calls. 

Founded in 2020, Enthu.AI is a B2B SaaS platform that automates call monitoring and quality analysis (QA) at call/contact centres to derive actionable insights and underline improvement opportunities so that call quality analysts need not listen to every conversation minute by minute. Overall, it serves as an end-to-end agent monitoring, evaluation and coaching platform.

Currently, the startup is working on a product-market fit by ramping up its product development and sales teams. With 10 contact centres on board already, it hopes to tap into  Fortune 500 companies in the long run and improve the quality of their customer interactions.

Fyp

Fyp

Why Fyp Made It To The List

Digital adoption by more than 250 Mn Indians in the 11-19 age group augurs well for digital-first businesses across the country. But this age group has little exposure to the banking system and other financial institutions, leading to a gap in financial literacy compared to the West. Gurugram-based Fyp (Pockket Payment Technologies) wants to create financial awareness among the young and the uninitiated with the help of an easy-to-use fintech product. 

Launched in 2021, the startup aims to be a pocket money organiser-cum-financial literacy app for teenagers, helping them learn money management skills at an early age. When kids get pocket money from parents, they can spend it smartly via the Fyp app or an add-on card, save or invest it. The company focusses on four financial literacy use cases — earning, wise spending by tracking transactions, saving and investments (preferably in mutual funds).

The app will be officially launched in July this year, and Fyp will generate revenue from interchange fees on transactions and in-app marketplace commissions. Although there will be no subscription fees for B2C customers, the startup is now exploring other revenue channels. It plans to acquire 1 Mn customers by the end of the current financial year, while its three-year plan is to reach 5 Mn+ users on the platform and offer multiple fintech use cases.

Geekster

Geekster

Why Geekster Made It To The List

More than 90% of Indian students graduating from Tier 2 or Tier 3 colleges are subjected to outdated curriculums, a low focus on skills and old-fashioned pedagogy. Consequently, most college graduates lack the right professional skills and score low on employability as recruiters today want to hire people with specific core skills and often complain about talent crunch. 

Gurugram-based Geekster was set up in 2020 to address this market opportunity. The startup aims to provide pre-vetted talent benchmarked by skills to match an employer’s specific requirements. Students pay for the service after they land a job and employers pay a fee for talent sourcing. Its first cohort graduated in April 2021 and got an average package of more than INR 7 Lakh per annum, claims the startup. It also works with more than 25 employers to help them meet lateral hiring requirements.

Geekster wants to accelerate product development, launch more skill development programmes and reach a wider recruiter base in the short term. Eventually, the company wants to build an integrated global talent nurturing and sourcing platform where employers can get instant access to the perfect talent in tune with their requirements.

Gynoveda

Gynoveda

Why Gynoveda Made It To The List

More than 600 Mn women all over the globe suffer from a slew of menstrual disorders such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular and painful periods, hormonal disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome and disorder (PCOS and PCOD) and abnormal vaginal discharge. Yet, many of them dread a visit to a gynaecologist for fear of painful/embarrassing medical tests, the social stigma attached to such disorders and an inability to find empathetic medical practitioners. The cofounders of Mumbai-based Gynoveda wanted to meet these patients’ needs by making them aware of the health issues and providing them with ayurvedic supplements.

Set up in 2019, the wellness startup offers an online ‘Period Test’ carried out by an AI-powered gynaecology bot to detect menstrual problems. The at-home screening helps women get an initial diagnosis at the earliest and without any awkwardness before getting professional help. Backed by the data insights from Period Test and extensive medical research, Gynoveda’s doctors have also formulated unique ayurvedic supplements that can treat the root cause of more than 10 gynaecological disorders, claims the company. Its revenue comes from selling these supplements on its website and also through ecommerce marketplaces.

Gynoveda’s immediate goals include making ayurveda the top medical choice for Indian women suffering from menstrual health problems and making the site the go-to destination for such concerns.

ImmunifyMe

ImmunifyMe

Why ImmunifyMe Made It To The List

India had seen remarkable success in polio vaccination over the years, but the cofounders of New Delhi-based healthcare startup ImmunifyMe made a startling discovery a couple of years ago. There was no app in the market that focussed on bringing the doctors and the parents together on a single platform to track the immunisation of children. Of course, they found companies like Docon or Practo that offer telemedicine and patient management solutions. But there was no dedicated platform for paediatricians to access the complete medical history of young patients before the consultation to understand their problems better. So, ImmunifyMe was launched in 2019 to address this crucial gap that puts children’s health and well-being at risk.

Its offerings are comprehensive, complete with a mobile app and a smart card to monitor whether a child has got all the vaccines required to protect him/her from vaccine-preventable diseases. The startup has adopted a B2B2C model wherein it charges an annual subscription fee from the parents, but doctors can use the app free of cost. It plans to take this model to three more countries by 2022 — namely, Luxembourg, the US and the UK — and generate annual revenue of $10 Mn.

ImmunifyMe also runs a B2G business where it works with various governments to digitise and streamline vaccination data and thus minimise the risk of non-immunisation. Under this model, it charges the government a one-time fee per child. The company aims to become a global leader in early childhood healthcare by providing innovative healthcare products and services.

InterviewVector

InterviewVector

Why InterviewVector Made It To The List

The cofounders of this Delhi-NCR-based startup realised that fast-growing technology companies often face difficulty in hiring and onboarding new employees, causing a bottleneck in the product development process and thus hindering business growth. For instance, engineers are expensive, and skilled employees and their talent should be utilised optimally from the beginning to gain a competitive edge. Besides, hiring mistakes are costly and always impact a company’s culture and finances.  

To help businesses make the best hire possible in times of talent crunch, the company has developed an on-demand IaaS (interview-as-a-service) platform for technical interviews. This allows clients to evaluate their tech talent pools quickly and accurately instead of spending hours on job interviews as a long-drawn-out recruitment process takes valuable company time away from core activities.

Set up in 2020, the startup claims to have achieved a month-on-month growth rate of more than 50% in terms of revenue and the number of interviews conducted. InterviewVector reached an annualised return rate (ARR) of $1 Mn within 10 months of its launch with clients ranging from seed-funded startups to unicorns. It is now looking to expand its business in the Southeast Asian technology markets. The company has also launched a B2C product for candidates to find the perfect job-talent match.

Jobsgaar

Jobsgaar

Why Jobsgaar Made It To The List

India’s 741 districts have more than 75 Mn registered SMEs and millions of unregistered entities, which employ close to 125 Mn people. On the other hand, the country is home to 450 Mn+ semi-formal and formal workers. According to the recent BCG report, the gig economy in India can create up to 90 Mn jobs in the non-farm economy. As far as the hiring trends are concerned, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities account for 30% of the overall hiring, growing faster than bigger cities.

Banking on this growth, New Delhi-based Jobsgaar has developed the world’s first district-level hyperlocal job search platform that connects the workforce with opportunities via WhatsApp (Conversational AI) and enables people to find jobs within a radius of 100-120 km. The startup aims to offer the SMEs a robust technology to find human resources (for both blue- and white-collar jobs) from nearby regions quickly and efficiently without spending large amounts on classifieds and HR consultants. Understandably, its key client base includes SMEs, local dealerships, stores and fuel pumps. 

Founded in 2020, Jobsgaar piloted the platform across 15 districts in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The company envisions itself as a multiplatform and multilingual product that automates the HR process for hiring in Tier 2 and Tier 3 locations. In the short term, it intends to dive deep into the 741 districts of the country will later expand to other parts of the globe. 

Karmalife.AI

KarmaLife.AI

Why KarmaLife.AI Made It To The List

An estimated 500 Mn Indian workers are unskilled and belong to the low-income segment. Most of them are gig, contract and casual workers or self-employed people whose earnings depend on daily targets. Despite generating regular incomes and data footprints, they remain underserved by traditional financial institutions due to stringent parameters and document-heavy processes. To address this gap and ensure financial inclusivity, Bengaluru-based KarmaLife.AI has developed an app to enable them to access fintech products and services and create a digital footprint.

Founded in 2020, KarmaLife caters to blue-collar workers and offers subscription-based financial products (linked to salaries) based on ‘Digital Karma’ (the digital footprint of users revealing their lifestyle and expenses). The products include digitally integrated credit, payments and insurance solutions for better management of day-to-day cash flows so that this population segment will become more financially resilient. Simply put, the startup incentivises the blue-collar workforce of its partner companies to avail financial products by leveraging their association with the employer. It also tracks the spending and repayment behaviour to offer better financial products in times of need while charging the employees a flat monthly fee only when its service is used.

There are plenty of NPA safeguards, though, as KarmaLife’s UPI-linked credit stack is channelled through employers and aggregators, allowing it to capture users’ work history regarding instant, recurring loans or payout advances. Moreover, by partnering with KarmaLife, businesses can provide inclusive and easy-to-administer worker benefits that boost productivity and retention without financial liabilities. 

Working with a team of 25, Karmalife.AI has deployed its solutions to top digital platforms across ecommerce, foodtech, mobility, logistics and flexi staffing and guarantees its partners (companies) a 30% rise in productivity as far as its customer base (blue-collar employees) is concerned. In the medium term, the company wants to focus on large, manpower-intensive companies with integrated credit, insurance and savings use cases. Eventually, it plans to build a data-driven neobank for blue-collar workers.

Kroop AI

Kroop AI

Why Kroop AI Made It To The List

The scope and sophistication of fast-evolving artificial intelligence (AI) has led to the high-quality manipulation of images, audio and video, popularly known as deepfakes. The process is so scarily simple and the outcomes are so uncannily realistic that deepfakes can easily trigger the spread of disinformation worldwide. To counter this technology menace that often wreaks havoc, Gandhinagar-based Kroop AI has developed a multimodal deepfake detection platform (applicable to images, audios and videos) with rich analytics that can help authenticate content. 

Set up in 2021, Kroop AI is a B2B SaaS company, and its solution can be easily accessed as an API via a web/mobile app (required for integration with existing content analysis systems) or as a web scraper for a timely upgrade to counter deepfakes. The software solution can also suggest the (possible) time and place of deepfake manipulation in each case.

The startup’s immediate plan is to expand its product line and enter different sectors such as the BFSI space in India and the cybersecurity sector globally. Kroop wants to leverage the early-mover advantage to emerge as a market leader in deepfake detection as a service.

NEERX

NEERX

Why NEERX Made It To The List

An internship offer from IIM-Ahmedabad made the Ahmedabad-based cofounders face one of the myriad problems that plague Indian farmers. At the time, it was all about making informed decisions throughout the agricultural cycle, from sowing to harvesting, as farmers struggled to figure out critical parameters like water and fertiliser requirements for optimum production.  

A chance meeting with some ISRO scientists helped the NEERX team develop an indigenous decision-making solution to give traditional agriculture a technology edge. Launched in 2019, the company provides access to hyperlocal actionable insights to help farmers manage crop water, nutrition and spraying needs through SHOOL, a sensor developed in collaboration with ISRO and supported by the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare. It also works with ISRO, state governments and agri-institutes in 12 states to turn satellite data into actionable information for farmers besides providing micro-scale analytics.   

NEERX currently offers a web-based solution but is expected to introduce an app soon to assist farmers by forecasting requirements, planning their activities and providing a deeper understanding of crop health. It aims to provide hyperlocal services to 10,000 farmers via an app and cater macro-scale data to a total of 3 Lakh to introduce smart farming practices and eliminate the climate risks that agriculture is now facing due to biotic and abiotic stresses. The startup expects to save “10 Lakh litres of water per acre per year”, leading to massive water conservation and 15-20% productivity growth.

Quali5Care

Quali5Care

Why Quali5Care Made It To The List

India has a booming healthcare market focussing on many services, but access to essential medical equipment is still limited. In fact, most players in the home healthcare segment cater to nursing and caregiver services, doctors on call, medicine delivery, physio services and hospital guidance, and ambulance services. But finding medical equipment for treatment and recovery at home can be a financial and logistical challenge as these products are usually expensive and quite weighty.

Mumbai-based Quali55Care (Quali5Care and Consulting) was launched in 2018 to address this pain point. Its B2B2C web platform, called Quali55Care, aggregates local vendors/suppliers of durable medical equipment and features their products for buying or renting. Apart from B2B transactions by medical units, individuals can also rent oxygen concentrators, ICU beds, wheelchairs and other essentials at affordable rates, a great help for patients getting treated at home during the virulent second wave of Covid-19. The company claims to have served 5,000+ customers in Mumbai. 

Customers can review the products on the website and order online. Once the order is confirmed, the equipment is delivered within two to four hours from the nearest vendor. This business model helps meet a patient’s requirements in the short term and allows vendors to earn from unsold inventories. Given the current health crisis, the startup is keen to expand to several cities, including Delhi-NCR, Pune, Surat and Ahmedabad, at the earliest.

Reccy

Reccy

Why Reccy Made It To This List

Cofounders of Gurugram-based Reccy wanted to address the market for sports, fitness and outdoor enthusiasts so that such people could find all the products and services on a single digital platform to pursue their interests unfettered. 

Reccy was set up in 2019 and has recently launched the beta version of its first offering: An outdoor activity and adventure discovery platform called Reccy Travel. It offers more than 300 multi-day adventure and activity options across 55 adventure destinations in India, Nepal, Peru, Italy, Switzerland and beyond.

The startup wants to focus on sports, fitness and the outdoors as a category by building an e-commerce platform around them in 2021. The categories on its platform will be organised by missions, offering guidance to select the suitable model, fit, programme or activity, much like the aisles in a Decathlon store but designed as an online experience. Users can choose from a curated list of high-quality sports goods brands and (fitness) service providers to help them showcase their offerings to a dedicated audience.

RefreshMint

RefreshMint

Why RefreshMint Made It To The List

Optimum distribution of financial products depends on a balanced mix of online and offline channels. But reaching customers at a low cost is a tricky problem. The online narrative seems broken as product promotion is limited to banner ads, landing pages and lead management spreadsheets. As for offline distribution, the cost of scaling up remains prohibitive and may not be sustainable in the long run.

To solve this distribution challenge, Mumbai-based RefreshMint has developed a data-powered and tech-enabled ‘bridge’ or API that allows any platform to have one-click access to any financial product and sell the same. This also allows the company to build models that can help predict a consumer’s product preference. In essence, this all-new platform or ‘bridge’ benefits both suppliers (financial institutions) and retailers with direct access to customers. While suppliers can distribute products more effectively, retail platforms can earn more by selling the most sought-after financial products to their specific user base.

The startup onboarded nine insurers and three banks as its supply-side partners within three months of its launch in 2019. On the demand/consumer distribution side, it is working with platforms like Livemint, Trell, ShopKirana and DailyHunt. RefreshMint is currently expanding its supply-side partners and also onboarding new demand platforms quite aggressively. 

Ruptok

Ruptok

Why Ruptok Made It To The List

For gold loan NBFCs like Muthoot Finance, having branches equipped with RBI-mandated gold storage vaults means booming real estate costs and other overheads, which are bound to impact the business. But New Delhi-based Ruptok has a simple solution. It has adopted a branchless business model and offers gold loan services at one’s doorstep. The startup has partnered with nationalised banks as a business correspondent, allowing it to store the gold jewellery in those banks’ vaults.

A customer can reach out to Ruptok through various digital channels and schedule an appointment with a loan manager. He/she will go to the customer’s residence to carry out the entire lending process. It does not take more than 30 minutes to complete a transaction, thanks to Ruptok’s tech-efficient and automated processes.

The company was set up in 2020, but it claimed to have clocked more than 100% quarter-on-quarter demand within six months of its launch. It is currently operational in three cities — Delhi-NCR, Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Jaipur. Ruptok’s immediate goal is to emerge as a gold loan giant with a presence all over the country and deep penetration into rural India to ensure the financial inclusion of the masses.

The startup is also working on a co-lending business model with NBFCs to enter the primary lending ecosystem. In the long run, with the vision of financial inclusion in mind, Ruptok may enter other asset classes in collaboration with major financial institutions.

SFarmsIndia

SFarmsIndia

Why SFarmsIndia Made It To The List

In India, farmers and agro-realty developers have a tough time selling agricultural land and often end up dealing with middlemen. On the other hand, many HNIs across the country are keen to invest in agricultural land as an alternative asset but find it difficult to procure prime assets. Besides, there is a rising demand for weekend farming among white-collar professionals, but finding a suitable piece of land remains a challenge, along with the cumbersome land registration procedures. Hyderabad-based SFarmsIndia wants to tap into this market so that both buyers and sellers get fair deals minus the intervention of intermediaries. 

Founded in 2018, SFarmsIndia is an agri land marketplace that facilitates agri land investments and offers land-based value-added services. Better still, its peer-to-peer platform eliminates middlemen’s margins and ensures a fair market value for all. The procedure is simple enough. Farmers, agri land developers and other sellers can post their agri properties up for sale, while buyers can purchase agri land, estate land and small farms based on their investment requirements. Its revenue comes from commissions on postings and subscriptions from sellers who post regularly on the platform.

SFarmsIndia claims that it has seen significant traction for agricultural land as an asset class during the pandemic. In the long run, it wants to create land inventories for every possible Indian PIN code.

ShopSe

ShopSe

Why ShopSe Made It To The List

What happens when one reaches the checkout/payment counter of a store but decides not to purchase at the last moment, as spending thousands on a fancy gadget or an exotic piece of furniture may derail the budget? What if the buy-now-pay-later solutions are also applicable at physical stores to ease the pain of budgeting? This is precisely the use case that ShopSe tried to address. 

The Mumbai-based startup was set up by a team of former PayU employees who wanted to provide better credit options to consumers for a hassle-free purchase. ShopSe has developed an instant EMI platform for merchants to solve customer affordability issues at the point of purchase. In brief, the digital platform helps the customer and the retailer complete the transaction through convenient credit options. And it depends on a trusted network of merchants and lenders to extend this credit. The startup earns its revenue from merchant commissions on these transactions. 

ShopSe was launched in the early days of the 2020 lockdowns, and by March 2021, it was present at 10,000+ retail points, the startup claims.

Statiq

Statiq

Why Statiq Made It To The List

The cofounders of Gurugram-based Statiq wanted to develop charging solutions that could service all EV brands as the inadequate charging infrastructure across India is a major roadblock that hinders the mass adoption of electric vehicles. However, things are bound to get better now due to Statiq’s mobile app that helps EV owners discover the nearest charging station, book a spot and pay for the service digitally. The company has also developed EV chargers for four-wheelers and a software programme for charging station management. Besides, it is working on smart solutions for two-wheeler charging and home charging. 

Statiq partners with hotel chains, real estate developers and other facilities to expand its network of EV charging stations. These businesses can also earn commissions by signing up to host charging stations for Statiq.

Since its launch in 2019, the startup has made several highways in and around Delhi EV-ready by installing charging stations at strategic locations. It is now targeting the highways in southern India for a similar makeover.

ThingsUp

Thingsup

Why Thingsup Made It To The List

An estimated 30% of the food globally produced for human consumption is lost or wasted somewhere in the supply chain due to mismanagement and a lack of temperature-controlled storage facilities. In fact, e-grocery companies worldwide have to bear 9.6% of direct and 35.2% of indirect food waste due to poorly managed cold chain logistics. 

As the demand for cold chain management and shipment monitoring grows across the country, Pune-based IoT SaaS platform Thingsup is optimising the operations of existing cold chains (covers both cold storages and cold fleets) with the help of an enterprise-grade IoT- and ML-powered platform that is robust and efficient. Its key solutions include remote monitoring of assets, real-time temperature assessment of shipment and cold fleet management so that businesses can control the entire supply chain from a single platform. The company mainly caters to dairy, food and beverage, healthcare and e-grocery segments and charges each customer an annual subscription fee based on the number of monitoring points.

Thingsup was launched in 2020 and now hopes to grow its customer base by 20% month on month in the near term. It is also exploring use cases for electric vehicles using SaaS-based IoT solutions.  Thingsup’s parent company, Iobot Technologies (launched in 2016), offers the IoT solutions required by the platform.

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