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 20th edition, we have looked at companies building solutions for SMEs to improve their productivity and overall performance
We have listed 9 fintech companies, 8 SaaS companies, 6 productivity solution-based startups and 4 companies at the intersection of edtech and HRtech
From big enterprises to SMEs, everyone is working remotely now. This has led to a new phase of innovation regarding products and productivity, finance and payments, enabling entrepreneurs to ensure the best-ever customer experience wherever their transactions may happen — in their physical offices or virtually, at a location halfway across the globe. And who else but our trusted and feisty startup ecosystem can develop innovative solutions to deal with the challenges posed by a pandemic-hit new world order?
As we sat down to shortlist the startups for September, we wanted to highlight the up-and-coming with unique B2B use cases. Although the B2C segment has evolved rapidly due to ubiquitous smartphones, it has not been as smooth for B2B entities that tend to stick to tried-and-tested documentation processes. But with a large chunk of the population now working on the go, could B2B productivity solutions fail to catch up with the latest trends?
Of course, we have not missed the B2C companies in the list, especially those identifying new opportunities and new customers. But this time, we have tried to keep the spotlight on those early stage startups that are making life easier for SMEs and mom-and-pop businesses.
30 Startups To Watch: September 2021
In September, we took a deep dive into quite a few early stage startups whose solutions are meant to help businesses perform better and faster, be it managing payments, winning clients or automating in-house processes.
On the B2B side, we have picked several companies that are helping SMEs manage cross-border payments, collections, logistics and more. On the B2C side, we looked at companies operating at the intersection of edtech and HRtech, demonstrating how learning and career remain increasingly interdependent.
In this month’s list, we have 9 fintech companies in the B2B space, specialising in neobanking, cross-border payments, finance management and buy-now-pay-later solutions. Their offerings are specially designed for SMEs seeking minimum overheads and maximum efficiency.
We also have 8 SaaS startups across logistics, fintech, security and productivity solutions that are helping businesses keep track of their digital assets and leverage them further for optimum performance.
Then there are a few edtech companies helping businesses and individuals become better equipped to deal with data science and analytics. We also have a couple of healthtech startups fixing some critical problems in the Indian healthcare ecosystem.
All the startups listed here are less than three years old, but most have already built a significant clientele.
Check out the 20th edition of Inc42 Plus’ 30 Startups To Watch list.
Editor’s Note: The list below is not meant to be a ranking of any kind. We have listed the startups in alphabetical order.
Why Artium Academy Made It To The List
Now that India’s edtech startups have amassed huge funding and emerged as a recognised learning channel, new players are keen to diversify into new topics and formats to help children learn new things besides usual studies. One such area is music, an immensely popular extracurricular activity in India.
Music lessons often entail engaging professional trainers who are locally available and can assess a student’s learning and performance. But Mumbai-based Artium Academy is changing this age-old format by taking music lessons online.
Set up in 2020, this e-academy helps students learn music through a structured and performance-driven curriculum designed by experts. It offers learners personalised dashboards, learning tools, learning graphs, an online practice studio and a virtual auditorium to perform live for an audience.
The company claims to have grown its learner base by 8x and month-on-month revenue by 30% since its classes were launched in February 2021. Its target user base includes expat students from the US, Canada, Middle East and other locations where there is a demand for learning classical Indian music. It expects to be profitable by FY23.
Artium plans to add more courses and genres, expand its global footprint and scale its proprietary technology. It also wants to bring in teachers from international music academies like Trinity College London and Berklee College of Music, Boston.
Why BeepKart Made It To The List
For vehicle buyers, two-wheelers are the entry point to the automobile ecosystem. With 151.19 Lakh bikes sold in FY21, they accounted for 80% of the total vehicles sold in that year, according to SIAM data. And the burgeoning sales are expected to drive the post-Covid revival of the automobile industry in India. Bengaluru-based BeepKart is trying to leverage this opportunity.
Founded in 2020, BeepKart is an online retailer of pre-owned two-wheelers that claims to have addressed the trust issues regarding used vehicle sales with in-house quality checks. It provides a host of services, including sale and purchase of used two-wheelers, sale of spare parts and accessories, arranging for auto loans and two-wheeler insurance and after-sales service.
The startup is currently operational in Bengaluru but plans to expand to three more cities in the next 12 months.
Why byteXL Made It To The List
Time after time, Indian IT companies have raised concerns regarding the employability of the huge number of engineers graduating every year. Most companies think that the newbies lack relevant knowledge, and many organisations spend a considerable amount on candidate upskilling programmes. But the critical issue remains: How to be job-ready when people are about to start their careers? Hyderabad-based edtech platform byteXL aims to close this skill gap by increasing the employability quotient of IT professionals and students.
Founded in 2019, the startup has developed a skilling platform that helps people master new skills and upgrade existing ones. Its e-learning interface has an embedded development environment for online coding practice.
The company has partnered with training platforms and certification academies such as Fortinet, Leadingindia.ai, Skysthelimit.org and the GoDaddy Academy for curriculum vetting and certifications. Its target audience includes engineering students seeking IT careers and working professionals looking for upskilling.
It claims an annual customer renewal rate of 78% and says that more than 6,000 students have found placements in the IT industry through byteXL training. Also, more than 42,000 students from 55+ colleges are active on the platform, with an engagement rate of more than 75%.
It is currently expanding the e-learning platform by upgrading its content and growing its geographic presence and sales and marketing teams.
Why CashBook Made It To The List
More often than not, small businesses struggle to cope with accounting and its many-pronged aspects. Traditionally, companies have maintained ledgers. But new-age entrepreneurs now look for digital solutions to meet their bookkeeping requirements quickly and efficiently. So, Gurugram-based CashBook has stepped in to help small businesses with its accounting app.
Set up in 2020, the startup enables its customers to track their incomes and expenses via the mobile app. Businesses can add entries, segregate records and track the overall balance instantly. They can also manage their spending on teams and departments through separate expense books, all protected by a 265-bit encryption layer. Users can export expenditure reports and auto-backup the data in the cloud.
As of now, the app is available for free. CashBook claims it has seen rapid adoption over the past year, clocking more than 1 Mn downloads and 200,000+ monthly active users.
The company’s current goals involve enhancing the product and expanding its pan-India reach.
Why Chara Technologies Made It To The List
Electric motors are ubiquitous. They are present almost everywhere, be it the humble mixer-grinder, the latest flying machine or any other hi-tech manufacturing unit. But the technology has changed little over the past 200 years since electric motors ushered in the first Industrial Revolution.
Even now, this technology depends on rare earth elements such as neodymium, dysprosium, samarium, strontium and cobalt, mainly sourced from China that has the biggest deposits. But given the current geopolitical scenario, this is not a desirable situation. Also, mining the rare earth is a toxic process that aggravates environmental issues. So, Bengaluru-based Chara Technologies has set out to solve these problems.
Set up in 2019, Chara is building a cloud-controlled and scalable platform for designing, developing and deploying rare earth-free electric motors for various applications. It specialises in switched reluctance motors (SRMs) and other magnet-free technologies that do not require rare earth. The company aims to build transformative technology to ensure that motors will be simpler and more efficient without hurting the environment.
Chara has already signed up a large customer for HVAC applications, and multiple customers in the EV, home appliances and defence space are in the pipeline.
Why ConnectedH Made It To The List
India is home to more than 1 Lakh diagnostics centres, out of which only 16% or less are in the organised sector (Dr Lal PathLabs, Thyrocare, SRL and more). But the unorganised labs, a whopping 84% of the INR 675 Lakh Cr Indian market, frequently face issues with leveraging technology to build patient databases, automate outreach and manage at-home sample collections due to resource crunch. To help small diagnostic centres cope with these operational issues, Gurugram-based ConnectedH is democratising access to new-age technology through on-demand digital solutions.
Launched in 2018, ConnectedH is a full-stack SaaS enabler that provides a host of solutions, including CRM, online report generation and delivery and on-demand access to phlebotomists, alongside online booking, to help diagnostics partners extend their service options.
The startup says it has grown more than 10x in the past year and has catered to 1.6 Mn+ patients through 43 diagnostic centres. Its immediate goal includes expanding its technology offerings.
Why dezerv Made It To The List
Investment products attract interest nowadays, but finding trustworthy investment advisory services is difficult in India. Although banks offer wealth management solutions to large account holders, people with smaller holdings often struggle on DIY platforms and fail to create robust investment portfolios. Due to rising income and financial literacy, portfolio sizes have increased, but top-of-the-rung investment guidance is rarely affordable, leading to poor decisions and missed opportunities.
Launched in 2021, Mumbai-based dezerv aims to bridge this advisory gap. It has developed a consumer-facing digital platform that offers a bouquet of investment solutions, including proprietary multiasset solutions designed to suit risk profiles and curated investment options like pre-IPO shares and high-yielding bonds. The startup claims these solutions are usually accessible to big portfolio holders alone, but now, any dezerv member can benefit from these. Currently, dezerv is an invite-only platform.
Its target users are aged 30-40, working professionals in Tier 1 cities and digital natives with an average portfolio size of INR 5-7 Lakh. The company earns its revenue from advisory fees (members have to pay it directly) and commissions for product distribution. It is now building its talent base to offer well-researched investment advisory services.
Why DoctCo Made It To The List
Approximately 30 Cr Indians suffer from chronic diseases, with the majority living in underserved areas. In contrast, most medical facilities and doctors operate in Tier 1 cities. This service gap has led to 30% of the population travelling 200-700 km to access specialised healthcare.
Nimith Agrawal experienced this at first hand when his sister lost her vision due to an eye ailment that required travelling from their hometown Aligarh to a bigger city for treatment. This led to the foundation of Delhi-based DoctCo that aims to make healthcare accessible to patients suffering from chronic or critical medical conditions but cannot access proper healthcare as they reside in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
Founded in 2021, DoctCo is setting up mobile medical clinics (run on buses) in small towns so that patients can access super-specialists through these centres and need not travel for more than 15 minutes from their homes. These clinics are equipped with a doctor and communication infrastructure to help patients consult with specialists online.
The healthcare startup provides an end-to-end experience, right from the OPD to surgical procedures and follow-ups. Although the OPD and follow-ups happen within the city limits where patients reside, they have to travel to Tier 1 cities like Delhi for surgery. However, DoctCo Saathi provides a seamless experience to patients travelling for surgeries.
The startup claims to have access to 2,000+ specialists and super-specialist doctors. The network has helped treat patients from low-bandwidth areas like Aligarh, Meerut and Varanasi, among others.
Its revenue model consists of consultation charges (INR 750), revenue from IPDs and several value-added services.
Its immediate goal is to leverage cutting-edge tech to connect patients with super-speciality medical experts, which will help curb healthcare, travel and boarding costs. The long-term goal is to set up 700-750 centres across India to make top-notch healthcare accessible to all low-connectivity regions.
Why Endimension Technology Made It To The List
Medical diagnosis has evolved over the years, resulting in a plethora of procedures that require medical imaging. But this growth in scope and sophistication has not seen a corresponding rise in the number of radiologists and other trained professionals locally or globally. Although a country of 1.3 Bn people, India has just about 10,000 radiologists. Worse still, the retrospective error rate in radiology tests amounts to 30% or so, according to published research. Started in 2018, Mumbai-based startup Endimension wanted to address this gap by creating a suitable tech solution to assist radiologists.
Endimension is a deeptech SaaS startup specialising in the healthcare space. The team has developed an AI-powered cloud platform that can generate preliminary radiology reports and automate routine tasks of a radiologist to improve efficiency, reduce misdiagnosis and save costs for hospitals and diagnostics centres. The system is currently used across 125 hospitals and radiology labs from Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India.
The SaaS startup offers two pricing models – an annual licence fee and a pay-per-scan payment.
As misdiagnosis and the shortage of radiologists are global issues, the company is also targeting overseas customers – hospitals and diagnostics centres in the Middle East, the US, Canada and the EU. Its immediate plan is to cater to 500 radiology labs in 12 months.
Why eShipz Made It To The List
The B2C logistics space has seen rapid automation in the past few years. But the B2B2C model, an ambitious combination of both subsegments, is yet to cope with the increased need for automation and still tends to depend on a host of manual processes.
This often leads to a complex mix of solutions, reducing supply chain efficiency and impacting a seamless service experience. So, Bengaluru-based eShipz has decided to put all available logistics solutions on a SaaS platform for speed and efficiency to address this pain point.
Set up in 2019, eShipz is a full-stack supply chain and logistics solutions provider that creates a better post-purchase experience for B2B enterprises with vendor-specific tracking updates and alerts. It caters to SMBs and enterprises that are dispatching more than 50 shipments a day.
The startup has a subscription-based revenue model and charges its customers on a per-user and per-warehouse basis.
eShipz is planning for a soft launch in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Africa region before expanding worldwide. Its long-term plan is to develop a unified solution that can cater to all logistics requirements.
Why Fleek Made It To The List
The long stretch of the Covid-19 pandemic got most urban internet users to subscribe to a host of online services to manage finances and fulfil other necessities. From digital banking and online grocery shopping to gaming and OTT-watching, the list got bigger as most people embraced what was safe and convenient. But this also meant managing these subscriptions in a timely, hassle-free manner. So, Bengaluru-based Fleek stepped in to simplify the world of subscriptions by giving users full control.
Started in 2021, Fleek is all set to offer an app that helps users track, manage or even split subscriptions with friends and family. While the app is currently in beta testing, the company is also working on solutions to sign out of unused/rarely used subscriptions and proxies that usually require payments via credit cards, which users may not always have. It uses SMS and email parsers to track all subscriptions.
As of now, the basic subscription tracking and management services on the app come for free. However, the company targets users with more than four-five subscriptions and in the age group of 22-45 who are early tech adopters and belong to mid-to-high income brackets.
In the short term, the company is looking to strengthen its subscription management offering in India. It will also launch a marketplace in November through which people can sign up for subscriptions and manage them. The app’s iOS launch is also scheduled for later this year. In 2022, Fleek plans to launch in a few more countries as well.
Why Geniemode Global Made It To The List
Manufacturing in India can become globally competitive. But the country is punching below its weight in many sectors, especially the lifestyle segment that covers fashion, furniture, furnishings and more. For instance, India’s share in the furniture export market is less than 1%, while China dominates with more than 40% market share.
The homegrown furniture industry is primarily an unorganised sector where SMEs use labour-intensive processes to produce handcrafted items, and the hallmark of quality is often missing. Keen to usher in a breakthrough to improve this scenario, Gurugram-based Geniemode set up a tech-driven sourcing and supply chain platform in 2021 to cater to several segments in the cross-border B2B space.
The tech platform cuts through the maze of supply chain complexities by ensuring that all production processes undergo in-house quality checks and comply with the standards of globally recognised external quality agencies.
Its customer base includes wholesalers, retailers, ecommerce marketplaces and mom-and-pop shops operating across furniture, home textile, apparel, accessories and footwear segments. Geniemode’s revenue comes from a share of the order value for managing the entire B2B product delivery lifecycle, right from design supervision to logistics. The company claims to clock an average order value of $9,500 per customer.
The startup is currently ramping up its design supervision and supply chain capabilities, focussing on unique, sustainable, handcrafted and India-centric product lines. In the long term, it aims to give the fragmented furniture and home décor industry a big makeover and help those SME-run businesses go global.
Why Globalise Inc Made It To The List
Diversification is a crucial component for building a robust investment portfolio. But when the father-son duo of Vikas and Viraj Nanda was researching the Indian investment landscape, they realised that despite the annual allowance of $250,000 that can be remitted overseas for investment purposes, most investors had India-focussed portfolios. This was mainly triggered by a lack of confidence as Indians hesitated to invest overseas all by themselves. So, the Nandas set up Globalise in 2021 to guide local investors on their global journeys.
The Globalise app lets Indian investors directly invest in 5,500+ NYSE- and NASDAQ-listed stocks, funds and ADRs. It also offers a cloud-based, integrated digital ecosystem for customers to collaborate with their existing advisors for building international portfolios. Some of the key offerings include simplified digital onboarding, no requirement for minimum investment/account balance, no minimum trading fees, access to goal-based and thematic investment products and more.
The startup also helps Indian investors to invest in U.S. IPOs and emerging global companies while lowering the risk and hedging against rupee depreciation. Additionally, it offers curated portfolios that provide single-click access to companies focussing on emerging themes and trends. However, this calls for a monthly fee on invested assets.
In brief, Globalise wants to streamline the overseas remittance process and make it easier for investors to send money abroad, set up international bank accounts and put their money into global investment products. Its target audience is affluent/HNI investors who have already invested in Indian markets.
Although the app is currently in beta, the company claims an average monthly trading volume of more than $2,000 per customer. Customers are charged a trading fee on a per-share or per-trade basis. They can also upgrade to the premium plan and avail free trading with an annual subscription.
Why GTM Buddy Made It To The List
A salesperson’s job is not easy. They are expected to understand the pros and cons of their products and find ways to boost sales by turning prospects into customers. And it requires extensive knowledge of client domains and possible need gaps. This is where Hyderabad-based SaaS startup GTM Buddy saw an opportunity.
Started in 2020, the B2B platform leverages contextual AI to deliver the right information to sellers at the right time. In simple terms, it provides relevant information to its enterprise clients to help them optimise strategies and sell more products.
This information is often available across the sales tools, daily used by a seller’s marketing teams. But without the right usage and structure, it fails to increase conversions and revenues. So, GTM Buddy’s AI-powered platform processes all sales-enablement content available within an organisation’s content repositories, auto-indexes them and brings the most relevant data to the fore when a salesperson holds a ‘conversation’ with a prospect.
The startup is currently enhancing its product’s features and building go-to-market teams for sales, marketing and customer success.
Why HappyCredit Made It To The List
The corona crisis has brought many people online to work remotely, shop digitally and seek entertainment on the World Wide Web. But not all were digitally savvy when the pandemic struck in 2020. The shift was a compulsion for first-time internet users wary of a digital-first world, and they still needed timely nudges to stick to digital transactions even when the situation started to improve. Founded in 2020, Bengaluru-based HappyCredit wanted to tap into this opportunity.
The startup has developed an app that offers instant rewards for shopping online, and cashbacks are directly credited to bank accounts. Its target customers include habitual online shoppers — mostly aged 22-40 and comfortable using credit cards or the UPI.
HappyCredit claims that each user spends a monthly average of INR 10,000 on the platform. The app’s user base has grown 500% in the past five months and has seen more than 50,000 downloads, according to the company.
It charges merchant partners a fee on every purchase made through the platform and is currently developing additional revenue channels. It also wants to launch a credit-based product in the future.
Why inai Made It To The List
Managing global payments is complex and time-consuming, and companies can bleed money due to delayed time to market, lost opportunity and wrong technical decisions. Plus, businesses may expend significant time and resources in managing payments across different regions.
For instance, a global ecommerce firm will have to feature card options, PayPal, Apple Pay and BNPLs at checkout for a US-based customer, Sofort for selling in the Netherlands and the UPI/cards/wallets and more for doing business in India. All these will have different transaction success rates and fees, and merchants will typically spend a lot of time getting those up and running.
Founded in 2021, California-based inai offers a unified integration system so that a merchant can manage the entire global payment stack with clicks on a no-code dashboard. The SaaS startup also supports multiple business models such as one-time payment and subscription.
The payments integration platform allows merchants to go live within 60 minutes with an optimised international payment stack for every market they want to operate in and take control of their payment data. In addition, it provides a rich software layer to support different subscription models for an ecommerce merchant or a SaaS business to sell across multiple geographies and localise the checkout experience.
Its target customer base includes B2C companies (especially those operating in more than one geography) and B2B SaaS subscription companies. The subscription-based platform charges users a monthly fee.
Its immediate goals include enhancing product features to enable any merchant to accept payments from anywhere in the world.
Why IppoPay Made It To The List
While the government and regulatory bodies have taken measures to ensure that banking is accessible to the masses, simply holding a bank account does not solve the larger financial issues faced by small businesses. For instance, they often face hurdles in managing customer and vendor payments as most financial tools are designed for large enterprises. To address this issue, Chennai-based IppoPay was launched in 2019.
The startup has in place a small business-focussed neobank and a host of payment solutions. Its SaaS-based digital payment platform initially entered the market with a payment gateway solution, mainly targeting offline kirana stores, businesses in Tier 2-6 regions and rural India. The current product portfolio includes an app-based payment gateway, payment links for collections and receivables, invoicing and subscription management services for small merchants and businesses.
Its revenue comes from processing fees charged on all transactions, and the company claims to process monthly transactions worth over INR 120 Cr.
IppoPay’s latest offering is a neobank, an API-based banking stack to meet the banking needs of any merchant, from primary fund transfer to paying-in and payout, lending, insurance and more. It is currently expanding its presence in rural Tamil Nadu and wants to launch pan-India services after that.
Why Jar Made It To The List
More than 900 Mn Indians have bank accounts, and around 450 Mn use digital payment solutions like the UPI. But the number of people saving and investing using these tools is very low. Indian assets under management account for 12% of the country’s GDP compared to the global average of 63%, underscoring a huge gap when it comes to effective money management.
To solve this issue of financial literacy and make savings and investments an effortless exercise, Bengaluru-based fintech startup Jar was launched in 2021.
The startup has developed an easy-to-use fintech app that leverages gamification and other convenient tools to help users save and invest through automated mandates via the UPI (similar to auto-debits on banking platforms). Jar has three models in place.
First, getting an amount (equivalent to certain expenditures) invested in digital gold; second, a daily savings plan, and finally, an investment offering — all done through a user’s UPI account. All these ensure that users get into a habit of saving irrespective of their spending behaviours.
At present, Jar earns commissions from digital gold investments but will soon add more investment options. It claims to be growing at 350% month on month since its launch in January and is currently expanding its talent pool.
Why Jovian Made It To The List
Data science talent is the need of the hour, as every organisation worth its salt is leveraging big data to build and enhance its core expertise. Analytics Insight has forecast that by 2025, there will be 137,630 data science job openings in India, a significant leap from 62,793 jobs in 2020. Besides, expertise in data science guarantees a massive pay packet in the present scenario. Launched in 2019, Bengaluru-based e-learning platform Jovian is tapping into this space to help aspiring professionals.
The startup has a freemium model in place and developed a six-month-long, part-time data science and machine learning programme that offers data science courses to people with a background in programming, statistics or data analytics. Students on this platform learn practical skills, build real-world projects and undergo four weeks of training for job readiness. Jovian’s faculty is available for 24×7 guidance and mentorship on communication platforms like Slack and Zoom.
The company claims to grow 35% month over month and earns a monthly revenue of $20,000. Its long-term goal is to become the best technical university online.
Why Keito Tech Made It To The List
Businesses today have to carry out loads of routine tasks on a daily basis, and one of these requires extracting relevant data from email messages, images, documents and enterprise databases. However, enterprise automation solutions tend to be expensive, and many companies cannot afford to develop these programmes in-house to manage everyday tasks. Entered Pune-based Keito Tech in 2018 to help businesses operate efficiently without spending an enormous amount.
Keito is an intelligent data extraction platform that captures information with near-zero errors and can be trained and deployed quickly. The software is compatible with various communication channels and data formats (documents, images, languages and more). Plus, it can extract data from other enterprise applications.
The startup has developed two products — Kapture for core activities and Ira as a support tool. The first one digitises unstructured forms and image files. After it has parsed data and insights, Ira, an email management assistant, is used for programme management, customer support and task prioritisation across CRM systems.
Keito has two revenue models, per-transaction based and per-user based. It currently caters to large and midsize enterprises from the supply chain, logistics and transportation sectors. Apart from India, its clients are based in Singapore, Hong Kong and the US.
It is now expanding the US market and launching new products.
Why MagTapp Made It To The List
Nearly 90% of the online content is in English, but just about 17% of people speak English globally (including native speakers). But this does not bode well for non-English speakers. Although more and more people are accessing the internet, their difficulty in understanding English content makes net surfing a less-than-desirable experience. To resolve this issue, Mumbai-based MagTapp Technologies was launched in 2019 and came out with a visual dictionary to help non-English speakers navigate the web better.
MagTapp’s visual browser allows users to long-tap a word and access its audio pronunciation and pictorial representation besides its meaning in vernacular languages. The service is currently available in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Odia, Urdu and Nepali.
The company has integrated several products into the browser application, including a document reader, an online document library, a visual dictionary and educational and news content to ensure a seamless experience. The B2C solution targets Indian students, professionals and homemakers who may not be as proficient as native speakers.
It has recently developed the world’s first document and book search engine, the company claims.
MagTapp is currently available on Android devices and will soon launch on iOS. But its monetisation model is still in beta, although it earns from ad revenues, affiliate partnerships and commissions on transactions enabled by MagTapp.
Why moneyHOP Made It To The List
Bengaluru-based moneyHOP might not have been up and running if the company’s founder and CEO, Mayank Goyal, had not faced too many hurdles in remitting money from India to the UK. The frequent visits to banks, followed by cumbersome paperwork, left him disgruntled, and he decided to develop a user-friendly fintech solution in 2019.
That solution is moneyHop, a full-stack and cross-border neobank enabling Indian millennials (and the Gen Z) to send, receive and spend money conveniently and economically across the globe.
As a full-fledged money changer regulated by the RBI, the company provides an interface through which users can transfer money between multiple accounts at a near-IBR exchange rate. It offers two solutions — the HOP App for debit, credit and forex exchange management and HOPRemit for international remittance services.
It aims to build strategic partnerships with full-fledged money changers (FFMCs), international universities and education consultants to help Indian students study abroad.
The company is striving to reach a monthly transaction volume of $15 Mn within the next few months through its B2B and B2C channels. Going forward, the neobank will bolster its promotion and branding to ensure 100% growth for its HOPRemit business and increase the transaction volume reached via m-commerce. It is also aiming to introduce the HOP App to 500 users before October 2021.
Why Northmist Made It To The List
As people have become aware of fast fashion’s toxic impact (carbon emission, water pollution, low-quality products and unlivable wages and more), there has been a shift towards ‘clean clothes’, organically grown and ethically produced. Environmentalists and ethical fashion activists often champion cotton and linen clothing even for fast fashion, and D2C brands have been quick to seize this new opportunity as big brands are slow to adopt ethical fashion practices. Set up in 2018, Bengaluru-based Northmist is one such brand that is cashing in on the rapidly growing trend of dressing clean.
The eco-friendly brand manufactures sustainable and ethical menswear from pesticide-free organic cotton. The startup also claims that all its clothes are GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. Northmist conforms to basic and classic designs, which are not likely to go out of fashion every season, allowing customers to get more out of the clothes for a longer period.
As part of its brand principle, all things follow the same sustainable and biodegradable mantra, from buttons to the packaging material used for delivery. The brand retails its products through its online store, ecommerce marketplaces and a select few physical stores spread across the country.
Why Paytail Made It To The List
Buy-now-pay-later or BNPL solutions on ecommerce platforms have been a huge growth driver for online shopping and digital transactions across the country. The solution was inspired by the traditional khata or user account opened by a seller to maintain all transactions and allow the buyer to pay later. But the offline version has its limitations.
For one, this privilege can only be extended if the seller and the buyer are personally acquainted, unlike the case of BNPL, where buyers and sellers can only transact online, and customers end up paying bank/NBFC EMIs. In contrast, New Delhi-based fintech firm Paytail was set up in 2020 to marry the old format with the new technology to help brick-and-mortar retailers.
The company offers instant digital BNPL solutions clubbed with gamification tools to consumers at physical retail touchpoints through an app. As a result, merchants can increase their revenues and profitability even when they are not on big ecommerce platforms. But there is more.
On the seller side, the Paytail app focusses on mom-and-pop stores outside of kirana and pharmacies. On the buyer side, it targets the middle-class population in the age group of 22-55 and residing in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. This hybrid format of BNPL helps retain the buyer-seller trust and pushes the business without going digital lock, stock and barrel. The startup claims to clock an average GMV of INR 24,000 per customer on the platform as consumers use its BNPL services. Although consumer membership is free, it charges a fee from merchants for enabling BNPL transactions.
In the next 12 months, Paytail plans to enable half a million stores with its BNPL offerings. In the long term, it wants to build the largest ecosystem of sellers and buyers, driving India’s retail growth story from the front.
Why Proeon Made It To The List
The plant-based protein market is estimated to reach $21 Bn globally by 2027, and food manufacturers worldwide aim to leverage this opportunity. In India, too, consumers are increasingly leaning towards plant-based food products for health benefits.
Although a number of FMCG companies and D2C brands in this space cater to the B2C part of the business, Pune-based Proeon is focussing on the B2B clientele. Set up in 2018, Proeon innovates high-quality plant protein ingredients to promote clean and healthy food choices. It is working with brands from the EU, North America and Southeast Asia to help solve critical formulation challenges at the ingredient level and develop sustainable, healthier and tastier plant-based alternatives to meat, egg and dairy products.
These include highly functional plant-based egg replacements, clean-label burgers and patties and dairy alternatives.
Proeon’s immediate focus is to expand its presence in the EU and North America, where lifestyle choices like veganism are driving a massive market shift. It is currently setting up a research lab in the Netherlands, applying for a patent, scaling up production and expanding the team.
Why SecLogic Made It To The List
The global market for enterprise cybersecurity is estimated to reach $94.6 Bn by 2027, a massive opportunity for cybersecurity companies as businesses continue to operate remotely and increasingly face hacking attacks.
US-based SaaS startup SecLogic, a pure-play cybersecurity firm, is also diving deep into these issues to track threats and vulnerabilities posed by people, processes and technologies used by organisations and all related third parties.
Set up in 2021, SecLogic uses cutting-edge risk assessment systems to analyse an organisation’s risk exposure across thousands of unique data points and provides actionable insights. The company’s primary business model encompasses B2B2C — it works with many retail businesses (system integrators, managed service providers, consultants and value-added distributors) to provide solutions to customers of enterprises and government entities.
Like other SaaS companies, SecLogic offers subscription-based solutions and claims to have an average order value of $100K per customer.
It is currently working on the commercial launch of its SaaS offerings, scheduled for November this year. In the long term, the tech firm wants to build alliances with channel partners and expand to Asia, the Americas and the MENA countries.
Why Sporjo Made It To The List
There is no sports-related job portal or placement agency to help companies that hire across the Indian sports industry. Not many candidates or corporate houses are well-versed in the business/admin of sports, and many applicants (even sports professionals, for that matter) lack the relevant skills. The outcome: A lengthy job hunt and an equally frustrating headhunting process.
With jobs in sports estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6% by FY24, it is essential to bridge this gap through candidate assessment and training to ensure better employability. Set up in 2020, Mumbai-based Sporjo had its genesis in this narrative.
Aiming to address the supply and demand of talent needs in this arena, the startup has developed a hybrid platform, integrating sports-oriented edtech/training and jobs in sports. It has eight subscription products for assessment, mentorship, consultation, skilling and placements, and the fees range between INR 5,000 and INR 1 Lakh. When a candidate is placed, the employer pays upwards of 10% of the CTC for a full-time employee, INR 7,500 for a part-timer and INR 5,000 for an intern.
Sporjo also offers employment counselling programmes to help youngsters who are keen on sports (but not athletes themselves) and want to convert their passion into employment opportunities. The company claims an average order value of INR 30,000 per candidate across programmes.
The startup is also working on expanding its product offerings, improving product experience, scaling its team and driving expansion in India and key overseas markets.
Why Synth Made It To The List
As the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions of people to work remotely, almost all work activities — from job interviews to team meetings to client events — moved online. People attend several virtual meetings almost every day, and it takes hours to transcribe those or write meeting notes from the audio/video files. Besides, businesses today repurpose and reformat event content, and it can be tedious to develop articles, blogs, white papers or similar content pieces by processing hours of recordings. However, California-based Synth has a solution for that.
Launched in 2021, the Synth app captures the audio from any source (Zoom, Google Meet, YouTube live-streaming and more) and converts it to text in just one click. The text generated is searchable so that information can be easily retrieved and used without spending hours on the transcription.
Although Synth competes with industry leaders like Otter.ai and Fireflies.ai, the market is rapidly evolving, and tech-driven transcription solutions are gaining traction.
The startup is currently finessing its product and actively hiring deep learning engineers and full-stack developers for this purpose.
Why TravClan Made It To The List
Over the years, much has been written on how ecommerce is disrupting brick-and-mortar retail in India, and enablers have sprung up to help traditional retailers go online to compete with e-tailers. But online travel agencies (OTAs), the first lot of consumer internet businesses to hit the jackpot, have left small and local travel agents high and dry for nearly two decades now.
Unlike the large OTAs offering multiple features, deals and discounts, small agencies find it difficult to provide a similar customer experience and also struggle to find reliable on-ground suppliers, cost-effective business solutions and easy credit. This is what Singapore-based TravClan wanted to address by building an end-to-end operating system for anyone selling travel and further developing a global ecosystem.
Set up in 2018, TravClan is a B2B travel marketplace for small travel agencies and new-age travel entrepreneurs, helping them grow their businesses online by setting up websites and selling products digitally.
It also provides marketing tools to generate better traction from social media and earn more profit by booking flights, hotels and holidays worldwide at the best B2B prices on the platform.
TravClan claims to clock an average order value of INR 20,000 on its platform and earns from transaction revenues and B2B subscription fees. The company says it has surpassed its pre-Covid revenue and aims to grow 10x in the next 12 months.
It also aims to onboard 10 Mn+ SMB travel agencies (at present, there are 10,000) and enable a GMV of $10 Bn+ by 2025 on the platform.
Why WickedGüd Made It To The List
Lately, there has been a major shift towards healthy food and lifestyle choices, opening up a previously untapped market. And many D2C brands have taken this opportunity to bring innovative products to the mass market. In sync with this trend, Mumbai-based 100Percent Nourishment was launched in 2021 to make comfort foods more nutritious and sustainable for a guilt-free experience.
The startup (operates the brand WickedGud) is on a mission to introduce food lovers to wholesome versions of popular snacks like pasta, noodles, malted beverages and more. It currently retails a range of healthy pasta made with chickpea, red lentil, brown rice, green moong, buckwheat, tapioca starch, flaxseed and guar gum (an excellent thickener and stabiliser used in processed foods). The company targets urban consumers aged 26-42 as its preferred customer base.
The Mumbai firm says it has an average order value of INR 450 and sells products via the company’s website as well as third-party marketplaces. It will next introduce a range of healthy instant noodles and malted beverages.