Startups have reached every corner of the country. Technology has not only disrupted daily lives but has also broken through cultural biases in many parts of India. This is best seen in West Bengal, which has gone from a state where the best talent migrated to other tech hubs of the country and the world, to a place where startups are working to change the game on the ground and tackle the problems that are intrinsic to the state’s economy.
At the same time, startups are also celebrating West Bengals love for food and tea, with plenty of startups active in the food and beverage sector.
While the state’s capital Kolkata has emerged a true flagbearer for the West Bengal startup ecosystem, a number of innovative startups are also emerging from cities like Siliguri, Durgapur and Asansol, according to Abhishek Rungta of TiE Kolkata. Rungta had also highlighted to Inc42 that the state’s aversion to the entrepreneurial culture in the past had held back the support system in the form of incubators and mentors, which are now emerging and flourishing in West Bengal.
In terms of sectors, West Bengal startups have a preference for food and agriculture space with prominent brands like Teabox and Wow! Momo emerging from the state. In addition to this, the state is also home to multiple startups solving for education and healthcare. Even deeptech startups such as Drones Tech Lab have found a niche for themselves in the new West Bengal.
Rungta added that there was a significant period of time where English education was banned in West Bengal, this had resulted in many young students lacking in conversational English skills. Identifying this local challenge, entrepreneurs have built technology solutions to train the youth in English language skills.
Some of the notable startups from the state include:
1. Wow! Momo
Wow! Momo Foods is a quick service restaurant chain that originated in Kolkata in 2008. In September this year, it raised $23 Mn Series B funding round from US-based investor Tiger Global. Wow! Momo currently operates over 282 outlets of Wow! Momo and 11 outlets of Wow! China across India.
Founded by Sunandan Mukherjee, Tushar Kanti Basu, Sandipan Mukherjee in 2015, Brickcell’s Humic Feed or Fert makes aquaculture more profitable for marine farmers and sustainable. The product is used to reduce ammonia in the water bodies, balance the pond’s acidity levels and control other parameters that are crucial for a successful aquaculture harvest. Brickcell claims to have helped farmers in producing export quality fish in ponds and biofloc tank.
Kolkata-based Stock Edge is an equity markets analytics and research app, primarily for NSE and BSE data. It helps Indian stock market traders and investors make better decisions by providing them with daily analytics, visualisations and alerts customised according to their individual needs and portfolio. The company was founded by Vineet Patawari and Vinay Pagaria.
Founded by Sandip Nair and Prantik Sinha in 2015, Agastya Buoyant is a startup that’s designing, manufacturing and servicing inflatables such as trash boom, underwater lift bag, floatation bag, Blimp and Aerostat among others, for use-cases in disaster management, aerial surveillance and biogas generation.
Founded in 2015, Krishworks helps rural micro-entrepreneurs to set up English centres for teaching English to local children with the help of a tablet-based app. Its English classes are said to be activity based, enabling students to learn by playing and taking part in various activities, role plays, interactions etc to achieve language learning. The company also runs a Teacher Training Program to upskill teachers by means of a series of training programs, activities and assessments.
Founded in 2014, Drones Tech Lab is a system integrator in unmanned surveillance domain. The company provides customized geospatial solutions through unmanned systems with speed, accuracy, innovation and a resilient service ethic. Some of the clients of Dronestech include Indian Army, Indian Air Force, DIAT (Under DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and Kolkata Municipal Corporation among others.
Founded in 2016, TruckHall aims to improve the efficiency of truckloads plying on Indian roads. With more than 1500+ active vehicle suppliers on its platform, TruckHall has aggregated the largest pool of vehicle suppliers operating in Eastern India. Currently, TruckHall provides outbound load servicing from West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam and Odisha to other states in India and inbound load fulfilment to these eastern states.
8. Chai Break
Founded by Anirudh Poddar and Aditya Ladsaria, Chai Break is a food and beverages brand started from Kolkata. The company has today strengthened its presence through 18 outlets, across cities such as Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Durgapur and Guwahati. It offers a variety of chai along with a bouquet of cuisines such as Italian, Chinese and Indian.
Founded by Kaushal Dugar in 2012, it is a premium tea brand delivering tea all over the world, focussed on the vertical integration of sourcing, branding and distributing teas. The Jalpaiguri-based company works with around 150 plantations in Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri, and Nepal.
Founded in 2014 by Abhishek Chatterjee and Jeeta Bandopadhyay, TookiTaki is an enterprise software solutions provider. It combines advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), distributed systems and deep business expertise to create the building blocks of sustainable compliance management.
Founded by B L Mittal and Ravi Kant Sharma in 2011, SastaSundar sells medicines and fast-moving consumer goods on its platform. The Kolkata-based company acts as a digital bridge between licensed pharmacies and customers. Its network of local pharmacies handles the inventory and manages the delivery of orders.
Founded in 2006 by Somenath Mukherjee, Bengal Speech & Hearing is an audiology and speech therapy chain run under the brand name Hearing Plus. The company provides services to those suffering from speech and hearing impairment. The company claims to have dedicated centres across several districts of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Maharashtra and Delhi.