Launched in 2020, the themes of the 30 Startups To Watch list have evolved, reflecting real-time changes in the startup ecosystem
So far, the Inc42 team has featured 900+ disruptive tech startups set up between 2018 and 2022
In our 32nd edition, there are 15 enterprise tech startups, four ecommerce players and four fintech entities
Thirty-one editions and 900+ startups later, we can rightfully claim that the 30 Startups To Watch series is truly sector-agnostic (except when we were close to in-house events and focussed on specific areas). All these years, we have thrown light on some of the most promising startups building robust businesses across emerging sectors.
But we must also acknowledge that the startup ecosystem evolves fast, and our focus changes accordingly. Think of the former poster boys in this space – the edtech startups during the pandemic or the thriving fintechs exploring novel concepts and ushering in new business models with much fanfare. Both seem to have lost their early sheen for different reasons.
Edtech needs to rediscover its innovative touch as life gradually returns to normal, and attending remote classes is no longer synonymous with educational continuity.
Fintechs, on the other hand, are struggling to cope with the regulatory disruptions of late. It could be a long and arduous journey to innovation if they have to enter the ‘sandboxes’ to validate how sound their new products and services will be (contrary to the optimism and funding inflow).
Quality healthcare is all the rage, and so are ecommerce, blockchain and deeptech. But the one word that has caught the attention of innovators across the startup ecosystem in the year 2022 is enablers.
Whether it is something as routine as payment aggregation or ecommerce checkout, recording meetings or automating invoicing, or something as daunting as queue management or sales channels analysis, business and technology enablers are all the rage now.
The viability of enterprise tech has also won the attention of investors, who are increasingly funding these startups. In Q3 2022, the segment raised $423 Mn from 58 deals, the second-highest among all sectors.
Unsurprisingly, these B2B startups have stolen the limelight in this edition as they are transforming pen-and-paper businesses and siloed tasks. Despite the rise of B2C startups, one cannot ignore how companies of all sizes have understood the need for rapid digitalisation and even entrusted certain business operations (especially workflow management) to focus more on their core competencies.
30 Startups To Watch: September 2022
As we took a deep dive into nearly 100 early stage startups for the September 2022 edition, we shortlisted 30 startups based on their disruptive solutions, technical capabilities and the innovation they bring to the table.
Interestingly, most are enterprise tech startups with a unique value proposition that makes them stand out. As efficient enablers, these B2B players are making life easier for MSMEs and mom-and-pop stores. (Do we see an overarching narrative of collaborative growth here?)
More than two-thirds of the startups offer solutions around payment management (along with bookkeeping and tax help), client engagement and automation of in-house processes.
There are 15 enterprise tech startups, four ecommerce players, four fintech entities, and one each in blockchain, deeptech, edtech, HR tech, real estate, social media and the gig economy.
Finally, we suggest you should not miss the B2C players in the list as these consumer-facing businesses are the first to identify new opportunities and customers.
Check Out The 32nd Edition Of Inc42’s 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 ALYF Made It To The List
Holiday home ownership has traditionally attracted high and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. But it has been out of reach for most people, considering skyrocketing prices, limited usage and property management expenses. As these second or even third homes are not used all year round, former NoBroker executive Saurabh Vohara set up ALYF to allow partial ownership of holiday homes by two-eight persons.
Launched in June 2022, the Mumbai-based startup takes care of the entire process – from onboarding to reselling – when a user ‘co-buys’ a holiday home. Three months into the launch, the realty startup has already done a recce of 15 properties in Lonavala, Alibaug and Goa, providing a detailed analysis of locations, amenities, co-ownership prices and maintenance costs to help one make an informed decision.
Incidentally, all co-owners can use the entire property for a specified number of days, depending on the number of co-owners. For instance, a person holding one-eighth ownership can use the holiday home for 44 days a year. A dedicated property attendant manages the co-owners’ schedules with the help of the ALYF app.
The startup also takes care of legal requirements such as due diligence, title ownership and government taxes. Additionally, it offers end-to-end property maintenance services and takes charge of leisure needs like spas, parties and chefs.
ALYF charges two types of fees – a 5-10% commission on property deals and a property management and maintenance fee. It eyes INR 50 Cr in sales by March 2023 and plans to expand to 10 more locations by 2024. By 2025, it aims to enter major global holiday destinations and hit INR 2,000 Cr in sales.
Why Arth Made It To The List
Economic independence is the backbone of a strong nation. However, a large number of micro-entrepreneurs from semi-urban and rural India find it difficult to access working capital as the country is yet to optimise financial inclusion.
To bridge this gap, phygital (physical+digital) lending startup Arth was set up in 2018 to cater to the owners of nano and micro-enterprises like local kirana stores, food stalls, small boutiques, home-based beauty businesses and more.
The Gurugram-based startup provides short-term micro-credit (inventory payment, unsecured loan) and insurance products (medical and credit insurance, among others) without requiring too many documents. It works with 500+ hyperlocal partners such as distributors, contractors and NGOs who help onboard new-to-digital and new-to-credit individuals.
Arth has partnered with NBFCs and insurers such as Capital India, Setu and Digit Insurance to deploy its products. So far, it has disbursed INR 470 Cr+ in credit to more than 370K individuals, of whom 55% are new to credit, the company claims.
As potential borrowers look for collateral-free loans, the fintech startup has developed an underwriting system based on socioeconomic factors, occupational insights and alternative credit data such as bill payment history, government transactions, property records and more.
Arth charges a processing fee on loans and claims to be on a revenue run rate of $2 Mn+ for FY23. It plans to co-develop a RuPay-enabled credit card-based solution in FY23 to provide on-demand credit.
The startup will expand its products and services by 2025 for upscaling MSMEs via a financial services platform which will feature business tools and financial literacy content for micro-entrepreneurs.
Why Augnito Made It To The List
When physicians create clinical documents manually, it detracts from the time available for direct patient care and often leads to poorly written notes that are difficult to decipher. So, Mumbai-based Augnito is simplifying the process with its AI-based speech recognition technology.
Set up in 2020, the startup offers a software programme based on natural language processing that converts a doctor’s audio notes into electronic medical records, making clinical documentation faster, more accurate and easier to access across the healthcare ecosystem.
With Augnito’s patent-pending products Everywhere and Voice Services, doctors can create, edit, format and complete reports through dictation and voice commands. Hospitals, too, can integrate its APIs and SDKs with existing clinical software for instant use.
The startup charges annual subscription fees for all its products, and currently, 10K+ physicians and 240+ enterprises in more than 15 countries are using them. It is looking to scale up all existing accounts in FY23 and aims to launch voice biomarkers by 2025.
Why Breakout Made It To The List
Equity financing is one of the most popular (and most expensive) methods of business funding. But with the onset of a long funding winter, most Indian startups have started exploring other capital options like recurring revenue financing or collateral-free debt instead of diluting their stake.
Founded in 2021, Bengaluru-based Breakout offers INR 10 Lakh-50 Cr collateral-free and non-dilutive finance, especially to D2C and ecommerce brands. Currently, it has four products – Jarvis, Expand, Extend and Hawk Eye.
The first provides an automated vendor payout system for managing bill payments and the second provides unsecured business loans based on recurring sales-based revenue. The third is a BNPL-style merchant financing solution and lastly, Hawk Eye users get a real-time monitoring system that connects sales, accounting, banking and ERP to get a holistic visibility of expenses, liabilities, revenue trends etc. Loans are disbursed through its lending partners, M Capital, Arthmate and U GRO Capital.
Companies looking to raise ‘Expand’ funding must share capital requirements, indicative future growth, bank statements, GST returns and sales details. Breakout provides a provisional term sheet after running the data through its proprietary underwriting model and disburses the loan within seven days.
Under the ‘Extend’ scheme, the lending tech startup finances a company’s inventory, but the amount must be repaid in 30-90 days, unlike the industry practice of daily/weekly payments.
While the startup’s revenue figures are undisclosed, Breakout is looking to grow its B2B client base and expand its offerings to brick-and-mortar retailers trying to go online.
Why Chat360 Made It To The List
The global chatbot market is estimated to reach $2 Bn by 2027, growing at a CAGR of more than 22%. Despite the current nascency, interactive and intuitive AI chatbots will soon become the gold standard in customer service across sectors as digitalisation is happening en masse.
Keeping in mind how omnichannel conversational bots can optimise business outcomes, Pune-based SaaS startup Chat360 has developed a drag-and-drop chatbot builder for WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and websites, enabling businesses to boost sales and engagement. These chatbots can help with sales and marketing (explaining products and closing deals), order-taking (for restaurants), customer support and more.
Setting up the programme is not difficult, either. The startup’s web-based dashboard allows businesses to create individual no-code chatbots for social platforms and websites. The dashboard also saves all permitted contact details of users collected via chatbots for marketing purposes.
To ensure bot responses are lucid and proactive, companies need to fill in all information regarding products and services, as well as standard answers to customer queries.
Revenue comes through subscriptions, but Chat360 has not disclosed the numbers. However, the three-year-old startup claims to have onboarded more than 100 clients such as LeadSqaured, Prystin Care, Renault Saudi Arabia, LG Saudi Arabia, Vectus India and more. It is also looking to expand its user base in India and the UAE in the current financial year.
Why Cheerio Made It To The List
The art of storytelling is changing as digital content creators take centre stage. But new-age creators often find it challenging to build, engage, retain and eventually monetise their respective communities. For users, too, it is not easy to find people who cater to their specific interests.
Bengaluru-based Cheerio was launched in 2021 to bridge this gap. The startup has developed a SaaS tool to help creators build communities, engage with members (by sharing newsletters, creating polls and more) and monetise all content formats. It also helps them automate content posting through RSS feeds, hold events and offer rewards to followers.
On the other hand, users can leverage its interactive content discovery and community aggregation platform to easily access communities and content creators appealing to their interests.
Users can also act as group admins and moderators and curate quality and paywall content for their communities. Content creators will incentivise them by sharing the revenue from paywalled content curated by them.
The startup charges subscription fees from creators, group admins and moderators, processing fees for paid events and locked content, and a premium subscription fee for all other users.
It has already onboarded more than 200 creators who have 10K+ followers. Cheerio plans to connect to 5K creators and 500K followers by FY23 and 2 Mn+ creators by 2025. It has projected $150K in revenue for FY23 and $50 Mn by 2025 on the back of 50 Mn users.
Why Cone Made It To The List
Hiring a CA at the tax season’s peak is a nightmare for many SMEs. But few have the means to hire full-time accountants throughout the year. To address this pain point, Cone was launched in June 2022, connecting SMEs to its dedicated accounting team for bookkeeping and taxation services.
Apart from basic features, the Hyderabad-based fintech service provider offers a bouquet of specialised solutions depending on the nature of the business and its requirements.
For ecommerce, it provides a dedicated financial expert and a web-based dashboard to generate real-time P&L statements, reconcile sales channels, analyse marketplace performances and more.
For startups and other businesses, Cone tracks KPIs such as topline numbers, ARR and burn rate, manages cash flow (invoices and payments), forecasts specific metrics and handles multi-entity tax and cross-border transfer pricing.
Cone charges a subscription fee for its services and its solutions can be integrated with existing accounting software like QuickBooks, Zoho Books, Excel, Stripe and more.
Why coto Made It To The List
India is home to an estimated 150 Mn digitally savvy women. But only 33% use social media due to a lack of confidence or for security reasons like online harassment. Launched in 2021, Mumbai- and Singapore-based coto aims to address this concern with a community platform for women to engage, connect and create content in a toxicity-free environment.
The web-based startup has tied up with blockchain behemoth Polygon for a zero-knowledge proof system that will allow only women (or those who identify themselves as women) to enrol. The forum will also implement facial recognition to identify all rogue factors and build a self-governing, Web3-based social community.
The Reddit-style platform is still in the pre-launch stage, but it has 500+ enrolments and aims for a hard launch in FY23.
Like all social media platforms, coto will feature user profiles and enable members to explore their interests without undue interference. (It will still have its community guidelines.) Besides, it will help women become creators and monetise their content.
Its long-term goal is to grow the community globally and experiment with revenue sources such as platform usage fees, content and merchandise commerce, NFT marketplace and brand partnerships.
Why Creatosaurus Made It To The List
Can creative tasks be automated or speeded up using tech tools? Whether it is content creation, curation, copywriting, graphic designing or publishing, various solutions are available for each requirement. In contrast, Creatosaurus was set up as an all-in-one enabler, helping users manage the entire content workflow on a single platform.
Founded in 2018, the Pune-based SaaS startup offers a host of cloud-based tools to collaborate with team members, curate ideas, design graphics, edit videos, schedule posts and manage social media accounts. Other value-added features include AI copywriting, hashtag analysis and integration with 20+ third-party apps such as Unsplash, Google Drive, Slack, Bitmoji and Giphy for quality-driven, asset-light production.
The startup has a freemium model and offers four subscription plans. But it has not clocked any revenue yet as the platform was in a restricted beta until recently. It is now open to the public and claims to have around 250 free users.
Creatosaurus plans to onboard 10K users by FY23 and add new features like video, audio and text editors. It also aims to increase third-party integrations to more than 50. It plans to onboard 1 Mn+ users by 2025 and earn $1 Mn+ in annual revenue.
Why DigiPhyNFT Made It To The List
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a recent phenomenon that gained popularity when creators of all sorts started tokenising their works and got huge returns. Soon enough, brands began to join the bandwagon in droves to incentivise customers, enhance engagement and earn additional revenues via digital assets.
NFTs for brands may not be a fad (given their scalability to the metaverse and endless possibilities). But Chirag Jain and Lipi Gulati were aware of the pain points faced by many companies.
For instance, there was a need to spread tech awareness and simplify the processes so that businesses could quickly launch their NFTs, crypto tokens, wallets and more. So, the husband-wife duo launched DigiPhyNFT in January 2022.
The Gurugram-based startup offers an all-in-one PaaS (platform-as-a-service) solution to help brands provide utility NFTs (coupons, tickets, and more). They can also integrate custom NFTs with their online/offline stores, trade those on the DigiPhyNFT’s marketplace and reward customers with crypto-based assets like tokens, NFT badges and metaverse accessories.
Additionally, a metaverse integration service allows businesses to create customised spaces.
In less than a year, DigiPhyNFT has partnered with more than 15 brands and creators (galleries and artists, musicians, fashion and jewellery designers, edtechs and event organisers) to build and showcase their NFTs on its marketplace. It charges a one-time fee for API integration and a commission on each NFT transaction.
The startup plans to work with 100+ brands in 2022 and targets 100K+ users on the platform. By 2023, it aims to reach 200+ brands, deal in 200K+ NFTs and earn $1 Mn in revenue.
Why DINGG Made It To The List
Spas and salons can bring steady profits as life slowly returns to normalcy after the pandemic, and more people now focus on wellness and personal grooming. But small establishments using a pen-and-paper work mode often suffer as they cannot leverage the advantages of digitalisation to tap into their full potential.
Founded in 2018, Pune-based queue management startup DINGG realised how digitally transforming these beauty services would optimise operations and enhance customer services. So, the B2B SaaS platform pivoted in 2020 and developed an array of tools to help beauty clinics, spas and salons looking for a technology makeover.
DINGG’s services include booking management (through calls, messages and social media), inventory tracking and workflow automation for attendance and salary payment. It also offers invoicing services, automates marketing operations and provides customer insights. Businesses can access these services via a web dashboard and Android and iOS apps.
The startup charges an annual subscription fee and caters to around 1,200 companies in India and the UAE. It plans to enter the US market in FY23 and extend its services to gyms and fitness centres, wellness centres, nail art salons and tattoo artists, targeting annual revenue of $600K.
Why DocTunes Made It To The List
More than 20% of Indians are not bilingual, which means they are not able to read languages other than their mother tongue. As for English, only 20% of Indians use it as their first, second or third language.
To overcome this language barrier, data science and deep learning experts Dewang Bhardwaj and Kunal Singh Shekhawat set up DocTunes in 2021, which scans the written text in any language and converts it into an audio file in the user’s preferred language.
The text-to-speech conversion and translation service supports more than 30 local and foreign languages. Plus, it features 150+ sample voices to help users choose language, speed and pitch for a better experience. DocTunes leverages neural network learning, and users can access the service via its Android and iOS apps.
From news pieces to entire books, the Jaipur-based startup claims to have converted nearly 500 Mn characters for 50K+ users across 170+ countries.
It has adopted a freemium model and targets INR 25 Lakh in revenue in FY23. The number of paid subscriptions is still low, but its ad-supported model helps push the earnings. The platform aims to reach 10K+ subscriptions and INR 1 Cr in revenue by FY24 and plans to build a vocabulary of 5 Bn+ words.
Why DropTheQ Made It To The List
India’s brick-and-mortar retail market is estimated to be worth $1.4 Tn by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 9%. Interestingly, fast food and grocery buying will account for more than 50% of this market. As physical retail is not going anywhere soon, one can expect longer queues at the checkout counters of malls and stores.
India may not have its desi version of Amazon Go (no-checkout shopping at brick-and-mortar stores). But Noida-based DropTheQ offers a unique point-of-sale (PoS) system that enables users to place orders directly at stores via a mobile app and pay online to self-checkout without queueing up at the till.
The startup was founded in 2019 but went live in January 2022 as life slowly returned to normal after pandemic disruptions. It now caters to B2B clients, mainly supermarkets, food courts and restaurants, and offers three comprehensive solutions via its consumer-facing Android and iOS apps.
Besides store ordering and payment, there is a specific service for food courts, restaurants/cafés and quick-service restaurants (QSRs). A QR code-based Order2Serve tool enables customers to order food from their phones and get it served at the table (users can pick up their orders at self-serve places). Plus, they can pay online for a hassle-free experience.
The pre-order feature also helps cafeteria and mess owners, as users can book their meals early and pick up the food later. Businesses can manage all orders via the startup’s web dashboard or integrate the backend with their existing CRM tools.
DropTheQ charges a per-order fee from partner outlets but has not disclosed the revenue run rate for FY23. But it claims to have taken nearly 200K orders by onboarding more than eight food courts and 15+ QSRs and restaurants/cafes in the last eight months. To scale up its business, it plans to onboard cafeterias and canteens of tech offices and management institutions.
Why Dubdub.ai Made It To The List
Aware of the immense potential of vernacular content, Dubdub.ai was set up in 2021 to enable audio dubbing in more than 50 languages, using AI-powered speech synthesis and generative modelling.
The New Delhi-based SaaS startup claims that the system is 4-10 times faster than traditional dubbing and does not require a recording studio, making the process up to 70% cheaper. When a translated script is submitted, the web platform’s text-to-speech tool generates the audio by cloning the speaker’s original voice. In fact, clients can create or clone any voice and edit the speech in real time.
The startup is still in closed beta, but to prevent the misuse of ‘deep fake’ in dubbing, it only provides an audio cloning licence for restricted use cases. When it goes for a hard launch in 2023, it will ask users to disclose the dubbing usage and seek permission from voice owners for cloning (in case they are living persons).
Dubdub.ai charges a subscription fee, but there is a pay-per-minute module for short-duration and single-use dubbing projects. It has not disclosed revenue details, but its client base includes a mix of OTTs, content production houses and news and sports channels.
The startup will provide API-based solutions for social media apps in FY23 and aims to become the preferred content localisation partner for local and global studios looking to dub content in Indian vernaculars. Its long-term goal is to enter the US, the EU and the APAC markets.
Why Ezo Books Made It To The List
Most small and medium businesses in India rely on kaccha bills and the age-old bahi-khata to manage their offline business accounting. But in the absence of a qualified accountant, managing those paper invoices, filing taxes manually and following critical compliances tend to be tough. To combat these issues, Ezo Books, an ad hoc invoicing solution for offline retailers, was launched in 2020.
The Mumbai-based SaaS startup has developed an easy-to-use accounting programme in more than 10 languages such as English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu and Punjabi.
Companies only need to register with Ezo Books and use the desktop interface for billing. The rest is done by the backend programme as it generates sales reports, builds customer profiles and updates the inventory and account payables and receivables based on sales, purchases and expenses. An entrepreneur can also manage multiple shops/businesses using a single interface.
Home entrepreneurs and freelancers can also use Ezo’s Android app to generate on-the-go bills and share payment links/QR codes for quick payments. Moreover, Ezo makes it easy for retailers to manage taxes as it helps with filing income tax and GST returns.
Why Globlam Made It To The List
India is the fifth-largest manufacturing economy, but even now, its exports account for less than 21% of the country’s total GDP and contribute only 1.7% to global trade. But the big picture changed in the wake of the pandemic. Indian businesses underwent a digital transformation to cope with physical lockdowns; ecommerce grew by nearly 20%, and digital borders started disappearing.
Realising how the tide was turning, former IndiaMart executive Khushiram Kadian set up Globlam in 2021, a cross-border and category-agnostic wholesale marketplace, to help Indian companies grow their overseas business.
Based in Sonipat, Haryana, the startup onboards large manufacturers, traders, exporters and artisans for its B2B marketplace and provides them with a full suite of business enablement services. These include digital marketing solutions, access to international payment facilities and logistics support via tie-ups. An account management team is in place to iron out all operational challenges.
The Alibaba-like startup charges a percentage of the transaction value as its fee but has not disclosed the numbers.
Globlam currently features 20+ categories and 6.5K+ products and claims to have onboarded more than 70 merchants during its beta run. It is still working on a product-market fit and eyeing $500K revenue in FY23 by reaching 10K+ buyers across the globe.
Why Habitat Made It To The List
The rise of online learning in the wake of the pandemic has brought several benefits to the student community. For instance, they can get coaching from well-known teachers/subject matter experts as there are no geographical barriers in the digital world. But the teachers (read: creators) may not find it too easy to get started.
First, they need to boost student engagement on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Next, they must rely on encoded messaging platforms like WhatsApp or Telegram to securely share content links and monetise the same. Finally, many struggle with spreadsheets to manage workflow and track their incomes.
The shift to virtual learning will likely push higher education despite these glitches. Hence, New Delhi-based Habitat was set up to do away with multiple platforms used by creators to share their content and manage their workflow.
Founded in 2020, the startup’s web-based interface allows creators to automate the entire subscription management procedure, from sending payment links to keeping track of payments, renewals, memberships and offers.
Additionally, it has developed Android and iOS apps with WhatsApp and Telegram-like features to improve student engagement. Users can write posts, create polls and collaborate with other creators for a well-rounded experience.
Habitat charges creators a 3-10% transaction fee when their students pay for the content and claims to have onboarded 100+ creators. All other features available on the platform are currently free.
The startup has not disclosed its revenue run rate but says it is growing at 30% month on month. It plans to onboard about 1,000 creators by the end of this financial year and aims to monetise some of its free features (current and new) by 2025.
Why HireSure Made It To The List
In these days of great resignation, quiet quitting, and moonlighting concerns, staffing remains a critical issue and a great equaliser. Companies of all sizes, especially new-age tech startups, are gunning for top talent to push business growth. But hiring fails to keep pace as many selected candidates ‘ghost’ or leave for greener pastures due to better salaries, more value-added work profiles, or both.
Keen to take the pain out of hiring and resolve the issues around right-compensating a candidate (both financially and non-financially), IIT-Kanpur alumni Anurag Dixit, Anshul Mishra and Ramesh Konatham launched HireSure in 2019.
The Bengaluru-based startup has developed an API-driven compensation benchmarking tool that provides real-time industry data and helps HR go beyond routine offer letters. In simple terms, it not only sells the job but brings forth the company culture and non-financial benefits along with a graphical salary breakup. HireSure also predicts a potential dropout based on the behaviour signals during interviews and suggests a course correction strategy.
The HRtech startup has also developed a chatbot called Arci for candidates to ask questions about the job offer or the company or request a shift in the joining date. In addition, the bot completes many recruitment formalities like document collection, procuring candidates’ signatures and onboarding.
HireSure solutions can be integrated with existing HR and payroll systems. The startup charges a subscription fee for its services and claims to be catering to 500+ startups. It plans to scale the platform for its Indian clients and aims to go global, starting with the US.
Why MeetRecord Made It To The List
The sales function of any company, big or small, is critical for survival and sustenance. And when this function went digital, many conversational AI tools came up to extend online support. However, Indian SMEs rarely have trained resources to manoeuvre complex systems.
Snehal Nimje, Sachin Sinha and Paras Jain, cofounders of traveltech player Zoliday, faced a similar challenge and decided to build MeetRecord.
Launched in March 2022, its transcription tool uses artificial intelligence to analyse meeting and CRM data to generate insights and discover patterns in sales deals. The web interface can be integrated with all popular CRM systems like Salesforce and Pipeline to create teams and provide data-driven sales solutions for enhanced operations.
Also, unlike the intricate systems built for legacy tech companies, the startup’s web-based solutions can be easily used by non-tech businesses.
Bengaluru-based MeetRecord has adopted a freemium model and onboarded about 20 paying clients and 40+ free users within a few months of its launch. It charges subscription fees for premium features and claims to be en route to $150K in annual revenues for FY23. It also aims to hit $20 Mn in yearly revenue by 2025.
Why NautOne Made It To The List
Online retail is dominating the new normal in the aftermath of Covid-19. The outcome? Both legacy businesses and small-format stores are now keen to move online and optimise sales. But to achieve that, companies must have a well-aligned channel mix plan to turn every prospect into a paying customer.
In comes Chennai-based NautOne to help businesses ‘market’ and ‘sell’ their products online.
Launched in 2021, the startup has trademarked its solutions under SHOWcial Commerce and SHOWcial Marketing. The ‘commerce’ part enables brands to manage and optimise all distribution channels like websites, apps, social media platforms and marketplaces (Amazon, CRED, eBay and the like) to drive multichannel sales. Also, its dashboard helps brands analyse where most users come from and create a marketing strategy accordingly.
SHOWcial Marketing, on the other hand, has been specially designed for service industries (think real estate or restaurants) to boost performance marketing on relevant marketplaces like NoBroker and Swiggy/Zomato, respectively.
The digital marketing agency charges real estate companies and restaurants a 2-3% commission per transaction, while D2C brands pay a ﬂat fee to NautOne for managing their marketing. From its partner marketplaces, it charges a commission for upselling and cross-selling and gets commissions on advertisements.
With 250+ clients in its kitty, the startup is eyeing an annual revenue of $1 Mn in FY23 and aims to increase it 15x in another two years.
Why PickMyWork Made It To The List
As the cost of living continues to skyrocket, many college students look for part-time jobs to earn a little money. While these opportunities (giving tuition, ghostwriting, data entry work and more) are plenty in Tier 1 cities, students from Tier 2 and beyond often face many hurdles finding such jobs.
Aware of the young people’s plight, second-time entrepreneurs Kajal Malik, Vidyarthi Badireddy and Utsav Bhattacharjee found a way to help non-metro students find gainful employment by training them as sales agents.
The trio launched PickMyWork in 2019 and primarily targeted the student base as their previous venture Reculta was a college placement startup. However, others can join the Internshala-style platform that trains part-time hires/freelancers to sell digital products by creating bank accounts, completing KYCs, enabling merchant acquisitions (for marketplaces) and doing efficient data labelling. All B2C users are paid commissions on weekly sales.
To create more job opportunities, the gig platform onboards internet companies looking to scale across Tier 2 locations and charges its B2C and B2B clients a fee per sale.
PickMyWork has not disclosed the current number of gig workers on its platform but aims to reach 1 Mn by FY23. It has 25 B2B clients, including Google, Flipkart, Lucidata and more, and plans to double this number by March 2023.
Why Produze Made It To The List
India ranks fourth among the world’s top agricultural producers. But poorly managed procurement and an inefficient supply chain controlled by multilevel intermediaries lead to inconsistent quality, low pricing and massive wastage, thus impacting agri exports.
To boost the earnings of Indian agri producers, former Ninjacart executives Ben Mathew and Gaurav Agrawal, along with serial entrepreneurs Rakesh Sasidharan and Emil Soman, launched Produze in 2022. The B2B ecommerce platform will connect Indian producers and wholesalers with retail businesses across North America, the EU and the Middle East, thus enabling direct transactions and ensuring a good profit margin on a par with global markets.
Global buyers will also benefit as they can access good quality agri produce at competitive pricing.
Produze will further help with source-level logistics, international port operations and last-mile distribution for a fee.
The startup has not yet launched commercially but recently raised a seed round of $2.6 Mn to onboard all stakeholders and build a full-fledged capability, from product discovery to fulfilment.
Why Rupyz Made It To The List
India is home to 7.9 Mn SMEs, and their production surpassed the pre-Covid level earlier this year. But as businesses grow exponentially, more companies need handholding and tech-based solutions for rapid growth.
Aware of the country’s massive potential in industry and commerce, Gurugram-based Rupyz was launched in 2018 as an end-to-end businesses enabler as its Android apps help companies with product discovery, online transactions, fulfilment, credit and cash flow management.
Its sales app allows brands, manufacturers and traders to feature their digital business profiles and transact via an online marketplace. Besides, companies can hold one-on-one chats, manage their order portfolio and promote their businesses on the app’s social feed.
Rupyz’s B2B business app also helps businesses build their respective credit profiles by managing and reconciling their payments and invoices using the app’s auto-reminder feature. This also helps analyse the red flags before raising working capital or business loans.
The startup is also educating small and medium businesses about the benefits of real-time business credit scores and aims to grow its customer base to 100 Mn in the long term.
Why Subtl.ai Made It To The List
People often look up specific queries on the internet using standard search engines like Google and Bing. But these public search tools do not work in private settings.
In a world that is rapidly turning digital, governments, banks, legal firms, libraries, universities and other organisations have come up with vast databases. And employees are compelled to use the traditional Ctrl+F function to search multiple documents for the most relevant data.
Hyderabad-based Subtl.ai was set up in 2020 to provide internet-search-like ease of access to those databases. It has developed a U.S. patent-pending plug-and-play neural search system that helps personnel locate the most relevant answers from their company databases, intranets, cloud storage and personal records.
Subtl.ai clients can integrate the API with their cloud databases and use the chatbot to ask questions. Like web searches, the startup’s neural processing tech reads through the text and pinpoints the most relevant information.
Currently, it works with three B2B clients and charges a subscription fee per user per annum for its search service. But there is a provision for usage-based pricing for companies that want to embed Subtl.AI in their search bars. It also offers a 30-day free trial for potential customers.
Subtl.ai targets more than $100K in revenue for FY23 and aims to serve nearly 5 Mn end users. It is also planning to enter the B2C space by 2025.
Why Sudo Foods Made It To The List
Veganism is no longer a micro-trend but a widely followed global lifestyle choice. But for some, the move to veganism is marred by the limited product range that fails to satisfy one’s taste buds or meet nutritional needs. One way to eat cleaner and healthier without giving up on gourmet delights is to choose mock/plant-based meat.
Launched in June 2022, the D2C pseudo-meat brand Sudo Foods has come up with more than five FSSAI-approved food products, including seekh kebab, chicken samosa, burger patty, chicken popcorn and mutton galouti kebab.
The Bengaluru-based startup claims that all its products contain high protein but no cholesterol/trans fats or preservatives. Also, most of these are soy- and gluten-free for better gastrointestinal health and fast autoimmune responses.
Sudo recipes have been created and curated in-house, and the product range is contract-manufactured in Kochi.
All products are sold through its website and marketplaces like BigBasket, Herbivo and VeganDukan. But the range will soon be available in Bengaluru supermarkets.
The startup did not disclose its revenue but said it would launch five more products in snacking and non-veg meal replacement categories. All products will be shipped to metro cities beyond Bengaluru by FY23. Sudo Foods plans to double down on its R&D and become a ‘House of Vegan Food’ in another two years.
Why The WorldGrad Made It To The List
In 2021, more than 4.4 Lakh Indian students went to study abroad, a 41% YoY increase, and the number continues to rise. This trend calls for expert education counsellors who can guide young students and help them make the right choices.
However, Mumbai-based The WorldGrad has gone one step ahead to bring remote learning to the overseas education format for several benefits.
Set up in 2021, the edtech startup ensures that the students qualifying for overseas programmes can learn remotely throughout the first semester with the help of a virtual learning model and one-on-one tutors. This will help reduce overall living expenses by INR 20 Lakh or so.
More importantly, students will have enough time to get all essential documents in place. Plus, the remote induction and year-long interaction will help students adjust quickly to the new socio-cultural environment when they go overseas for the rest of their tenure.
The WorldGrad also offers essential student counselling services, helping users to apply to 100+ foreign institutions and ensuring a 6+ yearly intake of students compared to the industry standard of 2-3. Besides, it helps with IELTS preparation, student visa and work permit.
The startup currently covers universities in the UK, the US, Australia and the UAE but plans to expand to Canada and Singapore by the end of this financial year. The fees for hybrid overseas study programmes comprise nearly 80% of its revenue, while the rest comes from other services such as IELTS prepping and visa support provided to 50K+ students.
The WorldGrad aims to grow its partner universities to 200 in FY23 from the current 100 and targets $3 Mn in revenue by increasing its student base by 10x. In another two years, it will explore upskilling programmes and international internship opportunities for its students in major foreign countries.
Why TSAW Made It To The List
Delivery drones are likely to disrupt the future of the logistics industry. But Indian startups building UAVs or developing a third-party drone logistics platform are rare.
Launched in 2019, Technit Space and Aero Works (TSAW) has delved deep into this space and is currently working on a bouquet of solutions. These include building drones (Maruthi and Adarna), charting a government-approved dedicated drone corridor for last-mile intracity deliveries and developing a drone cloud intelligence system (DCIS) for real-time access to telemetry data from drone fleets.
Based in Noida (Uttar Pradesh), the drone-as-a-service startup is still in the pre-launch stage but has conducted trial flights in Kolkata, Indore, Mumbai, Gurugram, Madurai, Hyderabad and Coimbatore. When fully functional, it intends to provide its in-house drones with a 5 kg payload over a distance of 40 km and use its DCIS for path planning and drone traffic deconfliction.
TSAW will also provide access to its dedicated drone corridors for clients in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand for transportation of medical supplies.
Although it is undergoing final-phase developments, the drone startup aims to launch its services in three Tier 1 cities by FY23. This will be done in partnership with Zypp Electric, a logistics company specialising in EV-as-a-Service.
It will charge a monthly subscription fee for its services but has not announced its full business model.
Why Unfinance Made It To The List
India recently overtook the UK to emerge as the fifth-largest economy. But according to a recent S&P survey, more than 75% of Indian adults do not have a thorough understanding of basic financial concepts. The gap widens for women – around 80% still lack financial education.
Aware of this pain point, serial entrepreneurs Kunwar Raj and Amit Singh set up Unfinance in 2021 to bring financial literacy to all so that people can make informed decisions.
The Gurugram-based startup began its journey as a social media page. It later evolved into a 60-word financial news app and also came up with a newsletter. The latter is distributed via WhatsApp and has an open rate of 85%.
It has a team of journalists who curate (and summarise) financial news and provide stock market updates, money-saving and money-making tips, and investment guides on the app. The startup also recommends personal finance books and teaches how to use the free decision-making tools developed by the platform. Lately, it has started publishing video news summaries.
Unfinance boasts 300K+ downloads (across Android and iOS) and a 25K+ reader base for its newsletter. Currently, its revenue comes from digital ads and paid content partnerships. But it aims to earn more from in-house courses and masterclasses to be launched in FY23. By 2025, the startup aims to onboard 500 Mn users, up from the current 1 Mn.
Why Vossle Made It To The List
The global AR-VR market size is estimated to reach $110 Bn by 2027, growing at a CAGR of nearly 25%. The technology will be used by businesses keen to enhance user engagement or build more interactive metaverses. This underlines a growing need for AR-VR enablers similar to what Shopify does for ecommerce and Akamai for content streaming.
Understanding the emerging trend, serial entrepreneurs and siblings Prafulla and Pulkit Mathur built Vossle in 2020 as a no-code SaaS platform in the cloud for businesses to create web-based augmented reality (WebAR) and virtual experiences.
The Gurugram-based tech startup enables businesses to create AR/VR campaigns for product visualisation, packaging, virtual try-on, interactive teaching, 3D reproductions for advertisements/gaming and more.
It has a freemium business model, and during the free trial, companies can create unlimited AR experiences that can get up to 100 free views per experience. Paid subscription starts from $99 per month, where users can create various AR experiences for up to 10K views and need to pay $0.01 per additional view. A commercial subscription also allows white-labelling/custom branding of virtual creations.
Vossle operates in India and the US and caters to 1,000+ businesses. It is looking to increase its client base in FY23 by bringing in more marketing and creative agencies. Besides, it plans to set up a network of channel partners and platforms by 2025 to enable more VR integrations.
Why Xpresslane Made It To The List
Ecommerce, especially the direct-to-commerce (D2C) format, is thriving in a post-pandemic world. But all is not well with the e-retailers.
Around 51% of online shoppers still abandon their carts due to a lengthy checkout process or because they have forgotten login details or do not want to create yet another online account. Moreover, a higher COD rate leads to higher returns-to-origin as shoppers have no obligation to accept orders.
Realising the need for a one-click universal checkout, former Jabong executive Ashwin Koorakula joined Blue Yonder product specialist Madhukar Reddimasi to launch Xpresslane in 2019.
The Bengaluru-based ecommerce enabler has developed CheckoutOS for D2C brands to provide dynamic checkout experiences based on a user’s visit frequency (first-time/recurring). Simply put, when a shopper (not a first-time visitor, though) reaches the checkout part, the autofill option gets activated, and one need not fill in the information recorded earlier. Additionally, Checkout Analytics helps brands understand user behaviour, create custom campaigns and track campaign performances for better growth.
Xpresslane has not disclosed its revenue numbers but charges a fee per transaction and claims to have partnered with 120 D2C brands in India. In the current financial year, it will expand into headless checkouts (where shoppers can purchase a product on any digital interface instead of visiting the brand’s dedicated app/website) and aims to enter the global market by 2025.
[Edited By Sanghamitra Mandal]
Update | October 4, 2022, 3:30 PM
Minor changes in profiles and factsheets of some profiles.