Since 2020, the Inc42 team has been curating 30 sector-agnostic startups every month. The parameters: Each has a unique value proposition and the potential to disrupt their respective sectors
This month’s list includes 30 companies involved in offbeat use cases and innovative processes across blockchain, enterprise tech and ecommerce
We have digitalised almost every task in the wake of the pandemic. It is time to see if the startups listed here can turn an established business operation on its head
The 26th edition of the ‘30 Startups To Watch’ series comes right at the beginning of FY23. The year that concluded just now had been insanely good for the Indian startup ecosystem. It rained unicorns and soonicorns. Funding flowed in as never before. The public market saw a surge of startup IPOs. And brand new sectors like quick commerce made their presence felt with a bang.
We have also completed two years since the Covid-19 pandemic turned our world upside down. It stalled businesses and played havoc with the economy at large. But tech took over; almost everything went digital; every critical business operation was up in the cloud, and most startups did not fail to innovate in the face of a crisis.
It is good news that our war veterans are no longer struggling to pivot and stay afloat. Better still, new soldiers with novel ideas are taking over the internet (and blockchain). Our list of startups in the new financial year reflects the craze to charm consumers en masse by creating solutions to problems that we never knew existed.
As we shortlisted the startups for the March 2022 edition after our silver jubilee success, the idea was to look for disruptive concepts and one-of-its-kind tech companies. While some features of these startups may overlap with some big competitors, they are here to deep dive into the new-age technology whose surface we have merely scratched.
30 Startups To Watch: March 2022
This month’s list features 30 unique companies involved in offbeat use cases and innovative processes across blockchain, enterprise tech and ecommerce. Some of them are yet to find the product-market fit, which is essential for sustainable growth. And many of them are still in beta and looking for the right market. In this edition, we have listed the companies reimagining the working models of traditional sectors – the creator economy, extra-curricular edtech, assisted financing, artisanal ecommerce and more. Again, some companies have innovative business models within the existing sectors. Ever heard of subscription revenue as an asset class? Well, we have it this time.
As many as 10 enterprise tech startups took centre stage, followed by fintech, ecommerce, blockchain and healthtech startups. We also have one agri-fintech firm catering to first-time borrowers and an exciting blockchain startup that allows users to own crypto-backed cards to shop as they want.
Check out the 26th 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 AppX Made It To The List
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, India’s edtech sector has witnessed a boom in online classes, while a new set of industry jargon like YouTube teachers has become prevalent. The new normal has also given rise to the infotainment economy, disseminated mainly via social media and instant messaging platforms. New Delhi-based AppX was started in 2020 to empower the new-age edtech creators who can use its no-code SaaS platform to create their apps to sell digital products like study material, ebooks, newsletters, podcasts, sample tests and more.
Using the platform is quite simple. After registering, creators have to choose the UI for the app from three pre-designed options, select the products or features to be displayed, enter the product details and upload and link the content. Users can develop both Android and iOS apps that will be available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. There is no upfront fee for app development. But AppX charges a 10% commission on every sale made on the apps developed on the platform. It eyes an ARR of $2 Mn for FY22.
So far, the YCombinator-backed startup has onboarded more than 3K creators, and two of the apps created on the AppX platform have already seen more than 1 Mn installations each. The company now plans to extend the platform for gaming, fitness and fashion content creators. In addition, it will help them create custom websites as it has recently acquired the website building platform Superpage for an undisclosed amount. AppX is currently operational only in India, but it plans to expand to the US, the UAE and the Southeast Asian markets by 2025.
Why Benny’s Bowl Made It To The List
Although the pandemic has wreaked havoc worldwide, there is a silver lining in terms of increasing health awareness. Even pet parents today choose high-quality, healthy food for their pets to strengthen their immunity and ensure overall well-being. Akshay Gupta and Aashna Jain, who have served the pet care industry for eight years now and host Pet Fed, one of India’s largest pet carnivals, are also bombarded with questions about proper pet diet. So, the duo set up Benny’s Bowl in 2021, named in memory of their friend’s dog, Benny.
The New Delhi-based pet food firm offers three single-serve, ‘human-grade’ dog food varieties (food that meets human food safety standards), containing ingredients such as fresh meat and vegetables without additives and preservatives. The recipes are created in consultation with pet nutritionists, and foods are produced at the company’s in-house manufacturing unit. The products are packed using retort technology that uses heat and pressure to sterilise food and extend its shelf life up to two years.
Benny’s Bowl is an omnichannel brand. It also has a subscription service for customising food nutrients in sync with a pet’s age. It means that when a puppy grows, its feeding plan will be adjusted accordingly.
Although the startup currently serves about 500 customers, it claims an ARR of INR 60 Lakh for FY22. By the end of the current calendar year, it plans to reach out to more customers and increase the number of SKUs by introducing new recipes and treats for both cats and dogs.
Why Caleedo Made It To The List
The healthtech sector in India has witnessed a surge in technology innovation in the wake of the pandemic, helping both consumers and service providers deal with many critical challenges. But there is still an enormous chasm between theory and application, and companies often struggle to provide easy-to-access, smart-tech solutions that can add value to the ecosystem. Gurugram-based Caleedo was launched in 2019 to address this pain point.
Caleedo develops hyperautomated enterprise-grade applications so that service providers such as business support services and facilities management at workplaces and patient care services at hospitals can digitise business flow by syncing multiple technologies. It has patented two applications that can be used as an integrated enterprise solution or through standalone digital applications.
The first product is Hygieneo, a software alongside a Wi-Fi-enabled IoT meter, that monitors, measures and reports the indoor air quality and surface hygiene levels across commercial and public spaces like offices and hotels. Hygieneo offers a subscription-based model, and the cost of the hardware is amortised over the SaaS subscription in 36 months, allowing customers a convenient no-CAPEX procurement process. The other patented product is Vizit, a subscription-based video conferencing and visitor management app with a web interface that hospitals can use for contactless interactions.
As health and safety-led protocols are being rolled out at workplaces and hospitals, with the focus on low/zero contact, Caleedo plans to launch more industry-first digital applications this year but did not reveal the details. The company claims an annual revenue rate of INR 1 Cr, growing at 20% month on month, and says it will break even by January-March, 2023. It will also raise an institutional round of funding by that time for IPR protection and market expansion.
Why Camplus Made It To The List
With edtech in India setting new standards, hybrid learning is taking centre stage. But this has led to piles of administrative work for the academic and the non-academic staff. Students, too, bear the brunt of using multiple apps like Google Classroom, Calendar and Drive, WhatsApp for class groups, Hostelworld, Eventbrite and more to keep track of every activity happening in their institution. That is why Mumbai-based Camplus aims to organise and digitalise a student’s college and hostel life via an application that unifies campus life management and the security measures followed there.
Although launched in 2021, the app is still in early access mode. But it will have a number of features, including a campus admin-managed notice board and attendance tracker, a hostel admin-managed list of canteen and housekeeping services, and a Google Classroom-style learning management system for assignment submission, club creation and visitor management, among others. Its revenue will come from annual, tier-based licensing fees chosen by campus administrators plus monthly subscription fees based on the number of users.
Post the product testing, Camplus will roll out the app in Southern India, especially in Karnataka, and raise funding. It also plans to build a convenience app for in-office and remote workers by 2023.
Why Cosmofeed Made It To The List
Content creators often face scalability issues, especially those providing resources on WhatsApp, Telegram or other messaging apps. For instance, they mostly rely on swathes of Excel sheets to maintain payment details, community contacts, content distribution and engagement information, which will reduce their overall efficiency. In addition, they can only create a limited number of member groups on these third-party apps, yet another barrier to scale. However, Gurugram-based Cosmofeed offers a suite of solutions to improve creators’ workflow so that they can easily monetise the entire content or a part of it while building deep engagement across communities.
Launched in 2021, this Telegram-like app allows creators to build automated subscription channels, collect payments on customisable schedules, develop gated content to monetise data, create and manage events and conduct live classes and cohort-based discussions. Although the app and its offerings are free to use, the company charges a 10% commission on every transaction made on the platform. As for content consumers, it aims to be a one-stop, personalised solution for a wide range of requirements, from movie recommendations to useful micro-courses to consulting with experts to discussions and participation in live events.
Cosmofeed claims to have reached 50K+ consumers in February 2022 and says that 20% of them are paid users. It plans to grow its user base to 50 Lakh by 2025.
Why Crejo.Fun Made It To The List
Before the pandemic outbreak in 2020, no one thought it possible to teach extracurricular activities online, mainly due to poor tech infrastructure and the unavailability of good quality teachers. But Covid-19 has forced all stakeholders to adopt online learning ever since, and Crejo.Fun came into being. Launched in 2020, the Bengaluru-based platform hosts live online classes for kids aged 4-11 and offers 12-15 month courses on art and craft, dance, public speaking, chess and yoga, among others.
Unlike many edtech platforms that operate as marketplaces to connect teachers and students, Crejo has opted for contract hires. Teachers are further trained in content, pedagogy and technology as the startup offers in-house curricula to retain its high-quality standards. It also provides a proprietary Zoom alternative called Funroom for hosting interactive online sessions. Classes are held in batches of up to four kids per batch, allowing teachers to customise learning based on individual requirements. Besides getting certificates for individual courses, students opting for multiple topics can access the platform’s ‘Canvas’ feature to showcase their output and build their portfolios.
The company is currently operational in 45 countries, including India, Canada, the US and other nations across Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It claims more than 50K paying users and a revenue of $500K in FY22. Crejo aims to increase its earnings to $1 Mn by Q1 FY23 and expects to earn a revenue of $100 Mn by FY25.
Why Ecowrap Made It To The List
In India, around 63 Mn tonnes of waste are generated every year, of which 43 Mn tonnes are collected. Around 28% of the collected waste is treated while the rest is dumped as it is too difficult to segregate, thus creating a toxic environment in and around the colossal landfills. Set up in 2020, Jaipur-based Ecowrap intends to change how waste is collected from the HoReCa industry. The key to success is segregating it at the source and selling it to recyclers.
Here’s how waste segregation and disposal are done in a hassle-free manner. To begin with, the startup provides four IoT-enabled garbage bins (for plastic, paper, food and mixed garbage) and asks each company to have a person on the premises who will do the waste segregation. Second, it tracks the position and capacity of each bin and directs the companies via its Android app to dispose of the waste to the nearest Ecowrap collection centre. Finally, it creates a waste audit report and incentivises companies based on how much waste has been segregated and disposed of.
While the HoReCa company receives 60% of the incentive, Ecowrap pays the rest 40% to the waste segregator. The waste thus collected is sold to dedicated recycling companies. Currently, its services are only available in Jaipur, but it plans to expand to Delhi-NCR and Chandigarh by August this year.
The startup may soon convert the commission of 400+ HoReCa waste providers from cash to tokens that can be redeemed at FMCG marketplaces. It also plans to enlist 1.5K+ HoReCa partners and bring more than 30K tonnes of waste to the source segregation and treatment process by 2022.
Why Farm Infinity Made It To The List
In India, farmers can rarely access institutional credit despite numerous policies and budgetary allocations. Many of them have to wait for months before availing of small loans, while others, with immediate requirements, have to pay hefty interests to local money lenders. Aware of this credit crunch and how farmers struggle to cope with the lending bias of legacy companies, Guwahati-based Farm Infinity is developing an agri-fintech platform powered by a patent-pending solution that determines the creditworthiness of farmers on 80+ parameters, 600 datasets and more than 10 Mn data from the government database.
The lending tech firm has also tied up with banks, encouraging them to provide crop and livestock loans and insurances based on the credit scores calculated by its proprietary credit assessment system. There are multiple benefits as the system reduces the time required for manual background checks, speeds up the entire loan processing and helps reduce the risk of NPAs.
The Android app is still in the early-access mode, and select users can submit their financial requirements via the app. Otherwise, Farm Infinity’s agents can help farmers log in, submit documents and authenticate the information. As of now, an applicant can raise a collateral-free loan up to INR 3 Lakh in 24 hours. Loans are repaid directly to the banks, but Farm Infinity charges a ‘success fee’ from BFSI companies against their product sales and a subscription fee from the companies that use its loan assessment solution.
As of now, five NBFCs have disbursed loans to more than 2.5K farmers via Farm Infinity in the Northeast alone. The startup plans to onboard 2K+ farmers by the end of this year and 25K from all over the country by 2025.
Why Flint Made It To The List
Investing in cryptocurrencies is considered a lucrative opportunity nowadays. But just like other asset classes, this requires investor education. This is especially crucial, given the recent surge in crypto enthusiasts. Sensing the need to create a wealth management platform that focusses on passive income over active trading, Anshu Agrawal and Akshit Bordia, former product managers at CRED, launched Flint in 2021.
The Bengaluru-based startup offers a crypto equivalent of a savings-cum-mutual fund account, where retail investors can deposit their fiat money for safe investment and a steady income. After the money deposited is changed to stablecoins like USDT and USDC that are not prone to price fluctuations, the startup invests it in collateralised loans raised by institutional borrowers and DeFi assets to reduce risks and maximise returns and pays up to 13% interest per annum. Better still, there is no lock-in period for retail investors. Its earnings come from interest commissions from retail investors.
Flint eyes an ARR of $10 Mn for FY22, growing 20% month on month, although it is open to a limited number of users at this stage. The Android app has recorded 5K+ downloads and will soon open the platform in beta. Users can join the waitlist as the company plans to onboard 2.5 Lakh global customers by 2022.
Why iCardin Made It To The List
India is home to around 1,800 neurosurgeons who serve a population of 1.3 Bn. Although many healthtech startups are constantly working on digitalising the ecosystem and ushering in innovation, there is an acute need for personalised, end-to-end care for patients suffering from neurological disorders. Set up in 2021, Pune-based iCardin is a healthcare discovery platform that offers comprehensive neuro care for patients, especially in areas like stroke and paralysis prevention.
The company partners with neurologists and neurosurgeons to enable on-call consultation. It has also tied up with small hospitals with underutilised capacity, converting them to iCardin centres, complete with all neurological devices, including CT scan, MRI, EMG, EEG and NCV machines and providing complex brain and spine surgeries. It also arranges post-op care and assistance for paralysed individuals.
iCardin primarily focusses on providing acute ischemic stroke treatment to patients within the first five hours to prevent paralysis and long-term brain damage. It also treats non-emergency neurological disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cerebral palsy and more. It is currently running its brain stroke and neuro care units in three centres in Pune and plans to build a chain of stroke-ready treatment centres across the country by 2025.
Why Jobizo Made It To The List
Healthcare in India suffers from deep malaise, and one of the critical issues is understaffing. It hurts all three major stakeholders – medical facilities, staff members (doctors, nurses, technicians and other health workers) and, most importantly, patients. For recruitment mavericks, Avishek Agarwal and Naveen Trehan, freelancing in the healthcare space made perfect sense, as it would aggregate and make readily available an on-demand healthcare workforce. That was how Jobizo was born in 2021.
The Gurugram-based startup minimises the demand-supply gap between employers and healthcare professionals by providing flexible staffing opportunities via its Android app. Employers can tap into the talent of an interim workforce, while professionals can start working as per their requirements, qualification and choice in about 15 minutes. The platform combines gig and hyperlocal models, charges a convenience fee from employers and helps them get the best possible resources within the shortest possible time.
Although the app was launched in January 2022, the medical staffing startup claimed that more than 1K temporary workers got jobs from 50+ healthcare facilities in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Guwahati and Hyderabad. It plans to add 10K+ healthcare professionals and 300+ employers to service Northern India, Maharashtra and Karnataka by 2022. It will build a pan-India presence by 2025, enabling 400K+ healthcare professionals to find temporary jobs from 75K+ employers.
Why KaamPe Made It To The List
Even in this digital-first, work-smart era, most Indian SMEs essentially rely on manual payroll management, recording attendance on paper, calculating salary in Excel and paying employees in cash. Set up in 2021, Gurugram-based KaamPe aims to replace this chaotic paperwork with its mobile-first platform.
KaamPe offers two attendance systems – one is selfie-based and the other is QR-code driven. Other features include GPS-based employee tracking and a salary management module. The latter enables companies to manage salaries, advance payments and overtime dues based on attendance and calculate the same with the help of the auto calculator in the app. The startup also issues a LinkedIn-style work identification card for employees and a profile summary.
Currently, the app is free for all as KaamPe intends to be a one-stop solution provider to blue- and grey-collar workers. It will further cater to this labour market by helping people find jobs, launching courses for upskilling and empowering workers with best-practice workflow management solutions.
Why KappaX Made It To The List
Video commerce/interactive shopping within the broad social commerce sector is the latest trend, and Pune-based KappaX intends to unlock the full potential of the video within the metaverse to amplify customer experience and hence, engagement.
Launched in 2021, this no-code platform enables brands to add more product-related action and information to videos, thus ensuring more value out of the product experience and more effective CTAs. Plus, it helps generate engaging FAQs and how-to guides so that customers can make informed decisions. For instance, one of its customers is Mercedes-Benz. Its customer teams use the KappaX platform to turn videos into interactive experiences, allowing potential buyers to choose the model, the colour, the features and the terrain experiences. As one can select all these features from a single interactive video without the hassles of a physical demo, it can quickly improve conversion rates.
KappaX offers a freemium design platform for these creatives. Teams within an organisation can collaborate to use the platform together. They can use the basic templates for free to create an interactive video that can be distributed among millions of their potential customers. However, a monthly fee will be charged when these creatives go live. The startup also features a dashboard for data pipelines to demonstrate user behaviour and actionable insights. It is eyeing an ARR of $200K for FY22 and plans to take it to $20 Mn by FY26.
Going ahead, KappaX intends to add voice commands to the video creation process, add more templates and integrate an AI-powered object recognition API for product-related content tagging. It will also launch a SaaS platform for SDKs.
Why Kazh Made It To The List
Traditionally, corporate spending and employee expenses are managed on paper or Excel sheets, but this can be chaotic or time-consuming for finance teams. Worse still, few companies have real-time control over employee spending until it is too huge, too late. So, Chennai-based Kazh was launched in 2020 to help companies digitalise and orchestrate the entire process, be it analysing, reconciling or managing such expenses.
The SaaS startup has come out with a number of offerings for the employees of its corporate clients so that companies can monitor and manage all expenses incurred by their staff. These include company-issued debit and credit cards, expense reimbursements, invoice management, transaction sorting, automated accounting and more, which can be connected to a company’s main accounting software for monitoring, checking and spending approval. For instance, Kajh provides employees with physical debit cards for business travel expenses and in-store purchasing, while finance teams can keep a tab on the same via a dashboard and control the expenditure, if required.
The startup also generates spending reports and provides budget services (department-wise, team-wise and individual budgets) via a company’s dashboard.
Currently, these services are only available to merchants and corporate houses in India for annual subscriptions. But the company plans to extend its services globally and set up an office in the US.
Why Kointrack Made It To The List
Despite the legal implications, cryptocurrency is here to stay, at least as a digital asset, and change the world of fiat money. More and more people worldwide have started using crypto, with its decentralised nature and blockchain-based ecosystem guaranteeing a totally tamper-proof framework. But to make it more accessible and popular, crypto should shed its stock price-like volatility and have currency-like tradable value.
Keeping in mind the fast adoption of crypto, Bengaluru-based Kointrack was set up in 2021 to offer various blockchain-based solutions. These include a crypto exchange and a multi-chain wallet, an ecommerce platform that accepts crypto payments and a payment gateway for a crypto-backed debit card that can be used globally for shopping or withdrawing fiat money from any ATM.
Why Magicleaf Made It To The List
As the demand for healthy foods and adequate nutrients has surged during the pandemic, plant-based natural nutrition has started trending. Understandably, many health-conscious consumers now stay away from chemically treated refined sugar. As a result, most Indian food brands and FMCG companies have started using stevia, a sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia plant, more popularly known as meethi tulsi.
Launched in 2019, New Delhi-based Magicleaf has gone one step ahead. It not only replaces sugar with stevia but also makes an assorted collection of cookies, cakes, mithai (sweets) mixes and milk mixes (turmeric and chocolate powders) using the ‘natural’ sugar. Then there are Vitamin C drink sachets and assorted apple cider vinegar, taking its SKUs to 19.
Interestingly, Swati Pandey and Manish Chauhan, cofounders of Magicleaf, have been ardent stevia users for the past 10 years or more and set up a contract manufacturing unit in Lucknow to make stevia products under the brand called Arboreal. This brand supplies the entire bulk of stevia to the company’s production unit located in the same city. Magicleaf’s products are sold pan-India via its dedicated website and ecommerce platforms like Flipkart and healthcare-focussed marketplaces like CORA and Wellversed. The startup plans to launch more products under the mithai mixes category alongside mithai recipes.
Why Microfinance.AI Made It To The List
Fintech in India has evolved into a $60 Bn industry in FY22. Yet many people do not have access to easy credit due to language and technology barriers. For instance, there is a vast connectivity gap in the country’s micro-lending space. The sector has more than 100 Mn borrowers, but not even 5% are digitally connected. So, Microfinance.AI was launched in 2019 to make financial services available to the common people with limited tech outreach and little or no knowledge of languages other than their mother tongue.
The Gurugram-based fintech firm partners with microlenders to help them launch their lending products and other value-add offerings on a mobile-first platform to reach out to the masses. It further helps microlenders raise institutional debts from wholesale lenders. The mobile app has been voice-enabled, keeping in mind the not-so-tech-savvy end-users (borrowers), and the entire process can be completed via voice assistance in three vernacular languages (Marathi, Bengali and Tamil) besides Hindi and English.
The startup also offers a predictive psychometric system (to determine if a borrower intends to repay the loan) and an income assessment tool (to understand how long it will take to repay the loan). These simplify the credit assessment process for underwriters, especially when it comes to first-time borrowers or providing top-up loans to existing borrowers.
The company claims to have more than 1K borrowers and earns through transaction fees paid by microlenders on loan applications and repayments. It also gets a fee when a third-party product is sold on the platform and earns a commission on the interest income earned by bulk lenders of debt capital from their transactions with retail lenders.
Microfinance.AI is now working to grow its B2C user base to more than 1 Mn by FY24 and facilitate loans worth more than INR 1,000 Cr.
Why NE Origins Made It To The List
The Northeast has a rich heritage of cultural diversity and artisanal products that never fail to wow connoisseurs. This is why NE Origins, a marketplace for indigenous and sustainable products from the north-eastern states, came into being. Set up in 2019, the Gangtok-based startup features 840+ products across eight categories, including food and beverages, spices, fashion and pet supplies, among others.
The platform provides a pan-India presence to independent sellers across the North-eastern states, connecting them to wholesalers and retail customers as many of these products are not available on popular ecommerce platforms. In fact, these creators/merchants are not adequately presented most of the time as they fail to compete with mass-produced factory products in terms of price and volume. All NE Origins products are GI-tagged so that consumers are aware of the product origin and the entire journey. The startup earns its revenue from commissions, ranging from 20-50% for B2C transactions and 10-25% on B2B sales.
Although NE Origins started as a marketplace, it is now transitioning to the D2C model for better quality control and speedy order fulfilment. It also plans to introduce 100+ exclusive products under its aegis by the end of the current calendar year.
Why Oben Electric Made It To The List
The urban population in India is rapidly moving towards the EV culture and a transition to green energy. Although electric bikes and scooters are becoming increasingly popular, one would find only a handful of homegrown manufacturers in this space, thanks to the plethora of issues, right from overdependence on imported components to the lack of charging infra. The latter is a major challenge that has deterred most ICE vehicle users from shifting to EVs. Keeping this in mind, Oben Electric is building a line of connected 2Ws that can simplify the entire recharging procedure.
Founded in 2020, Bengaluru-based Oben Electric has developed three prototypes but has only launched its flagship product called RORR, an EV motorcycle. It can be fully charged in two hours with a 15A domestic socket used at home or any public charging station. RORR has a range of 200 km, accelerates from 0 to 40 kmph in three seconds, has a top speed of 100 kmph and comes with a mobile app that displays the bike’s status. All RORR e-bikes have GPS trackers integrated with the battery for theft protection, and the EV dashboard features an audio-visual driver alert system. Buyers get a three-year warranty on the motor and the battery, and there will be free assistance for a run up to 60,000 km.
The RORR EV is still at a pre-booking stage, and its minimum sticker price will be INR 99,999. Test drives for the e-bike are slated to start in May this year. By FY23, Oben Electric plans to sell 30K units, with the initial rollout starting in Tier 1 cities. It will introduce four more products in the next two years and aims to sell 1 Mn bikes by 2025 through dealer networks in India, Africa and Latin America.
Why PrivaSapien Made It To The List
If data is the new oil, it is safe to assume that the internet and our digital experiences remain the oil fields. But here is the catch. One of the common and scary phenomena of the digital era is the lack of privacy, as technology traps are almost everywhere to capture data. So, Bengaluru-based PrivaSapien is building products to create a layer of data anonymisation with its path exploration tools (PET) for digital companies.
Set up in 2020, the startup has launched two patented products. One is Privacy X-Ray, a risk assessment service that aims to make digital products compliant with the local data protection laws where they are operating. The other product, called Event Horizon, is all about data anonymisation as a service that mitigates singling out, linkage and inference risks. In brief, it modifies personally identifiable data to rule out all individual associations, thus protecting user privacy, reducing data breach risks and enabling anonymous data exchanges.
The startup focusses on privacy as a service, has a subscription-based business model and targets Indian companies built in the pre-data protection era to make them compliant with the current norms. However, businesses operating in sync with existing rules can also use the service to be extra cautious about user data privacy. PrivaSapien is in the process of onboarding several MNCs and BFSI companies with pilots underway. It also plans to launch its services in the US and the EU by 2025.
Why Recur Club Made It To The List
For startups across the globe, equity financing is the most popular fundraising method. But it is also one of the most expensive and time-consuming ways of raising growth capital. Launched in 2021, New Delhi- and Singapore-based Recur Club has revolutionised the way startups can raise non-debt capital without diluting their equity. It has an AI-based underwriting tool in place and provides a trading platform called the Recur Xchange to startups with subscription-based revenue models. These assured earnings (subscriptions), a new asset class of sorts, can then be traded to get upfront cash for working capital requirements.
The process to raise funding is simple. A startup can create an account using its CIN, PAN and GSTIN. Next, a finance and subscription manager is assigned to the company to calculate the amount it can raise based on its revenue in the past 12 months and the growth percentage. A tradable contract is created based on a subscription, and a company can raise up to 90% of the subscription amount whenever funding is required. Given this model, it is not surprising that most Recur Club users are companies in the SaaS, D2C and edtech sectors. The startups repay investors via subscription amounts, which are directly forwarded to them. As of now, investors on Recur manage an AUM of more than $3 Bn, while Recur charges a brokerage fee from investors and fundraisers.
Recur claims an ARR of $120 Mn for FY22 and plans to onboard 2K+ companies. It also targets an ARR of $1 Bn+ by FY23.
Why Skillslash Made It To The List
In the recently published India Skills Report, 2022, only 46.2% of the Indian youth were found highly employable out of the 3 Lakh students taking part in the survey. This is a critical issue that continues to plague India Inc., as companies must train fresh recruits and spend a lot of time and resources in the process. Identifying the skills gap, especially in data science and allied areas, Skillslash was launched in 2021, offering job-grade technology courses and providing real-time exposure to company projects to hone one’s expertise.
The Bengaluru-based startup has introduced training programmes ranging between five and nine months. It offers a sound combination of theoretical courses and project training modules, sourcing the latter from relevant companies to enhance job-based skills and add value to resumes. If a student wants to skip project training, a course can be customised as per the learner’s time and requirements. The company has a ‘job guarantee or money back’ offer in place, thus providing a risk-free training opportunity. Young people just starting their career or those looking for a career change can also explore its personalised counselling.
Skillslash currently offers nine courses in six areas, including software development, blockchain, digital marketing and more. It plans to launch 500+ short-term and long-term courses by 2025 and place more than 1 Lakh students with its placement partners Flipkart, Zoho, HSBC, CRED and others.
Why StartDraft Made It To The List
In India, legal contract management is still a manual, paperwork-laden process that requires a digital overhaul. This also means drawing up a contract will become quick and error-free, adding a fillip to the legal services market worth more than $10 Bn. To meet the requirements of legal professionals and their clients, Sridhar A, the founder of EHR startup Famwork, set up StartDraft in February this year that would create standard legal templates, unified terms and repeatable and consistent legal conditions.
Still in stealth mode, the SaaS startup is developing a minimum viable product (MVP) for hassle-free contract lifecycle management. The web-based software programme can be used by startups, law firms, attorneys and others to automate their agreements, contracts and other compliances. The legal tech firm will be operational in India and the US, and a pilot has been scheduled for mid-2022. StartDraft will be rolled out as a free service, but fees will be charged later based on the legal services rendered.
Why Synth Made It To The List
The information that we consume every day is scattered across various platforms, and it is tough to retrieve the same, given the overwhelming data overload. As for knowledge workers who need to keep track of crucial audio-video content, there is no other way but to go through the time- and resource-consuming process of recording/downloading and transcribing.
To address this pain point, Bengaluru-based Synth is building an AI-powered app that captures and summarises all the information available in audio and video formats. It also transcribes and stores the conversations in one place, and one can easily retrieve them with a keyword search within the app.
Set up in 2021, the subscription-based service targets 30 Mn knowledge workers who will be charged $20 each per month, thus creating a $7 Bn opportunity. The app is currently in beta, and the company is working on scaling it up to accommodate more users. As of now, one has to join the waitlist to start using Synth.
Why Tribe.Money Made It To The List
Spending cryptocurrencies is difficult in the world of fiat money, while crypto exchanges charge hefty fees to transfer the money from their wallets to bank accounts. Launched in 2022, Bhubaneswar-based Tribe.Money is a first-of-its-kind crypto debit card provider that enables crypto owners to buy almost anything using their digital currencies without converting them. Users can also invest in crypto via Tribe, earn up to 10% interest on their idle digital assets and get cashbacks on transactions made with the crypto debit card. Of course, crypto is not recognised as legal tender in India, but the startup apparently uses it as part of a barter system.
Tribe will charge each customer a card issuance fee, an interchange fee for card usage, an exchange fee for buying or selling crypto and will further earn as an affiliate marketer after creating a CRED-like marketplace for brands.
The company claims to have 500+ users on its waitlist and intends to roll out a beta version of the app by May. It will work on acquiring 5 Lakh users by the end of this year and bagging transactions worth INR 50 Cr. It aims to onboard 5 Mn customers, clock transactions worth INR 200 Cr, introduce a Tribe Reward token and foray into the EU market in another three years.
Why Vital Made It To The List
Insurers across India might have had a golden run in the wake of the pandemic. But with just 5.3% penetration, of which health insurance accounts for less than 1% of the total market share, the sector’s growth remains abysmally low. Observing that the current health insurance space is more of a passive business outcome minus a targeted drive to onboard customers, Vital was set up in 2019 to offer personalised health insurance to individuals, families and corporate houses.
The New Delhi-based startup has partnered with 11-year-old Care Health Insurance (part of the Religare Group) to provide customised health insurance solutions. On the retail side, it offers plans based on an individual’s demographic data, health conditions and lifestyle habits. One has to pay as low as INR 299 per month for INR 50 Lakh annual coverage, including doctor consultations (via mFine), health checkups (via Thyrocare), discounts on medicines (through a partnership with 1MG), fitness classes (via Cult.fit, Fitterfly and others), diet counselling and mental health therapy. At the B2B level, the IRDAI-approved insurer has monthly subscription plans for SMEs and large corporate houses, based on their requirements and actual headcounts.
Vital earns its revenue from product and service margins offered on the platform. It plans to launch a wellness marketplace and expand its corporate health insurance business by selling more than 50K plans in FY23, up from 8.5K+ in the previous financial year.
Why Winlegally Made It To The List
A new company is bound to deal with too many legal compliances for running a business, from documentation and registration to managing operations, IPs, trade, and employees. However, most entrepreneurs have little knowledge about the legal aspects of a business and run into trouble. Consequently, legal tech startups like Winlegally have come into play so that founders can focus on more critical areas like innovation, finance and hiring to enable growth.
Set up in 2020, New Delhi-based Winlegally provides a host of corporate legal services, including legal document drafting, obtaining certifications and licences, tax filing, GST retention, IP protection, dispute resolution, corporate compliance-related filings and more. It has provided digital assistance to more than eight startups, registered and filed 16+ GST returns, listed four companies under the Companies Act and registered more than 15 trademarks.
Why WYLD Made It To The List
This is the age of influencer-led social commerce, but passive consumption of celebrity content tends to lose its charm after a while. That is why Mumbai-based WYLD has decided to take customer engagement to the next level by bestowing celebrity status on shoppers. Set up in 2021, the company aims to make a brand influencer out of every customer with a social media following of 1,000 or more. In brief, it has introduced a ‘buy, post and earn’ model that helps shoppers turn into social media marketers, thus allowing organic collaborations to happen at scale instead of paying fees to influencers upfront.
The retail tech company had previously tried two product iterations with 30+ brands and 1,000 customers and eventually settled on the buyer-cum-influencer benchmark that requires at least 1,000 followers on Instagram. It will provide a WYLD card (similar to a regular Visa debit/credit card) to shop online or offline at partner brands like Zomato, Swiggy, Amazon India, Zara, H&M and others. If a buyer posts about the product/brand on Instagram, they can earn up to 100% cashback on the purchase value. The cashback amount is determined by the WYLD Score, the startup’s social scoring system that considers the number of followers, reach, engagement, post frequency and other parameters. As for brands, WYLD has developed a new sales channel driven by active customer engagement and word-of-mouth marketing.
The startup charges a percentage commission on every transaction done with the WYLD card. It is now working on a product-market fit, and there will be a soft launch for its waitlisted users in FY23.
Why Yodaa Made It To The List
Few Indian parents want their teenage kids to meddle with finances, be it a substantial amount or a paltry sum one gets as pocket money. However, a suite of services and technical support from neobanking startups like Yodaa can help teens take the first step towards financial literacy and independence.
Launched in 2021, Bengaluru-based Yodaa is an invite-only platform. It offers a virtual card similar to a standard debit/credit card and an account to help teen customers manage their expenses, set up recurring savings, split bills with friends and learn more about personal finance. It also provides networking and internship opportunities via its exclusive platform Yodaa Club. Although the basic services are free, the startup has a premium subscription service that includes a Visa-powered physical Yodaa Card for in-store purchases, setting up recurring savings, investing in gold and accessing Yodaa’s content on financial literacy. Parents can also keep track of their kids’ finances and contribute to their savings.
The Yodaa app, to be available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store, is being rolled out to more than 30K users who have joined the waitlist, the company says. It aims to reach 1 Mn+ teen customers by 2023 across India and other Southeast Asian markets.
Why ZegPe Made It To The List
Brick-and-mortar businesses often end up with a long supply chain, leading to rising product costs and delayed deliveries. On the other hand, new-age D2C brands lure away digitally savvy customers by connecting with them across online channels and amplifying engagement. Aware of these pain points, Bengaluru-based ZegPe was set up in 2022 as a commerce and payments platform that aims to change how offline businesses transition to ecommerce.
The web-based platform helps physical stores get an online presence by scanning a single QR code. The solution enables catalogue discovery, hassle-free ordering, digital payment and personalised interaction via WhatsApp. The startup has launched a pilot in Bengaluru and aims to scale its operations pan-India by FY23.
[Edited By Sanghamitra Mandal]