5 Start-ups to Watch Out For in 2014
1. Ola Cabs
Bhavish Aggarwal was frustrated with the cabs he used. Fortunately, this computer engineer from IIT-Bombay decided to do something about it. He realised that there were fleet operators in Mumbai with abysmal fleet utilisation. Why not bring them under one umbrella and offer customers a reliable and efficient option? Ola Cabs was born with the idea that it would be asset-lite and tech-intensive. A free downloadable app or a phone call is what connects you to the service. Customers can monitor their cabs via GPS. Heat maps tell the company where their cabs are and what demand is like. At present, the service is available in five cities—Delhi, Pune, Banagalore, Mumbai and Chennai—with plans to expand to 10 by the end of next year.
For young professionals across India, finding a spouse can often be a daunting challenge. Enter Floh or Find Life Over Here, an invitation-only network connecting singles. (More recently, Floh has started allowing a select number of people who apply to join.) What does one get? Entry costs a flat fee of Rs 7,500 for three months or Rs 15,000 for the whole year. That gives you a chance to buy separate tickets to events and attend them in the company of ‘like-minded singles’. At present, the service is available in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
3. Portea Medical
Serial entrepreneur K Ganesh has defied critics and the law of averages to achieve success and handsome exits in each of the businesses he started. But Portea Medical, the newest and most ambitious bet of him and his wife, could be yet another test of how the two confound critics with their choice of industries and business models. The company, which the two bought out only in July this year, received a venture funding of $8 million from Accel Partners and Ventureast just weeks ago. Portea Medical provides subscription based, affordable home-healthcare plans targeted at elderly people. Its own staff of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists visit homes to provide preventive care and early diagnosis. Visits cost as little as a few hundred rupees, but with over 144 million Indians over the age of 60, that’s a multi-billion dollar market.
For those of us who want to sell a book or a TV set, the answer is simple. Log on to one of the many sites that sell second-hand goods and you’re done. But what if you want to sell an ebook or digital music? Enter Instamojo. Founded by Aditya Sengupta, Akash Gehani, Harshad Sharma and Sampad Swain, the startup is based in Mumbai and Mountain View, California. All a merchant has to do is register and put a link to his digital products. The company has so far signed on 4,300 merchants, most of whom are from India. A small number are from the US, the UK and Canada. Recently, Instamojo received angel funding from Rajan Anandan and Sunil Kalra.
5. Interviewstreet / HackerRankX
Interviewstreet (which is rebranding itself as HackerRankX from 2014) came out of a simple idea by collegemates Vivek Ravisankar and Harishankaran K to create an online platform to conduct mock interviews for campus placements at their college. It led them to conduct online programming tests for companies that wanted to hire software programmers. After being selected by what is arguably the world’s most respected startup accelerator programme, Y Combinator, Interviewstreet is today the platform of choice for over 1,000 small and large companies (including Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Yahoo!).
Image: Neha Mithbawkar