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STARTUPS OF THE LESSER GODS

We get to hear about some of the prominent startups on an almost daily basis through
advertisements, promotions and news items etc. Do we know about all the startups that were
launched in India? For that matter, is it imperative that we keep track of all the startups? That, I
will say depends on what you want the information for. As an entrepreneur you will want to
research as many startups to learn from their experiences. Whether a startup is running or
defunct, big or small, successful or incurring losses, you want to know about their journey and
the reasons for their current standing.

While looking up startups that were launched prior to 2010, I came across quite a few that
cannot be categorized as popular but are doing roaring business and perhaps leaders in their
space. I am showcasing some stories that make for interesting reading. You will get valuable
insights that will come in handy when you are setting up your business. Here, you will find only
those businesses that are considered the most disruptive, although you can look up more
examples from the references. You will get a comprehensive list of startups at the Trac.in
website (the link to the website is mentioned in the references).
Passion to succeed and build something of your own was the main driver to leave a lucrative
mainstream career and get into a niche business area. Chitra Gurnani, co-founder, Thrillophilia
Adventure Tours Pvt. Ltd.

Let me begin with Thrillophilia, which was co-founded by Chitra Gurnani and Abhishek Daga in
May 2009. Their objective was to create an online marketplace for tours and adventure sports
in the Indian sub-continent that offers quality services in facilitating unconventional and
experiential activities. Thrillophilias website logs about 1.5 Million users every month who
come to plan their trips and this is growing at 200% year on year. In 2012, Thrillophilia also won
the Power of Ideas at IIM-Ahmedabad and the BizQuest held jointly by TIE and ISB. On several
occasions, Chitra has been the face of Indian tourism in global tourism events. When you visit
their website, dont miss viewing their awards and customer reviews.
If people connect with your vision and execution, they will stay with you be it investors,
employees, and/or customers. Dhiraj Rajaram.
Mu Sigma was established in 2004 by Dhiraj C Rajaram. It is an Indian management consulting
firm with a primary offering of analytics services. Today, Mu Sigma is claimed to be one of the
worlds largest decision sciences and analytics firms and boasts of having more than 140
Fortune 500 clients that include Microsoft. There were only a handful of competitors when Mu
Sigma was launched and they could consolidate their business with effective products and
solutions. Despite the competition growing fivefold, Mu Sigma is well established. Per se, they
do not have any public dealings and perhaps that is the reason for them not being known to the
general public.
The success of an entrepreneur lies not in the idea, but in its execution. Yusuf Motiwala, a
data and telecom expert.
Yusuf Motiwala founded TringMe in 2007 with the idea of infusing Voice over Internet Protocol
(VoIP) into PHP. TringMe came out with a product called VoicePHP using the PHP programming
methodology which integrates all the existing voice and telephony communication devices, be
it landlines or mobile phones, to send and receive voice over the Internet. There is no
downloading or installing that is required. A user just needs to login and can make calls to any
phone numbers, email addresses and across messenger services such as Google Talk. No
wonder NASSCOM has awarded TringMe as the most innovative startup of India. As of 2012,
TringMe caters to 15 million users across 80 countries, generating 54 million calls a month.
Skype is much more well-known but TringMe is way ahead in technology.
Metahelix: First Indian company to develop its unique GM technology from scratch.
Way back in 2001, two scientists, K.K. Narayanan and Gautam Nadig, left their cushy jobs with
the global leaders of genetically modified (GM) seed industry in order to develop seeds, crops
and farm technologies in India. They named their enterprise Metahelix. A year later, Metahelix
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launched its wholly-owned subsidiary, Dhaanya Seeds, for distribution of seeds serving farmers
across India. The purpose of launching Dhaanya Seeds was so that a steady stream of money
was available to fund the R&D efforts of Metahelix. In end-2010, Rallis India, a subsidiary of
Tata Chemicals acquired a majority stake in Metahelix to the tune of Rs.125 crores.
All they have is intellectual property. They dont have tangible assets for collateral as is the
case with conventional business. MUDRA banks may finance the conventional start-ups as they
have tangible assets, the same may not be possible for IP-based start-ups. Abhishek Sinha, CoFounder and CEO, Eko India Financial Services. Speaking on companies changing their domicile
from India to the US and Singapore because start-ups need capital to grow and it is difficult to
procure funding from banks for young companies which dont have collateral.
Eko India Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. was established by brothers Abhishek and Abhinav Sinha in
2007, after a chance meeting with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam at an airport inspired Abhishek into
entrepreneurship. Eko provides mobile banking facilities to small ticket customers. Traditional
financial institutions like banks and insurance companies can take advantage of their
infrastructure and servicing layer supported by technology, user-interface and processes to
extend last mile reach in rural areas not adequately support by them. Eko already has a tie-up
with SBI, ICICI, Yes Bank and Bharti AXA Life. It found mention in NASSCOMs NASSCOM
EMERGE 50 The League of Ten for 2010. Its domestic money remittances amount to over Rs
200 crore a month. Till January 2016, Eko has processed over 34 million transactions covering
more than 10 million customers worth Rs 18,000 crore. It has recently launched the Indo-Nepal
remittance services in partnership with Nepals Prabhu Money Group.
The government must provide the initial boost, as this filter system provides the solution to
Indias drinking water problems. Subhash Devi, Membrane Filters (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Launched in 2003, Membrane Filters (India) Pvt. Ltd was founded by Subhash Devi, Arif Fulari
and Bhushan Acharya. The company is into manufacturing and commercialization of
membrane-based filtration and purification for Indias agriculture sector. You will find their
products in domestic as well as hundreds of Institutional applications in schools, colleges,
churches, civil hospitals, health and community centers, gardens, hostels, monasteries, jails and
govt. offices. Through the Jal Doot project that it has a license to use, Membrane Filters is
supplying over 2,000 families of Shirur taluka in Pune district with about 50,000 litres of purified
water every day at a nominal cost of 50 paisa per litre, which is much cheaper than bottled
mineral water. The Jal Doot project purifies water from surface sources like lakes and rivers
and runs without electricity.
What you have just seen is less than the tip of the iceberg. As of 2015, NASSCOM shared a
count of 4,200 startups and had an ambitious plan of reaching 10,000 by 2025. A truly thorough
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research should include the startups that work behind the scenes. You get a feel of the variety
of businesses that startups are into. My earlier blog One in a Million? will also provide a view
of the diversity of ideas. You have an idea and are passionate about it, go ahead and try it out,
but keep your feet firmly on the ground. As Fred Wilson said Start-ups should be hunch-driven
early on and data-driven as they scale

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chanchal Das Gupta


Educationist
Chanchal is an Educationist with rich experience in training and instructional design. He has also
spent time in software programming, customer support activities and quality process
development. Outside his working schedule, Chanchal enjoys reading and his love of nature
draws him into driving around whenever circumstances permit. He enjoys music, particularly
the instrumental kind, although the only instrument that he plays is the record player.