Every startup aims to become the next big thing as it chases the ultimate dream to become a multi-billion dollar company. However, as it is well-known, most startups flounder and get lost into oblivion forever. But there are also several startups that are able to cut through maze of uncertainties and emerge as symbol of patience, endurance and risk taking abilities. These startups with their undeniable potential eventually become the cradle of the entire startup ecosystem.
We’ve compiled a list of 12 such promising startups. We have deliberately excluded big names like Flipkart, Paytm, Zomato and other notable unicorns, but this hasn’t taken away any sheen out of this list. In fact, this list with very interesting startups that are backed by proven track record makes for an interesting read.
Nonetheless, many of the startups included in this list are fairly big names and have become brand names in their own right. We would like to bring to notice that all startups have been placed randomly in this list. The order of placement is in no way indicative of profitability & size of the company.
Founders: Sashank Rishyasringa & Gaurav Hinduja
Investors: Amazon, Sequoia capital, Saif Partners, Ribbit Capital & others
With steadily raising loan book and enviable brand name to its credit, today Capital Float stands as one of the poster boys of India’s emerging Fintech sector. Like all its competitors, Capital Float is making most of the small and independent businesses that are usually left out by the formal banking system. It was probably this knack to convert a crisis into a business opportunity that may have propelled a big company like Amazon to pump $22 Mn in Capital Float earlier this year.
Founders: Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel, Sachin Jaiswal, Shishir Modi
Investors: Unilazer Ventures, Ratan Tata, Arihant Patni, SAP.iO Foundries Berlin & others
A shopping companion that uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to make your shopping as seamless as possible. This is what Niki.ai is all about. Now in its third year of operation, the Bengaluru based startup is growing at an exponential rate by clocking whopping 430% of revenue growth in FY18. It is now aiming to clock GMV of $120 Mn in 2019. Not to mention that the startup is backed high profile investors like Ratan Tata and Ronnie Screwvala.
Founders: Ajith Karimpana
Investors: Signet Chemical Corporation, Amir Khan, Lightbox, IntelleGrow, Axis Capital & others
In India, where ownership is still considered as the ultimate virtue, offering furniture & appliances may not look like a promising business. But Furlenco is on a pursuit to break this convention and has, in fact, achieved significant success. The startup, which offers home furniture on rent, is certainly cashing on increasing propensity among people of Tier 1 cities to rent their home furniture.
But the real reason for Furlenco to make into our list is that it is way ahead of almost all its competitors. Although its most immediate competitor Rentmojo is trying very hard to close this market gap, it is currently sitting cozy with a healthy market share.
Founders: Harshvardhan Lunia and Mukul Sachan
Investors: Fullerton Financial Holding, Sisetma Asia Fund, Samma Capital, SBI & Others
One of the established players in the Fintech world, LendingKart has all the credentials to make it real big. With huge credit gap to fill in the SME segment, LendingKart has a mammoth market opportunity to address. And like few of its erstwhile competitors, this Fintech startup is making the most of this opportunity. It is not short of funds either, with most recent fundraising round taking place earlier this year, after Fullerton Financial and other existing investors led $87 Mn round.
Founders: Abhinay Choudhari, Hari Menon, Vipul Parekh, VS Sudhakar
Investors: Alibaba Group, International Finance Corporation, Bessemer Venture Partners, Sands Capital Ventures, Abraaj Group and others
BigBasket made a very humble beginning in 2011 by offering online grocery services only in the selected areas of Bengaluru city. Since then the startup has come a long way to establish itself as the most formidable player in the online grocery world. BigBasket’s rise to the crescendo is really worth praising, given that margins in online grocery services are wafer-thin. Its ability to keep balance sheet under check in a really tough market may have convinced a high profile investor like Alibaba to come on the board. The Chinese conglomerate Alibaba along with other investors pumped $300 Mn in February this year.
Founders: Varun Dua & Davendra Rane
Investors: N.R.Narayana Murthy, Accel, Saif Partners, IFC& others
PolicyBazaar may have partly stolen the game in the online insurance space by earning the coveted unicorn status, but Coverfox remains unfazed. This is mainly due to the fact that Coverfox enjoys good market traction and reputation in the online insurance space. Its only challenge, which is true about other competitors as well, is to create conducive factors that will propel the growth of online insurance market. Currently, only 3% of insurance products are bought online, which makes India’s online insurance market very niche.
Keeping this market challenges aside, Coverfox is successfully marching ahead on the funding front. It recently closed in Series C round that saw investment of nearly $22 Mn by International Finance Corporation and other investors.
Founders: Pradeep Dadha
Investors: Sistema Asia Fund, Tanncam Investment & Orbi Med
Netmeds dreams to become the Flipkart and Amazon of the online pharmaceutical world. If one takes into account Netmeds’ current pole position in the market then this dream may not appear as far-fetched one. The company has even signed MS Dhoni as the brand ambassador to popularize its brand across the country.
But NetMeds has some tough competition lined up. Its most immediate competitor LifCare raised $11 Mn only few weeks back from Nexus and Saif partners.
Founders: Gaurav Munjal, Hemesh Singh, Sachin Gupta
Investors: Nexus Venture, Blume Venture, Sequoia Capital, Sachin Bansal & others
Apart from the recent $22 Mn funding, Unacademy also has other reasons to feel positive about its future. The Bengaluru based startup has grown steadily over the years to trump other well-funded competitors and emerge as one of the most coveted players in the online education space. It has 14,000 educators on board, 3 Mn registered users and 300,000 lessons uploaded on its platform.
With such impressive metrics on its side, Unacademy has all the merits to become the next big thing in the edutech space.
Founders: Mukesh Manda
Investors: Zomato, Corvus Ventures, Lead Angels Network & others
Delivering fresh home-made foods to office employees in Hyderabad, Tinmen has shown all the promising signs in a short span of time to potentially become a pan India company. Its biggest validation to success came when last year food delivery giant Zomato picked up stake to consolidate its position in the home made food space. Although it is still early days to predict Tinmen’s fortunes, if this humble company can capitalize on Zomato’s investment & expertise then it can certainly foray into the big league. Not to mention that the space of home-made food is still largely unexplored, which gives startups like Tinmen a huge market opportunity to address.
Founders: Girish Mathrubootham & Shan Krishnasamy
Investors: Accel, Tiger Global, CapitalG and others
Ever since its inception in 2010 in a small unassuming Chennai apartment, Freshworks has grown in leaps and bounce to eventually become one of the most prominent players in India’s Saas industry. One of the important factors that has propelled this Saas Software maker into the big league has been its charismatic founder & CEO Girish Mathrubootham. Mr. Mathrubootham’s vision and perseverance has certainly played a big role in transforming this humble startup into a company, whose valuation today stands at roughly $800 Mn.
The latest news that we know about this company is that it is in talks to raise further funds that most certainly will spike its valuation and propel it to the coveted unicorn club.
Founders: Bhavesh Manglani, Kapil Bharati, Mohit Tandon, Sahil Barua, Suraj Saharan
Investors: Fosun Group, Tiger Global Management, Nexus Venture Partners, Carlyle Group & Others
With plans to raise $350 Mn in IPO in next few months, the e commerce focused logistic startup Delhivery has some serious growth plans under its selves. Its most important plan is to obviously expand its network further to include more pin codes and regions. Currently, the Delhi based logistic startup serves 600 cities and 8,500 PIN codes. The company works for big clients e-commerce clients like Flipkart and Paytm.
High-profile VC firms like Carlyle Group, China’s Fosun Group, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Tiger Global are its investors.
Founders: R. Narayan
Investors: InnoVen Capital, Kalaari Capital, Accel, Nandan Nilekani & Others
Power2SME is India’s first buying club dedicated to SMEs that addresses the most critical problem of providing raw materials to small industries at highly economical prices. Besides, it also helps SMEs to get affordable working capital through its platform. The Delhi-NCR-based startups offers raw materials like Chemicals, Inks, Paints, Metals, Polymers to SMEs at highly competitive prices.
Founded by R Narayan in January 2012, Power2SME claims that its unique ability to offer raw materials at highly affordable prices has helped scores of SMEs in improving their productivity and profit margin.
Earlier this year, Power2SME had reported that it has more than doubled its revenue and reduced its losses by half for the year since March 2017.