10 offbeat startups that are trying to make it big in India

It’s ingenious but, er, does it make money? Perhaps all the entrepreneurs who feature in this special package would have been asked this question at some point in their startup journey.

Kalyani Khona, who has started up Wanted Umbrella, which she claims is India’s only matrimonial agency for differently-abled people, may have had observers wondering where the money will come from. Her quick answer: “I have married a social cause and business.”

It’s ingenious but, er, why on earth would people want it? That’s a query Alpana Agarwal, co-founder of Con Affetto, which makes edible bouquets — think cupcakes, cookies, truffle — may be used to by now. Ask her about who are the potential customers and she just might tell you about the good lady who placed an order in New Delhi for her grandson’s first birthday and carried it to Jaipur.

It’s ingenious, but will it fly? That’s what Mrinal Pai must be asking himself on the odd bad day. His startup is a farsighted concept that offers custom drone products and services. Pai sees a (near) future when drones will be used to transport organs between hospitals, flying over gridlocked roads; and when you could use his service to drop a quick personalised note of endearment to your beloved. Yes, but will regulations — which have yet to be framed — allow his drones to keep flying?

These are just three of the 10 offbeat startups we’ve deep-dived into; just three of the 800-odd startups added every year; and just three of the over 3,000 startups that are trying to make it big in India.

The 10 that we’ve picked are novel, but being different or a first mover is no guarantee of being the best mover — or moving at all a few years later. After all, success rates in the world of entrepreneurship are notoriously low, as low as 10% in the tech world. And funding is no guarantee of success. CB Insights, a US-based venture capital database, reckons that companies typically die around 20 months after their last round of funding and after having raised $1.3 million.

For the 10 featured over the next few pages, being unique is a good starting point. But as Sanjeev Krishnan, partner and leader (private equity and transaction services) at PricewaterhouseCoopers, explains, the markets for many such differentiated offerings are not large enough. “So unless the market expands exponentially, a shift in focus would be essential to create a new market segment,” he points out.

There’s something else that may work in favour of these newbie risk-takers: the proverbial fire in their bellies. When you hear Nikunj Jain, co-founder of Frankly.me, talking about being “Darwin’s children” and that “we run faster and kill harder”, you will get a sense of the fire burning. Read on:

King of Drones – Mrinal Pai

You could call him ‘drone-acharya’, although Mrinal Pai is a guru in a field a bit different from military arts. The 22-year-old lad from Kerala believes that one day Indians will be able to outsource petty jobs to machines. “And if that happens, moms won’t be heard saying: ‘beta zara doodh leke aana’ [son, please buy milk] as drones will get it.”

Pai is the co-founder of Skylark Drones, a Bengaluru-based startup that offers custom drone products and services ranging from aerial views for real estate developers to 3D surface model data for land surveys to wedding shoots and banner advertisements, and keeping a close eye during sports and other events.

Started in July 2014 with a seed capital of Rs 4 lakh, Pai now wants to scale up the use of drones in areas such as organ transportation between hospitals in a city to bypass crowded roads.

Aware that the market for drones is still nascent, Pai believes that first-mover advantage will help his startup.

“The biggest challenge for us now is not money or technology. It’s regulation,” he contends.

Not even a year old, Skylark, says Pai, has broken even. And he’s keen to break through potential barriers to the growth of his firm.

“Brick walls are there to stop people who don’t want it badly enough,” he says. Pai for sure wants it bad, and wants it now — and he’s got his drones to bypass the walls!
Not Quite Kid Stuff – HowToTellYourChild’S Deepa Kumar

Last July, when violent protests erupted across Bengaluru over the sexual abuse of a six-year-old student in her school, Deepa Kumar refused to hit the streets. Reason: she was getting ready to fight back in her own unique way.

“The only way to curb such abuse is by talking about the topic with our kids,” says Kumar. “We have to get rid of the devil in our heads.”

Source : ET



Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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