Even though funding has regressed to 2020 levels, there are a few dark horses in the Indian startup realm that have continued to grab investors’ attention
The Indian SaaS market is scaling quite impressively and is projected to become a $50 Bn market opportunity by 2030, quadrupling its current size
In this edition of ‘30 Startups To Watch’, we have endeavoured to shine the spotlight on SaaS startups, accounting for the maximum number of startups in the list, followed by AI, edtech and fintech startups
The year so far has thrown many challenges at Indian startups, yet founders have emerged more powerful than ever in the face of adversities.
Well, speaking about adversities, the startup funding has regressed to 2020 levels. The $8.3 Bn raised in 2023 so far is nearly one-fourth of what the Indian startup ecosystem had raised during the same period in 2021.
From a macro lens, things may look quite challenging for Indian startups and new-age sectors, however, a closer glance would unravel the dark horses of the Indian startup realm.
One such example is the Indian SaaS market, which is scaling quite impressively and is projected to become a $50 Bn market opportunity by 2030, quadrupling its current size. Notably, Indian SaaS startups have raised more than $899 Mn so far this year.
Not only this, even though the funding winter engulfed most of 2023, the month of October infused some hope, as Indian startups raised $1.1 Bn during the month, up from $846 Mn raised in the corresponding month last year.
While this was hardly any respite for Indian startups, who continue to see a funding famine, we decided to stick to our tradition of bringing some of the most past-breaking startups to the fore every month.
In this edition of ‘30 Startups To Watch’, we have endeavoured to shine the spotlight on SaaS startups, accounting for the maximum number of startups in the list, followed by AI, edtech and fintech startups.
Amid the current scheme of things, we yet again raise a toast to Indian founders for their resilience as we bring you the 41st edition of ‘30 Startups To Watch’.
Editor’s Note: The list below is not a ranking of any kind. We have listed the startups alphabetically.
Unlocking India’s Tech Potential
In today’s tech-driven world, data analysts and software developers are in high demand. This is because businesses have increased their reliance on data-driven strategies and software-powered solutions. These fields offer promising career prospects, luring a significant number of undergraduates to seek and cultivate the requisite skills.
Based in Gurugram, AccioJob has positioned itself to cater to this burgeoning market by providing structured online learning programmes, which are tailored to help recent college graduates launch their careers in software development and data analytics.
At the heart of its offerings are comprehensive, live training courses in areas like Java full-stack development, MERN full-stack development, and data analytics.
Established in 2018 by Yashwardhan Burad, Priyanshu Agarwal, Vishu Bansal, and Harsh Sharma, AccioJob has plans to include high-demand domains such as DevOps, Testing, and Data Science by 2024.
AccioJob’s vision for the future includes exploring opportunities in formal education. This entails potential collaborations with colleges to integrate their programmes into undergraduate and postgraduate degree curricula. Additionally, AccioJob is considering establishing its proprietary degree offerings, either in partnership with institutions or with its physical infrastructure.
The AI-Powered Photography Companion
In a bid to help fellow photographers ease their workloads and deliver images to their clients faster and with greater efficiency, Anand Rathi, Canon India ambassador, founded Algomage in 2021.
The startup, which also made an appearance on Shark Tank India, has three flagship products – AlgoCull, AlgoEdit and AlgoShare.
AlgoCull automates the culling and rating of thousands of images within an hour, based on user-defined parameters. AlgoEdit, on the other hand, uses AI to edit images in Lightroom, learning a photographer’s style and preferences over time as it receives user input. AlgoShare employs facial recognition to ensure that all event attendees receive their images.
The startup monetises its products through a freemium subscription model, allowing photographers to subscribe to any of Algomage’s three apps on a monthly or annual basis. Algomage also offers a free plan with limited features.
Invest In Modern Assets With Mutual Funds-Like Ease
While there is a growing number of Indians who are making investments across a wide variety of assets, alternative assets like private credit, agronomy, real estate and private equity remain one of the most attractive classes of assets. While they promise high returns, only a few have the acumen to invest in such assets.
The gap in knowledge and the absence of a platform to help users invest in such assets prompted Krisha Maggo to build Altitude, a fixed-income platform enabling investments in alternative assets. The startup is set to soon launch its first investment opportunity, Prism Fund, on the National Stock Exchange.
The fund is a multi-asset structured investment opportunity designed as a diversified basket of 10+ modern assets, including real estate, private credit, litigation, inventory and revenue-based finance, structured notes, and private equity, among others. Altitude is also in the middle of establishing thematic investment schemes within the alternative asset category.
While Altitude has yet to receive SEBI’s approval for the Prism Fund, it claims to have 35K+ investors waiting for the fund launch.
It is looking to reach INR 100 Cr ($12 Mn) in assets under management (AUM) by November 2023, with an eye on scaling the number to $30 Mn (INR 250 Cr) AUM by December 2024.
Streamlining Audits With Flexible Solutions
Effective solutions for risk and audit programs have often proven elusive for many companies. Legacy options tend to complicate processes, while other established players often offer one-size-fits-all solutions that fail to address specific challenges.
AuditCue aims to disrupt this paradigm by delivering tailor-made solutions that boost process resiliency and agility for its clients. Founded in 2022 by entrepreneurs Gaurav Kulkarni and Naren Janakiraman, AuditCue wants to redefine the audit experience for both auditors and auditees.
What sets this Chennai-based startup apart is its flexible and modular platform. AuditCue understands that each organisation has unique challenges and needs, and it is committed to tailoring its services to meet those specific requirements.
AuditCue’s SaaS solution not only streamlines audit lifecycles but also enhances process resiliency and agility. It accelerates audit cycles, allowing organisations to stay ahead of the ever-evolving risk landscape.
On-Demand Personalised Learning Platform
Amid the rapid growth of edtech platforms in India over the past five years, Switzerland and Bengaluru-based Avidii, which is now expanding in the Indian market, distinguishes itself through its unique approach. Avidii offers immediate, personalised, and commitment-free educational services, catering to individual preferences and needs, setting it apart from the crowd of other edtech platforms.
Founded in 2021 by Deepak Subbarao, Avidii claims to have onboarded over 400 expert tutors across India and has garnered more than 5,000 downloads within a short period. Avidii, which is active in four countries, has plans to reach 1 Mn users and downloads in India by the end of the year.
Avidii’s core offering is a 24×7 on-demand learning service, providing customised support in subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, commerce, and arts, primarily aimed at students aged between 11 and 18.
The platform operates with two primary business models. While its B2B segment focusses on partnerships with educational institutions to enhance the learning experience within schools and colleges, the startup’s B2C segment enables direct one-on-one interactions between students and tutors, creating a personalised deep-learning experience.
Comprehensive Pet Supply With Care
In a country like India, where pet ownership is on the rise, the pet care industry plays a pivotal role. The significance of this industry extends beyond convenience; it underscores the bond between humans and their pets. The growing awareness of pet care reflects an evolving society that values its four-legged members as family. BellyRubs understands this shift and stands at the forefront, offering a curated selection of high-quality products sourced from around the world.
BellyRubs, an online pet supply store founded by Shirin Lamba and Ridhi Verma, is a one-stop shop for all your pet-related needs. The startup boasts an extensive array of products, spanning grooming essentials, premium food, engaging toys, and fashionable clothing for dogs.
At BellyRubs, the focus is clear: happy owners, happy pets, and a happier world. It is not just about pet products; it is about improving the lives of beloved animals, ensuring they receive the best care possible.
Providing Easy Access To Sustainable Products, Deliveries
With the growing environmental concerns, businesses are increasingly acknowledging the need to minimise their environmental impact and maximise social contributions. However, challenges such as limited capital, small-scale production, and building brand credibility persist in the ever-expanding eco-conscious market, hindering the growth of sustainable businesses.
Established in 2019 by Chaitsi Ahuja, Brown Living aims to bridge this gap by making sustainability a mainstream choice through the doorstep delivery of eco-friendly everyday-use products via its ecommerce platform. The company follows a drop-ship model to ensure plastic-free deliveries and support remote businesses.
The ecommerce startup hosts over 500 brands on its platform, offering more than 65,000 SKUs across various sectors, including fashion, home decor, lifestyle, food, and kitchen essentials. Using its proprietary curation method, The Brown Lens, the company claims to have physically assessed over 1,200 businesses.
Beyond being an ecommerce platform, Brown Living provides knowledge and education to support a sustainable lifestyle through its media service content. According to the company, 78% of its GMV comes from its online platform, followed by B2B orders and offline sales.
AI-Powered Conversational Support Platform
Incorporated in September 2021, Bangalore-based ClearFeed is a conversational support platform designed to improve customer service and streamline internal communication for enterprises. Cofounded by Ankit Jain, Joydeep Sen Sarma, and Lalit Indoria, the startup leverages the power of AI and deep integration with popular tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to revolutionise how businesses handle customer and employee requests.
As remote work has become the norm, communication platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams have become integral to business operations.
ClearFeed recognises the growing need for efficient conversational support tools to bridge the gaps across various departments. The startup uses AI models to track and escalate inquiries and requests. This allows different departments to interact seamlessly, enabling service teams to manage high query volumes and provide quick responses.
ClearFeed has introduced innovative features such as triage channels, one-click ticket filing, and live two-way syncing of data. The startup’s platform also integrates OpenAI’s GPT-4, which indexes product documentation, knowledge bases and wikis. This system can automatically generate answers in response to user queries, assisting agents in resolving user issues.
With a strong focus on product development, ClearFeed has experienced exponential growth since its launch. The platform is now used by over 100 organisations globally, including industry leaders like Atlan Data, Last9, Sprinto, and Plum Insurance.
Expert Dermatology At Your Fingertips
India’s professional skincare market has experienced significant growth, driven by an increasing awareness of the benefits of skincare. While this market initially focused on women, it now attracts a growing number of men who recognise the significance of maintaining healthy skin and addressing skin and hair-related concerns.
Founded in 2021 by Arjun Soin, Clinikally is a healthtech startup that addresses the scarcity of dermatologists in India by offering a comprehensive and convenient telehealth platform. The company connects consumers with licenced dermatology practitioners, who create personalised treatment plans for various skin conditions.
In addition to its core services, Clinikally has expanded into pharma distribution with private-label products under the Clinikally brand for aesthetic conditions and the Soteri Skin brand for chronic skin conditions. The platform offers dermatologist consultations at an affordable rate of INR 199 and presents innovative skincare products to its customers.
Clinikally’s short-term objectives revolve around strengthening its telehealth services, broadening its nutrition and nutraceutical offerings, and increasing the number of private-label partnerships from 175 to 500+ doctor clinics. Looking ahead to 2026, the company aspires to become a comprehensive platform for dermatology and nutrition care, featuring telehealth services, an online pharmacy, premium consumer brands, a nationwide network of dermatology specialists, and offline clinic partnerships.
High-Accuracy Private Cloud Speech AI Platform
In an era of automation, speech AI has a crucial role to play in improving user experiences and aiding data-driven decision-making. Founded in December 2020 by Prateek Mehta and Vijay Krishna BS, Contiinex is looking to target the English-speaking global speech market.
With its proprietary speech-to-text engine and the Contiinex Open Framework for Insights (COFI), driven by Language Model (LLM) technology, the company has already made progress in the healthcare and insurance sectors.
The startup is focussed on transforming customer experience, enhancing business productivity, and optimising costs for companies in India, the US, and Australia. Contiinex’s Speech AI platform can analyse voice files and empower businesses to understand their customers better and make strategic business decisions.
The Bengaluru-based startup is also looking at expanding its Gen AI product offerings to address the space of unstructured data across all mediums like voice, chat, email, videos and visuals. With its in-house LLM capabilities, Contiinex wants to expand its horizons to other verticals like banking, retail and utilities.
Debt Collections Made Stress-Free
In recent years, India has witnessed numerous instances of debt recovery gone awry, leaving both lenders and borrowers in distress. The use of unscrupulous tactics by collection agencies employed by banks and NBFCs has exacerbated the situation, sometimes pushing borrowers to take extreme measures.
Recognising that the tech-enabled intervention in this domain has been limited, Ananth Shroff and Ranjith Ramachandra founded DPDzero, an AI-powered collections and debt recovery platform, in 2020. The startup serves both secured and unsecured products while maximising collection efficiency, especially for unsecured lending products.
In recent months, DPDzero has forged partnerships with major NBFCs, including Tata Capital, KreditBee, Cashe, LazyPay and Snapmint, witnessing an impressive 7X growth in revenue within the past ten months. The startup generates revenue by earning a share of collections.
In the short term, DPDzero aims to assemble a high-calibre team, bolster information security measures, and optimise its processes. By 2026, the company plans to invest in advanced AI models to introduce hyper-personalisation, expedite default prediction, and implement advanced borrower negotiation models.
Ethical Fashion, Sustainably Sourced
The state of child labour in the fashion industry is appalling at best. According to a report, nearly 60% of the workers in Indian mills were under 18 when they were first hired.
Dressfolk, founded in 2017 by Nitin Mehrotra, specialises in creating traditional Indian dresses from across the country. The startup has partnered with 720+ artisans to empower the local weavers’ community, focussing on sourcing its products responsibly and free of child labour at any stage of its supply chain.
Dressfolk is also focussed on building collaborative relationships with artisans to understand craft regions and traditions.
The startup sells its products across categories such as sarees, blouses, fabrics, dupattas and suit sets via its website and several offline multi-brand and online marketplaces in the premium price category. Dressfolk claims to have a user base in 20 countries and boasts that it has increased the income of its partner artisans by more than 150%.
Consumer Verification Platform
Founded by Keshav Reddy and Rajeev Ranjan in 2022, Equal is a pioneering startup that envisions a world where access to essential services and opportunities is based on merit, not identity. In a nation as diverse as India, where numerous individuals are denied access to credit, housing, benefits, and products due to various factors, Equal seeks to level the playing field for over a billion Indians.
At the heart of their mission is the Equal ID Gateway, a product that empowers businesses to establish seamless and secure identity-sharing workflows for consumers. Much like a payment gateway facilitates financial transactions, the Equal ID Gateway facilitates the exchange of personal identification information when requested, all while maintaining privacy and security.
It spans a wide array of use cases, from healthcare to education, employment, and travel, essentially anywhere a consumer needs to share their identity with a business.
Equal’s revenue is generated through a pay-per-verification model. It claims to have over 1 Mn consumers currently.
Revolutionising Retail Distribution With Data-Driven Insights
D2C brands have gained substantial traction in recent years, but expanding beyond online channels has been challenging due to high costs. The primary issue is establishing efficient offline distribution networks.
Fairdeal, founded by Prateek and Yash Bansal, aims to disrupt the retail distribution landscape in India with its innovative data-driven approach. The startup provides comprehensive offline distribution services to D2C brands, enabling them to tap into the vast potential of the Indian market.
Fairdeal connects D2C brands with a network of over 10,000 retailers. Leveraging data, Fairdeal ensures optimal brand-to-retailer matching, resulting in faster and more substantial sales. Additionally, the company helps brands co-create new products and develop pricing strategies. This approach benefits not only emerging D2C brands but also established local brands seeking expansion into new territories.
Next-Gen Design Tools On Offer
The user interface (UI) is a critical component of app and website design, serving as the initial point of interaction for users. However, many design teams struggle with a lack of inspiration, motivation, resources, or time, resulting in subpar UI and disappointing user experiences.
Founded in 2023 by Chirag Singla and Moksh Garg, Figr aims to address these challenges with its AI-driven tools, including Lookr, Flash UI, and Prokit.
Lookr provides users with a vast database of high-quality design work, helping them find design inspiration through a search-based method and recommendations for needed elements.
Flash UI takes that inspiration and offers editable templates, enabling users to create customised apps or websites. Prokit provides design resources such as icons, fonts, and colour palettes, allowing users to develop a unique design language for their brand.
Figr is also in the process of launching two new products, Identity and Construct, which will enable users to build a brand identity from scratch and visualise concepts in a UI format. The startup operates on a subscription-based model, monetising its platforms through monthly or annual subscriptions.
Curing Postural Syndrome With Technology
According to a 2023 report, approximately 19% of India’s adult population is grappling with chronic pain, often stemming from poor postural habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, India witnesses nearly 2 Lakh cases of spinal injuries every year, with the majority attributed to chronic bad posture and habits.
In response to these pressing health concerns, Manjeet Singh, who successfully recovered from Lumbar Spondylitis in 2016-17, joined forces with his long-time friend and tech veteran, Amit Bhayani, to launch FlexifyMe in 2021.
FlexifyMe is an AI-powered platform designed to assist individuals in correcting their posture and alleviating chronic pain. Utilising advanced AI motion tracking, it can detect postural defects, muscle inflexibility, and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
The startup claims its AI motion coach generates the world’s first physical posture analysis report that identifies the root cause of chronic pain and creates a custom plan combining the latest physiotherapy postures with yoga and meditation. FlexifyMe offers personalised subscription plans, with an average cost of INR 16,000 for six months.
Currently, FlexifyMe claims to have attracted 2,000 paying clients from India and 24 other countries. They have ambitious plans to expand their user base to over 10,000 by the end of 2024, establishing partnerships with over 200 doctors in the process.
On-Premise Custom LLMs For Enterprises
One of the biggest problems is that most LLMs are only available as cloud-based services, meaning enterprises need to share data with third parties to use LLMs. That is not a viable option for many enterprises due to privacy concerns or compliance requirements.
Solving these problems is Bengaluru-based Giga ML, set up by Varun Vummadi and Esha Manideep Dinne in 2023. The startup provides on-premise deployment, fine-tuning and privacy for LLMs. Its X1-Large model is currently the most powerful LLM available for on-premise deployment. Giga ML also offers an API compatible with OpenAI’s API, so users can switch to the startup’s API seamlessly without rewriting code.
The startup targets enterprises that need to use LLMs for internal purposes but don’t want to use cloud-based services or share their data with third parties. Giga ML’s on-premise deployment option gives enterprises full control over their data and their LLMs. The startup also offers fine-tuning services for LLMs, so enterprises can train LLMs on their data to perform specific tasks. This allows enterprises to create LLMs that are tailored to their specific needs.
Giga ML’s privacy features are designed to protect the confidentiality of enterprise data. The startup does not use any data its customers upload to its platform. Giga ML monetises its product through a subscription model. Enterprises can pay a monthly fee to use Giga ML’s platform to deploy, fine-tune, and use LLMs on their servers.
Empowering AEC Professionals
India has witnessed a significant surge in the edtech sector, primarily focussed on K-12 education, test preparation, and upskilling in areas like data science and marketing. However, Novatr, formerly known as Oneistox, stands out as an educational technology startup with a unique emphasis on transforming the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.
Founded in 2021 by a team of architects and engineers, including Harkunwar Singh, Vipanchi Handa, Mehul Kumar, and Chaithanya Murali, Novatr aims to bridge the gap between traditional AEC education and the rapidly evolving technological landscape, equipping learners to become future-ready professionals.
The platform offers a diverse range of courses and programmes, including Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Computational Design, to help learners develop essential skills and stay at the forefront of industry advancements.
Established by accomplished professionals with backgrounds from prestigious institutions such as SPA Delhi and IIT Madras, Novatr empowers learners to become forward-thinking AEC professionals. It achieved remarkable net revenue growth of 30% MoM in FY23 and is projected to experience a 12X revenue growth in FY24.
Empowering The New Wave Of Digital Entrepreneurs
There is an emerging trend of millennials and Gen Z starting online businesses on social media. Recognising the potential and challenges, two IIT Bombay alumni Rahul Gope and Anjan Kumar Patel launched Oyela in 2021 to empower the creative entrepreneurship explosion in India by providing essential tools and opportunities through social media.
Oyela assists emerging businesses, product creators, and artists in effectively selling their products and expanding their online presence. It offers features such as digital storefront management, collaboration tools for wider exposure, and seamless integration with Instagram for automated sales through social media.
A core focus of Oyela is building trust among Indian consumers by providing transparent ratings and reviews, instilling confidence in sellers’ digital storefronts. Furthermore, Oyela prioritises operational efficiency by offering tools to streamline operations and logistics, ultimately enhancing the overall selling process and delivering a more personalised and efficient shopping experience to buyers.
Oyela currently operates across India, charging a 6-10% commission on orders, thereby facilitating seller collaborations and benefiting them. The platform boasts over 20,000 sellers who have joined at no cost and facilitates more than 1 Mn seller collaborations each month.
This Gurugram-based startup has set its sights on reaching $1 Mn in revenue and empowering 200K social stores by 2024. Its long-term aspirations encompass nurturing entrepreneurship and empowering 2 Mn social stores to capture a substantial market share in the Indian ecommerce and social commerce arena.
Social-first Content Marketplace
Founded in early 2023 by IIT alumni Nav Agrawal and Swapnil Upadhyay, Bengaluru-based Pep aims to revolutionise the content creation landscape in the era of Gen AI. The rapid evolution of technology has made content creation more accessible, but it has also inundated the internet with a deluge of low-quality content. Pep addresses this challenge through a unique approach, emphasising curation, categorisation, and content credibility.
Pep’s mission is to establish a social-first online marketplace for content that empowers users to explore, purchase, and monetise a wide variety of content and services. The platform offers a one-stop destination, granting users access to live sessions, one-on-one consultations, and the ability to purchase various content formats, including PDFs, videos, and audio.
Recognising content discovery as a major pain point for online users, Pep employs personalised machine learning algorithms to facilitate tailored content discovery at reasonable prices, making it effortless for users to discover valuable and relevant content.
Its core concept revolves around user-generated content, with a focus on micro-courses and micro-payments. The marketplace offers content ranging from INR 29 to INR 2,000, catering to a wide spectrum of user interests, from cooking and DIY crafts to fashion and health and fitness.
Pep empowers users to easily monetise their expertise by selling content through a commission-based model, with fees varying from 20% to 50%, contingent on the content category. With its machine learning algorithms, the startup ensures that customers discover and purchase content at affordable prices, fostering a no-regret approach to content consumption.
Simplifying Cafeteria Management
Running cafeterias without the use of technology often leads to operational inefficiencies such as manual order processing, inventory mismanagement, and a lack of transparency. To address these challenges, Arjun Subramanian and Raj Jain founded Platos in 2019.
At the heart of Platos’ vision are three distinct applications designed to create a smarter cafeteria experience for customers, food partners, and cafeteria managers. The Platos App empowers customers to effortlessly place orders, track their food, and provide feedback.
The Platos Partner App, tailored for on-site vendors, simplifies inventory management and order cycle control. Meanwhile, the Admin Web Dashboard offers comprehensive real-time data and financial insights, enabling administrators to efficiently manage cafeterias.
The journey of Platos began with thorough market research and hands-on experience running cafeterias without technology. Before the pandemic, the founders operated cafeterias in Chennai which clearly illustrated the imperative need for technological solutions to optimise and elevate cafeteria management.
Platos aims to tackle issues such as high aggregator commissions, cafeteria management inefficiencies, and transparency gaps, ultimately enhancing the cafeteria experience for clients and food partners. With its commitment to seamless technology and professional food partnerships, Platos is set to reshape the corporate catering landscape.
Redefining Casual Gaming
Casual gaming has gained immense importance in recent years, reflecting the changing dynamics of the gaming industry, which like many other sectors and industries has greatly benefited from the widespread availability of affordable mobile data. Even those with basic smartphones can easily access and contribute to the growing mobile gaming community through app stores.
Founded by Ramakrishna Reddy Y L and Shubham Joshi in 2023, QuriousBit, a gaming studio based in Bengaluru, is on a mission to revolutionise the mobile gaming industry by offering high-quality casual puzzle games. In a genre largely dominated by match3 and blast-themed games, QuriousBit seeks to introduce a fresh and personalised gaming experience.
The founders bring a wealth of experience, having previously developed and managed games for PlaySimple Games, a global leader in word games that was acquired for over $500 Mn in 2021. QuriousBit is fuelled by the ambition to put India on the map of hit puzzle games globally.
With the global mobile casual games market valued at around $18 Bn in 2023 and projected to reach $25 Bn by 2027, QuriousBit is well-positioned to tap into the growing casual gamers of the country.
Transforming Hospitality with AI, ML Solutions
Founded in 2021 by Raj Sahu, Kiran and Ravish, SYSOTEL.AI is on a mission to revolutionise the hospitality industry through innovative technological solutions. At the heart of SYSOTEL.AI’s product suite is a platform, Intelligent Booking Engine (IBE), that not only ensures secure online reservations but also simplifies the booking process for guests.
This engine integrates with Google’s extensive travel services, making it the preferred choice for hotels seeking to solidify their online presence.
The company also has a fully automated revenue management system, Intelligent Yield Automation (IYE), that harnesses the power of AI and ML to recommend competitive rates based on real-time market data and native demand trends. It also provides invaluable insights into market dynamics, event planning, and reputation management.
The 1% Club
Helping Indians Achieve Financial Freedom
Today, a majority of Indians are worried about their financial well-being, and there are several reasons behind this. One such reason is that India, despite being a savings-first nation, saw its household savings hit a 47-year low in FY23, according to the RBI data.
Amid the current scheme of things, many individuals get stuck in situations, be it poorly paying investment cycles or even investment scams, which only deteriorate their financial health further.
Having been in this space for a long time, finfluencers Sharan Hegde and Raghav Gupta set up The 1% Club in 2022 to address the challenges budding investors face in their investment journey.
The 1% Club is a members-only financial education platform that offers educational resources, mentorship, entrepreneurial opportunities and networking avenues to its members looking to achieve financial independence.
The platform offers curated courses across personal finance and the stock market. Each module starts with the basics and then goes deeper. For instance, the personal finance segment goes from investments across different asset classes to insurance planning and, finally, tax planning. Similarly, the stock market module starts with the stakeholders and moves to IPOs, financial statements, annual reports and the psychological aspects of investing.
The startup claims to be the first influencer-backed venture to delve into entrepreneurship. In the short term, The 1% Club is looking to get registered with the market regulator SEBI.
The Cube Club
Weights, Workouts, Tech & More
India is fast becoming the world capital for lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Despite this, a lack of motivation to pursue a healthier lifestyle continues to grip most individuals.
Having sensed the underlying problem, Pratik Agarwal, Siddhesh Ghuge and Yash Thakur came together to launch The Cube Club in 2020. The Cube Club is an online marketplace from where users can buy fitness equipment and accessories such as dumbbells and weights, benches, pull-up bars, yoga mats, and more.
In October 2023, the startup launched its fitness app, Dopamine, which allows users to embark on their fitness journey with friends from the comfort of their own homes. Users can create workout channels on the app, allowing them to track their progress and stay motivated. The Dopamine app uses AI-based tech to track a user’s workout routine, which then can be shared with friends in a gamified manner.
Currently, The Cube Club generates revenue by selling fitness equipment on its website, Amazon, and over 100 offline stores. Looking ahead, the startup plans to diversify its revenue streams by monetising Dopamine.
Invest In The Stock Market And Earn Rewards
At the end of January 2023, Indians held more than 11 Cr demat accounts, up from around 8 Cr accounts a year ago. The high number still translates to a mere 3% of India’s total households actively investing in the stock market. The market’s complexity and the lack of substantial returns have made it a daunting prospect for many.
Recognising the challenges, Ayush Agarwal, Mihir Verma, Hemant Patil and Ajay Sharma, all avid stock market investors, seized the opportunity to create a platform that rewards investors for their consistent participation in the stock market. Thus, Valo was born in 2023.
The startup has formed partnerships with numerous brands, including Domino’s, Spotify, Netflix, Swiggy, Zomato, and others, to incentivise users for their stock market investments. Valo also offers a dedicated finance community where investors can engage, learn, and grow together in the personal finance domain. Additionally, it features a finance marketplace similar to the Google Play Store but for finance-only apps.
The platform utilises broker API to access investment data, providing users with rewards and key metrics without the need for email or SMS access, thus safeguarding user privacy.
Valo generates revenue through brand partnerships and commissions from trades, without imposing any charges on its users. Despite its recent launch in September 2023, the platform has already attracted over 1,000 users within a month. Valo’s ambitious plans involve expanding its user base to 10,000+ by the end of 2024.
Streamlining Credit Card Issuance For Enterprises
Credit cards are rapidly gaining popularity in India. This has prompted many companies across segments to launch co-branded credit cards with major banks and networks. However, the process takes anywhere between 12 and 15 months and requires 10+ tech integrations across processes.
With the NPCI and banks targeting 300 Mn credit cards in the next five to seven years, banking and technology veterans Gaurav Mittal, Abhinav Garg, Himanshu Agrawal and Puneet Sharma founded Vegapay in 2022. The startup offers a core Credit Card Management System (CCMS) for both the supply side (banks) and the demand side (co-brand partners).
Vegapay enables hyper-configurable solutions for credit card offerings, alongside white-label dashboards for the issuers to create and manage programmes without any dependency on tech.
Currently, Vegapay has established partnerships with a bank to oversee all aspects of credit card management and aims to onboard four banks by the end of the coming year. Vegapay has also recently introduced a multi-currency card in collaboration with two issuers and a co-branding partner.
Vegapay’s revenue model relies on a one-time fee and subsequent commission from minimum monthly billing done by the user banks. The startup is now working to expand to Middle East and North African regions and reach 15+ banking partners by the end of 2025.
Custom Engineering Procurement Simplified
Founded by Karan Anand and Himanshu Uniyal in 2023, Wootz.work is a global sourcing platform specialising in custom engineering equipment and solutions. It is dedicated to streamlining the cross-border buying experience for light engineering products through technology and ownership of the entire process, from design to delivery.
The platform not only connects buyers with sellers but also offers a unique capability to link them directly to products and solutions tailored to their specific needs. The startup’s technology leverages an understanding of basic parameters, the buyer’s geography, industry, and application to instantly customise products. This approach reduces the procurement timeline, providing quotations within 24 hours.
In a rapidly evolving engineering equipment industry valued at $1.7 Tn, Wootz.work addresses the challenges faced by Western buyers looking to source from Southeast Asia. The platform simplifies the complex landscape of SME suppliers, overcoming language barriers, long pre-sales times, and other complexities. Wootz.work aims to bridge this gap and create a reliable global procurement channel for SMEs, allowing them to access value-driven capital expenditure.
Wootz.work emphasises value engineering, offering products optimised for easy installation and efficient shipping, with components chosen for end-market serviceability and compliance. The platform also provides virtual factory tours, comprehensive fulfilment dashboards, and round-the-clock after-sales support.
Enhanced Cybersecurity For Enterprises
Cybersecurity challenges persist as threats become increasingly sophisticated. Issues such as data breaches, ransomware attacks, and vulnerabilities in technology infrastructure remain prominent. Addressing these challenges demands robust defence strategies, threat intelligence, and innovative solutions.
Founded in 2020 by Sanket Sarkar, Zeron, the cyber risk posture management platform, is working on cybersecurity for enterprises. It offers a comprehensive suite of solutions, following an ABCD framework, to address various aspects of cyber risk management. These modules include attack surface automation, business posture assessment, compliance automation, defence automation, and a cloud monitor.
Zeron’s flagship product serves as the single source of truth for cybersecurity, providing real-time insights into an organisation’s vulnerabilities, strengths, compliance alignment, and defence effectiveness. Zeron’s compliance automation and AI solutions automate workflows, technical evidence mapping, and policy enhancements, reducing compliance time and errors, improving audit readiness, and ensuring proactive policy improvements.
Zeron operates on a subscription-based revenue model, granting clients flexibility in payment terms. The company’s presence extends globally, with its headquarters in Mumbai, India, and outreach in the ASEAN, MENA, the Americas, and the EU regions through strategic partnerships.
In the short term, Zeron aims to onboard 50 customers and strengthen its presence in the MENA and ASEAN regions. In the long term, the company envisions creating an ecosystem for cybersecurity trust among organisations, simplifying their business journey.
Giving A Tech Boost To Local Commerce
India had 2.79 Cr formalised jobs as of August 2023, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. However, this figure represents only about 5% of the 52.4 Cr Indians actively participating in the labour force. The vast unorganised sector is gradually recognising the potential of technology and its transformative capabilities.
At the forefront of this transformative movement is Zopnote, a B2B2C SaaS platform dedicated to local commerce. Founded in 2019 by Rajesh Badgeri and Chengappa Chottera, this innovative startup offers two distinctive apps — a merchant mobile app and a customer app.
The former empowers small local businesses with features like customer engagement, automated billing, online collection, bookkeeping, and business intelligence. The latter enables end customers to discover and purchase products and services in their vicinity, track expenses, and make payments seamlessly. For instance, businesses can list their products and services on the platform, allowing users to explore and place orders directly from the app.
Although currently operational only in Bengaluru, Zopnote has successfully garnered over 52,000 B2C customers across 1,000+ communities in the city, processing more than 2.3 Cr bills each month. The startup monetises its platform through a subscription fee that merchants pay to utilise its services.
In the short term, Zopnote aims to achieve product-market fit (PMF), with long-term plans involving the creation of a decentralised model to leverage the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) and expand its reach across India.
[Edited by Shishir Parasher]