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A Breakup of Economic Policies for Post COVID-19 Recovery

COVID-19 bought a lot of things with it, mandatory masks, lockdown and the grand fall in the economy. And it wasn’t just India that was affected, the whole world went into a standstill, shops shut down, the roads were empty and the offices were unattended.

The pandemic hit hard, especially on startups and new businesses. Everyone scrambled to secure funding, resources were diverted, departments were shut down, offices closed and employees moved home to work.

The affected sectors were retail, tours and travels, oil hospitality, retail, banks, hotels, real estate, IT, and others. The tourism industry was estimated to lose ₹15.000 crore for March and April. The demand for fuel almost fell 46%, since everyone was confined to their homes. Food wastages increased due to affected logistics companies, which in turn affected the smaller farmers.

Many international and domestic investors pulled out funding from companies, businesses where left out to dry, very few operating and functioning during the lockdown. Many companies shut down, losses were incurred, however, a few were able to come up on the other side better and bigger than before.

Entrepreneurs and founders tried their best to reform their business structure and operations, few succeeding. The internal working and functioning of the company have to be flexible to be able to adapt to changes in markets, demographics and now the pandemic lockdowns and changes in demand.

The crisis aversion and management on a micro level solely depends on the founder and company. The resilience of a country’s economy is measured by the companies to be able to withstand crises and have a workable plan to manage said crisis. However certain changes in policies and revaluation of resources by the state or central government can help bridge the gap between financial stress and monetary relief. 

After all, the startups growth has been on a tremendous rise, India reaching a grand total of 21 unicorn startups which has boosted the international investment in India and the overall economy.

Entrepreneurs are born from the need to solve problems and bridge gaps between demand and production. They have the platform, means and funds to contribute to the recovery of the aftermath of a crisis.

While a good strategy provides for a stable framework, perseverance and determination is the common denominator to startups that have come out on the other side of the pandemic, and they have come out stronger and better equipped. The COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse effect on the startups scene.

While the lockdown did see an enormous change in the functioning of businesses and the drastic shift of the working force to a work-from-home scenario. Employees had a difficult time adapting to the sudden change in schedules, being locked up at home 24 hours for months on end. Salaries have been cut and many have been laid off to keep the company monetarily stable. While initially the lockdown was 21 days, and many companies had already seen a major hit to production and distribution.

The Government of India did ask companies to pay their employees’ salaries, to help keep families afloat, it was not legally implementable but rather a plea. The Government, for their part, did cut a part of government employee’s salaries to aid in gathering funds for the unemployed, MSME companies, farmers and create economic stimulant packages.

While everything was running on a trial-and-error basis, the government too was learning as they were going. To push the ‘Make in India’ scheme, some reforms were needed to be set in place to help startups and to ease things for the labour/ human capital, a huge portion of which were migrants. This was proving to be difficult in the third ‘once in a lifetime recession’ that the 21st century had seen.

There was a severe impact on supply and demand, while restaurants shut down, the demand for fresh produce shifted closer to home.

On 23rd march, The Economic Times released an article titled “Sensex crashes 3,935 points: What’s behind market meltdown”, that stated that the country had experienced a fall of 13.15% in SENSEX and 12.98% in NSE NIFTY, the worst stats in the history of India. A day after the 21-day lockdown was announced SENSEX released its biggest gain, a value of ₹4.7 lakh crore for investors.

On 24th March, Prime Minister Modi announced India’s first lockdown for 21 days, during his speech he stressed on the Life Before Livelihood debate.

Jaan hai toh jahaan hai – Prime Minister Modi

The 1st of April saw the RBI announce measures to salvage the economic fall. Short term liquidity was increased to provide monetary relief to state governments and exports had been granted relaxed laws.

By 11 April the Prime Minister amended his previous message to “jaan bhi jahaan bhi” roughly meaning ‘lives and livelihoods are equally important’. 

The second lockdown commencement was announced on 15th April, the agricultural and horticultural sector were to continue working. On 18th April, the government took precautionary steps to avoid and deter any hostile takeovers as the global share prices of companies were falling. The policy ensures that all countries that share a border with India will face scrutiny from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with the concern that China could try to take advantage of the COVID-19 situation.

While the agricultural sector was functioning, many workers in the industrial sectors, construction and others – mostly migrants – had to go back home for the lockdown. The unemployment rate had stood at a 6.51%, rural rates being 6.26% while the urban rates were 7.07%. 

On June 20th, the government launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan for the migrants. There were questions raised about the implementations of the schemes by the migrants since not all daily-wage workers have a record of being paid salaries. It was also pointed out that the government was unable to keep up with implementation of minimum wages for migrants under regular circumstances, how would they be able to do better and as much as before.

On 28th April the former Chief Economic Advisor stated that India should prepare for a negative growth in 2021 if things remained the same.

The Prime Minister saw the COVID-19 situation as an opportunity for India to become self-reliant. He proposed the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan economic package at ₹20 lakh crore, about 10% of the GDP. The package consisted of reforms and funding to businesses with a direct cash wire to the unemployed and those living under the poverty line. Loans free of collateral and government back were provided to businesses to help resume economic working and to protect the employment rate. Meaning that the government will too share the risk for this sector.

One of the changes made was to privatize sectors like power, defence and space to raise money. While the policies did not help the short-term problems the country was facing, it was a step in the direction of being about to resume business and stabilize the volatile economic status.

By the end of April, businesses like dairy, tea, and other agriculture opened and were functioning under relaxed lockdown guidelines. The government had transferred just about ₹18.000 crore to farmers under the PM-KISAN Scheme.

The definition of MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) was revised so that more companies could avail the benefits of the schemes. Under this the investment limit has been raised and the distinction between manufacturing and services has been removed. On 16th May the Finance Minister announced the amendments to the Essential Commodities Act, which aimed at deregulating commodities like pulses, oils, onion and potatoes, meaning the supply of these foodstuffs can be regulated only during extraordinary circumstances.

The commodities it includes are “drugs, fertilisers, whether inorganic, organic or mixed; foodstuffs including edible oils; hank yarn made wholly from cotton; petroleum and petroleum products; raw jute and jute textiles; seeds of food-crops and seeds of fruits and vegetables, seeds of cattle fodder, jute seed, cotton seed.” 

By making a commodity essential the government can control the production and supply as well as distribution of that commodity and they can impose a stock limit that can be triggered.

While due to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan the restrictions on the agricultural sector has been relaxed, and funds have been diverted to provide for micro-food companies. The strict and effective implementation will be greatly beneficial to the sector, since the agricultural business drives the country’s economy.

By the second week of May, companies and businesses had started to open up for business with a staffing of just 33%, a few going as low as 5% working strength. After a student that was conducted it was apparent that there were 5 states that were helping speed the recovery by contributing 27% of the GDP. The states being Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Karnataka. 

On 2nd June, another incentive was offered to businesses that manufactured mobiles locally, this incentive includes ₹49,995 crore. Five Indian companies would be selected for this too. The foreign companies to avail these benefits are Samsung, Foxconn Hon Hai, Rising Star, Wistron and Pegatron. The domestic mobile manufacturers selected are Lava, Bhagwati (Micromax), Padget Electronics, UTL Neolyncs and Optiemus Electronics.

As much as India is doing for its economy, it is safe to say that the effects of the pandemic will be felt long after this year. Priyanka Kishor, head of economics for South Asia and South-East Asia, has claimed a projected potential growth at 4.5% over the next five years as opposed to the 6.5% before the virus in a report.

“Capital accumulation takes the biggest it because we expected balance-sheet stresses to worsen following the crisis, lengthening the investment recovery cycle.” Kishor said as reported by The Logical Indian. However, according to the article, India has seen a sharp growth in the festival season.

The National Education Policy 2020 was approved on 29th July. It is to replace the Old National Policy on Education 1986. It consists of guidelines and is to reform the education system by 2021. However, it is not mandated, the government will let the states and institutions decide on the implementation. The 10+2 will be replaced with the 5+3+3+4 model, the stages being, Foundations Stage, Preparatory Stage, Middle Stage and Secondary Stage. Examinations will be redesigned and standards will be established by an assessment body, PARAKH. The office will be on experiential learning and coding will be introduced in the 6th year. Another addition is that the Midday Meal Scheme will include breakfast and the student health will be of prime importance. This will allow students to build problem-solving inter-disciplinary skills and will promote abstract thinking and solving.

On 12th October, Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 was released, an additional ₹73,000 crore package. This economic stimulus is an attempt at reviving the economy using policies and lowered interest rates.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan 3.0 was released on 12th November, ₹2.65 lakh crore.

We have seen a rise of India’s rating from Moody’s Investors Service from a low investment grade of Baa3 with a negative outlook on June 1st. The organization claimed that the decision was taken due to the low growth of the Indian Economy compared to potential. Moody’s altered their annual growth prediction from the previous -11.5% to a -10.6%. This revision was due to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan 3.0 stimulus package.

Last is the effect of the virus on the health sector as it is the epicentre of the global ongoing pandemic. Private hospitals have extended their resources and equipment to the government to help deal with the crisis. The hospitals themselves have been facing funding problems, as about 80% of their operations are fixed costs. Moreover, there had been a lack in resources due to affected logistics and manufacturing. There has been a severe decrease in optional surgeries, international patients and out-patients. This impact on cash flows will trend for a few months if not longer.

Many hotels were used as isolation wards for asymptomatic and mild cases to the government to be used since the country did not have any secured infrastructure or experience with dealing with a global pandemic of such a large scale. Like Taj Mahal Palace in South Mumbai that was offering free stay for doctors tested positive for the virus, The Park Inn by Radisson near an airport in Amritsar, among a few.

The Financial Minister had announced medical insurance cover of about ₹0.5 crore per healthcare worker. This scheme includes 2 million health service workers and others. Seeing as the Indian healthcare sector is privately owned, about 87% of the sector, making it a major stakeholder. 

The center has allocated ₹10,000 crore to get the priority group of 30 crore Indians vaccinated in the first phase. According to the article published by Indian Today, the government is unwilling to take up loans from international banks to fund the vaccinations. While the avoidance of further debt by the country is good, such a humongous operation will not be easy to run as unseen expenditure may occur.

India is already supported under the COVAX global vaccine sharing plan, cooperated by the World Health Organization. India has taken steps to prepare the vaccination process by training medical officers, cold chain operators, supervisors, data managers and coordinators and resources like 29,000 cold chin points, 240 walk in coolers, 70 walk in freezers, 41,000 deep freezers as reported by Mint. The country has taken a keen interest in the development and distribution of the vaccine to its citizens.

Pfizer, an American pharma company, has sought approval from the DCGI (Drugs Controller of India) to authorize its coronavirus vaccine. The Controller may give the approval if the board is satisfied with the trials conducted in other countries, states NDTV

“[…] Pfizer’s CT-18 application for grant of permission to import new drug [COVID-19 vaccine] for sale in India is under process. As per New Drugs and Clinical trials Rules 2019, the application has to be decided within 90 days […]” as reported by NDTV.

While the economic future of India does look a bit dire, preventative measures and policies have been put in place to slow the economic downfall and accelerate its growth. While the policies made have been a key effort, the most important part of the process is implantation, the effects of which are yet to be seen.

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The Unseen Unicorns: Small Starts to Big Businesses

There are many ways a startup can fund itself, a few being: bootstrapping, crowdfunding, incubators/accelerators and Venture Capitalists. The lack of capital is the major setback that entrepreneurs face and why they turn to VC. But very few have the chance to be one of the special few we consider a unicorn.

For those of you who are new to entrepreneurship, “VC (venture capital) is a form of private equity financing provided by venture capital firms or funds to startups, early-stage, and emerging companies that have been deemed to have high growth potential or which have demonstrated high growth.” as defined by Wikipedia.

Simply put, VC are either people or firms that invest – provide monetary funds – to the startup, in exchange for equity. 

What is meant by a Unicorn Company?

In the VC industry, the term unicorn refers to a startup that has reached a valuation of $1 Billion. Some popular unicorns are Airbnb, Uber, SpaceX, Buzzfeed, Quora and Grammarly to name a few. The term was first coined by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures. The term is used to refer to the rarity of such an occurrence.

This is a difficult milestone to reach by a company on its own, many turn to other ways of financing, VC is a very popular choice, to expand the company and increase the revenue and valuation. The company may go through many rounds of financing before they are able to reach a valuation of $1 Billion.

The diversity in India is reflected by its innovations and revolution in the startup scene, and while the number of startups have tremendously grown in the last two years so has the number of Unicorn Companies in the country.

India has reached the status of the ‘3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world’. A title that is not thrown around lightly, there has been a lot of work and sweat that has gone into getting this title by many companies, a few of them have been compiled by us in Top 15 Successful Startup Companies in India.

What is the criteria to be a unicorn?

Innovation: most companies that have reached the unicorn status have caused major changes in their respective industries and revolutionized the way they conduct business. Like Uber, they have changed the way that people commute and how booking takes place.

Technology: most companies are able to achieve efficiency and maximum optimization of business by integrating new tech and IoT services into the product development process or the way the services are given. An example would be blackbuck, they have taken logistics into another league by using IoT and tracking software to keep an eye on their pilots and trucks.  

Being New: the companies in the unicorn list are usually either companies that have been keen on innovations and have been the first to implement a new method or business model to help them reach optimum in their industry.

Type of products: the goal of a company is to manufacture products that can make everyday tasks and life easier. It is imperative to know your product inside-out and potential customer base and to produce a product in line with all the criteria’s and market in such a way as to optimize reaching the wanted demographic.

Cars24

Website: https://www.cars24.com/about-us/ 

The company website has seen 4X the website engagement post-covid and has sold over 2,00,000 units. The company was launched in 2015 by Vikram Chopra, Mehul Agrawal, Gajendra Jangid and Ruchit Agarwal. The first round of funding commenced in 2018, 3 years after the company was founded and was able to raise a sum of $50 million in Series A and Series B. The company saw a tremendous growth in sales within the first month of its inception. 

RazorPay

Website: https://razorpay.com/ 

The company was founded in 2013 by Harsil Mathur and Sashank Kumar and is based in Bangalore. The company provides payment and monetary solutions to businesses and individuals. It participated in the Y combinators cohort in 2015, and raises about $120,000 in funding. Since then, they have steadily grown both in revenue and the funding that they have raised from investors.

Pine Labs

Website: https://www.pinelabs.com/ 

Founded in 1998 by Lokvir Kapoor, Rajul Garg and Tarun Upaday, the company offers financing and financial transactions technology. The company has more than 70,000 retailers across India and has expanded into other parts of Asia. The company changed from petroleum automation solutions to becoming a payment service. 

Dream11

Website: https://www.dream11.com/  

This is the first Indian gaming company to enter the unicorn club. It was founded in 2008 by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth. By 2014 the company had reached 1 million registered followers which increased to 2 million in 2016, by 2018 they had 45 million users. Their investors include Kalaari Capital, Think Investments, Multiple Equities and Tencent among a few. Dream11 raised an undisclosed amount in 2015, in series A of funding from Kalaari Capital.

Mu Sigma

Website: https://www.mu-sigma.com/ 

Mu Sigma offers data analytics using decision science and data science. It was founded by Dhiraj Rajaram in 2004. In 2008 the company raised its first investment of $30 million from FTV Capital. It offers marketing analytics, brand/customer equity analysis, customer satisfaction analysis, marketing measurement, retention modelling, prospecting and optimization, and others.

Zerodha

Website: https://zerodha.com/ 

It is a company that lets individuals invest in stock, mutual funds, broking and bonds. The company was founded in 2010 by Nithin Kamath, who himself is an investor, had been in the game since he was 17 years old. By 2019, the company was the largest stock broker in India. They were titled as a unicorn in 2020. The company has about 12 lakh customers and won the award in the “Bootstrap Champ” category in “Economic Times Startup Awards 2016”. Nitin has gone from eating an engineering degree to successfully running his own billion-dollar company.

Nykaa

Website: https://www.nykaa.com/ 

Nykaa was founded in 2012 by Falguni Nyar. The company is an online retail store for wellness, makeup and fashion products. They have over 3 lakh products from 1,500 brands. It was inducted into the unicorn club when the company raised INR 100 crore from Steadview Capital in march 2020.

Hike

Website: https://hike.in/ 

The application was launched in 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal. It is an Indian freeware and cross-platform messaging application. The program can work offline as well via SMS and has a standard one-time password for authentication. As per CB Insights, the company is valued at 1.4 billion with more than 100 million mersisters users in 2016. It was able to raise $7,000,000 from Bharti SoftBank in 2013, a year after its launch.

CitrusTech

Website: https://www.citiustech.com/aboutus/ 

CitrusTech is a healthcare technology service provider, which has partnered with about 50 healthcare companies across the globe. The company has over 1,400 healthcare professionals and they are present in more than 5,000 locations. They have a plethora of awards, a few of them being – 2019 Innovators Award for the Best Value-Based Care Solution and Best Companies to Work Award for 7 years in a row. The company was founded in 2005 and acquired $111.3 million in funding in 2014 from General Atlantic.

Icertic

Website: https://www.icertis.com/ 

Icertic is a software company that provides management software for businesses. It was founded in 2009 by Samir Badas and Monish Darda and is present in 12 locations with its headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, US. The company started Series A funding in 2015, raising a collective of $6 million from their investors. The company uses AI technology to ease contact management with easy-to-use tools. A few of their customers are Airbus, Microsoft and Roche. They have managed about 5.7 million contracts in over 40 languages across 90 countries.

InMobi

Website: https://www.inmobi.com/ 

The company was launched in 2007 by Naveen Tewari, Mohit Saxena, Amit Gupta and Abhay Singhal under the name mKhoj with SMS based mobile advertising services. It was renamed as InMobi in 2008. The company has raised a total of 4215.6 million in three rounds of funding and is Indian first unicorn startup company.

Some other unicorn startups to know about are given below. They are international companies that have started from the ground up and the way they do business has changed the landscape of entrepreneurship. Some of them started out to solve simple problems or problems that they themselves faced, and built a booming business out of it. 

MailChimp

Website: https://mailchimp.com/ 

Necessity may be the mother of all inventions, however the hate for a tedious task can mean an innovation and a billion-dollar company. This is exactly why Co-Founder Ben Chestnut came up with MailChimp. He integrated services like demographic data, marketing tools and business insight while streamlining the process with automation technology and easy to use built in tools. Since its inception in 2001, it has amassed a revenue of $700 million, as of 2019.

Lynda

Website: https://www.lynda.com/ (https://www.linkedin.com/learning/me)

Teaching is a profession that leaves much to learn. While trying to teach web designing tools, the founder – Lynda Weinman realises that there is not much material that she thought up to par, and went on to make instruction videos to help educated her students better. As the number of her tutorials increased, so did her customer base, she helped developers and designers improve their skills. The company was later acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion and renamed LinkedIn Learning.

SimpliSafe

Website: https://simplisafe.com/ 

A hardware business is hard to self-fund, but not impossible as shown by Chad Laurans and Eleanor Laurans. The company manufactures and sells self-installed security systems since its inception in 2006. The couple in the beginning soldered and assembled the circuit themselves to save money. It was launched in the year 2009 and in one year they had made $1.4 million in revenue.

SparkFun Electronics

Website: https://www.sparkfun.com/ 

This company manufactures and sells microcontroller development boards. All products are sold under the category of open-source hardware. It was founded in 2003, by Nathan Seidle and has become a popular supplier of circuit boards and Arduino related devices. Its main customers are from robotics, IoT experimental groups and people from hackerspace and electronic based events like the AVC (Autonomous Vehicle Challenge), an event held by SparksFun.

ShutterStock

Website: https://www.shutterstock.com/ 

The best job is the one that combines a way to make money and fulfils a passion. ShutterStock was the perfect combination of both for Jon Oringer, who is a professional software developer and an amateur photographer. The company was founded in 2003 and is a provider of stock photography and music as well as editing tools. The company’s library consists of around 200 million royalty free photos and illustrations and around 10 million video clips and music tracks available for licensing.

Wayfair

Website: https://www.wayfair.com/ 

This is an e-commerce website, launched in 2002 and formerly known as CSN Stores. Their projects range from furniture, rugs, appliances, and decor and lighting. The company has more than 14 million products ranging over a wide number of brands. Wayfair is present in the United States, Canada, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Cards Against Humanity

Website: https://cardsagainsthumanity.com/ 

This is a part game, and one which is very popular. It is in a fill-in-the-blank format, with a main black card and a few white answer cards. The objective is to make a sentence that would normally be considered as offensive, politically incorrect or risqué. It was released in 2011 with a start by a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that saw a total funding of $15,000. They were able to reach their original goal of $4,000 in under weeks.

Conclusion

A unicorn is not something of fables and fairy tales anymore. It is now a very real and tangible thing, even if it doesn’t happen to be a mythical creature, it is still just as rare and extraordinary.

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Top 15 Successful Startup Companies in India

India is a country with a population of 135.26 crores and about  55 thousand startups in 2020. It’s not very surprising with the fact that the forecasted GDP is 8.6% in 2021, making it the ‘3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world’ as started by startupindia.gov.in.

This is the first edition of The Indian Startups Top 15 Startups in India. We have compiled all the startups that have made it big, made it new and made it in 2020. Some of them are new, some of them are old, but all of them are noteworthy and here to stay.

This is our countdown of top 15 startups in India.

  1. Meesho

Industry: Commerce and Shopping

Website: https://meesho.com/ 

Founded by IIT Delhi graduates, Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, Meesho has been steadily growing its customer base and has become a website for many entrepreneurs looking to resell their products. It is easy and safe to use, bring an easy solution to stay-at-home or busy people looking to expand into building a business. Meesho is providing a platform for small businesses and individuals to sell their products online, enabling them to grow sales via WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.

  1. ShareChat

Industry: Software/ Social Network

Website: https://sharechat.com/ 

It is a regional networking platform, allowing Indians to use their services in their mother tongue. It has a range of 15 native languages. Developed by Mohalla Tech Pvt. Ltd. and it was founded by Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh and Farid Ahsan in 2015. Since then it has reached over 160 million active users. It is a very popular platform to share and create content, with the app having an open tagging feature, for the users to create their own tags.

  1. Rivigo

Industry: Logistics

Website: https://www.rivigo.com/ 

It is a technology based logistics company, founded by Deepal Garg and Gazal Kalra, that is revolutionizing the way logistic companies work and deliver. They have lowered transmit time and made strides to ease driver fatigue, find the best path to deliver the goods. It has its own fleet of trucks and it remains an undisputed leader in its industry, taking extra steps to create a relay of drivers and clock in certain hours to keep their pilots in good shape and form, while being able to deliver goods as promised.

  1. Blackbuck

Industry: Logistics

Website: https://www.blackbuck.com/ 

It was founded in 2015 by Rajesh Yabaji, Chanakya Hridaya and Ramasubramaniam B. They have scaled up to 1000+ employees in 1000+ locations and 200,000+ trucks. They are using machine-learning algorithms to provide a real time prediction on time of delivery. They have had a hand in policy initiatives for their sector to free up movement of goods and services, partnering with the Indian Government.

  1. Delhivery

Industry: Logistics

Website: https://www.delhivery.com/ 

This is a logistics and a supply chain service company. The company provides logistics such as deliveries, transportation and storage spaces among many. It was founded in 2011 by Sahil Barua, Mohit Tandon, Bhavesh Manglani, Suraj Saharan and Kapil Bharati. It is based in Gurugram and has about 75 warehouses, 2 automated centers, 70 hubs, and 2500 delivery centers, a fleet of 14,000 vehicles and is run by about 40,000 employees.

  1. cure.fit

Industry: Lifestyle and Health

Website: https://www.cure.fit/ 

Founded by Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori in 2016, this company has taken great strides in the healthcare industry, curating a combination of healthy food and working out sessions, both at home and on site. They have expanded into other sectors, mind.fit for mental fitness and health with guided meditation sessions and sleep stories, care.fit is for medical consultations with diagnostic and pharmacy facilities.

  1. Lenskart

Industry: Lifestyle and Health

Website: https://www.lenskart.com/ 

This company is a retail chain that offers a wide range of perspective eyewear. It was founded in 2010 by Peyush Bansal, Amit Chaudhary and Sumeet Kapahi. It is one of the two top optical chains in India, the other being Titan Eye Plus. It has about 500 stores across India, and provides hundreds of glassware designs, including very popular and international brands.

  1. Cred

Industry: Lifestyle and Health

Website: https://www.cred.club/ 

Its headquarter resides in Bengaluru, founded by Kunal Shah in 2018. It is a credit card bill payment app. It comes under the 50 Future Unicorns by CB Insights. In 2018, the company started with a seed investment of $1 million. In 2019, the funding rose to 425 million from Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, with participation from angel investors like Max Levchin, Jitendra Gupta, Koh Boon Hwee among a few.

  1. Swiggy

Industry: Commerce and Shopping

Website: https://www.swiggy.com/ 

Swiggy is one of the highest valued, online food ordering and delivery platforms. It was founded in 2014 by Nandan Reddy, Sriharsha Majety and Rahul Jaimini. The company operates in over 300 cities across India. In 2019, Swiggy expanded into general products and groceries under  the name: Swiggy Stores. In the same year, they also launched a pickup and drop service, Swiggy Go.

  1. Grofers

Industry: Commerce and Shopping

Website: https://grofers.com/ 

Founded by Saurabh Kumar and Albinder Dhindsa in 2013. This is an online grocery delivery service, based out of Gurugram. It operates in 29 cities in India and was one of the few companies to operate during the COVID lockdown, considered as essential workers. Their products range from regular groceries, beauty and wellness products, household care to baby or pet care.

  1. Udaan

Industry: E-commerce

Website: https://udaan.com/ 

Udaan is a B2B (business to business) trade platform. Founded by Amod Malviya, Sujeet Kumar and Vaibhav Gupta, it was launched in 2016. It helps connect retailers to wholesale companies, they sell products ranging from electronics, to fresh produce to household groceries. They make B2B commerce efficient and connect manufacturers, traders and retailers all in one platform.

  1. BYJU’S

Industry: Education

Website: https://byjus.com/

Founded by Byju Raveendran in 2011, it has quickly become the most popular educational company in India. It has been the most valued educational company, at Rs.2,800 crore revenue as claimed by the company itself in May 2020. It was developed by Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd. and has since amassed 1.5 million users.

  1. upGrad

Industry: Education

Website: https://www.upgrad.com/ 

Founded by Rohinton Soli Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli and Ravijot Chung in 2015. upGrad is an educational based company that focuses on higher education and the specialization sector, they have courses and material on subjects such as Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, Digital Technology Management, etc. The company is the official education partner for the Government of India – Startup India Program.

  1. ReNew Power

Industry: Energy

Website: https://renewpower.in/ 

This company is dedicated to renewable energy, it develops, builds and operates renewable energy facilities. It was established in 2011 by Sumant Sinha and has its headquarters in Gurgaon. It is reportedly the largest renewable energy production company in India, it currently operates 110 projects in 8 cities. They have been a pioneer in setting the benchmarks in the renewable energy industry.

  1. OYO

Industry: Travel and Tourism

Website: https://www.oyorooms.com/ 

OYO is a hospitality chain that offers affordable and standardized accommodations. Founded by Ritesh Agarwal in 2013, since then it has expanded internationally to countries like the UAE, China, Malaysia, Brazil, Nepal, Japan, the United States and more. The company started under the name Oravel travels to enable listing and booking of under-budget accommodations, later to be renamed as OYO.

India has seen tremendous growth in the economy and the number of startups in 2019, 7 unicorn startups came to be, raising the total to 24, which has increased faith in the innovation  and revolution of the indian startups scene.

This is Indian Startups with Top 15 Startups in India 2020. 

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The Basics of Startup Franchising

Franchising is a type of licensing that grants access to a businesses proprietary knowledge and trademarks, allowing a franchisee to sell a product or service under the franchisor’s businesses name. In exchange for these rights the franchisee pays a licensing fee.

This is one of the best ways to increase reach in different geographical markets and is a low-cost way to increase sales and marketing.

Entrepreneurs from the most part choose to work on their idea for a startup, while this grants them freedom to decide and plan their execution and workings, it is to be kept in mind that most startups don’t make it past the first five years, if they do at all.

For people looking into entrepreneurship and not having a startup idea or for those who are looking for a formulated path, franchising might be a great idea to pursue.

While taking up a franchise does limit certain things, it also gives the benefit of buying into a successful company while being able to run a part of it.

Benefits for the Franchisee:

Assistance: while the goods are being sold under the business name, the franchisor will provide appropriate training, instructions and any help later on if required.

Customer Base: since the company name is already known, the franchisee has to do very little in terms of focusing on lead conversion.

Rate of Success: since the company already had a customer base and a well known name, there is a very small probability of failure, since you are joining into a business that is already successful.

Networking: joining a franchise gives you an opportunity to broaden your networks, as you will either meet or work with professionals in the same company, who will be able to impart wisdom and help in times of trouble.

Increased Profits: a franchisee not only gets profits from the main business but will also save because they will be able to buy material in bulk which will come in cheaper compared to a small business order. Moreover the business will bring in repeat customers or new customers in droves.

Benefits for the Franchisor:

Access to Capital: one of the biggest challenges a startup faces is the shortage of finances. Franchising your startup in an efficient way to increase funds, sales and rake in new customers while you save on marketing.

Growth: while the franchise will get in a certain amount of money every month without any direct intervention from the founder, they can now free up time to focus on other issues.

Decreased Supervision: the thing about managers is that they too need to be managed. Having a franchise, means that the franchisee is responsible for all the internal working of the local outlet. Which means that all the franchisor needs to do is check in once in a while for a regular report.

Brand Awareness: the local franchise will run on the marketing strategy of the parent company, but the founder will not have to make sure that the sales goals are hit every month or that the range of the marketing campaign is reached; all of this is handled by the franchisee.

Risk: since this is a partnership, there is a considerable reduction of risk. Both in terms of monetary funds and product development and expansion. As the franchisee too takes in on any liability that could occur.

Disadvantages for the Franchisee:

Control: while the franchisee is the boss, they do have to answer to the founder, and any decision to be made has to be run by the founder first.

Restrictions: there are certain restrictions in place like working hours, training and quality of work force, this is to maintain uniformity through the company and brand image. Moreover the franchisor will be able to oversee any department specifically if the need calls for it.

Investments: While the profits that are raked in are a fortune, the initial investment can be very costly, especially if the business is popular and very profitable. These costs can include royalty fees and advertising costs, among a few.

Disadvantages for the Franchisor:

Legal Disputes: if the contact agreed on is violated by any involved party, the lawsuit that follows is a very expensive affair and can take up years to come to a final verdict. 

Control: since the franchisor will be selling the right of usage of the band name, they will have to partially give up control. While the founder will have to work within the rules and policies set, they will invariably have control of how the business is run internally.

Time Consumption: coming up with a franchising strategy will take time, especially getting it into a working model. The franchisor will also have to regularly check up on the local franchises and read through the regular reports coming in.

Building a business for the ground up can be very hard and time consuming, the most difficult part being building a customer base. Taking up a franchise does solve a part of the problem, all the while limiting certain aspects of the business.

As for the franchisor, it can be a great way to expand into new geographical territories, but there will be certain things within the business model that will have to change.

For any party, getting involved into a franchise model should be a matter of great thought. It is not an easy or convenient process in any way and will take great time, effort and resources to build a partnership of any sort.

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Two Heads are Better than One

One of the biggest myths that everyone believes: being a solo founder is the way to go. Personally I blame the plethora of movies that glorify and romanticise the struggles of starting a business from the scratch. There are too many movies that make it seem that doing things single handedly is the only was to be successful or to make things seem worthy of praise.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Being a founder is very difficult, whether you have been in the game from the past day or for 7 years. There will always be new obstacles and harder problems to overcome, an empire cannot be built overnight, and certainly not by just one person.

And having someone to help you is better than trying to do everything and failing. Having another person to help with responsibilities and work is the smart way to go. Or even just to bounce ideas off of. The point is to work smart, not hard.

Entrepreneurs are problem-solvers, we use traditional methods, radical ideas and great teams to build successful ventures. We do all that it takes to achieve greatness and to do better, no matter what – we are all in. But sometimes we need help and there is no shame in asking for it.

In the end it is always better to have a partner than to get burnt-out and failing miserably.

There are various reasons why it can be beneficial, both mentally and physically. Having a co-founder means that you can take more breaks, you work more effectively if you are happy and well rested, both of which come from a healthy working experience and from not overworking. This also means that there will be someone to handle things if you get sick or are unavailable in meetings.

One founder can handle the inner workings and employees, while the other can take up the external meetings with investors or collaborators and the production process. Or one can handle the domestic firm while the other can do the out-states/country trips. This allows a flexible partnership and increases the range of talents and expertise.

If implemented, more things can be done better and faster if jobs and tasks are delegated, by virtue of specialization in portfolios. Always bring in a co-founder with complementary skill sets, so that task can be allotted according to the particular thing the founder is proficient at. For example, if you are good at marketing and product/service management, bring in someone who is good at the legal or finance aspects of it.

While running is good for health, it is meant to be done for 20-30 minutes a day,however  founders end up doing a bit too much of it, for far too long with no breaks. This can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, to the point that you end up getting sick and have to take a week’s leave to get back to working form. Not very efficient, is it?

You can see this practice put to effect in various positions, like CEO’s, CFO’s and company presidents. It might not be a very popular implementation, but it works wonders – claimed by the companies itself. 

Companies like Chipotle, Whole Foods and Deutschen Bank have two CEO’s. A few, like Samsung, even have three!

However the issue comes to when dealing with tasks that require prompt decision making and the veto power. When onboarding a co-founder, we strongly suggest making clear and concise distinctions on who holds the veto and who has a secondary position, and who handles what part and workings of the firm.

From what we have seen, it is better to have a cofounder in the long run and for your own sanity and health. Just like the saying goes ‘two heads are better than one’.

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Impact of COVID Crisis on Different Industries

“Your job as an entrepreneur is not to predict the next COVID-19. Your job is to predict the fact that things will go wrong.” – Athan Slotkin, AKA The Shadow CEO

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, they see a sliver of a need not being met and base a startup to bridge that gap. They expect the unexpected. One thing that left everyone running for cover and funds was the sudden lockdown that was imposed worldwide to battle the ongoing pandemic. No one knew how the outbreak of COVID-19 was going to affect the entrepreneur and startup ecosystem.

One of the things that entrepreneurs have to think about is the inevitable fizzling out of their company. Long run planning is the hardest because no one knows what the future holds. There are things that many did not prepare for at the beginning of this year.

The pandemic has hit everyone hard, many have had to lay off employees – unable to meet expenditure, many shut down completely – unable to manage finances, and all of the workforce had to work remotely, one thing that they were not trained for. Some companies were able to stay afloat, pulling out on a flexible framework, while many had difficulties keeping the doors open.

Sectors like health care, cybersecurity and ecommerce saw a hike in their projectiles, while sectors like travel and hospitality fell drastically. One of the reasons for this was the absolute need for these services, they could not be substituted, they could not be rendered obsolete.

And once again Marlow’s hierarchy proved a point in case. Needs like food, sanitation and security cannot be replaced. However the question of factor for form arises. While food is indeed a necessity, the context is incredibly important. While restaurants and fast food centers had closed down for months at end, there was a rise in the demand for raw foods by the general populace. Many started baking their own bread and making food at home.

If you look closely at startups or firms that gracefully survived the close down of the world, you will notice some similarities, somethings that helped them survive the pandemic and the uncertainty it brought with it.

Funding:

Some companies had a run-out stash of cash that was used when funding was withdrawn or investments were put on hold. This helped them in the first few months of the lockdown and gave them breathing space to manage and plan a bit better for the future.

Growth:

Things changed very fast, especially the way the customers interacted with companies and their services or products. The same was the way that founders saw growth projections. It went from growth at any cost to reasonable growth with a margin for profit. The first thing was to be able to sustain the firm and then look for ways to make profit.

Re-align goals:

Customers are fickle in loyalty and in their wants. So firms that realigned their goals to better fit the situation did better in terms of sales. They saw potential when the shutdown happened and moved their service online and tailored their marketing to expand on social platforms.

Adaptability:

The company should be more proactive rather than reactive. Building a working framework is imperative to the structure of the firm. However priorities change through the years and it is important to have a flexible framework that can be adapted to the present requirement. And adaptability should also be extended to products, revenue streams, etc. A diversified revenue stream not only means more revenue, but also more ways of reaching more customers with fundamentally different needs as a result of this crisis.

Healthy workforce:

It is proven through many studies that a certain income threshold keeps employees happier, and this then leads to improvement in work and productivity. A company only grows if their employees grow, both professionally or personally. 

There are various factors that determine the success of a startup. Unfortunately there is no hard-and-fast rule or a formula. Some things work and some things don’t, it’s up to the founder to see which things are worth following through and which are better to be left as is.

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Join us for Founder Interview Series

Is it not easy being a founder, there are a lot of trials and tribulations that come with building a startup and developing it through the years. Even well established companies face problems like staying relevant in the changing times and evolving with the change in demand, they also have to keep up with any advancements in technologies so as not to become outdated.

One thing we always say to new founders is that there are so many lessons to be learnt, in stories of established founders or in new entrepreneurs. In empires and in small firms fit in a single room. In successes and in failures. We believe that there is no set formula for achieving greatness, personally or professionally. But what we do believe is in mutual support and in life-long learning.

One of the best ways that we have found, for aspiring entrepreneurs to find motivation and inspiration is in stories of founders and to listen to founders talk about their journey to stardom and how they overcame obstacles. There is no one path to success and no two stories are ever the same.

This is why, Indian Startups presents to you – the Founder Series. A one of its kind series where we will hold sessions and interview with founders from across India and from around the world, from different walks of life and with a diverse portfolio. 

We invite you, founders and entrepreneurs, to sit down and have a cup of coffee with us, to tell us your story and journey. How you beat all odds and made it big. Tell us how you grew from an idea to a business. We would love to talk about your inspirations, your dreams and your plans for the future. A platform all for you and your startup journey.

And as a community, in Indian Startup, we go above and beyond to bring you the best resources and events to help you in your journey. 

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How did the outbreak of COVID-19 affect the startup ecosystem?

At the start of the covid lockdown, there were many who expected that the startups might come to a grinding halt or even that they might wither out completely. Many were concerned about the unwinding of companies that was due to happen. A few months in, many of those people changed their tune. The pandemic had an unexpected impact on the business and the working culture, in ways no one thought possible.

Many firms did not have policies in place for such an event and many didn’t prepare well. All work and operations came to a screeching halt at the start of the year and by mid-summer they did not have enough money to proceed. Whereas the workforce was forced into their homes and remote operations commenced. There was a lot of disruption in communication and in the sudden changes of firm processes. Employees were not trained to work remotely and the workload increased as there was not enough online expertise to go around.

According to a survey conducted by FICCI and the Indian Angel Network called ‘Impact of Covid-19 on Indian Startups’,

  • 22% had cash reserves to meet expenses for 3-6 months
  • 12% had to shut operation
  • 60% operated with disruptions
  • 68% cut down on expenses
  • Almost 30% stated that they might have to lay off employees if the lockdown was extend

There were huge losses in investment and profits. Many had to close certain departments as they could not meet the monetary needs. Most work was out-sourced to companies that specialized in remote work. While many have laid off employees, there are a few who have taken things in stride and slashed their own income to make up for adjustments in their monetary investment instead of letting people off, like Dan Price who is a maverick CEO of Gravity Payments.

However there was a small percentage of startups that profited heavily due to the pandemic by moving and expanding services online. Industries like ecommerce, cybersecurity, SaaS (software as a service), video conferencing platforms and gaming companies saw hikes in their potential projections. Most of these industries had enjoyed growing revenue and loyal customers like the healthcare sector, stood to benefit a stronger balance sheet.

This pandemic is proving to be a strong push in the direction towards the cloud services. The sudden shift in dynamics has proven to be invaluable to many who are learning and preparing for a future in remote work and for those who are tweaking their operations to better suit the current situation.

Sectors like real estate, transportation, physical retail and travel are taking a huge hit both in terms of revenue and growth. Many opting to go virtual, few museums and theatres are putting their service online in hopes of retaining customers and increasing revenue streams from international customers.

This pandemic has closed off a lot of things for new entrepreneurs and budding startups, but it has also opened up so many opportunities for them too. The key is to look for gaps in the trees in a forest and not the trees itself. Profiting in the current situation is very difficult – as is keeping things afloat, but it is not completely impossible as shown by some firms and their workforce. 

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Free Consultation for Startups & Entrepreneurs

Are you an entrepreneur struggling with making decisions when it comes to legal matters, patents, sales & marketing strategies, etc. If yes, then Indian Startups brings to you an awesome panel of experts that are at the top of their fields, and knows the ins and outs of running a business along with how to overcome the obstacles in your entrepreneurial journey.

Why book a free consultation?

We realize that building startups is not very easy and there are many obstacles that can hinder the growth of the company. These types of  obstacles can be solved with a bit of advice or with a conversation with an expert. While friends and family are great, they might not be experienced with solving a business centric problem.

The next question is how do you find an expert?

With a big and wide professional word out there, finding a place to start might be a bit difficult, seeing as you still have a business to run. And then once you find an expert, you have to get in touch, find available dates and schedule a meeting, if they happen to be able to take the time out for you. 

And this will probably take a few days at best of week over text or email. There is more hassle that you probably have the time to deal with. Which may be avoidable.

And this is where we come in.

Why get in contact with experts via Indian Startups?

As we mentioned above, we have a panel of experts that are at the top of their fields, so they know the ins and outs of running a business and how to overcome the obstacles that plague you. 

These experts have worked alongside us to bring the best possible experience to our networking events and have long since helped our community by imparting advice and wisdom along with occasionally mentoring our rookie founders or entrepreneurs. 

Keeping in mind that business can not come to a stand still when obstacles appear bigger day by day, after much deliberation, we bring to you: the Free Consultation with Experts. You can get a one-on-one session with our selected expert panel, a 20 minute session dedicated solely to solving your problems and helping you grow your business.

This way, you get the best of what Indian Startups has to offer, without the hassle and at your pace and leisure.

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Importance of CEO Networking

Professional networking is so much more than making friends from the same job sector as yours. While networking does mean to build relationships, the kind that you make is also important. It is all about meeting and building relations with like minded people that have a mutually-beneficial connection with people in your industry. Most relations are give and take, and professional relations are no exception. In this case, favors are given and taken.

It is important to have a strong and wide network. Networking gives you an insight to new trends in the sector, any new job openings or any new projects in the market. Social media and professional platforms have made the passing of information much easier, and presents an opportunity to connect with international representatives of companies and expands your network outside of your country.

This is important for any position, networking is as imperative for a new recruit as it is for a founder or a CEO. This includes CEO’s with decades worth of experience and for new CEOs.

There are a lot of benefits of networking, other than just finding people in the same sectors as you. 

  • Makes you noticeable:

The more people you know, the further you reach is. Publicity is good for businesses, people notice others based on their skills and capabilities, and their relevance to the industry. The more people you know, the more you can stand out in terms of expertise and experience. Professionals only connect with other professionals that they know are adept and great at their job. Garnering a starting network also attracts clients, as they know the type of people you connect with.

  • Improves your intellect:

When you connect with different people, you learn their thought process, how they work and what factors help make them a success. Once you learn these things, you can then tweak them to suit how you conduct business. This will help increase your chances of success, help harness your skills, improve thinking and expand your thought process. Which in turn fosters your career growth and professional prospects.

  • Growth in status:

Career growth is a long-term process that you will need to do for the better part of your career or even after. There are two things that come with a top position – need for a strong network and status – for you to stay at the top. Your contact largely depends on your status and vice versa. Which helps get you better opportunities.

  • Find out new opinions:

Chatting or conversing with like-minded people opens up a world of new things that you probably didn’t know existed, professionally or generally. Sometimes networking is not all about what I can do for you and what you can do for me. It is connecting with people at the same wavelength as you and learning from each other. With these people you can ask for help, advice, opinions or tips.

  • Professional circle:

Every relationship is a two-way street, you give as much as you take. You give a favour with the expectation that when you call for it, the other person will do the same in return. This leads us to trust, which is important in any relationship. So connect with people who you know, like and whose ethics are strong, someone you can trust to help.

  • Knowledge is power:

Information is a type of currency, a payment for services rendered. This information can range from projects to job openings to workings of a company. The one who holds knowledge, holds power. And when you have power, there will be many who will want to connect and network with you.

The next question is, how do I do it in a way that maximizes my value and contacts. There are many things that you can do to garner a strong network. Keep in mind that these need to be done diligently and regularly to be of any use.

  • Reach out:

Build relations with the right people – people that can help you make the right moves in your career. Colleagues, contemporaries, bosses, friends from university, alumni, etc.

  • Keep in contact:

Regularly connect with these people. Send an email to check in, forward an article about things that they like or are in their orbit. The stronger the relationship, the more effort they will put in to help you. Just don’t keep things professional, add in a bit of personal touch to make them feel special. Make an effort and put in the time.

  • Move online:

Networking within the company is only going to get you so much. Branch out of your company and expand overseas. Look out for your counterparts from different companies and connect.

  • Do and take favours:

Maintain a balance in what you ask for and what you give. No one wants someone who only takes and takes and gives nothing in return. And just giving is not going to benefit you in any way, you need to be able to call in favours when you need it.

  • Attend professional networking events:

Indian Startups knows how important networking is for professional growth, we host monthly networking events for professionals and startups and have received an immense amount of positive feedback. After many sessions, many meetings and discussion, we have decided to expand our networking events and include CEOs and CXOs. Now we would love to introduce – CEO Networking Event. A networking event exclusively for CEOs from all industries and sectors, old and new. And CXO Networking Event for all Chief Officers of companies and firms.

We can’t wait to see you in our networking events! Feel free to reach out to us for any issue or information and we will get in touch with you.