We earlier profiled the emerging Indian startups (2012 edition) and it’s time to now look at companies that have moved the needle fast forward and are an inspiration to others.
While the earlier list focused mainly on startups that have found product-market fit (and are growing strong), the current one brings companies that have found business-market fit, i.e. driven by sales/customer support and not just the product alone.
These startups (actually speaking, they are not startups anymore) have grown significantly in 2012 irrespective of their team size and we have also added our two cents of inspiration that entrepreneurs can derive from these startups. Here goes the list (in no particular order).
Freshdesk is a cloud based help desk software which offers private customer support. It allows businesses to support customers over email, phone, web, twitter, Facebook and the likes. The startup founded by Girish Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnasamy (both from Zoho) was launched in June 2011.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Apart from the fact that Freshdesk smartly used the ‘zendesk controversy‘ to its full advantage, the team has demonstrated how smart features (like MobiHelp) can make competitors look like kids.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Freshdesk.
WebEngage is a feedback/survey tool that goes beyond plain vanilla name-email-message fields and offers features like geographical targeting etc. In addition, it also provides custom targeting solutions that let you run campaigns and promotions based on deep, application specific rules.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: When a geek doesn’t know how to sell, he/she uses each and every possible opportunity. And that’s what WebEngage has done – the company has grabbed 5,000 customers in 14 months timeframe which is definitely a feat for SAAS startups.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of WebEngage.
Interviewstreet helps companies to create programming challenges and evaluate the actual coding skills of the candidates before interviewing them.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Small team, but big ambition. It’s not everyday that a startup is selected to work with the White House. Importantly, your team size should not dictate the size of your ambition.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Interviewstreet.
Zipdial offers various phone based marketing solutions to customers. Brands like Cadbury, ICICI, Kotak Bank, Gillette, GreenPeace etc. are using ZipDial to engage with their consumers for content update, feedback, opinion polls, interactive quizzes, credential verification, pledges etc.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: It’s not about technology alone. It’s the damn sales focus that creates the difference.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Zipdial.
Visual Website Optimizer
Visual Website Optimizer allows marketing professionals to create different versions of their websites and landing pages using a point-and-click editor (no HTML knowledge required). Visual Web Site Optimizer is also a flexible multivariate testing software (full factorial methodology) and has number of additional tools like behavioral targeting, heatmaps, usability testing, etc.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Technology doesn’t sell by itself. But inbound marketing combined with customer support helps create the right branding (read: A Journey of Bootstrapping and ZERO outbound marketing: VisualWebsiteOptimizer Story]
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of VisualWebsiteOptimizer.
The Gurgaon based online food guide and restaurant directory website, Zomato rebranded from Foodiebay, offers restaurant, event and nightlife guide across 13 cities in India including Colombo, UAE and Dubai.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Go Global! Plus, make smart decisions when it comes to funding (read: Zomato founder’s response to Why Zomato has not yet raised money from investors beyond InfoEdge).
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Zomato.
Bangalore based Mobstac is a mobile publishing platform, which offers 360 degree for bloggers/publishing companies. This year, the team cracked a good number of deals that will help them grow into the publishing market in US.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Keep trying, but don’t dilute the product focus. Keep experimenting (with pricing). B2B market is tough, but persistence helps.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Mobstac.
Amagi is a Bangalore based technology company that has disrupted the TV advertising business in India. Amagi lets you buy spots on premium National TV channels that will be played only in your city – i.e. has localized TV advertising using a cloud based service.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Sometimes, lack of domain experience is an advantage. By no means will it be a showstopper, unless you want it to be (read: Amagi story).
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Amagi.
Capillary is a cloud-based platform that powers customer engagement, clienteling, loyalty and social CRM solutions for more than 100 brands across 10,000 stores in India, South East Asia, Greater China, Middle East, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. Capillary’s customers include Raymond, Pizza Hut, Puma, United Colors of Benetton, Peter England, Store21, Robinsons and Nike.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Solving a real-world problem has its own advantage. The team brings together a good mix of sales and engineering – key ingredients to grow to next level.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Capillary.
Founded and launched in December 2010 by by 2 IIT Bombay graduates, Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Olacabs is India’s first car rental and cab services aggregator. Currently, the portal offers full day, half day local rentals as well as outstation hires from Mumbai, Bangalore and Gurgaon.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: No! you don’t need lot of marketing $$s to build a B2C brand. Focusing on technology + customer support helps create a mindshare.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Olacabs.
OrangeScape, a PaaS based service was started in 2003 and has operations in North America, Western Europe/UK and India. OrangeScape uses a modeling driven visual development environment for creating business applications and can be deployed as Cloud Apps, SaaS or on-premise applications.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Niche application. Found the business-market fit. Is selling it. Nothing else matters.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Orangescape.
Komli Media is a digital media network, which represents more than 2,000 websites today, including sites such as Facebook, Babycenter and Bloomberg, reaching more than 45 million unique users across a number of categories and regions. The company also owns and operates ViziSense, an online audience and ad measurement platform.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Agression matters.The company grew inorganically and has even bagged exclusive deal from Twitter to handle SE Asia sales.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Komli.
MobME is a Kerala based mobile value added services provider.MOBME’s core focus is Mobile Express, a plug & play Eco-System that combines the security & non-repudiation properties of Digital Signature Certificates with the convenience & simplicity of Mobile phones.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: From a student startup to exploring SME Exchange, the company has truly demonstrated what it takes to have ambition beyond a few million dollars.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of MobMe.
Started in 2002 without any external funding (in fact none till date) with all of six charts, the first version of FusionCharts was launched. It steadily picked up steam and today it boasts of 90 chart types and 550 maps. More importantly, FusionCharts today powers over a *billion* charts a month in some of the most popular web destinations like LinkedIn, Weather.com, Google Docs etc.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Oh well, if you find yourself looking for excuse, read the FusionCharts story.
» Read NextBigWhat coverage of Fusioncharts.
Pune based Druva is into Continuous Data Protection and Disaster Recovery products space and has launched two products – Druva inSync, an enterprise laptop backup as well as Druva Phoenix, a server backup (disk-to-disk backup for local and remote servers) product and boasts of an impressive client list [like NASA, Amway, Canara Bank, IOC etc].
Lesson for Entrepreneurs: Sales matters, but importantly, knowing the right segment/market early on and being ready to pivot is crucial [Read: coverage of Druva.
What are your thoughts? Of course, we haven’t included the BIGG BOSS of this space (Snapdeal, Flipkart, InMobi, redBus etc) as they have have matured into bigger organizations and won’t be fair to call them startups anymore.
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