To get noticed by Silicon Valley’s startup machine Y Combinator is every budding entrepreneur’s dream. One of the world’s most influential and renowned accelerators, which now also engages in seed funding, it has backed successful startups such as AirBnB, Dropbox, and Reddit. Its screening of startups is said to be “nerve-wracking.”
Y Combinator hosts its “demo day” twice a year (in March and August). During this event, spread over two days, “the latest batch of Y Combinator-funded founders present their companies to a room full of specially selected investors and press,” the accelerator’s website notes. For Indian startups, this event is a great opportunity to present their ideas to Valley-based investors and other founders.
The over 100 companies at Y Combinator’s 24th demo-day event on March 20-22 included seven Indian startups.
In the past, Y Combinator has backed Indian fintech startups like Razorpay and Cleartax, a car-rental app JustDrive, co-working space Innov8, and Meesho, an app for sellers on e-commerce platforms. This year had the highest number of Indian startups at the event. The accelerator typically invests $120,000 in a company for a 7% equity stake and inducts a startup into its three-month program during which it helps the company prepare for the demo-day.
“There’s talent in India, and the capital will come,” Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator told The Times of India newspaper in July 2016.
The Indian startups at the March event were a mix of consumer- and business-facing firms:
Founded by Akansh Sinha and Anubhav Deep, alumni of the Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, ServX is an app that connects car owners to authorised garages for repair work and servicing. The Delhi-based firm, launched in November 2015, makes money by charging commission from these service centres.
Cr.edy is a peer-to-peer lending platform founded by former Goldman Sachs employees Pratish Gandhi and Harshit Vaishnav. The platform connects borrowers seeking personal loans with lenders who are typically high-net worth individuals. Cr.edy relies on biometrics like the Aadhaar ID number and doesn’t require much paperwork unlike traditional lenders. It uses the CIBIL (Credit Information Bureau of India Ltd) report, a personal credit score, to assess the borrower’s credit-worthiness. Founded in 2016, the firm has a pool of 1,173 borrowers and approves around seven loans a day, its website says.
Bengaluru-based Wifi Dabba sells small-ticket wifi internet plans through a network of bakeries, road-side tea sellers, and small shops. Started by Karam Lakshman and Shubhendu Sharma, the startup wants to “provide insanely cheap wifi across Bangalore city,” according to their website. “We think you can buy digital goods the same way you buy tea or biscuits,” Lakshman told the Deccan Chronicle newspaper last week. For Rs2 per token, a buyer can get 100 MB of internet services, while a Rs10 and Rs20 package offers 500 MB and 1 GB of data respectively. The package works for 24 hours.
Supr Daily is a subscription-based service that delivers daily groceries such as fresh milk, eggs, bread, and coconut water to consumers. It was founded in 2015 by Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, alumni Puneet Kumar and Shreyas Nagdawane. The firm eliminates middle men by buying produce directly from farmers and manufacturers. Its service is currently available via Supr Daily’s app in Mumbai.
A mobile app that connects doctors with their patients, DocTalk was launched in February 2016 by Krishna Chaitanya Aluru, Akshat Goenka, and Vamsee Chamakura. The app doesn’t connect patients with new doctors, but helps ease the post-consultation phase. Patients need to upload their reports on the app, for free, and their doctors can then regularly follow up and chat with them.
Bulk MRO is a firm that sells industrial products to companies. Founded by twins Devang Shah and Gaurang Shah, the Mumbai-based startup is already profitable and has $1.1 million worth of orders lined up for the next three months, according to Techcrunch, a tech news website. Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, the Shahs’ firm boasts of clients like the Tata Group, Reliance Industries, Unilever, and Exxon. Bulk MRO sells over 1,400,000 products across 32 categories.
This startup was founded by three ex-employees of top Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, Siddharth Mall, Ajinkya Malasane, and Akshay Kumar Lal. Playment is crowd-sourcing platform that companies can use for simple data operation processes like product cataloguing and moderating reviews among others. These processes are usually outsourced at a high cost. With Playment, smartphone users can make an extra buck by performing the processes, reducing companies’ outsourcing costs. Playment’s clients include Flipkart, Ola, Myntra, Paytm and Limeroad.