[Year in Review 2020] Prime 10 Turning Level tales celebrating the early phases of entrepreneurship

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It’s not straightforward to show entrepreneur. Generally you may have an thought, however fear whether or not pursuing it’ll imply giving up stability; typically you may have the motivation, however you aren’t positive in regards to the thought, and typically you have no idea if it’s the correct time and the correct factor to do.

The courageous lot, who cleared these robust exams, are actually a part of an ever-growing startup ecosystem and are already making waves.

To have a good time these founders and their eureka moments, YourStory began The Turning Level collection in August 2019. Every story within the collection talks in regards to the struggles within the early phases and what entrepreneurs did to beat them.

As a particularly difficult yr, 2020, involves an finish, YourStory brings you the highest 10 tales within the collection that readers loved essentially the most this yr.

Lockdown favorite Ludo King’s Vikash Jaiswal

That on-line video games are fashionable is nothing new. However because the COVID-19 lockdown restricted mobility, a lot of folks, not simply avid avid gamers, began enjoying on-line video games—and for longer durations—to kill boredom.

One such lockdown favorite was the free on-line board sport Ludo King developed by Vikash Jaiswal that turned the highest gaming app throughout platforms.

Vikash, founder and chief government of Mumbai-based Gametion Applied sciences Pvt. Ltd that owns Ludo King—additionally the identify of his cellular gaming startup—has been hooked to video video games since childhood and all the time “needed to be wealthy”. Born and introduced up in a humble household in Patna, he determined to take up laptop engineering in school.

Within the hostel, he would gather free software program that got here with laptop magazines. Finally, he developed the online game Eggy Boy, which was adjudged “Sport of the Month” by a number of magazines.

After growing Eggy Boy, Vikash labored for a gaming firm and bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, alongside ran varied web sites. Finally, he stop his job and began growing video games and web sites independently.

In 2010, Vikash formally arrange Gametion and launched Ludo King in 2016. Now in his mid-40s, he’s the creator of the one Indian sport to have surpassed scorching favourites equivalent to Sweet Crush Saga, PUBG, Conflict of Clans, Subway Surfers and Temple Run by way of month-to-month energetic customers within the nation.

Ludo King has greater than 50 million day by day energetic customers world wide, whereas its month-to-month energetic customers have topped 185 million.

IIT Delhi alumnus Anu Meena is empowering farmers

IIT Delhi alumnus Anu Meena has watched from shut quarters her farmer grandfather struggling to promote his produce as she grew up in Rajasthan. That’s why even after touchdown a plum job with a US firm, Anu felt she needed to do one thing to handle the problems and challenges confronted by farmers in India. This motivated her to arrange AgroWave in 2017.

The Gurugram-based startup optimises the agriculture provide chain utilizing analysis, analytics and expertise, and is at present working with hundreds of farmers in India to get them the correct worth, provide and distribution community.

Anu additionally realised there have been many providers delivering merchandise to the doorstep of shoppers in metros, however none for farmers in rural areas. This was her eureka second.

Since inception, AgroWave has onboarded greater than 3,500 folks from areas equivalent to Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. In September, the startup raised near $500,000 from US-based investor Sekhar Puli.

Bringing a few milk revolution in small-town India

On a go to to hometown Ranchi in 2017, IIM graduate Manish Piyush, who had labored in 14 international locations, realised that non-metro cities, particularly in his native state Jharkhand, had escaped the main target of companies.

Manish, then a normal supervisor with Tata Motors in Mumbai, attended an occasion, Momentum Jharkhand, on enterprise prospects within the state. A tea and smoke break turned a turning level in his life. He noticed a couple of tribals and felt that “conferences like these are only for two days, however Jharkhand stays the identical as the perfect minds transfer out”.

This prompted him to name up his childhood buddy, Aditya Kumar. Like Manish, Aditya had left their hometown for greater research. Manish requested Aditya if he needed to return to Ranchi in order that they might begin a enterprise collectively. Each of them resigned from their respective jobs and got here again to the state capital.


At the same time as Piyush and Aditya had been determining what to do, they knew that expertise can be core to any enterprise and so of their 40s learnt coding and offered software program for a dwelling. Throughout this time, they bought a undertaking to develop software program for a milk processing firm within the state. Whereas engaged on this undertaking, they had been shocked to see the poor high quality of milk being provided to customers.

It was then that the concept of beginning a milk enterprise took form. They purchased 5 cows and lived like milkmen for a couple of months to know the dairy enterprise. Finally, they began milk subscription app Puresh Every day Meals in 2019. The Ranchi-based startup sells natural cow milk and chemical-free dairy merchandise. Puresh’s clients are actually unfold throughout Ranchi, Bokaro, Ramgarh and Jamshedpur. The app will quickly be launched in Patna.

Jitendra Chouksey, the unintentional health entrepreneur

Jitendra Chouksey calls himself an unintentional entrepreneur. A software program engineer obsessed with health, his startup was born out of a want to assist those that needed to turn into match however had been struggling of their journey. “I was a fats child myself and used to get bullied,” remembers Jitendra.

Whereas Jitendra was working as a technical guide in Pune, folks began consulting him on health. So, he began a WhatsApp group of 5 folks to mentor them. As extra folks got interested, he created a Fb group. Over time, the group grew larger.

That’s when Jitendra determined to show his ardour right into a enterprise. In 2016, he launched Fittr, a web based health startup that provided teaching to members on their health journeys for a minor payment.

Two years later, Fittr launched a freemium mannequin: Customers get free entry to weight loss program and coaching instruments and, for a small payment, in addition they get personalised steering, customised plans and weekly check-ups from certainly one of Fittr’s 200-plus licensed coaches.

“Our health app was a pure development of a journey that began in 2016,” Jitendra says. “We needed to democratise well being and health, and the easiest way to try this was to place the perfect instruments and options within the palms of the folks. And that’s precisely what we’ve achieved with Fittr.”

Final yr, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty turned a stakeholder within the firm. In April 2020, the startup raised $2 million in pre-Sequence A funding from Surge.

A rural go to that led to Vernacular.ai

In India, service and product-related cellular communication despatched by firms to their clients are typically in English. This poses an issue for non-English talking sections of the nation’s inhabitants.

Sourabh Gupta and Akshay Deshraj’s Bengaluru-based startup, Vernacular.ai, got down to clear up this drawback by utilizing synthetic intelligence (AI). 


Akashay Deshraj and Sourabh Gupta (L-R), Founders of Vernacular.ai

In 2016, Sourabh and Akshay arrived in Bengaluru after graduating from IIT Roorkee, hoping like many to turn into entrepreneurs and begin the subsequent Ola, Swiggy or Flipkart. However they weren’t positive what drawback they needed to unravel.

After attending a number of occasions, assembly lots of people and making connections, they began visiting villages in and round Bengaluru, the place they hoped to work together with a few of the “subsequent 500 million web customers” of India.

On one such go to, Sourabh met a farmer in Kanakapura, a small city located 55 kilometres from Bengaluru. The farmer had a selected and long-standing drawback. “I obtain SMS on my telephone from the financial institution. I do know the message is from the financial institution as a result of it has numbers, however I can’t perceive what the SMS means as a result of it’s in English,” the farmer advised Sourabh. “This was once we realised that the subsequent technology of web customers can be voice-first,” says Sourabh.

After months of analysis and growth, the 2 pals launched Vernacular.ai in Bengaluru. The startup is reworking buyer interplay by means of its  AI-based voice assistant, VIVA. The corporate empowers locals and equips enterprises to cater to non-English audio system. Vernacular.ai at present works with firms equivalent to Axis Financial institution, OYO Rooms and Barbeque Nation.

Vedantu, the second innings of three IIT grads

Edtech startup Vedantu’s origins lie in Barnala, a small city in Punjab. It was 2005 when entry to high quality schooling was a problem in small cities. Three recent IIT graduates, Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash, needed to bridge this hole.

In 2006, they launched their first enterprise, a take a look at prep firm known as Lakshya. In 2012, Lakshya was acquired by listed firm MT Educare. Of the 35 youngsters that Vamsi, Pulkit and Anand had coached, 11 cleared the IIT entrance.

Motivated by this success, the trio determined to assist college students throughout the nation. Their subsequent step was to create an all-inclusive platform. In 2014, they launched their second enterprise, Vedantu, to unravel the issues and challenges of the offline studying mannequin by means of a holistic on-line platform.

Right now, Vedantu claims to be the primary firm to have began dwell on-line studying in India. It additionally claims to be a market chief within the Ok-12 on-line tutoring house.

Vedantu provides dwell interactive courses for college students within the Ok-12 phase, and people getting ready for main board exams and prime aggressive exams equivalent to JEE and NEET.

With marquee buyers equivalent to Omidyar Community, Accel, Tiger World Administration and GGV Capital on board, Vedantu claims to have 150,000 college students finding out dwell on its platform every month. The corporate just lately raised $100 million as a part of its Sequence D funding spherical and claims to be among the many prime 10 most valued edtech firms globally.

Rahul Garg’s ‘Alibaba 2.0’ imaginative and prescient

IIT Kanpur and ISB alumnus Rahul Garg was heading advert alternate community AdX (India, South East Asia and Korea) at Google in 2014 when he determined to show entrepreneur.

At the moment, Rahul had a dialog with a colleague about his determination to shift from Japan to Singapore. “I knew I needed to do it or else I’d remorse it for the remainder of my life,” Rahul’s colleague had stated. 

Rahul couldn’t neglect these phrases. “I used to be fascinated about entrepreneurship for some time, however that second was like pulling the set off,” says the 40-year-old. He determined to place in his papers the very subsequent day.

Having labored within the commercial house, Rahul had intently noticed the B2B commerce phase. Enthusiastic about pursuing alternatives in e-commerce, he envisioned constructing an “Alibaba 2.0”. This led to the start of Moglix in January 2015.


The startup specialises in B2B procurement, upkeep, restore and overhaul of commercial merchandise equivalent to fasteners and industrial electricals. 

Quickly after Moglix was established, it acquired backing from Accel Companions and Jungle Ventures. Industrialist and Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata got here on board as an investor within the seed spherical itself.

A number of funding rounds later, the B2B ecommerce market additionally closed its Sequence D spherical. Additionally it is backed by marquee buyers together with Tiger World, Sequoia India, Composite Capital, IFC and Enterprise Freeway.

In FY 2018, Moglix recorded 120 occasions development in income, and in March 2019, the corporate introduced that Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy had determined to spend money on his private capability. 

How demonetisation sparked Groww

A imaginative and prescient to “change the thought course of” within the monetary sector set 37-year-old IIT Bombay alumnus Lalit Keshre on the trail of entrepreneurship. The 2016 demonetisation train turned the catalyst.

Keshre, who was working with Flipkart as its group product supervisor, stop in Might 2016 as a result of he needed to begin up in an area that was not simply huge, but additionally had a shopper drawback. “Whereas India had a billion folks with a web based checking account, solely 20 million of them had been truly investing,” he says.

Together with former Flipkart colleagues Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh and Ishan Bansal, Keshre began engaged on constructing merchandise for the monetary sector. They needed to begin with investments and even considered launching a financial savings product for millennials.

Then demonetisation occurred, a landmark second in Indian fintech. Transactions slowly moved on-line. UPI was the speak of the city and facilitated a much bigger shift in how customers in India had been dealing with wealth.

After a number of experiments, Keshre and the others launched Groww. Whereas the Bengaluru-based startup was included in 2016, the app and website-based funding platform had been launched in December 2017. Groww focuses on simplicity and transparency and has been designed as an advisor or “buddy”.

The startup is now backed by marquee buyers Ribbit Capital, Y Combinator, Sequoia Capital, Kauffman Fellows Fund, Collin West, Propel Ventures Companions, Yinglan Tan, Cypher Capital, Insignia Ventures Companions, and Myntra and Curefit founder Mukesh Bansal. 

At current, Groww operates in 800 Indian cities on a paperless, end-to-end transaction mannequin with a consumer base of greater than three million.

CoutLoot is enabling offline sellers to go surfing

A want to remodel the non-FMCG house in India led Jasmeet Thind to begin the social offline-to-online platform CoutLoot with school pals Mahima Kaul and Vinit Jain.

A pc engineer from the College of Mumbai, Jasmeet had labored with Godrej Industries earlier than becoming a member of Hindustan Unilever because the model supervisor of Pears. He realised that whereas the FMCG sector was organised and principally managed by 5 gamers, the non-FMCG house was extraordinarily unstructured.

Jasmeet began speaking to Mahima and Vinit in early 2016 and so they discovered three main issues within the non-FMCG house: Indian sellers didn’t have correct documentation to promote on-line; they didn’t know tips on how to use a pc and therefore couldn’t listing merchandise on e-commerce platforms; and at last, they lacked logistics companions to ship their merchandise. 

The dialogue between the buddies quickly took the form of a PowerPoint presentation and after three months of R&D, they launched the CoutLoot web site as a pilot in September 2016. The Mumbai-based platform ultimately began operations in 2017, enabling sellers to listing their merchandise on-line.

The web site helps gamers promote on-line for the primary time by robotically cataloguing their offline stock and offering logistics, fee and reconciliation assist. It additionally has an in-house language translator that enables sellers to work together with customers of their most well-liked language, out of 12 obtainable choices.

Bootstrapped with Rs 10 lakh for the primary three months, CoutLoot acquired seed funding of $200,000 from Artha India Ventures, Enterprise Catalyst, Redcliffe Capital and Samyakth Capital on the pilot stage. In 2018, CoutLoot raised $1 million in pre-Sequence A funding from Chinese language unicorn CashBUS. 

With a crew of greater than 70 workers, the portal now hosts greater than three lakh sellers. Its mission is to allow 25 million offline sellers to go surfing for the primary time.

The brothers driving photo voltaic vitality adoption in properties

Brothers Amol and Amod Anand arrange Loom Photo voltaic in 2018 to drive the adoption of photo voltaic vitality for residential functions in India. The Faridabad-based startup manufactures mono photo voltaic panels and AC modules which are put in on residential rooftops to generate electrical energy.

Loom Solar

Previous to beginning Loom Photo voltaic, Amol had labored as a product supervisor for Luminous Battery’s photo voltaic and vitality storage enterprise. At the moment, he realised there was a lack of information about photo voltaic vitality within the nation. He and his brother got down to perceive the sector higher and located that three components had been slowing down the adoption of photo voltaic vitality: restricted info and consciousness, lack of product availability throughout the nation, and poor high quality and backward expertise.

“We all the time had a plan to begin one thing on our personal and our thought of Loom Photo voltaic fitted properly into this,” says Amol.

Initially, it was troublesome for them to persuade folks to go for photo voltaic vitality. The first problem was tips on how to attain clients and lift consciousness in regards to the model and its merchandise and USP. “This wanted rigorous advertising and marketing innovation, and initially we had been simply gearing as much as construct the corporate’s power,” remembers Amol. “We began with Google and YouTube to create content material on photo voltaic panels, their advantages and with an impetus for supporting the atmosphere.”

Beginning out with the 2 founders, Loom Photo voltaic now has 100 workers on its rolls. The startup clocked Rs 25 crore in income in its second yr of operation and has to date put in 10,000 kW solar energy in 20,000 Indian properties. At current, it claims to have about three p.c share within the residential photo voltaic market phase, which is estimated at almost Rs 1,000 crore.

(Edited by Lena Saha)

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