Nasscom’s top 10 hottest start-ups

Mint provides an exclusive peek into the models of start-ups in software body Nasscom’s EMERGE 10 list


India’s software lobby Nasscom on Tuesday gears up to announce its EMERGE 10 Awards that “recognize information technology products and services organizations that are redefining the benchmarks of excellence for the technology industry”. A part of Nasscom’s EMERGE 50 2015 Awards, which search for India’s most innovative emerging information technology (IT) product companies, EMERGE 10 identifies the “top 10 hottest” start-ups. Mint provides an exclusive peek into the models of these local start-ups.

Company: Insightful Labs Pvt. Ltd (branded TargetingMantra)

Product name: Snowflake Personalization & Marketing Automation Solution

Founded: October 2013

Founders: Saurabh Nangia (28), Rahul Singh (32)

Based in: Gurgaon

While working in the core personalization team at Amazon.com Inc. in Seattle, which developed a personalization platform for Amazon companies and subsidiaries, Saurabh Nangia realized that such a sophisticated technology and machine-learning platform was not available to small e-commerce companies. “At Amazon, our team was able to provide significant benefits in conversion and revenue increase to these e-commerce giants,” Nangia said. But building this technology in-house would be really expensive for a smaller e-commerce player, he added. So he started TargetingMantra, a marketing automation and personalization tool for e-commerce, to provide “a world-class personalization and marketing automation platform to e-commerce players globally”. Nangia claims that his company’s proprietary machine-learning technology, which helps e-commerce companies provide a hyper-personalized experience to every customer on channels including web, mobile, emails, mobile notifications and Web notifications, “has been able to increase conversions for e-commerce companies by about 20%”.

Company: Mapmygenome India Ltd

Product name: Genomepatri

Founded: April 2012

Founders: Anu Acharya (43), Subash Lingareddy (43)

Based in: Hyderabad

Mapmygenome is a molecular diagnostics company with the aim to make people proactive about their health by providing them insights based on their genetic data. By combining genetic reports which include traits, drug responses, inherited conditions and diseases, among other things, and health history, the platform provides actionable steps for individuals and their physicians towards a healthier life. “The main aim is to build an Indian-centric genetic database that will help in personalized medicine for the Indian population,” Anu Acharya, founder and chief executive, said. She added that “as a first step to getting there, we are providing a service that allows individuals to understand their genetic history, family health history and their lifestyle choices.” This is the second company of Acharya, who has been in the field of genomics for over 14 years. “The idea came when I was re-reading a book on financial risk management. I wondered if we could do something for health that would allow consumers to be more aware about themselves by understanding their genetic history, family history and lifestyle and make conscious decisions based on that information,” she recalled. “These decisions would be healthy habits that can be created by this comprehensive knowledge.” The company’s vision is to provide personalized preventive healthcare solutions to more than 100 million consumers and create a knowledge repository of 10 million Indian samples.

Company: HackerEarth Technologies Pvt. Ltd

Product name: HackerEarth

Founded: November 2012

Founders: Sachin Gupta (25), Vivek Prakash (24)

Based in: Bengaluru

When one of the best programmers in his batch at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkie, in 2011 wasn’t able to get into any of the top companies, contrary to what everyone expected, it came as a shock to Sachin Gupta and his friends. Gupta realized that “the problem was not with this candidate but in the evaluation process of the hiring companies”. Thus were laid the seeds of HackerEarth, a product company that provides disruptive technical recruitment solutions for talent sourcing and skill assessment. The platform allows recruiters to quickly identify and hire the right candidates from its thriving community of developers. Every developer on HackerEarth’s community is ranked and scored by its unique ranking system based on online programming challenges and developer’s profile created by proprietary algorithm and data science which assesses a programmer’s skill set by analysing his/her publicly available coding data. “There is a lack of objectivity in the hiring process and pedigree and work experience continues to be a proxy for skills, because of which many good candidates do not end up getting hired,” said Gupta, chief executive and co-founder, HackerEarth. “Our aim is to add over a million more developers to this community this year and sustain the current high levels of engagement,” he added.

Company: MoEngage India Pvt. Ltd

Product name: MoEngage

Founded: July 2014

Founders: Raviteja Dodda (26), Yashwanth Kumar (26)

Based in: Bengaluru

In 2011, when Dodda and Kumar, co-founders of MoEngage, were running a mobile app called DelightCircle, they encountered a problem of high churn—people uninstalling the app and inactive user base. When they began exploring why, they realized theirs was not a lone case. This prompted them to launch MoEngage to solve this specific problem. MoEngage is a user analytics and engagement platform focused on mobile app companies, which helps them reduce uninstallation rates and inactive user base while improving customer lifetime value. “Our vision has been to help Internet companies interact with every user in a unique way, based on who they are and what they do,” Dodda said. At present, the company has a team of 40 people who are based in India and the US. It counts some of the India’s top Internet companies as its customers including Snapdeal, Cleartrip, Times Internet and Ola’s TaxiForSure. “We are currently expanding globally across US and other international markets with local sales teams and digital marketing,” Dodda said.

Company: Vidooly Media Tech Pvt. Ltd

Product name: Vidooly

Founded: November 2014

Founders: Ajay Mishra (30), Nishant Radia (24), Subrat Kar (25)

Based in: Noida

While the initial idea was to become an analytics tool, Ajay Mishra, Nishant Radia and Subrat Kar thought of doing something around videos on YouTube specifically. The start-up, which was incubated in TLabs, a startup accelerator by Times Internet Ltd, last year, provides a YouTube intelligent marketing and analytics suite that helps content creators, brands and multi channel networks (MCNs), to maximize YouTube views, build better audience base and grow faster. “While there are more than 400 hours of videos being uploaded at YouTube every minute, 90% of the videos generate less than 10,000 views in the first one month,” Kar said, adding, “Currently, content creators are putting a lot of efforts to create good quality content, but the problem is that they find it difficult in targeting the right kind of audience to watch their content. This is where Vidooly steps in.” Any one who has a YouTube channel with more than 500 subscribers can sign up with Vidooly to access the features available on its dashboard. At present, Vidooly supports videos hosted on YouTube and is being used by more than 5,000 YouTube channels globally. “We are already in touch with other cross platforms to track their video data and, in coming time, we will integrate those platforms on our dashboard,” Kar said.

Company: Qustn Technologies Pvt. Ltd

Product name: Qtrain

Founded: October, 2014

Founders: Mrigank Tripathi (39), Sachin Grover (37)

Based in: Noida

Qustn, a year-old start-up, provides a mobile-based platform called Qtrain to help companies, institutes and governments train, assess and engage with remote workers. Developed by a team of 10 technologists led by Grover, the product was launched in March. “Thus, it began with the idea of using mobile to reach people and skill them to plug in the huge gap present in the country,” said Tripathi. When Tripathi and the team started working on the idea, they approached the National Skill Development Corporation and other skilling institutions. “To prove that the system could work, our team actually set about skilling about 1,500 people across 220 locations—only over the mobile—and succeeded,” he said. Once this was done, the start-up was able to get a company sign up for its Qtrain platform and “reduce its training cost by 80%”, Tripathi recalled. “There was no looking back then,” he added. The Noida-based, 30-people, start-up has some venture capital support from the likes of Rajan Anandan, vice-president and managing director of Google, South East Asia and India, and Ravi Gururaj, chairman and co-founder of Frictionless Ventures and a member of the Nasscom Executive Council.

Company: Parablu Systems Pvt. Ltd

Product name: BlyKrypt, BluSync, BluVault

Founded: 2012

Founders: Anand Prahlad (47)

Based in: Bengaluru

Parablu Systems, a start-up that began its operations in the US with its research and development unit based in Bengaluru, provides a software solution that ensures that companies’ data stored in the cloud remains safe and secure. “The original thinking was that the software would be voice-enabled and be responsive to voice commands from the user,” Prahlad said, adding, “The word Parablu is actually a Welsh word that means ‘talking’ or ‘speaking’.” However, in 2012, when the team built the software, “file synchronization and sharing solutions such as Dropbox were gaining in popularity”, Prahlad recalled, prompting the team to change tack and build a file synchronization and sharing solution for mobile devices. However, with the increasing adoption of social, mobility, analytics and cloud (SMAC), a year back the team pivoted once more to shape its current product. “Rather than keep the data restricted within the business network, the software was developed in such a way that it could write to any cloud destination, but the data would be transferred and persisted securely and privately using encryption technologies for which only the business held the keys,” explained Prahlad. “This became the final avatar of the software—which we sell today as BlyKrypt—our CASB (cloud access security broker) solution.” The company sees a huge opportunity with increasing cloud adoption, and with it the sharpening of “focus on security and privacy of digital assets and workloads as they move into the cloud”.

Company: Va Tech Ventures Pvt. Ltd

Product name: Happay

Founded: July 2012

Founders: Anshul Rai (26), Varun Rathi (28)

Based in: Bengaluru

Happay is an online expense management system for businesses that lets them issue cards to employees and track the spending real time, define spending policies and set spending limits among other things. It is a Web- and mobile-based solution. “All the transactions done using the Happay Card (accepted at all Visa points of sale online, offline and ATMs) are automatically recorded in the Happay mobile app,” Anshul Rai, the founder, said. Companies can click a picture of the receipt and tag it to the respective expense, select expenses based on trips and submit them for approval, he explained. Launched as a peer-to-peer (P2P) product, “we pivoted from our P2P product to B2B (business-to-business) product. After we built the first version, we went back to these businesses and were in pilot mode for around four months before we came out in public”, Rai said. The company plans to expand the solution to provide a unified platform from where business “can track and manage every single paisa they spend.”

Company: Khemeia Technologies Pvt. Ltd (branded Stelae Technologies)

Product name: Khemeia

Founded: 2012

Founders: Aruna Schwarz, Maria Shiao, Pierre Fraisse and Sandeep Raizada (all 50-plus)

Based in: Bengaluru

Started by a group of technologists, Stelae Technologies is a software product company that provides over 70 pattern recognition and content analysis algorithms, based on artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. Khemeia, which emerged as the winner among the nine global finalists in the IBM Global Entrepreneur Programme enterprise software competition for India and Asia Pacific in Las Vegas in February 2015, enables the transformation of unstructured data into structured, searchable and analysable information. While Schwarz and Fraisse were working in the content management and publishing field, they identified a gap in the content transformation space and began working on a product to automate the conversion of unstructured content into structured, searchable and indexable information. The company, which counts Rolls Royce Aerospace, UK; DCNS, France; Wolters Kluwer, US, and Lexis Nexis, France, as its customers, has raised about $700,000 in multiple rounds. It is looking to close a new round as it plans to scale up its operations. “Having just concluded a funding round, which will enable us to build the delivery capabilities, we are looking to scale up operations”, said Schwarz, chief executive of Stelae Technologies.

Company: Instakash Technologies Pvt. Ltd

Product name: Instakash

Founded: January 2015

Founders: Gaurang Sanghvi (21), Sudarshan T.N. (38)

Based in: Bengaluru

After his request for a personal loan was rejected last October, Sanghvi was at a loss as to what to do next if he wanted to raise money. Having returned from Belgium in 2013, he realized it wasn’t easy to get a loan without any credit history. “The concern is the same for many small businesses which are not part of the formal banking system and need credit to expand their business,” Sanghvi explained. This gap inspired him to launch Instakash—an online platform for assessing credit scores for consumers and small companies and helping them get loans from banks. The platform assesses credit scores based on data users’ smartphones. This includes behaviour-based data points such as location, purchase history, travelling history, modes of transports used and the social network presence. “We make the process of applying for loan digital and provide the banks an additional layer of information about the consumers which makes it easy for them to get loans. The five-member company is currently working with three banks and caters primarily to small retailers who sell on e-commerce platforms. “Our vision is to expand this platform to make it a marketplace for loans by simplifying the process for asking for a loan”, ” Sanghvi said.