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Why didn’t I think of that idea?

Why didn’t I think of that idea?
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First Published: Sat, Sep 18 2010. 12 45 AM IST
Updated: Tue, Sep 21 2010. 12 38 PM IST
Last year, we shifted our quest from cool jobs to cool ideas, because there weren’t many jobs to be had, and were amazed at the kind of ideas people were building their businesses on. This year, we uncovered 13 more gems—ideas so simple, yet so cool that they want to make you cry for not having thought of them first.
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The Altitude Store | From the hills to your home
Ayesha Grewal, 36, worked as a consultant with a bank in the US after doing her master’s in global finance from the University of Denver. Her first job was to evaluate fraudulent earnings announcements. A year and a half later, Grewal quit and returned to India in 2000 with the idea of setting up two dot-com ventures. Neither concept worked out. Grewal ended up working with Winrock International India, a non-profit organization, managing the finance portfolio for its renewable energy group. Again, within a year and a half, she “realized that she had philosophical issues with the job”; in 2003 she quit to set up a consulting company—Environment Energy and Enterprise Ventures (e3V). This was the first entrepreneurial venture she set up with two partners, taking on assignments in countries such as China and Brazil, apart from India, to work on renewable energy resource projects. (Read more...)
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Dial-A-Book | Speed reading
Dial-a-Book is a Delhi-based start-up founded by brothers Mayank and Tarang Dhingra. Tarang, 25, is a final-year student at the University of Delhi. Mayank, 27, is a software engineer who left a corporate job at Fidelity International in 2005 to work for a string of tech start-ups—from SlideShare, an online presentation hosting service, to MPower Mobile, which works with mobile payments. In 2008, before the Twitter bandwagon bulldozed its way across the country’s Internet landscape, he experimented with creating a Twitter-like service for India called Kwippy—which Mayank called a “conversational platform”. The site folded in mid-2009, and subsequent dabbling in ideas on what to do next led to Dial-a-Book. (Read more...)
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Meter Down | One for the road
Three college friends, Mulchand Dedhia, 24, Simi Sailopal, 23, and Ishan Mehta, 23, started working on the concept a year ago. After completing his graduation in mass communication, Dedhia, who is also a part-time photographer, got a job at an advertising agency. He quit after an altercation with his boss and decided he would finally work on his dream of starting something on his own. Sailopal was working with a public relations agency and Mehta was a content writer with Hungama Digital Media Entertainment. Sailopal left the project midway, opting for further studies. (Read more...)
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Type Foundry | A man of many letters
It started, strangely enough, with a guest lecture. In 2006, Indian Type Foundry (ITF) co-founder Satya Rajpurohit was a third-year student at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. The college had invited noted Holland-based typographer Peter Bilak to speak to its students, and Bilak expressed interest in working with Indian scripts. Rajpurohit, 28, had been dabbling in similar areas, and he emailed Bilak with an offer to help. In 2007, Bilak invited Rajpurohit (who was now interning with Linotype GmbH, an international type foundry, in Frankfurt) to his studio in The Hague. Bilak was impressed with his work, and the two started development on a new typeface called Fedra Hindi, which would act as the Devanagari companion to Bilak’s Fedra English (“A font is one of the technological forms of a typeface,” Rajpurohit says. “Just like an MP3 is a possible form of a piece of music”). (Read more...)
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Aporv.com | Made by hand, sold online
Sudip Dutta, 33, graduated as an engineer in 1999 from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, and worked in India for six years before moving to the US. After working there for five years with the sales department of a technology company, he returned to India with the aim of starting Aporv.com, an online platform that sells handicrafts made by artisans across India. In Sanskrit, Aporv means “unique”. (Read more...)
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Edyounet | Easy virtual learning
Ram Mohan had been running Devki Infonet, a software company, for about 12 years. The company makes e-learning software that links students living in the US and UK with teachers in India. He tried selling this in India but it didn’t work well because of the low penetration of computers. (Read more...)
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Hutkay Films | Shooting the bride
As a senior assistant editor at The Indian Express, and after 10 years in journalism, Leher Kala, 34, had a feeling that her career had plateaued. For two years she toyed with the idea of venturing out on her own but the security of a steady job in times of global economic crisis held her back. Finally, in April, Kala launched Hutkay Films Pvt. Ltd to make short, snappy, high-definition “celebration movies” of events such as weddings, anniversaries, corporate events and award ceremonies. (Read more...)
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Karigari Design | Designs that talk
Before she began churning out Cannes-nominated designs from a corner space in a stock Mumbai mall—packed between a travel agency and a clothes store— 30-year-old Neha Shah worked as an account director in Ogilvy and Mather. (Read more...)
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Queer Ink | Not just straight talk
Shobhna S. Kumar was already a well-travelled social entrepreneur—born in Fiji, raised in Sydney, Australia; worked a bit in the US—when she moved to India eight years ago. (Read more...)
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Phokatcopy | He is no copycat
All of 23, Harsh Narang graduated last month from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, with a five-year MTech degree in math and computing. As he puts it, student life was easy and the course-load, manageable. It left him with time to try out other things—help out an IIT professor with research in mathematical finance, intern at a university in Germany, work at an international investment bank’s trading desk, and intern with a tech start-up firm on campus. (Read more...)
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Inclusive Planet | Finding the right websight
Rahul Cherian, 36, co-founder and policy head of Inclusive Planet, is an alumnus of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore. He is also a specialist in copyright law and a disability policy activist. He was running his own law firm in Chennai until Inclusive Planet happened. (Read more...)
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His voice at your service
Founder and CEO Yusuf Motiwala, 37, spent 14 years designing telecom, digital signal processing, multimedia and embedded software for various companies. Prior to founding TringMe in 2007, he held key architecture and management positions at Aricent (then Hughes Software Systems, or HSS), Alcatel Lucent and Texas Instruments. Motiwala has got multiple patents in the area of IPTV (Internet Protocol television) and telecommunication. He holds a master’s degree in electronic engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. (Read more...)
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Light and shade: harvesting sunlight
In 1989, Sekhar Nori joined the public sector Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) after completing a degree in mechanical engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) at Kakinada, a coastal town in northern Andhra Pradesh. In less than a year, he felt there wasn’t much scope for real application of his engineering knowledge in the organization. “I did not like the job and had quit HPCL in 1990 though it was a great public sector oil company. I had decided to start my own business,” says Nori, 43. (Read more...)
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First Published: Sat, Sep 18 2010. 12 45 AM IST