My (wired) cool idea

These start-ups are not only changing what you can buy with your money online, but redefining how an idea can translate into a scalable, lucrative business

Cool Ideas: round 8

Nine of the 22 start-ups featured in the eighth issue of Cool Ideas have been started by people aged under 30. The 22-year-old founders of SocialCops planned and worked on refining their idea in the last year of college while those of SeekSherpa, who are just 23, decided, within a year of exiting college, to look for a way to convert their passion for travel into their profession. There are also people who had a basic idea of what they wanted to do but co-opted their friends (seven 23- to 26-year-olds in the case of Zostel and four 27- to 29-year-olds for TalView) to work with them.

At least 15 of the start-ups are either e-commerce linked, or use technology to conduct their business, making us realize how much being online has changed the way this country operates.

Prukalpa Sankar (with a white stole) and Varun Banka (in blue shirt), founders of SocialCop. Photo:Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Prukalpa Sankar (with a white stole) and Varun Banka (in blue shirt), founders of SocialCop. Photo:Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Some of the founders identified a gap in the market that they set out to fill—the founders of Urban Ladder could not find decent furniture; reliable and good tutors for 10-year-olds were hard to come by for the founders of FlipClass. Mother, sisters and friends always wanted speciality gifts from the founders of Shopatplaces, while the men at Urban Drive hated driving in Bangalore’s messy traffic. All these people faced a problem personally and decided to do something about it. Their start-ups are the result.

In a year when the Union Budget announced the setting up of a 10,000-crore fund to boost capital flows to start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), spirits are high. “Sentiments have definitely improved from the time we set out in May 2012. The success of e-commerce companies and some technology companies have helped vastly," says Sanjoe Tom Jose of TalView. Adds Rajiv Srivatsa of Urban Ladder: “It has definitely gotten better because of the success of start-ups like Flipkart, the opportunities in the digital space, and because of the availability of ancillary services. Also, there is a definite ecosystem today for idea exchanges, where you can meet start-up-minded people."

This year we have chosen start-ups that followed their hearts, have differentiated themselves in the marketplace, found investors for their concepts. We believe that these people, like those featured earlier, have what it takes to last in the ever-competitive marketplace.

Meanwhile, we revisited some who had made their way on to our pages in 2013 to find out if their businesses were booming. For Ahmedabad-based Gridbots Technologies, makers of robots, last year proved to be “an immensely successful year". From acquiring clients like NTPC, Indian Space Research Organisation, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd and Tata Power, besides numerous small companies, to doubling the production capacity from 20 to 40 people in the last year. “We have focused more on the industrial products," says Gaurav Sharma, head of business operations, Gridbots Technologies.

Bluegape, an online platform for fan merchandise, which raised over 1.5 crore via LetsVenture.com in December, says it has been on a “roller-coaster" ride. From nine designers, the New Delhi-based company now collaborates with around 150 designers, and has increased its product categories from 10 to 25. “Our month-on-month revenue has increased by 100%," says Anupam Acharya, chief marketing officer, Bluegape.

Over the last one year, Bangalore-based Lumos, manufacturers of solar-powered products, have understood that they need to focus on one customer segment. “And we decided to focus on cyclists," says Gandharv S. Bakshi, co-founder of Lumos. “We have also enabled international sales of our solar backpack to countries like Australia, Mexico and Germany, and exports account for 50% of our sales," he adds.

Go ahead and find out what motivates the entrepreneurs in this year’s Cool Ideas issue, and if you know of more people with really interesting and sustainable business ideas out there, send us a list at lounge@livemint.com.

PS: For a quick digital introduction to these start-ups, visit www.livemint.com

Seema Chowdhry

Issue editor

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Broomberg: The sparklers

Cineplay: Beyond proscenium

ClearTax : Click open, file

FlipClass: Study mates

FourthLion Technologies: A new kind of politics

Growing Greens: Shoots and leaves

I2cook: Big idea in a small bottle

Indix: A search engine for millions of goodies

MealTango: Come dine with me

Overcart: A decent proposal

SeekSherpa: Tour with a local guide

Shopatplaces: The local touch

Socialcops: An ongoing census

TVF1: An idiot box for the young

TalView: Power chat

Urbandrive: Modern-day cabbies

Urban Ladder: Click and mortar

Wello By Azoi: Your health in your hands

Zostel: Passion for travel

Previous Cool Ideas issues: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

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