With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India has obvious potential to become the world’s leading tech ecosystem. Unfortunately, that opportunity has been undermined by poor infrastructure, hefty bureaucracy and the divide between the nation’s urban and rural areas. To the east, China has risen across a landscape of shiny highways, while India’s untrammeled ruts are clogged and slow-moving. But India is nonetheless changing, and a new generation of startups is throwing aside the red tape to produce products with global, as well as domestic, impacts.
These 10 Indian startups are doing just that. While competition is fierce in the world’s second most populous country, these businesses reflect the optimism and growing confidence of India’s startup community.
Bangalore-based Flipkart has been the poster child for India’s tech startups since its founding seven years ago. The ecommerce company raised $1 billion by the end of July this year, the largest amount of funding ever procured by an Indian company. Given that it raised $210 million the previous year, Flipkart looks poised to become a $100 billion company in the next five years — a fact its owners are planning on.
Launched in December 2012 in Delhi, mobile messaging app Hike now has more than 20 million users. It’s growing exponentially, with more than 60% of users based in India and the rest in the Middle East and Europe. Hike is available on all mobile platforms and has already received two rounds of funding of $22 million.
Exotel is a cloud telephony company based in Bangalore. It provides services like virtual phone numbers and telephony applications for SMEs, eliminating the need for expensive call centers.
The company received $500,000 in funding from Mumbai Angels and Blume Ventures in March 2012, a year after its founding. It now has more than 500 clients, with plans to add 1,500 more customers by the end of 2014.
WebEngage is a customer engagement toolkit that lets ecommerce clients target site visitor segments to offer them online promotions, surveys and offers. The Mumbai-based company works with thousands of customers in more than 40 countries and in 2012 raised $500,000 from India-focused investment company GTI Capital Group.
5. Druva Software
Founded in 2008 and with more than 150 employees, Druva provides more than 3,000 enterprise companies — as well as big-name clients like NASA, Tesla, KMPG and Xerox — with high security data protection on an easy-to-use platform that minimizes IT costs.
To date, the company has received four rounds of funding, totaling $67 million, from investors like Sequoia Capital, Nexus Venture Partners and Tenaya Capital. In August, the company raised $25 million.
Cucumbertown is a social network for cooks with an online library of thousands of recipes from some of the world’s best chefs, influential bloggers and at-home foodies. The company was founded in Bangalore and now has a U.S. office in Mountain View, California, where it maintains an emphasis on its mobile platform.
In 2012, the company received $300,000 in funding from well-known investors like Farmville’s Sizhao Zao Yang, AngelList and 500 Startups.
India has an annual $3 billion car rental market, but parking in its biggest cities is nearly impossible. Since 2012, car-sharing startup Zoom has taken on this opportunity by renting electric cars, a first for Indian companies.
The company has raised $2.9 million in three rounds of funding and after originally operating in Bangalore, Zoom now works in the trendy and emerging city of Pune, between Mumbai and the beaches of Goa.
Reel is a video messaging application that lets users record short messages of up to 20 seconds. Users can also choose how many times the message can be seen on a loop and then send to people in in their address book. The recipient can then watch the video on a continuous loop before it automatically deletes. The Bangalore-based company launched its app on Google Play in September.
Zomato has a curated list of more than 200,000 global restaurants in 35 cities across 11 countries, from which customers can choose and compare reviews.
After recently raising $37 million for expansion into North America, Zomato’s restaurant discovery business has moved on from its original model of users in India scanning in menus to compare dishes.
10. Urban Ladder
Urban Ladder was founded in July 2012 to provide a curated destination for the urban Indian consumer to build beautiful homes. The website provides the rapidly growing Indian middle class with a wide range of contemporary designs of high quality, handcrafted furniture that blends beauty with functionality. The company recently raised $21 million in funding and counts Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners and Kalaari Capital among its backers.