The Gene Box: Startup that charts out algorithms for better healthcare

The Gene Box co-founders Pranav Anam, a qualified geneticist and Shiraz Siddiqui, a fitness and nutrition consultant, have been friends and business partners for close to two decades. Each of them were fighting their own personal battle on the health front – Pranav with his obesity issues which made him overweight by a whopping 50 kgs and Shiraz with blood cancer and bone marrow transplant, which he battled with overcame after almost a decade. Pranav and Shiraz contemplated starting The Gene Box as they were becoming more and more inclined towards venturing into the personal genomics space owing to their personal and professional experiences. Thus, they formed The Gene Box in September 2015. They developed a pan-India commercial and collaborative platform to help stem cell scientists, academicians and medical practitioners create therapeutic products and services.

Shiraz, being a wellness expert used his insights and experience to devise The Gene Box food, fitness and wellness programs. “These are carefully designed in line with the client’s age, gender, lifestyle and occupation that follow a comprehensive health analysis and give a complete blueprint of health,” shares Anam.

The company currently works with less than 10 people, but they have key departments outsourced. “We sell The Gene Box and provide health and fitness solutions to the people and five years down the line, our plan is to be present in all Tier II and Tier III cities. We also plan to create experiential centres across cities for people to experience their body type in a better way. Our plan is to increase our work force and spend more on improving our tech. We are also exploring the possibilities of coming up with retail centres,” says Anam, sharing growth plans for the company.

Anam adds that the concept is new to people at large, which they see as a business opportunity. “Yes, there are competitors. Our assessment and algorithms are different from our competitors. Our products and services are meant for daily application of your DNA insights and we make this journey easy and exciting. Moreover currently the analysis and recommendations of most players in the nutrition and fitness industry are symptomatic in nature (solely focused on physical attributes like the individual’s body type and subjective interpretations of food and fitness habits and tendencies). No analysis is done to gauge whether the recommendations are in line with the individual’s genetic constitution. The Gene Box does exactly the reverse – it studies the person’s food and fitness specifics in the guiding light of his/her genetic makeup thereby arriving at tailor-made recommendations that are free of generic conclusions or convenient conjectures,” he explains.

Anam says that they offer an integrated platform for Nutrition, Fitness and Genetics. Using sophisticated algorithms and recommendations engine The Gene Box will help users achieve a better lifestyle. Anam explains that The Gene Box takes into account the key difference of user life stages and progressively evolves recommendations for their body or health. “The Gene Box will enable a collaborative, tailored and accurate plan for your body’s nutrition and fitness needs taking into consideration your current health. We also advise you on lifestyle diseases you are genetically prone to and how to keep them at bay,” he says.

The Gene Box hasn’t raised any funds since inception but now are looking to raise some around a million dollars. The company is keenly investing in IT and developing machine learning. The Gene Box is working towards building advanced algorithms to tailor recommendations for their consumers. As its next milestone, the startup is aiming to increase its digital outreach and looking to partner with right business to improve distribution.

Source By tech.firstpost…

Meet RentoMojo, a furniture rental startup from Bengaluru

Startups have managed to get Indian audiences buy furniture online, but there are others who are now trying to redefine it further. RentoMojo is an online rental company (web andAndroid app) for appliances and furniture. In a city like Bengaluru, with some pockets known to be occupied by the young, many would find the option of renting furniture feasible when they have guests or parents visiting. Or even others, like working professionals who are always on the move, would find this a great solution for rented apartments. Founded in 2014, it has 10,000 active subscriber base and aims to reach 1 lakh subscriber base by 2017.

RentoMojo was founded to address issues concerning working professionals moving cities across their career. Their struggle with heavy relocation expenses led to formation of RentoMojo. “Like many other young working professionals we were living in rented apartments, working long hours and we faced a lot of trouble each time we had to equip our house when we moved. That got us thinking, since ages we’ve been fixated on the idea of owning stuff and after a while when it’s out of fashion or doesn’t suit our lifestyle we simply sell it for peanuts. That’s when we got the idea for RentoMojo,” Geetansh Bamania, CEO and founder at RentoMojo tells us.

Bamania along with Ajay Nain founded this startup. Bamania, a serial entrepreneur completed engineering from IIT Madras. He has worked with companies like Flipkart, Pepperfry and KPMG. Today, RentoMojo is a team of more than 200 people and across six cities in India. Bamania says that it is the affordable rentals and elimination of the intermediary margins that sets them apart from other similar offerings. “We wanted to provide a furnishing solution that is affordable, high on quality and very smooth on customer experience at every touchpoint,” he adds. Tech2 checked out the website and saw some lucrative deals such as a three seat sofa for as low as Rs 699 per month and a mini studio with a bed, mattress, wardrobe, study table, chair and bean bag for Rs 1329 per month. However, when we clicked on it, it was out of stock.

The company uses technology to offer hassle-free shopping experience to its customers. One can login into the RentoMojo website or app, select from its product range or even curated home packages, pay a refundable deposit and the RentoMojo team will get in touch to confirm the order and delivery time. “We provide free delivery, free re-location of our furniture if you decide to move, free maintenance,” Bamania points out.

“We introduced the quickest payment solutions for our existing subscribers to enable effortless rental payments. It’s beautiful the way our app authenticates you in one go without a password and lets you manage your account without any hassle. Come back after a year and we’d still remember you without asking for one caps, one small letter, one numerical and a special character because every customer is special to us,” he further adds.

RentoMojo has received $2 million in pre-series A in June 2015 and $5 million in series A funding from Accel Partners and IDG Ventures. It follows an asset- light model wherein they’ve tied up with vendors for the inventory that is rented out to customers and in return charge a servicing fee for it.

“We are primarily targeting working professionals with decent disposable incomes and mostly living out of their home city. We all are moving into an era where owning depreciating products has become a thing of the past. Today’s millennial wants to have access to lifestyle products rather than own them. Thus RentoMojo, being the provider of this access to a better lifestyle will positively impact the lives of our target audiences,” he further adds.

On the roadmap for 2016, RentoMojo plans to expand to few more cities and also add more categories.

Source By tech.firstpost…

Goodbox brings ‘conversational commerce’ to connect consumers to businesses

The app ecosystem is undergoing a paradigm shift. Consumers are tired of downloading individual apps for services that they need to interact with almost on a daily basis – grocery shopping, ordering food, for instance. Even larger brands, with a significant presence, see an abysmal number of downloads just because this fatigue has set in. Goodbox with its ‘conversational commerce’ mobile application wants to change that.

Founded by CEO Abey Zachariah and co-founders Mayank Bidawatka, Nithin Chandra, Mahesh Herle, Mohit Maheshwari, Anand Kelaginamani and Charan Shetty, Goodbox created its app that would help connect consumers directly with businesses just with their app.” Goodbox is a pivot from our previous business of offering content in long distance buses. We introduced an app to help passengers track their bus’ location while they were at their boarding point. This app had a chat functionality. We had passengers asking for help with hotels, bike rentals, etc. We used to help close these requests by mediating deals with hotels. However, we realised that this model of mediation doesn’t scale. If we would hit 1000 requests on a single day it would not be feasible to mediate these discussions,” shares Mayank.

The app is based on the concept that every shop has a person, products and a payment mechanism. “If you were to recreate the same experience on an app, you need a messaging screen, a menu / product list (with prices) and an online payment gateway. That’s exactly how the design of all businesses on the Goodbox app is structured,” explains Mayank. While the businesses on the Goodbox platform have a menu/product and price list so customers get all the required information, they can also chat with them to get answers to unstructured questions. Chat (via messaging) also helps businesses give consumers a standard usability experience.

Goodbox currently operates with a team of about 75 which is composed mainly of sales professionals and engineers. The business model revolves around charging businesses a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) fee of Rs. 999 per year and 1.99% TDR on every online payment. “Our business model is evolving very fast and there will be multiple ways to monetize at scale. The more value we create for all stakeholders, the more the avenues to monetise,” adds Mayank.

Talking about investing in technology, Mayank says, “We are spending time in making our system scalable and useful to millions of businesses in India. We have created booking engines for supermarkets, restaurants and multiple other businesses. These are our IP and can be scaled across the country.” The company essentially aims to make buying from a business on Goodbox easier than calling them or visiting them. “For example, customers can send an order to a supermarket and request a home delivery or a store pick-up and pay online or by CoD.

The same experience over a call can be painful. Many times supermarkets don’t take calls – resulting in consumers having to call them multiple times. If they do take the call, rattling off a long order over a call can get annoying. On Goodbox once you’ve created your shopping list, you can just send it to the supermarket with a single tap. You can get to know the prices of product on the app – something that’s not available over a call. When you buy at a store, you have to stand in a long queue. When you order over Goodbox, you are saved that trouble. If you order over a call and request a home delivery, you will usually struggle for exact change to pay the delivery boy. However, with Goodbox you can just pay the store online and save yourself the requirement to keep cash,” says Mayank citing real-world problems.

In terms of funding, the company raised $2.5 million in its Series A from Nexus Venture Partners. “We have a very capital efficient business model and are seeing excellent traction from our Series A funds. We are able to build a business at 1/10th the cost large aggregators would have used to do similar transactions – thanks to not having any warehousing or delivery costs associated with our business. Being a technology provider that helps connects two parties, we are asset light and our fund requirements are not as high,” Mayank adds. They look to raise funds again this year to build a technology team and expand to more cities in India (they operate in Bengaluru currently), and then globally.

The company believes the app has tremendous scope because all consumers are on smartphones and every business is trying a figure a way to get online and that too on mobile. An app presence is the best way to achieve that objective, says Mayank. “Most businesses have some sort of mediation built into their business model that forces them to charge businesses a heavy commission. Due to this businesses don’t look at these platforms as their own app presence. Businesses want control and a platform like Goodbox helps them get that without any conflict of interest. We believe that enabling is better than trying to replace what many businesses were doing. Aggregators try to replace existing businesses whereas a business like Goodbox helps businesses plug their weak point – technology. We help them start selling on app and get online at 1/100th the time and cost they would incur to do the same themselves,” he explains.

Goodbox is aiming to expand in Bengaluru with 10,000 businesses in the city as its next milestone.

 Source By tech.firstpost…

Startup founders reveal how it has changed their lives

“The amount of the torture you go through being with a startup, transforms you,” reveals Abhinav Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder – Fluid Motion, an Artificial Intelligence technology startup.

Founding or working with a startup might have been hugely glorified but at its heart lies grit, determination and sheer hard work. Tech2 spoke to some such driven individuals who embarked on the startup journey and lived to tell the tale. All of them speak about the jarring difference in the culture they saw, coming in from a conventional corporate setup. Kamal Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of SenSight Technologies which is a connected car device startup, says that a startup has an unstructured environment and is riddled with uncertainties. Obviously that can be stressful. Having said that, he believes some individuals (like himself) actually enjoy that, and work hard to make it big in that kind of environment. “While corporate has a distinct hierarchy, we don’t. We multitask as there are really no specialised roles and people. But some people thrive on it. There’s a bit of a siege mentality where the larger goal is taking on the big giants,” explains Kamal. On a more personal level, he adds that his mindset has shifted too and he just doesn’t see himself working for a large company, ever.

Anand Babu, who is part of a legal tech startup Surukam Analytics shares a similar sentiment. He shares the reason behind startups coming out with more innovation, that too at a faster rate, as compared with a large corporate. “Startups care about certain things too much,” he says. He shares how even larger companies have the talent and resources, but startups make the most of it. Sharing an example of his own setup, he explains how all big companies have a legal department and a technology department. But both are placed miles apart. “When we came up with the idea, we thought, will this change how the legal industry works? And that’s how we set out on developing the solution. Our technology isn’t perfect yet, and we do face a lot of resistance because the legal domain is not really open to adopting new technology. But we believe that machine learning and AI will make access to justice easier and faster and that is what we are aiming at,” says Anand.

‘Passion’ is not just an expression that startups throw around. Fluid Motion’s Abhinav is a Chartered Accountant and an ISB dropout while his brother, the co-founder, is a CFA and IIM-A dropout. It’s passion that led them to teach themselves coding and scale out a company from scratch. “It’s usually seven day weeks and takes up most of our personal time, but it doesn’t matter,” says Abhinav. On a side note, he adds how working with a startup has completely transformed him from being the guy with the dirtiest room in the house to developing a borderline OCD for being organised. Adding to the topic of being passionate, Anand of Surukam Analytics adds how many people in their team have left their high paying jobs to join them, just because their wavelength matched and they share the same passion. Kamal, of SenSight Technologies, says working with a startup is not a sprint that you can dash through and get done with. It’s a marathon.

So how do these fanatical beings find others of the same species to increase their tribe? “Startup hiring is a massive task,” shares Anand. “It’s not easy to get people because we really don’t have time to train or even pay that much. We just have to look for talented people, who are on the same wavelength and who can join us on the promise that good things will happen!”

Abhinav sets off on their saga of hiring. He explains that they have about 8 rounds that a potential candidate goes through. This includes one round that involves solving a Rubik’s cube. (He can’t help but mention here that he can do one in under 60 seconds.) Then there’s a round that is taken by a chatbot that asks standard profiling questions. And then there’s the final round taken by them where they get to know the candidate better. “We look beyond conventional resumes. We have many people currently working with us who took 3-4 years of gaps in their careers, who failed their 12th standard exams, dropouts, or are self-learned coders,” shares Abhinav. He adds that these candidates come with great talent at a relatively lower cost, which is a big win for the startup.

Despite the uncertainties and hardships, none of these guys would really want to be doing something other than what they are right now. Asked if he would do anything differently if he were to start this entire startup journey over again Abhinav says, “Maybe we would start a little slow, less aggressive. But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Source By tech.firstpost…

Vidooly aims to bring actionable marketing analytics to online video content providers

We are a screen-obsessed generation and we like all the information floating in the universe to be presented to us in bite-sized pieces across all our preferred screens. Essentially, we love to watch videos. Vidooly, a startup that provides video marketing and analytics solutions, witnessed the rise of original content creators online, mobile internet, video platforms, OTTs, new age media companies and social networks and created a platform for companies to help them understand their audience better and help them further scale their video business.

Vidooly is a brainchild of founders Subrat Kar, Ajay Mishra and Nishant Radia. All three of them are engineers with experience of working with several .coms including Jabong, Monster, IndiaMART, among others. “All of us come from a product background, though none of us worked in any media or video company, but we were bullish about the power of video from day one. It’s a space we were fascinated with and wanted to innovate and build something around it that can scale globally scale from day one,” explains Kar.

Vidooly is currently a 45 member team consisting of data scientists, backend developers, designers, analysts, product managers and video marketing experts based in Noida. The company has a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) based business model and charges customers monthly subscription fees based on the number of channels they have. “Our customers are TV companies, original video content creators, multi-channel networks, enterprise media companies, brands and media buying agencies,” says Kar.

Talking about how the solution works, Kar says they track video data across all platforms and for them, data is very important. “We invest a lot on technology that can understand data and make sense out of it – be it storage, crunching, mining and predicting trends by using AI or through machine learning. Our Big Data engine tracks 25 million plus unique video views and 50 million plus audience data on daily basis from different genres and geography,” he says.

Speaking about funding raised by the company, Kar informs Tech2 that they initially were accepted into T-labs accelerator in September 2014 where they raised $20,000 seed capital as a part of acceleration. “Post that, we raised another seed round of up to $1 million from Bessemer Venture Partners. Many investors are looking at this space seriously and so are many video platforms and OTTs entering the Indian market. We are looking to raise a fresh of funding soon,” shares Kar.

“Initially we built the product around YouTube’s platform, now we have further expanded our reach to tracking data across 30+ major video platforms globally including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and OTTs, VODs, Smart TV and Connected devices,” says Kar. Vidooly will soon launch a public beta of its cross video platform analytics product. With the current road map, the company wants to continue to serve brands, media buying agencies, multi channel networks and original content creators to help them grow their digital video business.

Kar believes they are the only video data intelligence company across Asia and Europe. “Though we have few competitors in U.S, the way we cater to the entire video ecosystem through our product features is far superior to our competitors. Our rise to the top and being a “Made in India” product makes a lot of difference with our competitors. Due to the India advantage, we are at a good position to serve our customers better at an affordable price with rich features,” shares Kar.

Vidooly sees a lot of traction from brands who are becoming content creators through story telling of commercial ads, says Kar. “I think the tectonic shift from TV to digital video will continue to increase, and for us this is a big opportunity to cater to all of them. Much development is happening on our product side. For instance, we are launching a single video currency for all brands and agencies to understand which videos/channels they should target to in order to reach the right audience that matches their brand personality and the same goes for video publishers such as ( be it TV, YouTube channel or Facebook video),” he adds.

Summing it up, Kar says the founders see Vidooly become ‘The Nielsen from India for online video worldwide’.

Source By tech.firstpost…

Wealthy helps users make smart investments using technology

Managing investments could be a tedious task, and some planning can always help. These days, you don’t really have to go looking for a good advisor as there are online services and apps ready to bring all the information to your fingertips. One such is Wealthy, an online investment service that aims at making investments a breeze with its paperless process. “We are in the business of making people Wealthy by helping them take smart investment decisions with as little as Rs 2,000,” co-founder and CEO Aditya Agarwal tells us.

It was while running a real-estate investment platform and being a part of a few angel investing groups, that Agarwal realised how people around him have been struggling with investments, especially those with extra surplus and no clue how to go about investing. This led to the formation of Wealthy.in, along with Prashant Gupta.

Agarwal has studied at IIT Bombay, and was a Management Consultant with Monitor Group before becoming an entrepreneur. He quit his job to grow family’s small marble and granite business in Rajasthan and also started a real estate investment platform called getSquareFeet. Before Wealthy.in, Gupta was working with Morgan Stanley in London as Vice President, Equity Derivatives Structuring. He has earned degrees from IIT Madras and IIM Ahmedabad.

“Our Eureka! moment was his (Prashant Gupta) suggestion that why don’t we automate the investment advisory and continuous portfolio management and make that available to retail clients in India. He had seen this being used by banks across the world for their wealthy clients. Once we tested the feasibility of automating advisory the path to realising the dream became clearer. Completely paperless KYC and on-boarding was another breakthrough for us that helped setup an Internet-only financial services firm in a short period of time,” Agarwal said.

Explaining the process  of investments at Wealthy, Agarwal said, “We ask users a few simple questions in a delightful manner to customise the investment plan. Once they agree to the investment plan, they proceed to open an account with us using their email or social logins. Post that, users have to provide their PAN number followed by some very basic personal details. Once their KYC status is ascertained by our system, which happens almost real-time, they can proceed to make their investment online. The entire process takes less than 2-3 minutes. After the online payment, investment folios are opened typically in less than 48 hours. Details of the investment are then available on dashboard. Users can also make withdrawals directly from their Wealthy dashboard.”

Wealthy’s investment plans include different kinds of mutual funds that are selected using a rule-based system rather than human-based selection that would be erroneous. The company’s focus on automation using technology is what they claim sets it apart from other similar offerings. They plan to make smart recommendations based market movements and whether it’s a good time to withdraw the investment a part of their next offering. “In our next offering, our algorithms will maintain asset allocation for each investor at all-times and dynamically re-balance the portfolio as and when the market conditions affect the allocation,” he said.

The startup accepts a fee from the product manufacturers for every rupee of investment by clients. Agarwal says the revenue model is akin to SaaS business where they earn a subscription-like fee for as long as client continues to use the product. The only difference, he mentions, is that manufacturer pays the fee instead of the client. Wealthy has received angel funding of 1.6 crore from investors, which is being used for talent acquisition, strengthening the platform and exploring new opportunities. The company plans to scale using a mix of customer initiatives and offline partnerships.

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TeamIndus, the only Indian entry in Google’s challenge to push private enterprise in space exploration

Last week, aviation technology venture TeamIndus by Bangalore-based Axiom Research Labs, launched a new competition called Lab2Moon encouraging youngsters to create an experiment to fly on board the TeamIndus spacecraft to the Moon in 2017. Those not in the know, TeamIndus is the only Indian team competing for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE.

“The processes, interactions and methodology we’re adopting to achieve this feat reflects in the kind of team we’ve managed to build. We’re not in this just to win, but to ensure we’ve pushed ourselves to re-engineer, integrate and constantly aim to do things better and more efficiently. Our mission is designed to be inclusive, democratic and driven by the people. We intend to demystify space for everyone. Which is why we’ve launched a few campaign to engage folks from across the globe, giving them opportunities to join our journey and make it their own,” Sheelika Ravishankar, who looks at outreach and marketing, or what they call TeamIndus Jedi master for people capital, tells Tech2.

Explaining how TeamIndus was formed, Ravishankar said that the Google Lunar XPRIZE was announced in 2007 and they have been tracking the competition since 2008, hoping a team from India would register. Talking about what led to the formation of TeamIndus, Ravishankar explains, “We couldn’t let a competition of this magnitude go without an Indian entry, so we registered. We started off as a handful of like minded people coming together and have grown to a 85+ strong team, of which we have about a dozen retired ISRO stalwarts who believe in us and work with us on this mission.”

The company was founded in February 2011, and led by Rahul Narayan, an alumnus of IIT Delhi, along with Indranil Chakraborty, Sameer Joshi, Dilip Chabria and Julius Amrit. The team also includes retired ISRO experts including RV Perumal, PS Nair, NS Hegde, NC Bhat, among others. Talking about the team, Ravishankar says, “A recurring theme of many conversation is the fact that none of us had any experience in the aerospace industry. Each of us has successfully built companies, and as seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals, understood that the blueprint for building a company was the same irrespective of industry.”

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So, TeamIndus is building a spacecraft to land on the moon in late 2017 in a bid to win the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize. It is a global challenge to catalyse private enterprise in space exploration. Interestingly, it is the only entry from India with the task at hand to land on the moon, move 500 meters, while transmitting high-definition media from the lunar surface to earth. “Landing on the moon, is a feat previously accomplished only by the American, Russian and Chinese governments. TeamIndus, aims to be the next one in that club,” Ravishankar adds.

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Working with ISRO, Team Indus will use its PSLV launcher to send the spacecraft to the moon.It is working closley with several international partners for engineering and development. Its partners also include Tata Communications, sasken Technologies, LASP and Indian Institute of Science.

Nandan Nilekani of Infosys was roped in as an investor and adviser last year. However, Ravishankar refused to comment on funding or revenue. Right now, the company is trying to leave no stone unturned as it competes to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon before 31 December, 2017.

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Startup hiring: Rationalisation of hiring plans and maturing startup talent pool

There are clearly two large trends that are shaping up in the startup-hiring ecosystem and are likely to impact the April-September ’16 horizon. One of those has been the much-publicised trend of either startups laying off talent or postponing their hiring plans. Social media has been abuzz with Flipkart’s decision of delaying the joining of their management trainees and the layoffs done by Zomato, Peppertap, Foodpanda, Snapdeal and the rest.

The other not-so-widely -spoken about trend is the one taking shape amongst talent that is looking to join startups now. Prospective talent looking to join startups now exercises much greater caution and scrutiny of business models before taking the decision to join a startup. This is a great sign of a rapidly maturing startup ecosystem.

Impact of startups revisiting their business models

The Indian startup ecosystem is in that stage where the initial euphoria is now settling down, mindless growth is being seen as vanity and unit economics is being seen as the only sanity. All of this is bound to have a pronounced impact on changing the hiring focus of startups. In light of the same, I see some of the following scenarios playing out from the perspective of the startups in the next few quarters:

1. Startups will very closely examine their decisions to build large on-ground execution teams purely for geographical expansion. The ecosystem has learnt its lessons from the various hyper-local startups such as Grofers and Peppertap expanding into new cities and eventually having to withdraw.

2. There are valuable lessons for the entire ecosystem in the several top-level exits of celebrity hires that have been seen in the last few quarters. I am sure; most startups are consciously trying to ensure the right –fit while hiring top talent. Clearly, you cannot hope that overnight growth will be achieved simply by paying top dollar salaries to some celebrity hire. Every stage of business needs specific type of talent and for a startup being top-heavy is a sure recipe for disaster.

3. The number of startups in India is growing rapidly and is expected to have over 11,200 startups by 2020. As per the NASSCOM report, titled ‘Start-up India — Momentous Rise of the Indian Start-up Ecosystem’ there are already over 4200 startups in India and the total annual funding has exceeded $5 billion. All of this will have a positive impact on the overall hiring numbers of the startup ecosystem.

As per the recent studies released by Teamlease Employment Outlook Repeat, the boosting e-commerce sites and tech driven startups will observe a 23.6 per cent increase in the job hiring, between a small time span between April and September.

Impact of a more mature startup talent pool and growing opportunities

From the perspective of the talent that is seeking opportunities with startups, here are some of the relevant trends:

1. Many startups will be born from the existing set of startups. We already see several former startup employees setting out to set up their own ventures or join even more early-stage startups. Rarely do you see employees of startups going back to a corporate environment or large companies nowadays.

2. Hiring talent isn’t getting any easier these days. Most prospective employees want to understand at length – the business model, expansion plans, unit economics, culture and background of founders before taking the decision to join. A large fundraise is no longer assurance of being able to hire the right talent. It is also a huge positive for startups because employees are joining startups – much better informed and for the right reasons.

3. India’s urban centers present huge challenges in urban services, last-mile logistics and transportation. Several startups depend on on-ground teams to help mitigate this challenge. The urban poor certainly stand to benefit from these employment opportunities tremendously. Nasscom says in a report published jointly with Zinnov Management Consulting, that startups are expected to create over 2.5 lakh jobs in the next 5 years.

In summary, startup hiring in India is clearly entering stage 2.0 in the coming few quarters. It is much better equipped to hire at scale and in a sustainable manner. Past learning has only helped it rationalise and calibrate its hiring plans much sharper. At the same time the maturing talent pool available for startups is much better prepared to handle ambiguity and shorter business cycles of startups.

Source By tech.firstpost…

Amazon’s Launchpad is giving startups the very platform they’ve been yearning for

Amazon launched Launchpad in 2015 as an ecommerce platform that was dedicated to startups and it’s proving to be quite a success for the ecommerce giant.

Business Insider reports that Launchpad was originally meant to be a crowd-funding site like Kickstarter, but research indicated that the space was already too crowded to be worth investing in. Amazon, however, realised that the bigger problem faced by startups wasn’t funds, it was getting their products noticed.

To that end, Launchpad only sells and promotes products that are created by startups and approved by Amazon. To get approval, the startup must meet two criteria:

  • The startup must be able to deliver products to Amazon’s warehouses within 30 days of receiving an order
  • The startup must have received funding from venture capital (VC) firms, startup incubators, some sort of crowd-funding initiative or similar funding service.

Once a startup meets these qualifications, Amazon will inspect the offered product and if deemed worthy, will promote them on Launchpad.

Keeping an eye on the myriad upcoming startups isn’t easy, but Amazon does this by keeping in touch with VC firms, startup incubators and crowd-funding sites. At the time of launch, Amazon had only tied up with 25 of such firms and was offering around 200 products. Today, that number has increased 5-fold and the number of products being sold has crossed 700.

You will find the likes of Solyent, Anki, Nextbit and Sphero on Launchpad today.

Amazon tells Business Insider that they’re very happy with the way things are panning out because they’ve created a win-win situation. Amazon gets their hands on the hottest startups and in-turn, startups get exposure as well as access to a global ecommerce platform.

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Gigato wants to cut down your mobile data bill without violating net neutrality

Built by former Google and Microsoft engineers, Gigato app aims to bring down the cost of mobile data in emerging nations such as India. It does so by allowing app developers to sponsor the data for their end users, and supports prepaid users on all mobile operators across all telecom circles in India.

For most of us, mobile data has become an essential, yet expensive commodity. Gigato co-founder Shailesh Nalawadi adds, “Despite deep smartphone penetration with devices and affordable devices, there is a solid demographic of consumers who are uncomfortable with paying for data and only connect to the net when they’re in a Wi-Fi enabled area. Gigato is a mobile application that reimburses consumers with data for data spent on browsing partner apps. It can be used by Android prepaid users across telecom operators and regions in India.

“As we dug into the problem, we also saw that this was a significant issue that was hampering the growth for startups in India relying on these users. This system had to be made better for all parties involved and that is what we set out to do. Make internet sponsored and available to all. This is how we began our journey with Gigato,” Nalawadi adds.

Shailesh Nalawadi did his MBA from the University of Chicago. He also holds an M Eng from University of Michigan and a Bachelors from the University of Toronto. Co-founder Raina Kumra holds degrees from Boston University, New York University and Harvard University. Alfian Tan, the third co-founder, who previously worked at Microsoft, studied at the University of Washington and University of Michigan.

Nalawadi explains that Gigato benefits both consumers and app publishers. Publishers can reward for loyal behaviour and also engage with their customer base. On the other hand, consumers benefit by the offerings for data reimbursement. “We charge for every megabyte that we give out to users. However, our model is not inherently different from cashback models out there now. Our only difference is we give megabytes and we create engagement feedback loops,” he said.

Gigato doesn’t charge for appearing on their platform, but only for actual engagement and usage. Therefore, for app publishers who want to test drive can do so at no cost. Gigato has also launched a Wallet that lets users save their recharges to use as and when they require it. This is a change from their previous model wherein one had to instantly redeem recharges.

When asked about the net neutrality debate, Nalawadi says Gigato launched at the time when the Net Neutrality debate and Facebook’s Internet.org was at its peak and there were questions regarding their role. He adds, “We support the principles of Network Neutrality. We worked hard to make stakeholders understand why our particular approach as aligned with the spirit of net neutrality. Being declared completely compliant and net neutral by TRAI and the Save The Internet group was very heartening.”

The app developers only pay for actual megabyte consumption and a setup fee or contract fee depending on the arrangement.  “In effect, we are buying data packs from operators and it is exactly the same price that you would pay for a data pack so we don’t even get any preference from them,”he adds. The startup has received seed funding and now plans to widen its reach by adding more app developers.

Source By tech.firstpost…