From healthcare to technology, we’ve identified four companies that, we believe, will rock the Indian startup world in 2014. We followed just two guidelines when we made this list: our own analysis of the founders and their past track record and the business idea they are building upon. Read on.
1/GLOCAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS: DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD
Dr. Sabahat Azim, a former Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer and a medial graduate, is a big advocate of doing well in business by doing good. He believed that a healthcare entity can be socially responsible while being profitable and thus co-founded Glocal Healthcare Systems, a primary and secondary low-cost medical services provider, in 2010, with M. Damodaran, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Interestingly, Glocal’s business model is built around identifying 17 diseases that constitute 85 per cent and 42 diseases that make up 95 per cent of the disease load in rural India and, developing technology and infrastructure to address these ailments alone. In fact, the hospital provides medical treatment to patients at a 40 per cent to 50 per cent lesser price than the industry standards. Why? Due to low infrastructure cost from setting up operations in rural pockets, establishment of in-house construction teams and, elimination of unnecessary fees.
The company raised its first round of funding, to the tune of Rs. 14 crore, from Elevar Equity and Sequoia Capital, in July 2011. The funds were utilised to setup the first five hospitals in the rural and semi-rural regions in West Bengal. Note that, the first hospital achieved a break even within six months of operations.
Moving into an expansion phase, in September 2013, Glocal has raised its second round, to the tune of Rs. 25 crore, from SIDBI Venture Capital Ltd (SVCL)’s Samridhi fund. With this, it plans to setup fifty 100-bed secondary hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and, Jharkhand, by December 2014.
What we loved about the company: Its focus on identifying the top 17 diseases that make up 85 per cent of the health issues in rural India and focusing its efforts to tackle those.
2/SOURCEBITS TECHNOLOGIES – THE APP COMPANY
After spending over a decade in the field of medicine, Rohit Singhal realised that he was more passionate about technology than medicine. Thus, between shifts at the medical college, he met a few techies online, learnt programming and eventually, in 2006, founded Sourcebits Technologies, a mobile applications development company. Though it faced its initial share of hiccups, by 2011, Sourcebits had developed over 350 apps (primarily built on client specifications) for over 100 companies, some of which were Fortune 1000 companies. In addition to developing applications for the Apple operating systems, the company expanded its offering to develop apps for Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile 7 platforms and Rich Internet Applications (RIA).
In May 2011, to further leverage its growth, Sourcebits raised US $10 million from Sequoia Capital and IDG Ventures, and strengthened its base in India, the U.S. and Europe. By 2012, it had entered the gaming app development space with Wandake gaming studios and shot to popularity with Apocalypse Max and Night Stand HD 2. In fact, the division was so successful that in March 2013, World Startup Report named it alongside Zynga as one of the two industry leaders in this space.
There’s more. In 2013, Singhal launched Product Studios, a program where Sourcebits will partner with nine non-tech entrepreneurs every year, and guide them through the launch process, hire staff, and find investors, all in exchange for 20 per cent equity. The catch here is, every enroller should initially pay US $25,000 to attend a one-day guidance session by Sourcebits, following which, if selected, the startup will join the niners’ list.
Today, Sourcebits has developed over 500 apps on the mobile, web and cloud platform for companies such as SAP, P&G and Coca Cola. It has 300 full-time staff spread across the U.S., Europe and India.
What we loved about the company: Its doctor-turned-technologist founder, the idea of Product Studios to help non-techies build apps and its global talent pool spread across several locations.
3/ MITRA BIOTECH – THE BUSINESS OF OPTIMISATION
Not wanting to be a just another biotechnology company, when medical researchers Dr. Pradip Majumder, Dr. Mallik Sundaram and Dr. Shiladitya Sengupta founded Mitra Biotech in 2008, they had a clear agenda in mind; to create a technology to match cancer drugs to cancer patients and vice versa and, to increase the success rate of taking a drug from clinical stage to market approval stage.
Here’s what they did. They built Oncoprint® model, a proprietary technology that works on two fronts; diagnostics and drug development. In the diagnostic space, unlike the traditional method, where depending on the physician one goes to, one of the 50 different FDA approved drugs is prescribed to a cancer patient; Mitra’s Oncoprint analysis takes guess work out of the equation, as the technology gets validated constantly. Similarly, in the drug development space, Mitra selects optimal cancer, optimal drug combination and optimal patient profile for the stated drug, which thus results in lower trial cost, higher probability of success and eventually, a lower cost of drug. The catch here is, since cancer is a dynamic disease, the model has been developed in such a way that patient treatment options are selected in a short span of time (typically seven days). In fact, the founders are aiming to make this mode of treatment affordable to all.
In early 2010, the company raised its first round from Accel Partners, Indian VC funds KITVEN (Karnataka Information Technology Venture Capital Fund) and India Innovation Fund, to enhance its R&D platform. Then again in October 2013, along with existing investors, Tata Capital Innovations fund invested Rs. 40 crore in the business. The founders plan to use these funds to scale operations, create a global presence, and, strengthen R&D and business development. Currently, Mitra has partnered with cancer hospitals like Tata Memorial Hospital, Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Center, Kidwai Memorial Center and HCG Cancer Network, to offer its services.
What we loved about the company: Its focus on improving the methodology to diagnose and treat cancer and the cancer hospitals it partnered with.
4/ PROTEA MEDICAL BY THE FIVE-TIME SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR
Serial entrepreneur, Krishnan Ganesh, is someone we cannot afford to overlook, especially when he and his wife, Meena Ganesh, have kick-started yet another venture, this time, in the healthcare space. This July, the duo acquired New Delhi-based Protea Medical, a company that provides technology led home health care services to Indian consumers. And not without reason. According to a report by Transparency Market Research, the Indian home healthcare market is currently pegged at US $ 2billion, while the global healthcare market is estimated to cross US $300 billion by 2018. In December, they sold over 30 per cent stake in the company to Accel Partners and Ventureeast.
That’s not all. In February 2013 they earned a new title of parallel entrepreneurs, by founding Growth Story, a company that works with e-commerce startups and helps them build scalable businesses. Growth Story’s portfolio currently includes companies they had earlier invested in, such as Online Prasad, BigBasket, MustSeeIndia and BlueStone, to name a few.
Ganesh’s entrepreneurial journey began in 1990, when he promoted IT&T, a multi-vendor IT-service and support company, which was acquired by i-Gate in 2003. This was followed by Customer Asset, an international call centre BPO and Marketics, a marketing analytics firm, which were acquired by ICICI Limited in 2002 (now named Firstsource Solutions) and NYSE-listed WNS, respectively. His fourth venture, TutorVista, was acquired (100 per cent in 2013) by Pearson, in February 2013.
What we loved about the company: Its founders, Meena and Krishnan Ganesh who seem to have mastered the art of building and exiting startups, their passion to go through the hardship of entrepreneurship multiple times and the space of home healthcare.