The Smart CEO Startup50: Batch of 2017

The Smart CEO Startup50: Batch of 2017


On October 13th, 2017, at Taj West End in Bengaluru, over 350 leaders from India’s leading growth companies came together at The Smart CEO-Startup50 2017 Awards.

It was especially exciting for us that Ashok Soota, Founder & Chairman of Happiest Minds, Krishnan Ganesh, Partner at Growth Story and Shajikumar Devakar, Managing Partner, IIFL Wealth, agreed to deliver inspiring keynotes addressing the founders of the 50 winning companies.

Soota, of course, is a wonderful role model for India’s emerging entrepreneurs. After co-founding and scaling the IT Services firm Mindtree, to a successful IPO, he started his current venture, Happiest Minds Technologies, at the age of 69. He is also a celebrated author of ‘Entrepreneurship Simplified’, an interesting, from-the-heart book that he’s written by analysing his own entrepreneurial journey at Mindtree and Happiest Minds and professional stint at Wipro, culling deep insights with the benefit of hindsight. His keynote was deeply insightful and struck a chord with the founders in the audience. 

In his usual eloquent style, Ganesh delivered his keynote where he delved on the 5 mistakes he made in his multiple entrepreneurial avatars. He shared some big lessons he’s learnt from his experiences at Big Basket, Freshmenu, Portea Medical and TutorVista.

At Smart CEO, we’ve often patted ourselves on the back for picking the right companies to feature. Unlike several entrepreneurship-focused media companies, we don’t feature any and every company that raises capital. Instead, we’ve tried to spot companies that have an experienced management team, a proven product or service and reasonable traction before giving them coverage. In early 2015, when we were designing the Startup50 product, we applied the same learning. The idea was to identify over 250 companies to take into the Jury meeting, where we would then pick the final 50, based on financial traction, team, quality of brand and long-term potential.

We took the Jury process (with the support of our Jury members and data firm, Venture Intelligence) very seriously and ensured that we did enough diligence on companies before they were chosen. The question we often asked was quite simple, yet very important: If we had a Startup50 Fund, would we explore investing in these companies? And, this simple question ensured the seriousness of the process we used to identify the winners.

Similar to the last two years, this year’s Startup50 List is also filled with a number of exciting companies from across sectors including Fin-tech, Agri-tech, Enterprise Technology, Consumer Internet, Consumer Brand, Social Impact and Healthcare.

We were especially thrilled with the six, extremely promising companies we have recognized in the agri-tech space this year. Almost all these companies were founded with the mission of reinventing India’s agricultural sector by infusing technology and operational excellence, into a sector that is critical for our economy.

Another aspect different from Startup50 2016 is the number of nominations we received in the fin-tech and healthcare categories. Both these are tricky sectors to evaluate; In healthcare, we looked for innovative companies but ones with proof of quality of offering, a critical aspect in the health sector; and in fin-tech we realized that with the external environment post-demonetisation extremely conducive, there were hundreds of players competing with each other. Also, in the digital lending space, it is often easy to give away loans and but the difficultly lies in collection and building a profitable business with low NPAs. The jury took extra care to ensure that companies in healthcare and fin-tech sectors were long-term focused and were measuring relevant metrics.

Over time, you’ll see us extend the Startup50 brand to several allied initiatives, so stay tuned to this space for more information.

Until then, in this special Startup50 edition, we uncover for you the stories of what we believe are India’s 50 Best Startups of 2017. These entrepreneurs are our superheroes and we sincerely hope they become large, impactful ventures in India’s business ecosystem.

Until next edition, wish you a terrific 2018. Here’s hoping for a wonderful, innovative 2018 for India’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. If you’d like to catch highlights from this year’s edition, simply search for Startup50 2017 on YouTube.


Prem Sivakumaran is co-founder & CEO of Growth Mechanics, a leadership and entrepreneurship-focused business content company in India. Growth Mechanics publishes The Smart CEO, a publication focused on enabling peer-to-peer knowledge exchange among C-level executives and board members. The platform reaches over 1.2 lakh CXOs across its website, app, print publication & CEO Round Tables, and has featured on the cover India’s leading business leaders/founders from Infosys, Mindtree, Tata Sons, ICICI Bank, Biocon, Yes Bank and several others. In addition of Smart CEO, Growth Mechanics also organises the Startup50 Conference & Awards, an annual event to recognize India’s top 50 startups every year. Startup50 Alumni include Freshdesk, Oyo Rooms, Urban Ladder, Capital Float, Paperboat Beverages, among others. Growth Mechanics’ primary business model revolves around linking CXOs and Brands around engaging content and has worked with India’s leading companies including Mahindra Group, Godrej & Boyce, BASF, Airtel, Tata Docomo, Fiat, IDA Ireland, Yes Bank, Prestige Estates, Frederique Constant, Indian Terrain

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