Some Remarkable Startup Stories from the Not so Remarkable Towns

business discussion

As per the “States’ Startup Ranking 2018 Report” of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, The Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, grabbing up the III position in the context of the highest numbers of startups in various nations across the world, and being one of the biggest consuming markets globally, startups have significantly grown in India recently. This is quite true to believe, as these businesses have found a number of spheres to find conducive opportunities for their growth. These spheres range from Food-tech, Fin-tech, Ed-tech, Robotics to Agri-tech, and many more.

And this hustle from the startups is making rounds in the news-corridors of the nation for a reason. Traditionally, smaller towns and cities in India have not fared as robustly as their big brothers- metro cities, have. But now, particularly because of the Modi Government’s boosters like “Make in India” and “Startup India,” things are beginning to take a turn, and hopefully, for the better. This is as, these schemes, apart from the traditional funding and support from the Venture Capitalists, private business loans, Angel investors et al, carry the potential to boost the startup scenario in India.

Moreover, and consequently to the efforts by the Government, the Tier II, and III Indian cities, in context of their consumption of services and goods via the internet, are developing fast. This is particularly true when you compare them to bigger cities. Furthermore, many times, these businesses move 60-70% of the deals of various e-commerce firms, in their favor.

It is for the recent developments like these that I am presenting before you, some noticeable stories that have taken place in India’s Tier I, II, cities, and towns, and even in the humbler settlements.

A Big Applause for These Hands

If being an entrepreneur is challenging, it is more so for its women counterpart, though, generally. This fact gets reflected through the life-narrative of Shravani Pawar, 28, hailing from the tranquil town of Hubbali, in Karnataka. Belonging to humble backgrounds, Shravani’s life began to change when she was selected for a social fellowship by the Deshpande Foundation, an NGO. While working for the organization she realized the weak circumstances in which the women, particularly in Hubbali’s rural spheres, vegetated. Passing away their lives in tandem with million other women of rural India, threw open the reality of their meager financial soundness, before her eyes, not to speak of the lack of modern skills they were going through and which were required more from the businesses situated in urban setups. Hence, the founding of Safe Hands 24 x 7, a women-all initiative to employ women as security guards and housekeepers, took the roots.

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And, it all turned out well for Shravani as well as her feminine workforce. The salary, in the initial periods, is nearly Rs 6000 along with legal benefits like the provident fund, medical insurance, et al. The business, over the years, has grown up to the extent of deploying more than 400 security women in more than five districts of Karnataka. it’s really an occasion to raise a toast in Shravani’s name.

Extend a Hand to This Gorilla

The second of the gems in my feature on the startups is EduGorilla, a brainchild of my own.

Hailing from the Tier III town of Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh, I sensed my own share of hardships when a student. In those days when the internet hadn’t penetrated deep into common man’s life, when, even owning a bar phone reflected luxury, youngsters including me, had to wage wars at every front in an endeavor to avail a smooth execution of our education. From deciding for the kind of secondary school one can take admission in, to finding oneself surrounded with the same challenges when looking for a college of credible credentials, or when thinking for locating guidance classes in a competent coaching institute of one’s city, students of my time had to undergo great troubles. And, this was quite obvious as none of the comparing methodologies or systems existed till then, which could have garnered crucial data and information related to the needs as these. Consequently, students couldn’t think of comparing any two or more institutions to arrive at more prudent decisions regarding taking admissions in them, and similar other conflicts.

Thus, sprang the idea of conceiving, an Ed-tech startup contributing in easing students’ sufferings through its endeavors like a blog on highly revealing and informative articles on everything related with students- their education and career; an online directory of all the schools and coaching centres of India housing relevant details like strength and qualification of the faculty, available facilities, numbers of students, reviews of previous students, et al; online test series for honing students’ preparation for their competitive exams; Market place housing mostly free-of-cost study material; Career Maps to choose and decide upon the most favourable career path for oneself; and similar others.

Founded in December 2016, EduGorilla is one of the top 2000 portals of the nation and currently operates from Lucknow. Hopes linger high in the hearts of millions of its users, of whom more than 20,00,000 are its subscribers.

Spur the Solar Endeavor

This is really a cofounding team to reckon with, as Karthic Ravindranath and Abhilash Thirupathy were friends already from their grade VII from their school days. Availing their experiences by the way of contributing their skills in another startup in Bengaluru, and a Healthcare Corporate, Ravindranath, and Thirupathy, respectively, again joined hands to undertake Surya Power Magic, a startup of their own that attempts for finding solutions to the power-related needs of the farmers, of Tamilnadu, for the time being. The brainchild of these two childhood buddies offers a convenient solar alternative to otherwise traditionally AC powered water pump sets, which had to battle with insufficient power supplies for their equipment.

And while their customers are benefitting from this exercise, the designers of this dream enterprise are also happy, as get reflected from this saying of Ravidranath that, to be located distantly in a metro city was far difficult for the duo of friends, than to be in a smaller yet familiar settlement of Coimbatore. The story that can be located deeper is that remaining close to its core market is a highly favorable factor for any business, as were the farmers to these two childhood friends. Moreover, timely optimization of the relevant technology also reaped the benefits for Karthic and Abhilash, both. Of late, the startup has begun selling its solar-powered water pump sets to the agronomists of the neighboring states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

While Away the (Startup) Worries through This ‘Smile’

My last presentation belongs to the one hailing from the city of the power loom businesses and textiles- Bhiwandi (Maharashtra). Founded by Rushi Trivedi, CM Pandey, and Alpesh Chaudhari, dentists all of the three by training, ‘Smile Merchants’ is a facilitator in providing services in dentistry, for every place except the metros, which was its prime aim towards establishing the enterprise.

Primarily aiming to tap the massive market that underlay in the rural backgrounds of the nation, the endeavor failed as the dentists were reluctant to travel to these hinterlands. This forced the troika of the trainees to focus on the large yawning divide existing in the small towns.

The endeavor is picking up the pace, albeit with much less speed than expected. And, this is quite obvious as the already overcrowded metros like Delhi and Mumbai can’t accommodate every dentist. Consequently, the team of the 3 dentists is now eyeing to employ young trained dental professionals, as well as apprentices. And, this exercise is beneficial to both the parties- dentists and the patients. While the victims of dental agonies get faster and nearer access to quality treatment, dentists also avail the opportunity to set up their branded practice-clinics in these mini towns.

Regardless of the trend that hasn’t yet directed itself towards their favor, Trivedi, Chaudhari, and Pandey are still hopeful.

Recognize, Then...

With these few examples, a smaller ground is left to doubt the credentials of small-town lads and lasses. These are the ample proofs of the ideal startup picture that may produce provided that the honest and beneficial motives of both the Government and the nation’s budding entrepreneurs make extremely powerful endeavors.