Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

5 Hot Start-ups to Watch

Published: Dec 20, 2010 06:37:21 AM IST
Updated: Dec 16, 2010 10:40:06 AM IST
5 Hot Start-ups to Watch
Image: Vidyanand Kamat

“In 2008, we were just two people with an idea and a PowerPoint presentation,” says Nitin Gupta, co-founder of Attero Recycling, an integrated electronic waste (e-waste) company.

Today, Attero boasts a logistics network that collects e-waste from over 20 Indian cities to be processed at its 36,000-tonne waste processing plant in Roorkee, Uttarakhand. Investors including Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and IFC, the private investment arm of the World Bank, have invested over $15 million in it.

Gupta says that the Indian government is considering a much more stringent e-waste policy towards electronics makers, one which holds them responsible from the “cradle to grave” of their products. That will be good news for Attero.

India’s largest online insurance comparison service provides a neutral platform for consumers to evaluate policies across multiple insurers.

Customers like Policybazaar because they don’t push the agenda of just a few insurers while insurers like it because it is cheaper than agents or even their in-house sales teams. Alok Bansal, Policybazaar’s CFO, says it’s being visited by over 1 million unique users every month who then end up evaluating 200,000 insurance quotations provided by his agents.

“Travel portals have shown two things: That Indians are okay with online payments, and that they prefer going to comparison Web sites rather than those of the airlines or hotels,” says Bansal. Both these factors will come true in insurance during 2011, he says.

Vaatsalya Healthcare
Estimates suggest nearly three-fourths of India’s healthcare facilities are in urban areas, whereas two-thirds of our population resides in semi-urban or rural ones.

That’s the imbalance Vaatsalya Healthcare is trying to correct. Started in 2005 by a bunch of enthusiastic doctors, Vaatsalya’s goal is to create India’s largest hospital network focused only on tier-2 and tier-3 towns. Today, its 10 hospitals — eight in Karnataka and two in Andhra Pradesh — treat over 300,000 patients annually. Co-founder Dr. Ashwin Naik says he expects to double the hospital count next year, expand into Maharashtra and increase the patient count to 1 million.

With state governments working on mass-scale health insurance for poorer citizens, Vaatsalya’s hospitals will see an ever-increasing patient flow.

Next year could be an inflection point for Kiran – the kerosene killer. D.Light, the company that makes these solar power lanterns, has just reorganised its supply chain in anticipation of a scale-up. “We moved the entire design operation to Hong Kong from India and we now have a manufacturing facility in Shenzen, China,” says Sam Goldman, co-founder, D.Light Design.

D.Light’s list of investors is long and strong — Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Acumen, Omidyar Network, Nexus and Garage Technology Ventures. Goldman says D.Light’s sales are “not more than $10 million”. The plan is for next year sales to be “more than $20 million”. “We have just reached around 300,000 households. Our target market is more than 400 million,” he says.

iCreate Software
When Arun Pai and colleagues set up iCreate Software in 2006 to build business intelligence (BI) products for banking, they could not have asked for better timing. Banks were being spurred on by the banking crisis to take a closer look at customers.

iCreate has deals with banks in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. In 2011, it plans to ‘bank’ on those references. For instance, one of their largest customers, The National Bank of Kuwait, is helping iCreate in the Middle East.

In the $20 billion BI market for banks, iCreate is aiming for $5 billion. “[We are] democratising BI for banking,” says Sharad Sharma, entrepreneur and chairman, Nasscom Product Forum.

(This story appears in the 31 December, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)