E-commerce is largely about aggregating existing products and services through an online platform to drive better utilization of these assets for their owners and amplify their reach to customers. While few categories like fashion, transport and food already have their respective category leaders, others such as grocery, home services and logistics are rapidly getting disrupted by some amazing technology innovations. Entrepreneur throws light on India’s emerging aggregators that are at the cusp of catapulting into the big league across eight sectors that have caught investors’ fancy since last year or so.
1. The Tuk Tuk mafia
Transport: IIT Delhi alumni Samar Singla launched Chandigarh-based online autorickshaw aggregator Jugnoo in November last year to help auto-rickshaw drivers reduce their unused inventory (auto-rickshaws) hours as around 65 per cent of their time is spent waiting for passengers. Helping auto-rickshaw drivers monetize their waiting time through technology, Jugnoo has grown at breakneck speed, faster than other similar players. In around 10 months, the start-up has already raised Series A funding of $5 million from e-tailer Paytm and venture capital firm Snow Leopard Ventures, acquired three companies: Mumbai-based cab hailing service BookMyCab, restaurant discovery app Bistro Offers and mobile-only services start-up Yelo.
The company diversified into taxi service with BookMyCab through which customers users opt for vintage “Kaali-peeli” taxies at competitive prices of around 30 per cent lower than Ola and Uber. Bistro Offers and Yelo strengthened Jugnoo’s hyperlocal model in delivering food (Jugnoo Meals) and groceries (Jugnoo Fatafat) through its own network of Jugnoo Autos. Hyperlocal e-commerce and delivery start-ups across sectors are potential partners for Jugnoo autos to optimize their logistics needs. The start-up is a reportedly planning to go international with Philippines soon and is close to raising around $10 million in Series B funding round.
2. All is well
Health care/Wellness: Founded by former professionals from Facebook and Snapdeal, Lybrate brings patients and doctors closer. While the platform offers patients an opportunity to seek multiple opinions from doctors for free and initiate a one-on-one dialogue with any health care expert on the payment of professional fee online, its health feed has tips from doctors to encourage preventive mindset among Indian population and make them live healthy. Lybrate also helps health experts build their reputation online and allows them to practice beyond boundaries, thus serving more people.
Tiger Global and Nexus Venture Partners and Ratan Tata have rested their belief on the platform, where 80,000 doctors and health experts from varied branches of medicine are connected to millions of users in the country. With such a strong network, Lybrate acts as the world’s largest online Out Patient Department (OPD). The company raised $10.2 million in Series ‘A’ funding in July 2015. Nexus had put in $1.23 million in the company in seed funding in August 2014. Lybrate is available on iOS, Android and web. By seamlessly connecting doctors and patients through its health app and making them communicate using mobile phones, Lybrate makes health care more accessible. The company is on its mission to change the way healthcare is delivered in India.
3. The ‘Hyper’ active man
Grocery: Navneet Singh is among the new bunch of blue-eyed boys of Indian hyperlocal market. Peppertap, Gurgaon-based on-demand grocery delivery start-up, has quickly expanded to 24 cities since its launch in November last year. Singh was earlier running reverse logistics firm NuvoEx for e-commerce companies. He leveraged NuvoEx’s growth to raise $2 million seed funding from Sequoia Capital in February this year. Within two months, it raised Series A of $10 million for hiring and expansion from SAIF Partners and Sequoia Capital. The start-up claims that its two-hour delivery is what that differentiates it from its competitors. However, Grofers, a similar service, claims of delivery within 90 minutes.
Peppertap is working on a technology to reduce the delivery time to around an hour. The model is similar to US-based Instacart, a location-based platform where groceries are procured from partner supermarkets and stores. The technology allows users to see a specific catalogue of their area based on their location. The company does around 15,000 orders a day and has tie-ups with around 140 retailers. The start-ups plans to expand to 35 cities by this year end.
4. Home Sweet Home
Home Décor: Livspace is an end-to-end home design and décor service provider and curated marketplace for homeowners and designers. With Livspace, customers can discover thousands of interior designs for all types of rooms, personalize the design (colour, material and style) to their liking, and get the exact look for their homes in a matter of weeks. It is a design and technology first team and employs a combination of data science, algorithms and industrial design to create unique experiences for homeowners and scale the job of interior designers. Its investors include top venture firms like Helion, Bessemer and Jungle.
Within a quarter of launching the business, Livspace has hit a multimillion dollar run rate. Livspace already has hundreds of interior design looks and over 30,000 SKUs that are being personalised by homeowners on an everyday basis. In March 2015, Livspace acquired DezignUp, a dynamic design community and marketplace for consumers and design professionals. In May 2015, it acquired their second company Dwll.in, India’s leading curated online network of interior designers. Anuj Srivastava, CEO and Co-founder, Livspace, is also a founding advisor and investor at Jungle Ventures, while being a prominent angel investor in early-stage Internet startups.
5. Chefs’ Favorite
Food: Mumbai-based Holachef is fast becoming the Holy Grail of online food ordering, having different exotic cuisines that have quality ingredients and are quite affordable. Founded by serial entrepreneurs and IIT-Bombay alumni Saurabh Saxena (also an angel investor) and Anil Gelra last year in September, Holachef positioned itself as an affordable (average price Rs 150-200) online fine-dining food ordering platform. It crowd source professionally trained chefs to deliver their specialty dishes to customers at specific time slots. Moreover, if chefs are not available for the day, customers are informed beforehand.
The start-up last month raised funding from Ratan Tata to become a leading player in the food tech space. It earlier raised Series ‘A’ round of $3.1 million from Kalaari Capital. Few years down the line, Holachef wants to be in multiple cities, including tier-II cities, apart from expanding presence in Mumbai and Pune.
6. The Handyman
Home Services: UrbanClap, a leading mobile services marketplace, provides trusted services across 60 categories including photographers, electricians, home cleaning, and yoga and guitar instructors. Whether you are looking to decorate your home, get candid pictures on your wedding day, and plan your kid’s birthday party or get healthier, UrbanClap is the ultimate destination for all service needs. UrbanClap uses technology and smart processes to structure the highly unorganized services market in India. It aspires to make hiring a service professional as easy and straightforward as buying a product from a top e-commerce marketplace.
In line with its extensive expansion plan, UrbanClap recently launched an iOS app for customers. $10 million Series ‘A’ funding received by the company is the first in the local services industry. UrbanClap’s android application is already the most popular services app on the Google Play Store with more than 250,000 downloads. On its Android platform, UrbanClap receives around 1500- 2000 requests on a daily basis, which goes higher during weekends. Almost 50,000 customers are using the platform on a monthly basis and this number continues to grow each month. UrbanClap had 80,000 downloads in August alone and has about 10,000 active professionals on its android platform across 60 service categories right now.
7. The youngest delivery boy
Logistics: The fragmented and inefficient logistics market in India, for both inter and intra-city deliveries, has given rise to online logistics marketplaces such as Porter. Founded last year in August by IIT alumni Pranav Goel, Uttam Digga and Vikas Choudhary, Mumbai-based Porter aggregates mini trucks for its B2B, B2C and C2C customers. In June this year, the startup raised $5.5 million in Series ‘A’ funding led by Sequoia Capital and Kae Capital. The $150 billion Indian logistics space has last-mile connectivity’s share of 25 per cent.
The start-up offers better utilization of trucks for its owners and services to customers at competitive prices, which is around 20 per cent less than the market price. It also offers customers tools to track their fleet in real time online and through SMS alerts. It counts angel investors Sandeep Tandon, Chief Business Officer and former co-founder, FreeCharge; Anupam Mittal, Founder & CEO, People Group, and Rajeev Chitrabhanu, CEO, JM Financial Services, as its advisors.
8. The Makeup queen
Fashion/beauty: Falguni Nayar, Founder & CEO, Nykaa. com, quit a successful career in finance to chase her dream of building India’s premier online retailer for beauty and wellness. With a start in early 2012, Nykaa launched its online portal Nykaa.com in December 2012 and has since progressed to offering 350 leading brands on a single platform. The firm’s long-term plans include having an Omni channel approach to serve India’s beauty and wellness needs; towards this, the online store was unveiled in January 2013, and the firm’s travel retail and high street stores being introduced in August 2014 with the opening of its first Travel Store at Domestic Departures Area of Terminal 3 at IGI Airport in Delhi. In 2015, Nayar lead Nykaa to win the eTail Awards – 2014 as the ‘Most Innovative E-commerce Company’.
In July 2014, Nykaa raised Rs 20 crore in funding from private investors, including HNIs and NRIs. The company provides over 350 brands and 20,000 products with a comprehensive selection of makeup, skincare, hair care, fragrances, bath and body and luxury products for women and men. Currently, the company is in the process of raising the next round of funding from TVS Capital. (With inputs from Punita Sabharwal)
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October, 2015 Issue).