Mumbai is the commercial hub of India and also a land of dreams and opportunities. It is among the top 10 in world’s centre of commerce and accounts for roughly 6.2% of the Indian economy. It houses two major stock markets of India- BSE and NSE. Till the 1980′s Mumbai’s economy was largely dependent on textile mills and seaports. However later it shifted to skilled labour industries, health care and information technology.
Mumbai also has a large number of skilled and unskilled labour force who earn their livelihood as hawkers, taxi drivers, dabba wallas, house hold maids( popularly known as “kaam waali bai”), etc. Another major industry is the entertainment industry as most television and satellite networks as well as major publishing houses are based in Mumbai. Bollywood, the Indian movie industry, is also based in Mumbai. All this makes Mumbai ,”the city that never sleeps”.
Mumbai was ranked among the fastest cities in India for business startup and thus in this article we will talk about few startup companies originated in Mumbai.
If you haven’t heard about Quikr or watched their popular advertisement on TV or on internet, then you have probably been living under a rock. Quikr is India’s largest online and mobile classifieds portal and is based in Mumbai. Quikr provides the local community with a platform to help them buy, sell, rent and find something and address needs across many categories.Originally a part of Kijiji.com, which was founded in 2005 as a subsidiary of eBay, it’s Indian site was rebranded to Quikr.com on July 12, 2008. It was co-founded by Jiby Thomas (founder of Kijiji.com) and Pranay Chulet.
However in 2012 Jiby Thomas left Quikr over differences with management. In an interview with an online blog based on startups and entrepreneurship, Quikr co-founder Pranay Chulet talked about his classifieds startup. With degrees from IIT Delhi and IIM Calcutta, he spent his earlier years working in US where he saw the rise of digital media both as an advisor to large companies and also as an entrepreneur. One of the biggest examples of this rise was the rise of Craiglist, a classifieds portal based in the US. Inspired by the success of Craiglist in the US, he started his venture Quikr in India.
When asked about the challenges faced, Pranay Chulet talked about retaining the simplicity of the website and also maintaining the user experience as the business continues to grow.
Quikr has seen great success with the site having about 26 million visitors per month. It is ranked 364 on Alexa.com, a site which monitors web traffic, and is ranked 21 in India.
Till date, the firm has raised $50 million in five rounds of funding from investors Warburg Pincus, Norwest Venture Partners, Matrix Partners India, Nokia Growth Partners, Omidyar Network and eBay.
Founded on August 1,2007 by Hiten Turakia, Hiten Dedhia, Dhairyasheel Pawar, and Shibanaryan Rath, Librarywala.com is a company which provides an online book library service to its members in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. It was first launched in Mumbai with an inventory of about 8,000 books and two years later it spread to cities like Pune and Bangalore.
By 2009 it had about 12,700 books in Mumbai and almost 9,000 titles in Bangalore. In an interview with a web blogging website, Hiten Turakia one of the co-founders ,talked about his start up. He mentioned about the deep survey they did by standing in front of libraries and and asking questions to the target audience.
They did this for about 6 months taking survey 3-4 hours everyday and in the end they analysed the answers and came up with several different policies, such as “no late fee option” because that was one of the problems the customers had with the local libraires, paying through cash or cheque against delivery as people didn’t trust online payment, etc.
After 8 months of operation the company had 2200 active subscribers in Mumbai and generated Rs. 22 Lakhs and with only two and a half months operation in Bangalore they had around 250 active subscribers and generated revenue of about Rs. 2.2 lakhs. By 2009, the company had a revenue of more than Rs. 75 lakhs and had around 5800 active subscribers and 15 corporate clients.
In the interview, Hiten Turakia also mentioned about expanding their current operation with some of the plans including developing a mobile platform for book rental, Dial-a-Book service, etc.
However the success didn’t come without any hardships. In the beginning the company tried to tie up with courier companies to deliver the books. However it didn’t turn out to be feasible as the books had different weight and size which caused the delivery price to vary. So they decided to start a delivery system of their own just like the ones used by leading pizza chains.
They hired people for delivery and trained them for the job and set up and efficient delivering system delivering 525 books in Mumbai, 310 books in Bangalore and 150 books in Pune daily! Currently they are also planning to expand their operation to tier 3 cities and are doing the necessary market survey.
Started by a group of avid readers and book nerds, this gives an example of how you can convert your dream into a successful company.
3. Ola Cabs
Ola Cabs is a Mumbai based start up company which brings the cab service online. Ola Cabs was founded by Bhavish Aggarwal, a computer science graduate from IIT Bombay in 2008. He worked for Microsoft, in Bangalore, for the next two years and later started Ola Cabs on August 2010. He was joined by Ankit Bhati, a mechanical engineering graduate (B.Tech + M.Tech) from IIT Bombay. He worked for a couple of startups before joining Ola Cabs in November 2010. In an interview with an online blog, Bhavish talked about his inspiration for Ola Cabs.
He said that he was already having an online company for selling short duration tours and holidays online. During that period he had to take a cab from Bangalore to Bandipur and had a very bad experience where the driver stopped the car en route, renegotiated and then finally dropped him off in the middle of the journey. This inspired him to start his own cab service which would provide top class rental car service. On being asked about their business plan and being compared to other car rental services like Meru, Bhavish said that their main objective is not to create a marketplace but to provide great services to people who want a rental cab. He told that Meru provides local taxi services and even stands its customers up. But Ola Cabs stresses on price transparency and a standardised service throughout.
He mentioned that since they actually don’t buy cabs (they just pair up with existing cab owners) the starting investment is very small. They partner with taxi owners, provide them with latest technology and processes for booking,etc. and quality assurance. Taxi owners also get benefited as they get access to consumer demands for in city and out station trips as well as half day/full day rentals. When asked about their expansion plan, Bhavish stated that they are planning to both tier 1 cities like Bangalore, Calcutta, etc. and also tier 2 cities like Jaipur.
In recent news, Ola Cabs got a funding of Rs.40 Crore from Tiger Globals and also appointed former Flipkart VP Maneesh Mittal as VP, Operations.
4. Pretty Secrets
Pretty Secrets is an online exclusive lingerie brand and has a collection of over a 1000 products in lingerie,nightwear, swimwear, etc. As stated on its website, it’s “India’s first and only online exclusive lingerie brand”. Pretty Secrets was founded by Karan Behal in 2012. Karan Behal himself comes from a family background of manufacturing and exporting ladies nightwear for over 30 years and is thus well acquainted with the industry having spent considerable time in the lingerie retail segment and has been a part of “Lace-The Lingerie Club” earlier. And thus with PrettySecrets.com, he brought the business online with an e-commerce store. Karan Behal once said, “We went online with PrettySecrets.com 8 months ago. We realized that the online ecosystem is far more interesting and exciting and definitely apt for the brand we wanted to create.”
Pretty Secrets currently has 70% of products exclusively by Pretty Secrets and the remaining by other known brands and till now they have shipped over 700,000 products. Pretty Secrets is currently trying to penetrate the tier 2 and tier 3 cities offering exclusive products under the private label of Pretty Secrets which will not be available on other online and offline stores. The site also guide the men by helping them buying lingerie for their female counterpart.
Recently Indian Angel Investors and Harvard Angels & Orios Venture Partners invested an undisclosed amount in the company with both being optimistic about the company’s success. Rehan Yar Khan, an IAN member who led the investment stating that the company will address a “large and under served segment in the market”.
Apart from these there are several other startups which couldn’t be included in this article (apparently because the article would have had become too long). Some other notable mentions include- My Mobile Payments, one of the leading mobile payments solutions company; Canvera, an online photography company providing mass customized printed products and e-commerce solutions to professional photographers; Instamojo Inc., a startup based out in Mumbai and Mountain View, California, provides customer a platform to sell digital goods by listing them on the website and sharing links with the others – among the many others.