Startup Showcase – Meedo

Here’s the story of Meedo – One stop solution for Customised Lifestyle products like T-shirts, Bags, Jewellery, Perfumes…

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In conversation with Vinoth Kumar of Meedo – 

Tell us about the story of your startup – Why did you start this, how did you start, when did you start?

I used to run a retail outlet for the last 4 years, the idea of customised stuff struck when I was running the retail outlet in a very small place to validate the market in that particular locality. In our first year of operation, we missed sales because customers want a lot of options, but as a retailer it is very difficult to stock each and everything. For a business like mine, there isn’t any window shopping, rather business happens with regular & loyal customers. So we identified that there is some real problem to be addressed. We also did a small market survey among the retail owners and majority of them showed interest in launching customised service in their outlets. Thus, we decided to go with it. And, to take one thing at a time, we selected tees.

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Startup Showcase – Instamojo

Here’s the story of Instamojo– helps you to sell online & collect payments by sharing a link via sms, email and social networks.

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In conversation with Sampad Swain, CoFounder of Instamojo – 

Tell us about the story of your startup – Why did you start this, how did you start, when did you startup?

It all started in late 2010 (Instamojo was founded in early 2012) when Sampad (one of the founders) started a newsletter comprising of video interviews as a side project. Later he wanted to monetize the newsletter but couldn’t as there wasn’t an easy, hassle-free solution which just works. Soon he realized that the problem was much deeper. The prevalent solutions for selling stuff online were really painful & had too much friction. Instamojo Founders This led to present day Instamojo. We are striving to simplify online commerce with focus on design, delivery and distribution. While Instamojo was started as a side project but now it has taken a life of its own.

How did the co founders come together?

We know each other for more than 5 years now – met over social networks, side projects and previous ventures.

What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them?

Primary challenges being inception of a radically new idea. We were super early adopters of social media for Instamojo and being almost 24×7 available on customer support to help the early adopters understand our product & use them for their benefit.

What is your aspiration for the venture?

It’s too early for us — right now, most importantly we are trying to create an amazing product experience for our customers.

What did you learn from the journey so far?

Think long term and have enough money to experiment.

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing much. So far we have been extremely lucky and fortunate to have amazing customers who give us valuable feedback to improve our product, a great bunch of investors & advisors who have been helping us all along.

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Startup Showcase – iDreamCareer

Here’s the story of iDreamCareer Helping Indian students achieve career planning by providing mentoring, self career assessments & career awareness

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In conversation with Ayush Bansal, Co- Founder of iDreamCareer 

Tell us about the story of your startup – Why did you start this, how did you start, when did you start?

I completed my MBA and was working as an equity research analyst covering UK Small Mid Cap sector till Apr, 2012. From my 2nd year of graduation (2008), I have worked with couple of non-profits (YFS, Prayatna) where I conducted career seminars in schools.

I got to understand that the major reason behind 52% drop out rate post std. 10th in India is due to lack of career planning and awareness. Before starting, we did 2 pilot run where we worked with two government schools in the rural regions in Jharkand to understand the behavior of students when it comes to their career queries and career planning. We counselled them on various options available to pursue.

We did another pilot project where we tried out career counselling on mobile. We launched a pan India toll free career counselling helpline number for students and received close to 3000 calls from 7 states in India. Post the 2 pilot run we were convinced with our approach and I left my job in April 2012 and got full time. Pravesh left his job after 3 months, to get full time on iDC. But we were clear with the vision of creating a profitable and self sustainable venture rather than a non-profit and the missing link in career planning is with both low income and higher income family students. Hence, our focus has been to create a credible PAN India career platform covering all the strata of school students.


How did the co founders come together?

Pravesh & Ayush have been family friends and belong to same native place Dhanbad. Ayush worked more on the non-profit education space and Pravesh worked on the for-profit education space, and both have been highly passionate about creating a credible career planning platform and have been in touch while they were working in different company in Delhi. And one fine day, they decided to start


What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them?

Human Resource acquisition has been a big challenge for us. We have tried various models of providing sweat equity, freedom to our team members to keep them motivated considering that being a startup we couldn’t pay high perks. Also, we relied on freelancers which worked well for us.


What is your aspiration for the venture?

To mentor 10 million students in the next 5 years, hit a top-line of INR 100 Cr, and sell approx half a million career planning kits in the next 5 years. More than anything, we want to focus on adding value to the product range which speaks for itself in the market.

Also, we aspire and aim to expand to SAARC countries in the coming days as there is a huge potential for a career planning product. And if we do it well, who knows we may become that $1 billion education venture based in India 🙂


What did you learn from the journey so far?

  • To work in challenging phases, it’s not a straight path to the top.
  • To work under very limited resources in all the capital segments -human or cash.
  • To manage different stakeholders – Schools, Students, your team members, government officials etc.
  • To tweak the business model at the initial stage, based on market understanding and that’s how we were able to come up with a product based business model in an area which has always worked as a service based model.


If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?

  • Start as a for-profit venture rather than a non-profit one
  • This has been a great learning for us as entrepreneurs when we started as a not-for-profit company (as Medhavi Foundation) on our false assumption that our product delivers social value and so it has to be under a non-profit organization. Soon we realized we can’t raise funds, and even government can give such projects to for-profit. We have learned and we are now moving the product into a for profit venture (Medhavi Professional services Pvt. Ltd), which has got name approval and we are expecting to get the company incorporation certificate soon
  • Definitely to utilize cash more efficiently, spend more on sales & marketing rather than the product

Startup Showcase – InviteReferrals

InviteReferrals is the simplest tool to design and launch customer referral campaigns in minutes. 

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In conversation with Siddharth Gupta, Co- Founder of InviteReferrals –  

 Why and when did you start? We started InviteReferrals 6 months back and launched it in the last week of September. We had launched a startup tagNpin last year and realized the need of a product like InviteReferrals while running tagNpin.

How did the Co-founders come together? We worked on the previous startup tagNpin together and complemented each other’s working skills. While Aman looks at technology. I shift roles between business development and technology.

What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them? Iterating the product to make it market fit was a challenge. It’s a completely self-serve product and built for marketers. It does not involve any coding after one time integration.

Besides getting a big client like Lenskart on board was a huge challenge. But now things are smooth and we are getting referrals and inbound sales.

What are your aspirations for the venture? We want to build a successful product from India targeting international markets. We have already launched it in 18+ languages and have 80% of the brands coming from across the world. We want to reach 1000 clients in the next one year.

What did you learn from the journey so far? The journey has been exciting and been a roller coaster ride so far with lots of Ups and Downs. Bootstrapping has helped us focus on clients and come out stronger through the difficult periods.

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?  I believe, we would not do anything differently as the journey itself has been a great learning experience.


Startup Showcase – TransOrg Analytics

Here’s the story of TransOrg Analytics, a Predictive Analytics and Big Data company that helps clients in driving their customer acquisition, engagement and retention initiatives profitably.

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Here’s the interview with the founder, Naveen Jain


Tell us about the story of Transorg – Why/how/when did you start this?

What led to the creation of TransOrg Analytics? Firstly it was my desire to become an entrepreneur (with a history of a failed enterprise) and secondly limited opportunities to grow at senior levels in India, more so if you are working with a multinational. It did not take me long to zero in on predictive analytics venture, as I saw the huge potential while working with a Global Financial Services organization.

My willingness to take risks and never ending need to work in diverse roles was the foundation of becoming an entrepreneur in 2009. In the early days of TransOrg, my diverse skill set was of great help – right from managing funds, writing legal agreements, maintaining books, developing business, delivering on the projects and most crucial of all cleaning the office every morning!

What is your aspiration for the venture?

Big Data and Analytics is the science of uncovering deeper, hidden relationships from within data to make more effective decisions. It is at a nascent stage in India and will witness a tremendous growth in the near future. Both on-shore and off-shore analytics services have huge potential. India is well position to supply the analytics talent, as increasingly there is a shortfall in number of data scientists required to meet industry needs.  

Predictive analytics and real time understanding of consumer behavior will support business leaders in taking well informed decisions which along with their business knowledge and intuition will drive actions which are bang-on the target.

In the absence of market leader positions and given that analytics as a concept is till gaining acceptance in the market, there is a strong opportunity to build a profitable big data and analytics business.


TransOrg is working with corporate clients to build awareness about analytics and how it can be used to out-perform competition and drive profitable growth. TransOrg’s goal is to establish itself as a top player in the predictive analytics and big data field, and offer forward looking and cost effective solutions to both Indian and global organizations.

What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them?

TransOrg’s initial days were focused on creating offerings and solution briefs. We were lucky to build an informal team of friends who were very helpful in sharing their inputs on analytics. We spent hours in brainstorming to come up with sales pitches. Initially we thought of focusing on Indian clients. It was difficult to sell analytics in India as a number of CXOs knew vaguely about analytics. TransOrg thought of doing ‘proof of concepts’ with Indian companies to educate them on analytics and convince them about the power of analytics and, their capabilities and service levels.

We started to focus on retail, BFSI, consumer goods, telecom, hospitality and travel sectors. After working on our offerings we started to pitch to prospective clients. The first breakthrough happened again by a sheer coincidence. We met CEO of this company at a friend’s party and he liked the idea of implementing targeted marketing and campaign management for his organization. We presented to their team and landed with first 4-6 week ‘proof of concept’. This proof of concept helped the client in building strong need of analytics for his organization and at the same time it gave TransOrg number of ideas to improve their offerings.

Converting ‘proof of concepts’ into full term engagements, was quite an experience. We had to go to multiple meetings at various levels to convince them about benefits and ROIs. We had to convince them about data protection. Confidentiality agreements and contract terms took them longer than expected.

Clearly B2B business cycle is longer one, more than six months. We held our ground, kept on following up the clients and finally we were successful in getting the money paying long period engagements.

What did you learn from the journey so far?

Most of the organizations have faced recession and lot has been covered by media about it but TransOrg had a unique experience. We launched our enterprise in the middle of the worst recession. Why would one think of an enterprise in such bad business conditions? In fact it was an ideal time to start.

We spent our initial months on developing offers and conducting market assessment. In this period we did not focus on business development – we would not have got much business anyways. Other established players were not getting any business because of recession. So we did not lose much. Rather we got access to talented people during the recession which was important for us to build the business model. When we got ready with their offering, markets started to improve and we were successful in getting the initial projects. Timing could not have been better! 

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently? Invest in creating a brand and a strong business development team – right from the word go!

Startup Showcase: Urban Climbers

Here’s the story of Urban Climbers which makes adventure activities like wall climbing possible in urban settings



Tell us about the story of your startup – Why did you start this, how did you start, when did you start

We are both avid adventurists. Having trekked, hiked, climbed in Indian Himalayas and the US, numerous road trips to lesser known destinations, we came back to India in early 2009. That is when we took a hard look at climbing and adventure industry in India.

Given that wall-climbing is an exciting but relatively safe adventure sport, many people were interested but had no easy access to walls to climb on. This is where we ideated and our innovation was converting unused walls of buildings and malls into climbing walls by fitting the climbing structures on those walls.

Having a back ground in climbing and being amateur climbers helped. We also tested the various options with structural engineers to ensure that the end result was 100% safe and reliable.

This innovation helped us create adventure sports activities bang in the middle of urban spaces. Of course, this innovation helped us save on infrastructure costs as we were using existing walls of buildings.

The next effort was to evolve a pool of trainers, for which we approached practising climbers from smaller towns and advanced mountaineering qualified hill people. We now have a trainer management programme that takes care of not just climbing needs but life skills like language skills and driving skills.  We also developed a comprehensive standard operating procedures helped scale the safety barrier.

We took the first prototype out in a apartment complex – a small market some might argue but we looked from a different lens – a captive audience of 2000 kids & 2000 adults that allowed us to test the concept and demonstrate to other buildings and malls that wall climbing was exciting for children and parents. And safe.



How did the co founders come together : Marriage and a common love for the sport.

What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them

The short journey so far has been full of new learnings just about every day. Doing everything yourself was the first challenge. Unlike a corporate job, there was no safety cushion or a network or resources to rely on. Coming from corporate backgrounds, this took a little time getting used to.

Learning things way out of your comfort zone and realm of knowledge has been another challenge.

What is your aspiration for the venture: To be a brand which the consumer says “ You have climbed if you are an urban climber”









What did you learn from the journey so far

  • Dont presume. Dont assume
  • Outputs come out of processes, input cycles – crunching those just gets your BP up.
  • Have fun doing what you are doing – don’t turn life into an emergency
  • Come what may, retain our passion – that is what people are coming to us for

If you had to start all over again, what would you do different

The journey has not even begun yet. There is wisdom of budhha raining down on us. We will continue to learn and have fun. There will always be choices to make – we will make them , learn from them and change them as needed


Startup Showcase: Scooze

Here’s the story of Gurgaon based Scooze which helps you ‘Publish Your Voice’ by running your own web magazines on topics you love. Check them out on www.scooze.


Tell us about the story of your startup – Why did you start this, how did you start, when did you start?

When Ravi, Shashank and I teamed up – in late 2011 – the world was still in doldrums after the 2008 economic crash. We’d all seen job cuts, hiring slashes, salary freezes, etc. at our corporate jobs. It was pretty clear that our world was changing!

We saw that, more and more, things like job stability, long-term employment, pedigree degrees, etc. have become relics of the past. In the new world, success depends on your ability to carve a strong identity – a ‘personal brand’ – for yourself. It’s not so much about your degrees, your college or your designation anymore, but whether you’re known, credible and influential within the communities you’re a part of.

So if people need to build their influence and credibility, we figured there’ll be an opportunity for tools that help with this. The success of Twitter seemed to validate that a market existed for such tools. That’s how the idea of Scooze and ‘Publish Your Voice’ (our tagline) was born!

We launched the first (‘Alpha’) avatar of Scooze in end-Jan 2013. The concept and design have evolved continually since then (we’re currently at ‘Charlie’). In its new avatar, Scooze is a tool which helps you ‘Publish Your Voice’ by running your own web magazines on topics you love.


How did the co-founders come together?

Ravi and I have been friends since we were 10 years old – literally ‘chaddi-buddies’. As many friends do, we used to meet up every weekend and dream about starting up. Mostly, such things fizzle out, but we were serious and started evaluating various opportunities and ideas. However, we needed a tech co-founder!

Around that time, Shashank had come back from Deloitte in the US and was thinking about getting back to the corporate world. I met him through a common friend and he asked if I could refer him for tech roles at Accenture. Instead, I asked him if he was interested in starting up. Shashank jumped at the idea and the 3 of us have been together since then.


What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them?

In some ways, a startup is all about anticipating, meeting and dealing with challenges every day of every week. These are the key challenges we’ve faced in each stage of our journey.

Starting Up: Balancing startup and family: Shashank, Ravi and I are all married and Ravi has a 4 year old daughter too. Even before we started up, we realized it wouldn’t always be easy to balance a startup life with personal responsibilities. Therefore, each of us made sure that our family was fully bought in and would stand with us as we took the plunge.

Developing the Product: Building (and hiring) key skills within the team: Since we were first timers, we felt we needed some help to design and develop the product. Initially, we teamed up with 3rd party tech and web-design partners to build out the first version. However, we quickly figured that it helps speed, flexibility and cash flow to have all key skills within the team. Therefore, what we didn’t know, we learnt. Whatever little we couldn’t learn, we hired. I’m proud that Scooze is now entirely designed and built in-house.

Driving Growth: Spreading the word and acquiring users: This is our key challenge at the current stage and there’s much more to be done in this area. We’re experimenting with multiple initiatives – such as blogger outreach, public relations campaigns, college activation, etc. and the learnings are still coming in. Our attempt is to ‘build from the top’ – i.e. get influential people to adopt Scooze and help spread the word. Any ideas are welcome! J

What is your aspiration for the venture?

We want to be the platform of choice for people who want to become opinion leaders and multiply their influence. Our vision is to empower individuals with the same power and influence that big media houses command now. In some ways, what AirBnB did to Hotel bookings, we want to do to online magazines.

What did you learn from the journey so far?

Here’s a quick list of our top 5 ‘mantras’ at Scooze. Incidentally, we’ve also got these framed up and put up on the wall of our office!

  1. Life is short. Build stuff that matters.
  2. Thing BIG!
  3. Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.
  4. Get Stuff Done
  5. Keep Calm and Have Fun J

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?

We’d move faster and launch more quickly. We’d sell harder. We’d conserve our cash better.