The Indian startup ecosystem never fails to amaze us. Every entrepreneurial story is worth inspiring. No one could have imagined that a developing country with the second largest population in the world, would turn into a fast-growing startup market. India, for obvious reason is very competitive. Culturally also, it has been a very conservative country. The jobs have never been enough and Indian education for decades have been able to produce “clerks” or “manufacturing” robots rather than free-thinkers or entrepreneurs. Thanks to IITs in India (premier technology institute in India), which made the evolution to technology. IITs has been around for a long time, but in 80s and 90s, a rampant brain drain happened. The smart ones left the country for better opportunities and lives. It’s not like there were no “entrepreneurial heroes” back then. But, time was not just right. Or, maybe it was just the silence before something “big” could happen. It’s not like conditions in India has overnight improved or education system has changed; but things are improving slowly. One good thing that became a “trigger of change” was a relatively low brain drain. While the globalization in 90s opened up Indian market to outside world, these smart IITians got the exposure and opportunities which they were looking for outside India. Awareness creates opportunities and the other way round. These smart-ass brave folks started observing the problems and were able to come up with solutions. That was the birth of entrepreneurial seed in India. Many young smart folks (mostly IITians, but not only them) went on to solve a variety of problems with their ventures. Sadly, not all of them succeeded. They were some who did because of their perseverance and optimism. You see, India is not a country where “taking risk” is a cultural phenomenon. The “cost of failure” has been pretty high in India. But, still these brave folks survived all the tides and took their ventures to become “poster boys” of Indian ecosystem. They themselves emerged as “Heroes of Indian startup ecosystem” who went on to inspire many. And, now you see all kinds of folks taking the plunge of entrepreneurship, IITians, non-IITians, freshers, drop-outs, students, mothers…everyone. This post is a tribute to the Indian Startup Heroes who made starting-up cool.
We might not be able to cover everyone (but we admire and respect all Indian startup heroes). We are mentioning the brief stories of three of these Indian startup heroes.
Phanindra Sama founded redBus, an online bus ticket booking platform. Redbus has been one of the companies that helped in revolutionizing the way India travels. Phanindra founded redBus out of frustration. Prior to founding redBus, Phanindra was working for Texas Instruments in Bangalore. As a kid, he was fascinated with electronics and went on to study electronics engineering at BITS Pilani ( a premier technology institute in India. He was happy working a Texas Instruments. During Diwali (one of the biggest festivals in India) 2015, Phanindra wanted to celebrate the festival in his hometown, Hyderabad. Since, he was not sure about his schedule, taking a bus was the only option. While he was hunting a bus ticket to home, he got to know that all tickets were sold out, travel agents didn’t know about all the available bus operators and most of these agents didn’t sell return tickets. This incident was the birth of redBus. He started redBus alongwith his BITS Pilani batchmates, Charan and Sudhakar.
Redbus went on to raise 2 rounds of funding (as per Crunchbase) and got a good exit when it was acquired in June 2013 by ibibo Group.
Flipkart is the company that showed the way to many e-commerce startups in India. The mastermind behind Flipkart is Sachin Bansal, a typical Indian IIT geek. Sachin was working at Amazon when he alongwith his colleague and friend, Binny Bansal decided that it’s time for India have its very own e-commerce platform. Though they weren’t sure about the idea, but still took the plunge to start-up. They started with selling only books and used to distribute pamphlets outside major bookstores in Bangalore. Today, Flipkart not only sells books, but is a major Indian online marketplace that dominates the Indian online shopping.
Flipkart later went on to become a unicorn by being a part of “billion-dollar club”. Sachin recently stepped down from being the CEO of Flipkart to become the Executive chairman of Flipkart.
Shradha is a true inspiration who broke the conventional string and went to become the founder of Yourstory, India’s no 1 media platform for entrepreneurs. With a strong journalism background, when she used to go to startup meetups and conference with the idea, people used to say “it won’t work”. She didn’t lose hope and went on to became the voice of entrepreneurial action in India through Yourstory.
Since its inception, Yourstory has profiled stories of more than 15,000 entrepreneurs and has provided business networking opportunities to over 50,000 entrepreneurs through conferences and meetups. Techsparks, a Yourstory product is India’s biggest conference for startups. In 2015, Yourstory raised its Series A and is now available in 12 Indian languages.
With these inspiring stories, team AECAL wishes you an inspiring weekend!
Our founding partners visited India in the beginning of this month. We will get you their interesting experiences next week. Till then, stay tuned!