“I firmly believe that to build a successful and perfect startup ecosystem, the factors required are government policies and regulations, capital resource, knowledge resource, human resource, infrastructure, and markets, and networks.” — Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary, DoIT&C, Rajasthan.
True to Akhil Arora’s words, the Rajasthan government has groomed the state as the top contender for the DIPP’s state startup ranking framework in the past three years. The team of state authorities, working under the farsightedness of the Hon’ble CM Vasundhara Raje, has proactively embraced digital initiatives such as e-governance since 2005. Fast forward to 2018, and these efforts are bearing fruit — Rajasthan is now poised to emerge on the top of startups ecosystem chart among Indian states.
Names such as SRJNA, Qriyo, and Myly among others, are raising their success flags from the state, which is today home to more than 1,000 startups. Since the advent of the Centre’s Startup India movement in 2015, the state has left no stone unturned to provide the necessary growth infrastructure to the local brigade of entrepreneurs realising their dreams under the aegis of its own startup initiatives.
The Rajasthan government has been the first and foremost in launching startup initiatives such as iStart, Digifest, IT Day, hackathons, Rajasthan Stack, Challenge For Change (an opportunity for startups to get INR 1 Cr worth government projects), eSakhi, and more. To cater to startups’ need for seed stage capital, CM Raje announced the $77.3 Mn (INR 500 Cr) Bhamashah Techno Fund in August 2017.
Named after the great Rajput King Maharana Pratap’s general, Bhamashah, the techno fund is one of the most important government initiative towards creating a compelling startup ecosystem in the state. The one-of-its-kind fund will offer all-encompassing incubation assistance at the largest startup incubator in the country — the Bhamashah Techno Hub — which has a seating capacity of more than 700 startups.
While, so far, more than 23 startups have received financial support from the state government under various funds, at the Rajasthan IT Day held in Jaipur in March 2018, seven startups received INR 20 Lakh each from the Bhamashah Techno Fund.
It is to be noted that all startups funded by the Bhamashah Techno Fund have undergone the QRate skill-building program. QRate, a programme by the Rajasthan government, is part of the iStart initiative that is designed to help startups increase their chances of success.
While the Rajasthan government is yet to release the complete list of startups that are set to receive assistance from the Bhamashah Techno Fund, here’s an initial list of seven emerging startups handpicked to be part of the portfolio.
**The funding amount mentioned below are the total funds received by the startups in question under the Bhamashah Techno Fund. The information is based on the data collected from sources available publicly.
Here Are The 7 Startups Funded Under Bhamashah Techno Fund
EduCommerce Technologies Pvt Ltd
Founded in 2014, EduCommerce Technologies Pvt Ltd runs Myly, a mobile app solution connecting educators, students and parents.
Myly is aimed at reducing the administrative load of non-teaching functions of teachers via technology interventions, bridging the communication gap between teachers and parents, and providing targeted, contextual learning content, based on analytics and the specific learning needs of each student.
The easy-to-use and adapt platform functions by getting schools to sign up, which, in turn, bring teachers, students, and their parents on board. The app and the web platform can be used to exchange all types of information about school activities among teachers, students, and parents.
The platform monetises by selling personalised, curated products and services to students/parents and schools. By end of 2019, the startup aims to be in more than 2000 schools and connect with more than 3 Mn students. Once the database is large enough, by 2020, the edutech platform also plans to introduce the marketplace model.
Myly also received the Digital Trailblazer Award at the Digital India Conclave by India Today in September 2016 and was also awarded the Best Technology Enabled Learning Solution at the World Education Summit, held in Dubai in February 2016.
EduPulse Media Pvt Ltd
EduPulse Media, a Jaipur-based startup, runs ScooNews, a media platform operating in the education domain. ScooNews is a monthly magazine that published news and information relevant to schools, administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
The startup earns its revenue from subscriptions and advertisements on its media platforms and is present across mediums such as print, website, online TV, and events.
ScooNews aims to get 3,000 paid subscribers on board by December 2018, and to have an overall subscriber base of 10K by 2019. It further plans to have a registered user base of 300K, comprising stakeholders from the education sector and an MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) of INR 7.5 Mn-INR 10 Mn.
ScooNews is currently working to open a two-way communication channel which will also open up possibilities of additional revenue streams for the media platform.
After 2019, the startup aims to expand its media properties and initiate international expansion. This will also help it get more international perspectives in the content that it publishes.
It is to be noted that the Hon’ble Rajasthan CM recently accorded ScooNews the Gold Qrate card as it stood out as the best startup from over 700 startups enrolled under iStart so far.
Elation Edtrech Pvt Ltd (SRJNA)
Srjna helps schools set up and manage Innovation Labs and Tinkering Labs, thus making it easy and efficient for schools to set up ‘Learning by Doing’ programmes.
The startup provides schools with all kinds of equipment, kits, content, and software to run tinkering labs. The startup also provides methodologies and workbooks for teachers to help them provide better conceptual learning to students.
The founders are operating on a simple revenue model. The Innovation Lab and Tinkering Lab kits are priced at INR 5 Lakh each. There is also a ‘Starter Pack’, available at INR 1 Lakh. Each programme has an annual subscription fee of INR 2 Lakh, which gives them upgrades in tools, equipment, and content.
The startup is exploring a primary target market of over 15,000 schools, through which it aims to earn about INR 20K each in annual fee. While Srjna is currently selling the kits directly to get a first-hand view of the market, the plan is to appoint distributors and existing channels who will sell the products to schools.
SRJNA has also got a Certificate of Recognition’ from the DIPP and is a part of government think tank Niti Aayog’s Indicative List of vendors for setting up Atal Tinkering Labs’ under the Atal Innovation Mission. The startup has also won awards at the Intel-DST Innovate for the Digital India Challenge and the QRate programme by the Rajasthan government.
Freshokartz Agri Products is an online fruits and vegetables delivery startup based in Jaipur. The startup works on the basis of an on-demand procurement model to provide its customers farm-fresh fruits and vegetables.
Freshokartz buys directly from farmers and mandi (local vegetable and fruit selling market), ensuring its customers get better prices and quality control. The average order size per customer (hotels, restaurants, retailers, etc) ranges from INR 70-85K per month, with a margin on sales of 20%-25%. The Freshokartz model uses technology, along with sourcing, sorting, and delivery processes to redefine the price-value equation.
The startup is targeting mid-sized hotels, restaurants, and retailers (like Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh) etc in Jaipur for 2018. In the next 12 months, the startup plans to create brand visibility, build operational bandwidth, and train its workforce.
In the longer run, Freshokartz aims to add loyalty programs for customers and create a dedicated dashboard for customers. By end of 2019, it aims to serve 1,000 hotels in Jaipur and expand to other cities in Rajasthan, thus achieving a turnover of INR 60-62 Cr.
As part of its scaling operations, “collection centers” will be opened in villages where items will be collected directly from farmers, sorted, and transported to Freshokartz warehouses in city. This will further boost their margins by 6%-8%. Freshokartz has received support from the Rajasthan government’s incubator iStart.
Rays Culinary Delights Pvt. Ltd. (Sattviko)
Sattviko caters to new-age customers across all age groups who look for variety in food with health benefits. It offers more than 25 different types of healthy snacks that have their roots in traditional Indian kitchens.
Sattviko currently has branches in Delhi-NCR, fine dining restaurants in Jaipur and Ahmedabad, and an Idea Café in IIT Roorkee. It also serves packaged foods and recently acquired outfit curation portal StylSpot to strengthen its technological platform.
The online platform of Sattviko sells a variety of products with traditional twists. Its products are currently available in 25 cities across India, at large institutions such as Taj Hotels and SpiceJet. The startup claims to be profitable from July 2016 and currently has a revenue run rate of $1 Mn (INR 7 Cr) per annum, growing at almost 20% month-on-month.
In November 2015, the company acquired Jaipur-based food delivery startup CallOnMeal. Also, in August 2016, it acquired FYNE Superfoods, a Delhi-based packaged food products company, for an undisclosed amount.
The startup aims to grow to an annual revenue run rate of $5.5 Mn (INR 36 Cr) by the end of this financial year.
Sattviko is creating a global brand for pure and traditional Indian food products in transformed avatars. Under the ‘Make in India’ programme, Sattviko was conferred the Best Food Brand of India at the 3rd National Entrepreneurship Awards last year by the Ministry of Skill Development of the Centre.
ToRoots Explorers Pvt. Ltd.
Jaipur-based startup ToRoots puts together a variety of resources to collaborate and co-create travel experiences.
The startup focuses on both travellers and providers, ensuring relevant information, updates and experiences of the travellers. The platform is designed to understand different cases to make processes like booking/cancellation etc easy. ToRoots helps match its customers with the right experiences.
The travel marketplace provides curated experiences on existing travel platforms, while its own platform is a virtual showroom to test and showcase travel experiences.
ToRoots makes it a point to be traveller focused and helps its users get immersive, joyful and unique experiences.
Qriyo Infolabs Pvt. Ltd.
Qriyo offers a home tution app that enables its users to avail of online tutoring for academics, fitness, hobbies, and life skills.
Qriyo earns revenues by charging Qriyo Gurus, the teachers which register on the platform to provide their services to the students. It does not charge any additional amount from students. The team works on a transactional commission model and takes a one-time registration fee from the customer.
There is also a mobile application that enables its users to track attendance, browse, and renew courses, make online payments, and track course progress.
The startup maintains a 70% renewal rate and more than 90% first tutor match ratio.
Qriyo aims to be aligned with two long term goals — improving one-on-one personalised learning spaces and providing job opportunities to the educated, talented youth of the country. Currently available in limited cities, the home tution app is looking to expand all over India soon.
Bhamashah Techno Fund: A Key To The Door Of Rajasthan’s Startup Hub Dream
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos says, “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” However, sometimes startups need to make more of an effort to raise funding for their operations, howsoever creative and innovative their solutions might be.
In fact, startups end up having to expend a great deal of energy in procuring the required working capital or chasing financial institutions, where they have nothing to offer as collateral other than the idea, which might be worth its weight in gold for them as well as the society.
However, the Indian banking system do not grant loans on the basis of ‘ideas’. Thus, there’s a requirement for the government to step in and help startups. Equity investors tend to take large stakes in the startups, weakening the entrepreneurs’ hold in their ventures in the long run, so government-owned funds like the Bhamashah Techno Fund, which offer collateral-free and equity-free financing, are a big relief for the startup ecosystem.
For years, Rajasthan has suffered from brain drain as entrepreneurs used to shift their base to other states’ established startup ecosystems. In the past three years, however, the Rajasthan government has reversed this trend. Now, not only local but even startups from other base are making their bases in Rajasthan, owing to the superlative facilities and ease of doing business in the state.
CM Vasundhara Raje and Mr. Akhil Arora, through their multi-pronged startup initiatives, are working slowly but steadily to make Rajasthan a ‘home’ for entrepreneurs from across the country. And the Bhamashah Techno Fund is the key to the door to Rajasthan’s startup hub dreams.