TinyOwl’s Financial Data : Rs. 24,000 Revenue From Operations At 25 Crores Loss #IndianStartupData

[Editor Notes : Nothing is as powerful as data and starting today, we bring to you #IndianStartupData – i.e. an overview of financial performance of selected Indian startups with a hope that it gives you a good picture of the companies and the ecosystem in general.
Mission : A PR-less startup ecosystem which thrives on great products and services!]

TinyOwl recently completed its one year of operations in June this year. It is a Mumbai based food ordering and delivery app. It claims to have 10,000 restaurants on board and receives 7,000 orders per day. In this article, our partner Tofler looks at the financial performance of TinyOwl in FY 2014-15.tinyowl-1

Launched in 2014, TinyOwl is owned by TinyOwl Technology Private Limited. It was co-founded by five IIT graduates:

  • Harsh Vardhan Mandad,
  • Gaurav Chowdhary,
  • Saurab Goyal,
  • Tanuj Khandelwal
  • Shikhar Paliwal.

Financial Performance of TinyOwl

TinyOwl is into its second year of operations. The company has reported Revenue from its operations as INR 24 thousand in the Financial Year 2014-15. Its Total Revenue stands at INR 44 lacs, the source for the remaining income being the interest received on VC funds parked as fixed deposits by the company.

However, total Expenses incurred by the Company were INR 25.5 Crores. It closed its financial year with a Loss of nearly INR 25 Crores. The major expense incurred by the company during this period was Employee Expense at INR 12 Crores.

TinyOwl Shareholding Pattern

Founders : 34.08%
Sequoia Capital : 21.24%
Nexus Ventures : 21.24%
Matrix Partners : 18.16%
Others : 5.28%

Funding received by TinyOwl

While different news sources on internet indicate that they have received a funding of USD 28 million – ~ INR 180 Crores – in 4 rounds so far (including the latest round of USD 7.7 million in October 2015), documents filed with the Registrar of Companies indicate that they have received total funding of INR 100 Crores in three rounds from Sequoia Capital, Nexus Ventures and Matrix Partners. Documents of the latest round (October 2015) have not been filed yet.

The details are as below:

Date Name of Investor Amount Invested (in INR)
July, 2014 Sequoia Capital 7.5 Crore
Nexus Venture 7.5 Crore
January, 2015 Sequoia Capital 6.3 Crore
Nexus Ventures 6.3 Crore
March, 2015 Matrix Partners 39.9 Crore
Nexus Venture 16.2 Crore
Sequoia Capital 16.2 Crore

The company was recently in the news for employee layoff crisis. The founders view it as “some difficult steps towards the big dream”.

With a surge in food tech and delivery startups over the past couple of years and recent cases of shut shops and layoffs, the segment seems to be in a consolidation phase. While, Tiny Owl has been one of the front runners in the segment so far, it remains to be seen how well they tackle this difficult phase and become financially sustainable. They have some of the top VCs’ money backing them up in the endeavor.

[About the author: Vishal and Anchal form the team that runs the Tofler blog. They like to explore and track companies, their performance and senior management. Tofler (tofler.in) is a Business Research Platform.]

Listen Investors And Founders : Run ‘Maggi Test’ On Startups [Food For Thought]

It is said that Google’s Larry page runs a ‘toothbrush test’ on a company before acquiring – i.e. is the company/service such a useful utility that it becomes a habit? an essential part of life.

“Is this something you will use once or twice a day, and does it make your life better?” [The Toothbrush Test]

Forget that – what I’d recommend is to run Maggi test on startups (portfolio + newer ones you are evaluating).

What’s this Maggi test?

For those who were sleeping under the rocks, Maggi was banned in India for almost 6 months – the company has now been cleared of all accusations around the product being unhealthy for consumers.

6 months in a consumer life is a pretty long time! People often tend to move on to other competitive products and least of all, forget about the ones they weren’t even using. But then, Maggi has made a strong comeback and is selling like..hot cake Maggi.

And now, back to the Maggi test : What’s it all about?

A. The most important question:

What if you aren’t around? Who is going to miss you? Who is going to miss your product/service?

Frankly, how many unicorns do you think will be missed if they go off the shelf?

B. Brand and product loyalty

All it takes is 5 minutes for Snapdeal to sell 60,000 Maggi packets (and they are still running flash sales).

For a product that was out of market for almost 6 months and was termed a potential health hazard, people still want it.

That’s some loyalty to die for ! This sort of loyalty is only seen among drug addicts !


C. Competition can’t even touch you.

They all tried. But failed.

In fact, most of the Maggi competitors have been trying to occupy the prominent shelf space in retail outlets and while they might have seen some success, the truth is that they haven’t won the numero uno place.

These were big shoes to fill in and Maggi competitors fought the small battle of market share, but not of mind share.

Nobody is even close.

D. Users = Evangelists = Community = Win.

Yes Maggi might have been replaced by bread / other snacks for college students, but they aren’t a convert yet – for the lack of a viable alternative to Maggi.

One shot and they all will come back.

Which (Indian) consumer tech company do you think comes close to this?

Who Needs Classrooms?

[The article has been written by Madhav Chavan, Founder & CEO of Pratham, a Non-profit in Education in India with minor edits from Mekin Maheshwari. ]

Notes from Mekin : Putting up an essay by Madhav Chavan – Founder & CEO of Pratham, largest Non-profit in Education in India. After I read the essay in Reimagining India, I found the ideas to be very simple, profound & provocative & had the strong urge of sharing it – only to realise that there wasn’t an online copy. So I wrote to Madhav who readily responded and shared the draft which I then edited to mirror the published version.

Who needs classrooms?

Education in India is woefully deficient, both quantitatively and qualitatively. That is hardly a novel observation. Indeed, it is the reason Pratham, the organization I head, was founded in 1994, with the motto, “Every child in school and learning well.” During my years of working in this field, India has made efforts to improve the status of education, but these repeated reform efforts haven’t delivered what is needed because they are aimed at merely expanding and enhancing the existing structure and systems.education_startups

The futility of these measures has led inexorably to the conclusion that the system is not only inadequate and incapable of meeting the demands of a changing India, it is fundamentally bankrupt. The traditional model of the Indian school has never served the vast swath of the student population from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, because it is simply designed to push out those who cannot survive the cramming grind to reach the tertiary level.

So impervious is the system to genuine improvement that for the past couple of years I have been asking my colleagues whether Pratham should perhaps change its motto to, “Every child not in school but learning well.” As shall be seen from the admittedly radical vision I propose below, I am only half joking.

Since 2005, we have been facilitating the Annual Status of Education Report(ASER, ah-sir meaning “impact”), which is based on data collected by volunteers in close to fifteen thousand villages around the country. Year after year, the reports show that although very high percentages of children are enrolled in schools at the elementary level, the amount of learning they experience is appallingly low. In 2012, the overall enrollment of children up to age 10 stood at 96%.
However, less than half of those in fifth grade can read a second grade text, and three out of four have difficulty solving a simple division problem. Barely 30% of children make it to secondary school and fewer still beyond as barriers of gender, distance, costs and simple inadequacy of infrastructure and qualified teachers make it impossible to pursue learning.
The quality of learning among those who do make it past eighth grade is so poor that two Indian states participating in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey for 15 year olds still in school stood 72nd and 73rd among 74 global participants. What is worse, their modal scores in reading and math literacy were at the lowest possible level just because PISA did not allow an even lower grade.

The focus on “completing the curriculum” and imparting knowledge rather than learning skills, is at the root of the problem. Most children start lagging behind from the primary stage as the teacher rushes through textbooks in front of a multi-grade class or one that is full of students at vastly different levels of skill attainment.
The front of the class is “taught,” while the rest simply lose interest. Predictably, by the time they reach secondary school children in the back of the class have neither skills nor knowledge, and often find themselves unprepared to advance even to vocational training, let alone tertiary education. They start manual work and somehow learn on the job what the system could not teach them.

The system reflects Industrial Revolution-type thinking of a factory assembly line, wholly unsuited for modern times. Classes are regimented, with the goal of passing mass examinations. We focus on language and grammar rather than communication; we focus on cramming laws of science while ignoring the understanding of technology?—?a linear process that kills initiative and curiosity. Children are neither learning the basics required in the past century, nor are they being prepared with life skills required to navigate a much more challenging future.

Thus the Right to Education (RTE) Act, enacted in 2009, is proving to be a “right to schooling” act with very poor correlation between years of schooling and the actual learning/education acquired. Unfortunately, RTE followed previous(unsuccessful) efforts to set things right. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (educational for all mission) was aimed at enrolling all children aged six to fourteen by guaranteeing that primary schools would be available within one kilometer of all homes and would provide students with a proper midday meal as an incentive for continued attendance.
Although enrollment levels have been high, and over 87% of schools provide hot cooked mid-day meals, attendance in many states is between 50% and 80%, indicating that the enticement of food is not adequate to spur participation in a dysfunctional academic system. Before that was the “New Education Policy” of 1986 that supposedly made primary education a national priority, including the allocation of substantial new resources. The Constitution of India itself directed the State in 1950 to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 within ten years. At the center of all these initiatives was the ‘school’, which was to take charge of children’s education.

Although we acknowledge the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” our schools and colleges are isolated from society. Barring a small percentage of exceptional individuals, those appointed to teach at any level have neither the knowledge nor skills to educate; meanwhile, the human resources of skilled and knowledgeable people in other occupations have no role to play in transferring their competencies to the next generation. This is purely because the process of certification is monopolistically controlled by boards, universities and government institutions that are hidebound and barely changing.

The Education Policy of 1986 said in its very first paragraphs that linear approaches will not suffice to meet the challenges of the future. Open Universities and Open Schools have arisen but they are the system’s stepchildren. Even though they have opened doors to those who cannot enter mainstream institutions, they are burdened by all the features of traditional universities except for distance-learning materials they provide.

All the above raises a question, the mere asking of which may strike some as bizarre: Why are schools and colleges needed at all?

Their job ostensibly is to transfer knowledge. But they also serve two other functions—not terribly well, but better than their provision of instruction. First, they provide day-care for young children, keeping them safe and out of trouble as parents go about their work. Second, they provide an environment in which to learn social skills. These are important functions that need to be taken seriously and developed systematically with significant contribution from human resources in the surrounding community, while reorganizing the learning process from early childhood to adolescence.

Fortunately, the development of new information technologies offers significant opportunity to change the organization of the overall learning process. By creating new pathways for children to learn in nonlinear ways, with interactions and access to the wider world that current schooling doesn’t provide, technology helps enable a rethink of the whole system.

Here, then, is what I propose.

First, we should move away from the age-grade system that is now formalized in the RTE act. Instead we need an age-stage system that allows children to meet learning goals in both the social and academic sphere when they are ready, transitioning to each stage at their own pace.

I envision three main stages. The first stage, for children up to the age of eight or ten, would be to learn to socialize and attain basic learning skills including elementary reading, writing, and math along with speaking, expressing, and thinking. Such ‘schools’ would have many features of day-care centers, with parents and/or older siblings taking turns to participate in the classroom. This would be as much for the sake of the children’s learning as it would be for improving the ability of mothers and fathers to deal with children and help them learn at home.
The role of parents in bringing up and educating children deserves much greater emphasis. Just as maternity leave is now recognized as a necessity, allowing time for parents to participate in their children’s learning—with compensation for daily wage workers if need be—should be possible. After all, we have a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Why couldn’t parents be compensated for this work of national importance? The pedagogy to teach basics of learning skills is not rocket science. I would expect older children to deal with texts and problems at a simple level more or less independently and to be able to use computers or tablets to retrieve and enter information. I see this neighborhood day-care cum school catering to no more than 100 children, which is about the average size of an Indian primary school.

At the second stage, for children as young as nine to as old as sixteen, the ‘school’ would really be a social hub or a Children’s Club. It would cater to about 500 children from different communities, with community spokes that are learning centers with digital learning equipment and a couple of facilitators supervising about 100 children in batches.
Half the children would be playing, painting or engaging in other enjoyable activities at the Club while the other half would be working at the learning centers. Local artists, craftspeople, and athletic coaches would engage children at these Clubs while counselors would help with issues of growing up. Online assistance and audiovisual material created by expert communicator-teachers in different subjects would be available so that children could plan their studies with the help of mentors. There would be no need to learn an entire curriculum at any particular age; rather, students would navigate studies in one subject or skill at a time and get certified in phases by varied authorities whenever they are ready for examinations that could be taken multiple times in a year.

In tertiary education, for children sixteen and above, online courses accompanied by availability of licensed tutors would become the norm. The tutors would be compensated with vouchers, either given free by the government or by donors, or purchased depending on the students’ family circumstances. For example, a student might choose to learn accounting online and hire a tutor locally or online to help out. If the student is learning sciences, a facility with laboratory equipment should be accessible.

And why should a student in rural Odisha not have access to the best teachers of Delhi, especially if those teachers are government-paid? Elite institutions have created artificial barriers of admission while their teachers draw salaries from public funds. Lectures, notes, and assignments of any teacher paid by the government should be online. Teachers who are found to be unqualified should all become tutors or assistants in courses given by the masters.

Presumably the reason for my reconsideration of Pratham’s motto is now clear. Remember, this is the land of Ekalavya—a hero of the epic Mahbhrata—who because of his caste is denied access to the knowledge of Dronacharya, the great teacher of Pandav and Kaurav princes. When it turns out that Ekalavya has taught himself to become a superbly-skilled archer, he is not only denied certification but inhumanly prohibited from using his “illegally acquired” knowledge.

It is time to create pathways for the Ekalavyas who are denied access to the masters and high quality content with a chance to compete for high level certification. What I have proposed may appear anarchic and impractical. But there are elements of what is possible tomorrow in the reality of today. India should seize the opportunity to reinvent its education process.

The article was published in Medium.

Alert : Today Is The Last Day To Grab Massive Discounts On UnPluggd Tickets [Prices Go Up]

Boys and Girls :

India’s biggest startup conference, UnPluggd is scheduled for Dec 12th (Bangalore) and while we will start announcing the speakers from next week onwards, your chance to grab super early bird + diwali discount is today!

We are giving away straight 40% discount on tickets (use the code UNPLUGGDDIWALI).

Talking Failure @UnPluggd
Talking Failure @UnPluggd

What’s the theme for UnPluggd? 

Well, a lot is being said about the startup ecosystem these days (mostly negative). We will bring you a few founders who have stayed away from the *noise* and have built a great business. Be assured that UnPluggd will be extremely inspiring and will push the envelope for the entire startup ecosystem.

Date : December 12th.
Venue: Star Convention Center, J P Nagar, Bangalore.
URL: http://nextbigwhat.com/unpluggd
BUY tickets from here (ticketing widget is also embedded in the post).
Takeoff : Launch Application Form link (those who have applied will hear back from us starting next week).

Ticketing widget.
Discount code : UNPLUGGDDIWALI

Stop By And Say Happy Birthday To NextBigWhat

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It’s our birthday today. It’s been three years since we rebranded to NextBigWhat. A lot has happened in the last few weeks/months – the startup ecosystem has been through a roller coaster ride, right from funding galore to the startup gurus and babas declaring dry days.

Well. Nothing lasts forever and in the true spirit of embracing change and fostering innovation, let me share what lies ahead (starting next week):

  1. Products, products and products.
    We earlier gave a hint at #Takeoff, the place to discover shiny new products every day. Starting next Monday, we go full-blast on that, at a very international level.
    In fact, #takeoff is going to drive the future of NextBigWhat and fulfill our dream of creating a massive ProductGeek community across the globe that drives product discovery among early adopters, CXOs and investors.To start off, from Monday onwards you will see three #takeoff products a day – we will be experiementing/learning and will surely look forward to your feedback/support.
  2. Tech & Startup News coverage
    We really stayed silent/under-the-radar the whole of this year as we refused to be a part of this maddening ‘startup funding = startup success‘ chatter.

    Our strategy on coverage of startup/tech news will mostly be what I’d call a strategy focused on curation/bringing *useful* news to our readers.We truly respect your time and believe that you shouldn’t be wasting a lot of it in reading news, when all you need is a short and crisp update. News has to be to-the-point. We have always believed in this and will experiment with more formats of news coverage.

  3. Community
    What sort of community elements would you like to see on NextBigWhat? We used to have a super active forum, but realized that discussions weren’t actionable always. Got some thoughts? Tell us (ashish@nextbigwhat.com).We are expanding focus/coverage area ensuring that we bring a great mix of tech + culture to our readers (fyi: there is a lot of interesting things/initiatives happening in India beyond startup space!).

The coming year is a big one for NextBigWhat, as it is for Indian product and tech ecosystem (there is one mega product that we are working on – launches this month).

It’s an exciting time ahead. And we’re looking forward to playing an enabler/ supporting role in this – egging folks on to dream bigger, bridging the gaps with the real world, asking the tough questions and bringing diverse, wide and unique perspectives to the table so it helps entrepreneurs and product teams truly make a difference, not just some money.

We are moving to a much bigger office by end of this month. We are also opening the site for partner companies to share their insights – all with a single focus to bring actionable insights to you.

PS : We are hiring (editor and journos).

We’d love to have your testimonials, wishes, comments, suggestions whatever – leave us a note! Just say, Hi !

[gravityform id=”3″ title=”true” description=”true”]

Thanking You (on behalf of the entire team)

Ashish Sinha.
Founder & CEO

» Our upcoming conference : UnPluggd

Today : We Open UnPluggd For Speaker Nomination [12/12 @Bangalore]

The winter edition of UnPluggd, India’s biggest startup conference is happening on December 12th and we are happy to open the event for speaker nominations.

On an average, 50% of UnPluggd speakers come to us through nomination by our readers and some of the parameters we look at include:

  1. Freshness  : Are you a ‘serial speaker’?  talking the same stuff everywhere? Sorry. We need fresh perspectives, irrespective of how big/small your personal brand is.
  2. Examples / Not theory : When you have done things and succeeded/failed at it is when it’s useful for the audience. Share experience – not gyaan.

Some of the topics for the upcoming UnPluggd include:

#BraveTalks : Straight-from-the-heart talk by founder on surviving/bouncing back/failure.
#WomenFounders : We invite women founders to share their experience.
#Operators : Been running product experiments ? Tell us !

[button url=’https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1oFWuqIzMSygZxUpmGJ8HCtUE7BmbNX0WowCP1h82eT0/viewform’ color=’#FFF’ target=’_new’ bgcolor=’#cc0000′ size=’large’]Apply For Speaking Slot[/button]

» PR folks : please stay away.


Date : December 12th.
Venue: Star Convention Center, J P Nagar, Bangalore.
URL: http://nextbigwhat.com/unpluggd
BUY tickets from here (ticketing widget is also embedded in the post).
#Takeoff : Launch Application Form link (those who have applied will hear back from us starting next week).

Diwali discount? Well, we are running a special diwali discount (40% discounts) till this saturday (14th Nov) ! Grab them (code : UNPLUGGDDIWALI)

An Open letter to Indian Startups, Entrepreneurs, VCs and Employees – Let’s Celebrate Failure

Hi Folks,

Over the last few weeks, there has been consistent bad press around a few startups in India concerning lay-offs, (ref. Tiny Owl, Zomato, Housing.com, Vizury), bad decisions, hostage situations (ref. Tiny Owl) and more. The general air has been negative and I had to pen down my thoughts, as someone who belongs to this community. I am disheartened by the negativity and I want to provide some perspective.

I was motivated to write this post after witnessing a general level of negativity over the last few weeks with comments like “This is what you get when you join a startup” and “The whole country is crashing.” etc. doing the rounds. Here are my opinions, perspectives, advice and candid two cents in no particular order for entrepreneurs, employees and VCs –

There is no such thing as Failure

  • One of the most important reasons why the valley has been so successful in creating some of the greatest tech companies in the world is that culturally the valley recognizes failure as a stepping stone to success. You will find literally hundreds of entrepreneurs who have had failure after failure and continue to pursue the next idea and continue to receive funding interest.
  • Valley VCs know that someone who has failed on various occasions actually carries with them valuable lessons reducing the risk of failing at a subsequent venture.

I love how the Valley infact has re-defined failure. They don’t even call it that. They call it a “PIVOT”. Now isn’t that a mighty word? No one ever fails. You simply pivot 🙂 The perfect case in point is the Pinterest story (Check) which was founded during the recession, survived early failures and developed as a company for the long-run.

Let’s get some perspective on the failure rate

  • Over 95% of startups are expected to fail. In fact I think we are doing considerably better in India at least as far as valuations go for the time being.
  • Here are some stats about Y-Combinator – one of the most successful startup accelerators. Their acceptance rate is about 3 to 5%. Within the ones that do get accepted the odds of success are 10%. (Read more here)
  • General industry thumb rules point to the fact that 1 or 2 in 10 startups eventually succeed. Most fail or remain mediocre.

And here’s some perspective on past market crashes

To the folks who are comparing current times to the 2000 dot com crash and the 2008 financial meltdown, let me point out a few facts.

  • The 2000-2002 dot com collapse resulted in a loss of $5 trillion in market value (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot-com_bubble), and a loss of 1.735 million jobs in 2001, and an additional 508,000 during 2002


Yes folks. Those are the numbers. That’s the kind of upheaval the valley and world went through before producing today’s global giants. Any monies lost in India or the downsizing taking place here pales in comparison. It is too early to get pessimistic. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t say this out of lack of empathy. However, in any new market a ton of money and time has to be spent in gaining experience before one can see a growth phase. India is still a fledgling story.

And some perspective on timing and challenges

  • India is JUST starting out, folks. Our smartphone penetration and internet penetration are in low double digits (<20%… I believe actuals are even lesser than 15%).
  • In a market this nascent – a lot of money will have to be spent in educating the masses and getting basic technology adoption – before we truly see monumental successes.
  • Remember that China had to get to over 40% internet and smartphone penetration before they began seeing explosive growth.
  • India is a VERY different market in comparison with the United States or China. People seem to draw comparisons when replicating business models. However, there are several nuances and one very important difference. India while politically one country is more like 29 different countries for a startup – each state has a different language, culture, practices and needs.

Never Give up

Fellow Entrepreneurs – Keep at it. I often get asked about things that were instrumental in our success. And if there was one thing I can point to in my journey is that I NEVER GAVE UP. Two posts I had written a long time ago are relevant here –

In the words of Michael Jordan – “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying” – Michael Jordan

Spend wisely

Capital has been boundless over the last few years. However, my advice is – spend EACH dollar like you would spend your own. At Directi, we have had an interesting journey. We have never taken on any external debt or investment. As a result, every time we spend money we are spending OUR money. While arguably that has its own constraints, on the other hand we have become VERY good at figuring out how to spend money wisely. We have an unbeatable track record of getting to profitability in the shortest time possible across all our startups. So the next time you get $50 million in funding and want to spend $15 million on an IPL campaign – just ask yourself what would you do if that was your hard earned $50 million.

Don’t pay your users to use your product

I have been witnessing what I believe is the most unhealthy trend in the industry over the last few years – Paying people to use your product. I just don’t get it. I can maybe understand providing incentives for acquisition. But incentives for engagement never made sense to me. Here is my perspective on this trend –

  • If you have to PAY users to keep using your product you have a serious problem. It means that your product is by itself not good enough or intuitive enough to keep users engaged. You cannot fix that by giving discounts and cashbacks. If your users are not engaged, take all that money and spend it on identifying why users are not engaged and fixing your product.
  • Giving money to users to use your product creates an unhealthy incentive linkage. Users will now expect it by default to continue using your product. Read Daniel Pink’s book – Drive. While he talks about this from the perspective of employees, the same principles apply to users. Do you want your users to be motivated by money or by the value your product provides?

Paying people to use your product is the quickest way to burn all your cash. The most successful companies in our industry NEVER had to pay people to use their products. Imagine if Google started off by saying I will pay each user to use my search engine. Or Facebook paying for each post. Or Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft. Even the handful that did dole out cash incentives (Paypal), did it ONLY for user acquisition and did not continue doling money out for continual usage.

  • At Directi we have developed over 50 different small and big products across our 11 businesses and we have NEVER, I repeat, NEVER paid users to use our product.
  • The biggest clue for me is what people talk about when they use your product. Without naming names, most users I have met – whether using an ecommerce app, taxi hailing app OR food ordering app – are talking about cashbacks and discounts and not convenience OR experience. Now that’s a huge warning bulb for me. When everyone in the country is saying – use this product buddy and you will get Rs 700 cash back, instead of saying – use this product and it will give you an amazing experience.

My priority order of spending money

I have always followed a strict order on where I like to spend most of the money for each of our businesses. I call it the three P’s of spending –

  1. People – I will spend as much and more money and MOST of my time on hiring, retaining and training the best of the talent in the country.
  2. Product – The simple formula for a successful business is to create a product that provides more value to a user than the amount of money you expect to earn from that user. Spend money on product.
  3. PR – The first order of marketing is PR and not Advertising. And yet most entrepreneurs in the country spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns while completely neglecting the importance of good PR. Recommended reading – The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al Ries -. In fact while you are at it read all his other books too. They are all amazing!
  4. Advertising – If perchance there is any money left over after spending as much as I can on all of the above (and I sincerely hope there isn’t) then I *may* spend it on advertising. Advertising is the biggest sinkhole for cash. Again read Al Ries’ book above for more context.

Some pointers for Investors

While businesses I have founded at Directi, have never needed capital infusion, I have met several amazing VCs and investors across the industry in the last 18 years. Many I have tremendous respect for. Time and again I believe the following success principles matter when investing –

  • Leave adequate skin in the game for the founders in the initial stage (Series A / B) – If founders get diluted to low single or double digit percentages within the first 2-3 rounds, you are creating a misalignment of incentives.
  • Chase retention and engagement as opposed to a paid install base. I would rather have 10,000 users who are using my product because they love it and there is nothing out there that’s better, than have 1,000,000 users who I have to keep giving money and discounts and cashbacks to for them to continue using my product.
  • Mentorship is more important than money. After all many of these investments are being made on bright 21 year olds. I remember when I was 21 years old. Heck if I could talk to my 21 year old self right now I would have a ton of advice to offer. Don’t just leave these entrepreneurs on their own with oodles of money. Hold their hands and take them through the journey.

Some pointers for Employees

There have been a large number of lay-offs announced over the last few months and I can empathize with the general feeling amongst various employees. Let me offer some advice here:

  • Do not get disillusioned by a few failures. As I stated above, India is just about starting out at this stage. Startups have their risks, but the rewards of working in the space far outweigh the risks.
  • In a fast moving startup environment, your learning and knowledge growth will typically be 4X of that in any conventional stable company. A startup provides most of its employees the opportunities to wear multiple hats and get diverse exposure.
  • Most startups will provide early batches of employees an opportunity to participate in wealth creation that is beyond what conventional jobs will offer.
  • Do you want to look back at your life and say – I took a safe choice and led a normal life? Or do you want to be able to say – Heck I was part of an exciting journey with its ups and downs, but I created something, I took a chance.
  • Take a page from culture in the valley, where entrepreneurs and employees alike – move from one startup to another without skipping a beat – without getting dejected or pessimistic.
  • None of the above comes from a lack of empathy. I actually partly blame our education system. I strongly believe our education system needs to better prepare us to deal with uncertainty. A true entrepreneurship culture can only flourish when people can not only handle uncertainty, but relish it 🙂

My intention is to arrest any general pessimism in the industry as a result of a few events. Let’s learn to celebrate failures folks. For without failures there can be no success.

About the Author (Bhavin Turakhia)bhavin-turakhia

I am a serial tech entrepreneur and the CEO and Co-Founder of the Directi group. I started my first business with my brother Divyank in 1998. Directi today comprises of 11 portfolio businesses including – BigRock, LogicBoxes, ResellerClub, Webhosting.info (all of which we sold for $160mn last year), Media.net, Skenzo, DomainAdvertising.com, Ringo.co, Flock.co, Zeta.in (co-founded with Ramki) and Codechef.com.

We employ 1400 people, across 9 global offices and generate 100s of millions of dollars in revenue. Directi is unique in the sense that we have never taken on any external funding (all businesses are self-funded from internal revenues), every business is profitable (except the latest entrants), and all 11 are highly successful. All of the credit belongs to the amazing team of people we have at Directi. We have witnessed two previous industry downturns (circa 2000 and circa 2008) and grown our businesses through all the ups and downs in the last 18 years.


UnPluggd : The Startup Application Form Is Live [December 12th @Bangalore]

The 12th edition of UnPluggd is scheduled for 12/12 (Bangalore) and today, we are happy to announce opening up of the startup application form.

UnPluggd has done wonders to startups! With over 85+ startups launching at the conference and having raised more than $500mn, UnPluggd is clearly the most amazing conference in this part of the world. We have a knack of spotting great companies and importantly, surfacing amazing ones.

Apply For UnPluggd Launch Stage
Apply For UnPluggd Launch Stage

For investors, UnPluggd provides the necessary curated startups they can bet on.

The next edition of UnPluggd is scheduled for December 12@Bangalore and as always, we will have 10 startups launch at the conference. These startups will be selected from over 500+ applications – the basic criteria being interestingness of the concept execution level and positioning.

Go ahead and fill the nomination form [last date is Dec 1st]. For more details, check the UnPluggd website.

UnPluggd Launch Process : How Does It Work

The launch process is very simple :

(a) Fill up the application form below (or permalink),
(b) By mid-Nov we will get back to you and update you on the next steps.
(c) If you make it to the next steps, we will have a call (skype/phone) and have a detailed talk.
(d) The final 10 is announced.


Date : December 12th.
Venue: Star Convention Center, J P Nagar, Bangalore.
URL: http://nextbigwhat.com/unpluggd
Ticketing : BUY tickets from here (ticketing widget is also embedded in the post). The super early bird discount code is DRIP (ends Nov 6th).
Takeoff : Launch Application Form link (those who have applied will hear back from us starting mid of next week).

Register for UnPluggd

Use the code DRIP to grab your super early bird discount !

bigMobilityConf FAQs : Are VCs Attending? Live streaming…and more.

The NextBigWhat team is super excited to present the next edition of bigMobilityConf, a conference that takes a deep dive into app business.

The conference aims to bring practical insights to app developers, especially the ones who are determined to NOT live under the app poverty line!

bigMobilityConf Details

Date : October 17th (Saturday).
Venue : MLR Convention Center, J P Nagar, Bangalore
Ticketing: Grab >25% discount [use the discount code DRIP]. NOTE that there are no discounts available for spot registration.
URL: http://nextbigwhat.com/bigmobi

[notice]Use the code DRIP [>25% discount]. No discount code applies for spot registration[/notice]

Qn. Can I register at the venue? Is spot-registration allowed?
Ans : Yes [Tickets cost INR 1,500/]

Qn: What’s the twitter hashtag?
Ans: #bigmob.

Qn : Are there lots of VCs/Angels attending?
Ans : Yes. Quite a lot. We are also bringing in quite a few angels at the conference.

Qn: Will you be live-streaming the conference?
Ans: No.


Announcing bigMobilityConf Agenda [Actionable Insights, Startups And More]

Ladies and Gentlemen
Here is announcing bigMobilityConf agenda!
bigMobi is scheduled for October 17th (this Saturday @Bangalore) and one of our focus areas is to bring in inspiring content to you.

Eat this : majority of mobile/app-only startups are up against well funded gorillas and while you figure out your growth hack, you need to learn (A LOT) from others who have been there and still doing it.

We have amazing speakers sharing actionable insights on growth hacking, surviving, failing and scaling. As with any NextBigWhat confernece, the bar for quality content is higher and be assured that you will be blown away with the content and startups that you will see.


bigMobilityConf Details

Date : October 17th (Saturday).
Venue : MLR Convention Center, J P Nagar, Bangalore
Ticketing: Grab >25% discount [use the discount code DRIP].
URL: http://nextbigwhat.com/bigmobi
[slider_wrap width=’600′ height=’250′] [slider_content title=’bigMobi’ caption=’Insights’ src=’https://nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/webpc-passthru.php?src=http://www.nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/bigmobi-testimonial4.png&nocache=1’ url=’http://www.nextbigwhat.com/bigmobi/’][/slider_content] [slider_content title=’bigMobi’ caption=’Amazing!’ src=’https://nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/webpc-passthru.php?src=http://www.nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/bigmobi-testimonial3.png&nocache=1’ url=’http://www.nextbigwhat.com/bigmobi/’][/slider_content] [slider_content title=’bigMobi’ caption=’Powerful’ src=’https://nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/webpc-passthru.php?src=http://www.nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/bigmobi-testimonial2.png&nocache=1’ url=’http://www.nextbigwhat.com/bigmobi/’][/slider_content] [slider_content title=’bigMobi’ caption=’Focused’ src=’https://nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/webpc-passthru.php?src=http://www.nextbigwhat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/bigmobi-testimonial1.png&nocache=1’ url=’http://www.nextbigwhat.com/bigmobi/’][/slider_content] [/slider_wrap]  

[notice]Use the code DRIP [>25% discount]. No discount code applies for spot registration[/notice]

Timing Topic Speaker
10-10:45 Startup Story : Zoomcar Greg Moran
10:45-11:15 Startup Demo #Takeoff
11:15-11:45 Networking Tea & Coffee Break
11:45-12:45 Startup Demo #Takeoff
12:45-1:15 Fireside Chat With Shailesh Lakhani, Sequoia. Shailesh Lakhani, Sequoia.
1:15-2:00 Networking Lunch
2-2:45 Growth Hacking : Lessons learned building Haptik Aakrit Vaish
2:45-3:30 How To Survive And Grow Against Billion Dollar Gorillas Samar Singla, Jugnoo Founder
3:30-4:00 Networking Tea & Coffee Break
4:00-4:45 From Akosha To Helpchat, The Startup Journey Ankur Singla, Helpchat Founder
4:45-5:15 Report Launch MoEngage Team
5:15-5:45 The MartMobi Story : Why We Missed The M-Commerce Opportunity [Lessons Learned] Satya Ganni, MartMobi Founder

How Nasscom Product Conclave Became The Bellandur Lake of Indian Startup Ecosystem

Belandur Lake : Nice And Frothy
Belandur Lake : Nice And Frothy

I remember attending the first Nasscom Product Conclave in 2007.

It was a small intimate affair that brought together folks from product companies who openly shared their learnings and experiences with one another. The organizers themselves were founders of product companies as were all the speakers.

As a founder of a fledgling product company myself, I found the experience akin to taking an invigorating walk on the Bellandur lakeside – a convivial gathering of peers aided by a bracing draft of transparent learnings and fresh insights.

I remember attending the Nasscom Product Conclave in 2012.

It was to put it mildly, a mindless frenzy – a grotesquely over-the-top carnival celebrating every possible excess abounding in the Indian startup ecosystem.

I was struck by how far the event had strayed from its founding ideals – what was once an idyllic lake was now polluted beyond recognition.

As the ninth edition of the Nasscom Product Conclave kicked off in Bangalore, I couldn’t help noticing how its degradation mirrors that of the Bellandur lake. A fomenting miasma that is only 5% water and 95% sewage and pollutants…the toxic foam runoff a silent but eloquent reminder of how far the event has fallen.

A Product Conclave that couldn’t care less about products

As far as I can tell, Nasscom Product Conclave was originally conceived to serve as a platform for showcasing Indian product companies.

In 2012, I was offered an opportunity to launch my product at the event. Despite the rich price tag for entering the event, I decided to take up this opportunity as it seemed like a great platform to announce a product and get some media visibility and nuanced feedback from experts. However the actual experience was a disaster.

Rather than showcasing the product launches in the main hall, I was shepherded into a small dark room in an obscure corner of the hotel where the only other folks in attendance were my fellow founder saps who were launching their own products! There were a couple of other unaffiliated audience members but I suspect there were here primarily to catch up on a few winks away from the hustle and bustle of the main hall.

What was in the main hall?

That was where Mahesh Murthy held court about how one can hack travel and see the world on a shoestring budget.

Which of course, was precisely what one would hope to learn in a conclave about tech products!

This was all the more tragic because Mahesh is an incredible raconteur but more than that, he has a wealth of knowledge on products and management that would have been far more valuable to this audience.

This pandering to frivolous and sexy topics over substantial but unsexy product aspects is a common occurrence across NPC editions.

Sessions that are tailored to sponsors and acolytes rather than a startup audience

This year, the choice of sessions and speakers is even more bizarre.

For instance, there is one from a representative of the Estonian government (unsurprisingly a sponsor).

But the one that takes the cake is one that features the redoubtable Alok Kejriwal and his gang of gurus pontificating about the art of living/winning!

While I would find it mind-boggling, I won’t be surprised if the folks at Nasscom claim that such sessions are an attempt to provide a “syncretic, holistic” perspective towards life in general. In which case, why maintain the pretence that this event is about products at all?

Of circle-jerking and perpetuating the old boys club

The other thing that I notice about NPC is that it has now become the epitome of an old boys clubs, exclusionist and discriminatory. Where participation is determined by not what you know but who you know.

Successive episodes of NPC largely feature the same set of speakers speaking about the same set of things usually about topics that have little to do with products per se.

This sense of circle-jerking permeates through the overall event and with things like invite-only dinners that only the privileged few can attend.

The faint stench of cronyism

While the product startups largely get the short shrift within the event, thankfully there is one part where accomplished startups are called out and recognized.

This is in the form of the “Emerge 10” award that is conferred during the course of the NPC.

This year’s winners are covered here:


While the entire process of selecting these companies is rather opaque, that is not a major sin in itself and is par for the course as far as startup awards go in India.

What is irksome is that there are some glaring conflicts of interest that carry the faint stench of cronyism.

For instance, two of the ten companies selected this year are the portfolio companies of one of the VCs sponsoring the event.

Even more glaring is that three of these companies are ones in which the chairman of the Nasscom Product Council has a vested interest.

The first is a company which is part of the accelerator this gentleman was previously a part of.

The second is one in which he is an advisor.

And the third is one in which he is an investor! While the press note completely glosses over these affiliations for the first two companies, for the third one, it is mentioned in passing. This particular company is just a year old and one that very few in the ecosystem have heard of and it is moot if this company has done anything that merits a “India’s hottest startup” tag.

The dashing of hopes and the destroyer of dreams

In my opinion, the biggest way in which Nasscom has been remiss with respect to the event is that it has abrogated its responsibility as the flagbearer for the Indian software product community. From being a body that lobbied selflessly for the small but ambitious product fraternity, it has degenerated into a figleaf self-serving entity whose presence is only felt in conferences and junkets that prey on unsuspecting newbie entrepreneurs.

Much like Bellandur Lake, the rot is deep and true.

“Stylistic punctiliousness must not get precedence over what needs to be expressed with unvarnished honesty”

[Guest article by Sumanth Raghavendra. Reproduced from his blogpost. Views expressed are his personal. Image credit]

Of bigMobility And How To Survive & Grow Against Billion Dollar Gorillas

If you are a fresh startup in mobile consumer space, chances are that you are up against a well funded gorilla (a.ka. competition), if not a unicorn.

Welcome to bigMobilityConf, a 1-day mobile centric conference where we bring together actionable insights, startup journeys and ofcourse, exciting startup launches.samar

We are happy to introduce Samar Singla, Jugnoo founder. Samar is up for a big fight against some of the well funded competition – right from Ola to Uber (Jugnoo raised $5mn recently).

At bigMobilityConf, Samar will share his experience surviving and growing these billion dollar companies. Be There !

bigMobilityConf Details

Date : October 17th (Saturday).
Venue : MLR Convention Center, J P Nagar, Bangalore
Ticketing: Grab >25% discount [use the discount code DRIP].
URL: http://nextbigwhat.com/bigmobi

A Look at IBM GEP Finalists From Chennai, Kochi And Hyderabad [Enterprise Startups]

This year IBM Global Entrepreneur Program is being held across 9 cities in India, namely Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi.

Besides introduction to VCs and IBM Execs, a CIO Startup connect round will also be held. This is open for startups less than 5 years, and who have a product or platform for enterprises across any Industry or Technologies.

Here are the finalists from Kochi, Hyderabad and Chennai. Next up is Pune (deadline : Oct 24th/apply).

Kochi Enterprise Startups

Realeffecx Technolabs

We provide a platform for the user to customize apparels in real 3d with a simple interface. The user can search for the required dress type and modify it in the web browser in the way he/she wants and then get it done by a designer.

Agrima Infotech

We are making smarter application by the help of Artificial intelligence. It will create its own model by training instead of creating handwritten models so it will be a big game changer in IT industries. Our product can identify the Objects in images.

Finahub Technology Solutions

We solve the customer on-boarding challenges of Business houses. Normally it takes from few hours to days to on-board a customer, due to regulatory paperwork. Our market include almost all B2C players who needs at-least a signature from the customer to give solution. We saves the customer on-boarding time almost 90%.


Passenger car maintenance/servicing portal.

Indunia RealTech

We solve the problem of identifying quality leads, managing it and getting the lead to a closure in the rental/real estate space.

Chennai Enterprise Startups:


Tagalys allows online retailers to fully customize their site search, product recommendations, merchandising, and product sorting functionalities, along with tag based reporting and analytics.

Appiyo Technologies

Actionable (Structured) Messaging. We have enterprise instant messengers handling unstructured messaging today.. These are bi-directional machine readable messages generated with instant messengers. Key features that make this possible are “loaded buttons”, “forms shipping” & “embedded commands”. The solution has the potential to bring about a behavioral change in how we interact with the computing world using actionable messaging with-in instant messengers.


vidCampaign is a new age video email marketing platform for effective customer communication and sales enablement. vidCampaign allows businesses to reach their customers in a whole new engaging and a personalized way. The video emails sent through vidCampaign assure 100% deliverability and the state-of-the-art analytics will allow you to monitor the end-to-end engagement of the video and the email.


Hasuradb solves the application development problem. India has about 1.5 to 2 million engineering graduates every year trying to get into the lucrative IT market, but suffering from lack of experience and quality education. Hasurabdb allows developers to build powerful and robust – enterprise ready applications extremely fast. It will make a developer write code as if after years of experience.

Graaby Tech

Graaby Rewards: Universal NFC (Near Field Communication) based reward platform on cloud which allows businesses to increase &retain their customer base at lower cost. Platform helps businesses increase in annual revenues via better customer retention & acquisition rates along with business intelligence reporting and predictions.

Hyderabad Enterprise Startups


StoreONGO aims to be the mobile first power listing platform for 20+ Million businesses and professionals with their products, offers and services by delivering Mobile presence for businesses.


Road Transportation industry in India is highly fragmented and unorganized. Therefore, players find it difficult to get reliable customers or suppliers at Right Price at Right Time at Right Location. Many times, trucks have to wait for long duration or return empty resulting into lower truck utilization. The industry size is estimated at US$ 36 billion.


In emerging markets, marketers face the grueling challenge of engaging and promoting to a diverse demographic consumer base. On an average 92% of the trade in most emerging economies like india happens through unorganized retail, consumers buying from mom and pop shops which have no connectivity like a PoS to recognize a shopper, engage and reward her/him. These are the rural markets On the other hand urban markets (cities) are radically different, where the organized retail has the capability to engage with shoppers. This calls for a homogenous / omni-channel which has the capability to engage shoppers incoming in from both rural and urban markets.


The platform connects transportation service providers in real-time with SME’s who need their services using GPS technology. By reducing empty trips and waiting time, we increase the revenue for the driver.

Goose Tec

Harmony automates the entire label and artwork management collaboration process in real time. The system allows you to link checklist points directly to the regulatory guidelines which are used to review the artwork such as critical checks for brand elements, regulatory guidelines around content, accuracy of dates and manufacturing details etc. The system has an inbuilt proof-reader (text and pixel) to compare the print ready artwork to the approved master file. Reports and dashboards can be generated for performance management and business metric analysis.

The 3 Regional Finals Schedule is below –

1) South Regional Finals would be in Bangalore on November 6th

2) North and East Regional Finals would be in Delhi on November 20th.

3) West Regional Finals would be in Mumbai on December 4th

The Grand Finale would be on 12th December, in Bangalore


Trademark Registration For Dummies : What, When, Where And How

Last week, I met a friend who was extremely disturbed with the fact that he registered his brand in different classification of trademark. He also mentioned that he was working for last five years & was not aware of anything related to brand registration. He realized this fact when he saw others using his brand which he has put in his heart & soul in for five years.

We all would know or have heard numerous stories of these issues in our daily course of life. There is also another side of the coin in which we are sometimes little lazy or careless in not treating a brand as an asset. This leads to losing not only rights on your brands but also can make you go out of business.

Now the following question arises;

  • Is trademark really necessary? Why?
  • What will happen if we do not register our brand?
  • How to register a brand trademark
  • When to register?
  • Where to register it from?

1. What is Trademark
A trade mark is a unique sign which helps you to distinguish your business goods or services from others.Your brand are represented by a trademark and it is of two types:

In form of a logo

trademark-logoIn form of a Signature


Through a registered trademark, you can protect your brand (or “mark”) by preventing others from using your brand.

  1. Who can Register Trademark?

Any person claiming to be the proprietor of a trade mark used or proposed to be used by him may apply in writing in prescribed manner for registration.  The application should contain the trade mark, the goods/services, name and address of applicant and agent (if any) with power of attorney, period of use of the mark and signature.  The application should be in English or Hindi.  It should be filed at the appropriate office from the state in which his company is registered.

  1. When to Register Trademark?

Every Trademark should be registered as soon as possible.  Primary reason would be once you have done all the hard to build a brand/ trademark & someone else would just copy. All of your hard work &resources put in to setup the brand will go down the drain.

  1. Where to Register a Trademark?
  2. How to Register your Trademark?

Typical Problems Faced During Trademark registration

  • Many Startups are not aware of the class in which they are doing business and when they file the application, they make the biggest mistake by entering the wrong details in the application form.
  • After filing the application they can use ™ which means that the trademark is under registration process and will be registered if all the further steps moves smoothly. Many of them just consider ™ as their final process and drops out in between just by using ™ and when they come to know that their business class is used by other with ® mark they regret for not knowing the whole process.
  • After the Examination report, the designed Trademark is either selected or objected which might be due to wrong/incomplete information or explanation.
  • If the Objection is replied with accurate explanation then the Trademark will be selected and will be given with a ® certificate but if it is not accurate then it will get objection again and you have to reply with the same again.


Registering your brand is not a difficult process. Getting the right knowledge leads you towards successful registration for your brand. After all points explained above figure out what you lacking behind and get ® mark on your business.

About the Author:

[Lokesh Sharma is Marketing Manager at QuickCompany.in a, leading website to register a Trademark in India.]

Weekly Recap Of Startup Funding And Big Moves From DigitalIndia Space

A quick wrap up of the major funding and digital moves of this week


Company Series Amount Investor
Nykaa Funding Series A Rs 60 cr TVS Capital
IndiaLends Funding $1 million DSG Consumer Partners
Muvizz Funding Angel funding Rs 2.2cr Ashish Todi, MD at Frost Global Pte Ltd
Voylla Funding $15 million Peepul Capital
Rock N Shop Funding Angel funding Rs 1 cr HNI
DocPlexus Funding Rs 4.6 crores asp. group and Uniqorn Ventures
WorkIndia Funding Pre Series A funding $ 0.5 million Satyen Kothari
Welcome Cure Funding Pre Series A funding $ 6 million Net-worth individuals
Schoolguru Funding Series A Rs 20cr HNI Investors
ZuperMeal Funding Seed $2 million Sanjeev Kapoor
Amazon Seller Services Funding Rs 1,237 crore Amazon
Grabhouse Funding Series B $10 million Sequoia Capital
Inayo Funding Seed $300,000 Amit Ranjan
Quifers Funding Angel Rs 2 crore Indian Angel Network


Flipkart has chosen Telangana over Karnataka to set up its largest and the 16th warehouse in the country.

Intex will develop a manufacturing facility spread over 20 lakh square feet area in Gr Noida. Read more..

Flipkart has finally launched its grocery service, Flipkart Nearby in Bangalore. Read more..

FreeCharge To Leverage Aadhaar Data For Wallet KYC. Read more..

Sadly, UP Govt Asked Twitter To Remove Objectionable Tweets Related To Dadri Beef Lynching.

Infibeam Gets SEBI’s Nod For Rs 450 Crores IPO. 

Snapdeal has made a second round of investment in logistics company, GoJavas.

Instamojo has launched a new feature called Request a Payment. 

Hike now lets you chat and share files without Internet. 

Google India has launched Delhi Public Transport App, which makes it easier for Delhi residents. 

Airtel has launched its Wi-Fi app – Airtel Hangout.

Uber has upgraded its app with an enhanced safety feature.

Truecaller has announced that it has crossed 100 million users in India. 

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