The year 2020 has been challenging both personally and professionally for everyone. From being stuck at home for days, to seeing businesses shutting down, the list of woes seems endless. But despite all this some entrepreneurs innovated and were noticed for their work. Here’s a look at some of the achievers.
Urban Company: Banking on beauty segment
The lockdown might have ended but people are still wary to go out for their salon treatment, haircut and other services as the risk of getting Covid was very high and the chances of finding oneself on a waiting list was not unusual. Urban Company saw an exponential jump, with services like servicing air conditioners to giving people a haircut being most in demand. Since June, the business has been on a very positive trajectory and customers have trusted Urban Company to enter their homes for both their beauty and home service needs. Its revenue had more than doubled to Rs 216 crore in FY20 over the previous fiscal, while the net booking value of all transactions through the Urban Company platform grew 138 per cent year-on-year to Rs 918 crore in FY20. (Pic: Varun Khaitan, co-founder, Urban Company)
Jet, set, go
The founder of JetSetGo, Kanika Tekriwal, has seen it all. She beat cancer at the age of 21, started the company in 2014 when she was surrounded by naysayers and is now the youngest on the Kotak Wealth Hurun- Leading Wealthy Women, 2020 list. The pandemic has propelled the private chartered aviation sector with the super rich opting for it. JetSetGo saw its demand increase by manifolds when the lockdown started to ease as people who were away from their homes for many months decided to opt for their services rather than commercial planes. (Pic: Kanika Tekriwal)
Zerodha founders get rich
Zerodha co-founders Nithin and Nikhil Kamath made it to the list of self-made richest Indians under 40 this year. Their wealth went up by 58 per cent this year to Rs 24,000 crore, according to IIFL Wealth Hurun India 40 & Under Self-Made Rich List 2020. Zerodha is a financial service company that was launched in 2010. In June this year the company entered the unicorn club with a valuation of about $1 billion. The company claims that it has been adding more than 200,000 new customers every month. (Pic: Nithin and Nikhil Kamath)
Business-to-business platform Udaan launched by Amod Malviya, Vaibhav Gupta and Sujeet Kumar, saw some dark days in the early days of the pandemic but it has gone on a hiring spree and is picking up entry to mid-level talent from brick-and-mortar companies. Udaan is also planning to set up offline fresh and grocery retail stores in Bengaluru through franchises. It has forged partnerships with more than 2,500 brands, one-fourth of which were onboarded amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Udaan connects manufacturers and brands with small retailers across three categories – food (staples and fresh vegetables), non-food (electronics and fashion), and pharmaceuticals. (Pic: Amod Malviya, Vaibhav Gupta and Sujeet Kumar)
The man with a Midas touch
Sachin Bansal who deployed all the proceeds from the sale of his stake in Flipkart, into his financial services venture Navi Technologies. During the pandemic his new company became one of the top three digital lenders in the country. Bansal aims to simplify and improve accessibility and affordability of financial services for a billion users with Navi. Navi offers unsecured loans of up to Rs 5 lakh for a 12-24 month period and underwrites it digitally. (Pic: Sachin Bansal)
Ashish Kumar launched his plug-and-play hyperlocal startup Near.store in February to help kirana stores go online. It was a business as usual scenario until the nationwide lockdown hit the country. As people could not step out of their houses, many found it convenient to order food, vegetables and necessary household items online. This helped in the growth of Near.store. Between February and March, the startup had onboarded 4 housing societies in Mumbai and 120 kirana stores. A month into lockdown, it had over 128 housing societies in its kitty and was helping with nearly 300-500 orders per week. (Text: Garima Bora)
The Eric Yuan story
Zoom Video is a household name now. We login to Zoom to celebrate, discuss work and even mourn. That’s the impact Eric Yuan’s company has had during Covid. Yuan launched his company in 2011as he had gauged that video communication was an emerging tool in the Internet era and were convinced that it will become a mainstream service in the future. The company has so far served more than 100,000 schools in 25 countries, including India. Zoom Video Communications is also planning to expand its presence in Singapore by opening a new research and development centre, where it will hire hundreds of engineering staff. The company is also doubling its data centre capacity in Singapore. (Pic: Eric Yuan)
Hiring during pandemic
Pine Labs was launched in 1998 and is a merchant commerce fintech firm that enables such transactions. The company came in great demand when everyone moved to digital payments during the pandemic. The Mastercard-backed company is emerging as one of South Asia’s foremost payment technology players, working closely with banks, card networks and regulators in India, Malaysia, and Singapore. Amid all the news of layoffs Pine Labs was looking to hire 150 sales executives.
Falguni Nayar’s omnichannel, multi-brand beauty, wellness and lifestyle company Nykaa is also known as the Sephora of India. Probably that’s why despite the gloom of Covid-19 this company entered the elite unicorn club. The company even raised close to Rs 1 crore towards the PM CARES Fund during the pandemic and donated personal protection and hygiene equipment to the police and local governance authorities in several cities across the country. Nykaa saw its online orders from small cities go up significantly during this time. The company had switched to a 100% prepaid model during the lockdown months. For the first few months of the lockdown they allowed orders only above Rs 1,500 which helped in improving their Average Order Value (AOV). (Pic: Falguni Nayar)
The new unicorn
It has been a good year for Razorpay as it entered the coveted unicorn club in 2020. This fintech company has been helping small businesses since 2014. It recently launched Payment Buttons that enables businesses and freelancers to add a single line of code on their website or blog and go live with an integrated payment gateway, in less than five minutes. This provides businesses the option of accepting payments for multiple products, services and events with different price ranges – all through a single button. The company also introduced RazorpayX Corporate Cards which aims to provide relief and stabilize the financial operations of SMEs. It has also partnered with PayPal to enable international payments for MSMEs from 200 markets in a secure manner, reducing wait time from days down to minutes. (Pic: Shashank Kumar, CTO & Co-Founder, Razorpay)
Online used car marketplace Cars24 became the first startup in the auto sector to enter the unicorn club this year. Founded in 2015 by Vikram Chopra and Mehul Agrawal, Cars24 allows car owners to sell their vehicles, and get paid almost instantly after the customary vehicle inspection. It then sells the cars through its proprietary auction platform to businesses dealing in pre-owned vehicles. The company is developing its consumer financing division, for which the company had received a non-banking financial company licence from the Reserve Bank of India in 2019. Demand for personal mobility has risen as people are wary of taking public transport during a pandemic and Cars24 is a beneficiary of that change in habit.