A look at this year’s 40 Under 40 list tells the story of startup India. Digital editor Mansi Kapur, who anchored this year’s list, says cases like PepperTap defined 2016. The hyper-local delivery startup began in December 2014 with seed funding of $1 million, raised $10 million in April 2015, and $35 million in October 2015. By April 2016, it had shut shop, laying off 150 employees. There’s TinyOwl, another delivery startup, which followed a similar trajectory.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. It has also been the year when good businesses thrived. Revenues went up, although profits continued to be low (non-existent in many cases, to be honest). But the need to turn profitable is a recurring theme, as is going public.
An interesting sub-theme this year seems to be the attention to non-metro India. Editor-at-large Hindol Sengupta spoke to three young men from smalltown India who structured a business around their demographic: people not comfortable with English. They developed an operating system that translates and transliterates English into a range of Indian languages. It’s called Indus OS, and last year, overtook iOS to become the second most popular operating system for mobile phones. That’s on page 76.
Then there’s Satya Rajpurohit, the font designer who set up the country’s first type foundry. Kapur travelled to Ahmedabad to meet the man who counts Apple, Google, and Amazon among his clients. His story is on page 88.
Of course, this list is not just about startups. It’s also about those who have made it big in the corporate space. Like Nitin Prasad, the 39-year-old heading Shell in India. Assistant editor Debabrata Das met Prasad and discusses his plans for the multinational here. And there’s Akshay Kothari, all of 30, heading LinkedIn India. But it’s still the startups that constitute the bulk of the list. Will they all be around in the next few years?
That depends on how they grow up and, as important, how their investors grow up. And we’ll be here to chronicle that, as it happens.
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