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FOUNDER : Sumeet Kapur 
Sumeet Kapur’s first startup, a venture 
capital-backed customer relationship 
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BootUpINDIA Inner Circle Members on ET


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Thank you for your enthusiastic participation in BootUpINDIA. We received over 100 high quality applications. The Jury painstakingly went through each of them to pick 8 companies who are being inducted into BootUpINDIA Inner Circle today!

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BootUpINDIA Inner Circle Members on ET

  1. 1. EmployWise FOUNDER : Sumeet Kapur Sumeet Kapur’s first startup, a venture capital-backed customer relationship management solutions firm, went through a tough time during the dot com bubble burst in 2000. “The burn rate was high, even if you applied brakes, you were burning,” said Kapur, 50, who had to start again from scratch and started to work on the human re-sources software product in 2006. With funding being scarce, bootstrapping became a necessity for him. But it ena-bled the product to evolve based on the feedback from the customers. “It would have been a waterfall if I had raised the capital and built the product in one shot,” says Kapur. “I didn’t want to ex-periment with investor money. “Unlike his first venture, EmployWise was also able to whether the economic meltdown of 2008 as it was not dependent on ven-ture capital. The EmployWise product is now being used by 50,000 employees across various sectors including tech-nology, retail and manufacturing. But Kapur had to apply extra effort to build the firm due to which he was not able to spend more time with his family. “But I have an extremely supportive family,” said Kapur who likes taking his dog for a long walk every morning. WHAT THEY DO: Hire-to-Retire human resources software delivered off the cloud in the software as a service model FOUNDED IN : Product launched in November 2011 SEED CAPITAL: `1 crore REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: Not disclosed TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: `6 crore USP: Innovation to keep costs low. Focus on generating customer revenues SignEasy FOUNDER : Sunil Patro In the summer of 2009 when Sunil Patro visited his fiance in Mexico, he received an offer letter from a US-based company. Being in a remote location near Riviera Maya, Patro, 35, lost vacation time look-ing for a printer and a fax to return docu-ments that required his signature over email. This experience gave birth to the idea of creating an electronic signature app that would enable anyone to sign and send documents from the phone. After six months he founded ‘SignEasy’ by combining bootstrapping with travel during a backpacking trip to Latin America. The product development hap-pened in Coimbatore with the help of an engineer, his fiance handled the cus-tomer support from Mexico and he con-ceptualised the product while travelling through Latin America. “I got enough freedom to shape my own entrepreneur-ial journey and build the product with my own pace and money,” said Patro, an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur. His product has now got around 2.5 million down-loads in 155 countries. The challenge that the startup, which has operations in the United States and Bangalore, faced due to bootstrapping is that it was harder to attract talent in the beginning. WHAT THEY DO: Simplest way to electronically sign documents from your phone and tablet FOUNDED IN : 2010 SEED CAPITAL : `10 lakh (personal savings) REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: `2.5 crore TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: Not disclosed USP: Bootstrapping enabled to empathise with problem than the solution, having razor sharp focus, making it dead simple to enable people sign electronically in 60 seconds. The Lone Rangers A majority of software product companies in India are being built without help from venture capitalists according to industry thinktank, iSpirt which is stepping up to boost this brigade, find Peerzada Abrar, Krithika Krishnamurthy and Malavika Murali RateGain FOUNDER : Bhanu Chopra Bhanu Chopra drives a white Porsche Panamera to his office in Noida. That is, when he is not jetting around the world meeting customers and drum-ming up support for the proposed public issue of shares at his enterprise software firm RateGain. Although Chopra can seem like the archetypal technology entrepreneur riding high on risk capital funding, the 38-year-old entrepreneur has not raised a single rupee in venture capital. The decade-old company, which sells software for the hospitality and travel industries in 120 countries, is aiming for a share sale on Nasdaq that could value it at around `6,000 crore. Chopra, who is the largest stakeholder, has also given stock options to several of his 350 employees. “I can’t pretend to be frugal. I drive a nice car, travel business class and am still bootstrapped,” said Chopra, who pays senior executives at his firm an average salary of about `1 crore per an-num. When starting up has become synonymous with raising copious amounts of capital, contrar-ians like Chopra and ZohoCorporation’s founder Sridhar Vembu are emerging as torchbearers of the bootstrapped approach. Vembu’s Zoho, with over $100 million (`600 crore) in revenue, competes against the likes of Microsoft in the enterprise software market. “Bootstrapping embraces the no-tion that to the extent that the future is shaped by human action, it is not much use trying to predict it,” said Saras D Sarasvathy, professor of entrepre-neurship at University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Around 73% of software product companies in India are bootstrapped, according to software product think tank iSpirt. The grouping has launched an initiative ‘BootUpIndia’ to recognise India’s best boot-strapped startups that will subsequently be mentored by industry peers. ET profiles eight boot-strapped startups which have the potential to be the next big winners. Exclusife Inquirly VoiceTree Technologies What It Means Bootstrapping - When an entrepre-neur uses personal finances or revenues to build a company. Bootstrapping traces its origin back to 19th century United States, to the phrase “pull oneself over a fence by one’s bootstraps”, to mean an absurdly impossible action ApnaStock Vinit Bhansali has boot-strapped successfully through all this three ven-tures, ApnaStock, his third ven-ture, helps small builders procure construction ma-terials at wholesale prices, and has done sales of `1 crore since this January. Despite running an ecommerce venture, which is traditionally known for guzzling money, ApnaStock has not spent a penny on Google or Facebook ads, let alone traditional media and closed a fifth of his deals on WhatsApp, and the rest through word-of-mouth publicity. “No one wants to remain bootstrapped forever. But quite often we lust after mentoring and networking, not money,” said 34-year-old CEO Vinit Bhansali. The company has signed 70 builders in Bangalore and said he wants the Bangalore-based company to reach a critical mass before seeking addi-tional capital. More freedom to take quick decisions Build the company at one’s own pace and money Become more customer-focused, and efficient in business Use time to build business than chasing investors and how. Advantages Disadvantages Bootstrapped Technologies firms have a different pathway to growth/IPO and need to be nurtured Media Ant PowerStores Everyone wants to adver-tise but not everyone can afford it. Media Ant was born to help startups and SMBs showcase ads in newer and cost-effective media outlets. “But people were not able to relate to the idea,” said Mukesh Agrawal, who started operations out of his balcony in September 2012. Now, the company has identified 5,000 media op-tions such as on credit card bills, washrooms and lug-gage tags for showcasing Competitors with better financial standing can push bootstrapped firms out Cannot scale as quickly as a funded company Marketing and hiring talent is difficult No access to mentoring and network of venture capitalists ads. For the first year, the company used a Wordpress blog as their official web-site, and they still don’t own a printer at office. “With bootstrapping, life didn’t change much. It was my mindset that did,” said Agrawal. “It’s not that I can’t afford cer-tain things like a printer, it is about spending for what you absolutely need,” said Agrawal, 29, who said the company is now beginning to attract investor atten-tion. India’s most famous bootstrapped companies Zoho VWO RateGain BrowserStack Kayako Cosmic Circuits FusionCharts Famous bootstrapped companies overseas HappyFox Apple Dell Hewlett-Packard Microsoft 51% 55% of the entrepreneurs between age of 31-40 years (Data by iSpirt) of the founders bring in the engineering expertise 70% startups treat SMB customers as strategic 57% of the start-ups see average deal size of more than `50 lakhs 73% of software product companies in India are bootstrapped Sharad Sharma, cofounder, iSpirt Customer engagement was a new term for a large number of mom and pop shops - until Anand Krushnan jumped in to sell software to small shops and bring back those customers that crossed their threshold. Since early 2013, the team of 150 employees has covered 1,500 shops across India and has been frugal in doing so. By working out of his ex-employers office, called Tangence, Krushnan has eliminated all costs related to infrastructure. Bootstrapped entrepreneurs have it worse than funded ones is a notion that Krushnan disagrees with. “Whatever you do, you can’t be stressed. I play badminton every day, and work for 12 hours a day. That’s how it has always been,” said Krushnan, 39 a graduate of at GM Institute of Technology, Chitradurga. Bangalore-based Inquirly Technologies, started up by Anjan Choudhary and his wife, bootstrapped with `92 lakh and fol-lows a business to business model. The 2013 startup sells software to restaurants, edu-cational institutions and other small and medium enterprises. It provides a tablet-based interaction software charging monthly and quarterly subscriptions starting from `6,000 upwards and is looking to get onto the global plat-form by early next March, generating a revenue of ` 61 lakh. A business needs to achieve certain trac-tion before seeking for investors, said Choudhary, who pooled in his paychecks during his stint at Accenture to startup and is targeting a revenue of `6 crore by tapping into global markets early next March. “Anyone can use the product: from a ‘pan-walah’ to a ‘planewalah’,” said Choudhary, an alumnus of Bangalore University. WHAT THEY DO: Sells customer-engagement and interaction software for small and medium businesses FOUNDED IN : 2013 SEED CAPITAL: Around `92 lakh (through paychecks while working at Accenture) REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: Around `61 lakh TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: `6 crore USP: Using low-cost technology to bring efficiency into greenfield industries like education and food management WHAT THEY DO: Helps small retail outlets acquire and retain customers FOUNDED IN : 2013 SEED CAPITAL: Undisclosed REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: `3 crore TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: Undisclosed USP: Shifts the focus back on offline advertising FOUNDER : Anand Krushnan FOUNDER : Anjan Choudhary rather than be treated as an aberration Started by Ankit Jain and his brother, VoiceTree Technologies is a Delhi-based startup that pro-vides virtual software as a service-based call man-agement system to small and medium businesses. Started up in 2010 with a seed capital of `2 lakh, the duo started out in a three-bedroom apartment. The duo was forced to bootstrap after being turned down by investors. “In retrospect, it gave us time to innovate and work on our product at our own pace,” said Jain, CEO, whose company is cur-rently chasing a revenue run rate of `4 crore and is looking to take its product to global markets in the next four months and increase revenue growth by 400% in the upcoming fiscal. Goa-based PowerStores Ecommerce offers users software where they can set up their own online website or store by regis-tering themselves. The decision to bootstrap was one out of choice, said Indrajit Chowdhury, CTO of the 2011-registered compa-ny, who started up with CEO Cory York. The decision to bootstrap was one out of choice. The process is simi-lar to registering on Gmail, where users just need to provide basic details. With subscriptions start-ing at `7,000 a month, the startup has amassed over 800 customers in six months. It will focus on lo-cal markets in the coming months. The startup did not disclose the revenue figures, but is looking to expand its service to the Asian market. WHAT THEY DO: Provides an end-to-end call management system through SaaS called MyOperator to small and medium businesses FOUNDED IN : 2010 SEED CAPITAL: `2 lakh REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: `4 crore TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: Looking at larger than 400% revenue growth USP: Bootstrapping enabled consistent innovation of the product WHAT THEY DO: Helps SMBs advertise on non-traditional media FOUNDED IN : 2012 SEED CAPITAL: `3 lakh REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: `4 crore TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: `8-10 crore USP: Help fill a gap in the advertising industry WHAT THEY DO: Helps small builders find material at wholesale prices FOUNDED IN : 2014 SEED CAPITAL: `1 lakh REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: `1 crore TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: `5 crore USP: Help builders procure materials at lesser prices WHAT THEY DO: Allows users to set up their own ecommerce store or website through a simple registration, similar to a Gmail registration FOUNDED IN : Registered in 2011, but came out with the service in 2013 SEED CAPITAL : `20 lakh REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2014: Undisclosed TARGET REVENUE FOR FISCAL 2015: Undisclosed USP: Helps small businesses gain online presence FOUNDER : Vinit Bhansali FOUNDER : Mukesh Agrawal Ecommerce FOUNDER : Indrajit Chowdhury FOUNDER : Ankit Jain 14 THE ECONOMIC TIMES | BANGALORE | FRIDAY | 3 OCTOBER 2014 Power of Ideas