As an individual and professional, December 31 or January 01 means nothing to me. I don’t unwind myself to celebrate these days with friends, or take new year resolution. The jubilant fireworks and celebrations on the new year eve in my neighbourhood never excited me. I have always amused at the craziness and obsessive nature of people giving undue importance to the first/last day of a calendar year.
For me, the most important thing on any given day is how I can impact someone’s life, however minor it may be. Am I able to help improve the lives of people around/related to me, as an individual or a professional?
I wrote about numerous startup companies in 2017. I hold some of them very close to my heart, for their sincere attempt to change the way people think and live. When looking back, I feel happy that I contributed to the growth of a few entrepreneurs and startups in 2017, in terms of giving them some good press and thus helping them reach out to a few potential investors, as well as customers.
Following are my favourites from last year (please note that these businesses were not picked on their potential to be a unicorn in future, but based on what I feel have the potential to create a big impact on ordinary people like us).
CropIn — making every farmer smart
Bangalore-based CropIn Technology provides agritech solutions that could save thousands of farmers from the edge of bankruptcy and suicide in India. A SaaS-based company, CropIn’s products help farmers at every stage, including communicating weather and pest advisory to farmers, scheduling the right package of practices and adoption of inputs, ensuring adherence to compliances and certifications, giving yield predictability and providing access to markets for fair value of produce.
It harnesses cutting-edge technologies, such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, geo-tagging, and satellite monitoring. It has developed five products catering to agricultural businesses at different levels of the agri-ecosystem, namely SmartFarm, SmartRisk, mWarehouse, SmartSales, and AcreSquare.
dunzo — getting all your tasks done
dunzo is a mobile app to get all your tasks done. Run by Bangalore-based Dunzo Digital, it has employed a fleet of runners on the ground to get the tasks fulfilled in time. It also has a team of operators to ensure all requests are done correctly.
The app leverages both Artificial Intelligence and human operators in providing solutions for consumers’ everyday tasks. This can be buying groceries, picking up your dry cleaning, finding a plumber, buying medicine at 3 in the morning, or picking up a contract from your office and sending it to your lawyer. You can also request for someone to clean your house, fix those broken speakers in the back of your cupboard to even getting a pigeon out of your house.
Users can also create a to-do list of their tasks in the app and get them completed by dunzo runners.
PeeBuddy– female urination device
Started in 2015, PeeBuddy is a device that allows women to stand and pee even in dirty public toilets; so no more wiping of seats/making chairs, lessening the risk of contracting infections. The product is also handy for pregnant women and arthritis sufferers.
The startup also offers Sirona range of products, which include herbal feminine pain relief patches (to avoid taking pills), bio-degradable sanitary disposal bags (for clean and hygienic disposal of sanitary products), intimate wet wipes, applicator tampons, and under-arm sweat pads. For wellness, it also offers natural mosquito patches and bands.
According to the company, women have a lot on their plates these days. PeeBuddy believes its products can assist women in taking care of their intimate hygiene and wellness needs in many peculiar situations which are not discussed openly, including lack of friendly toilets, menstrual pains, sanitary disposal, etc.
Dysco — social meets professional
Dysco is a hyperlocal version of Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram — all rolled into one. The app is meant for collaboration between talented people. It utilises Artificial Intelligence tools to ensure relevant and efficient search results that are personalised to users’ preferences. Users can create interactive multimedia profiles that are reflective of their best work, by sharing audio clips, video links, blog posts, photos, and articles.
The app is intended for people of all backgrounds: entrepreneurs, developers, designers, freelancers, etc. It operates across 18 different industries, including tech & innovation, food & beverage, architecture & interiors, blogging & styling, fitness & health, photography & film, fashion & jewellery, and art & design.
Dysco’s features don’t end just with networking and discovery. Everything you interact with on Dysco is geared to what is around you (in your city, in your country). The content, people and job opportunities are ones that you have a high likelihood of interacting and engaging with.
ToneTag — digital payments using soundwave technology
Founded in 2013, ToneTag offers sound-based contactless payments, location-based services, and proximity-based customer engagement services, amongst others. It enables cashless, digital payments from cards and e-wallets from feature phones without the use of the internet, meaning that it operates with minimal to zero hardware dependency.
The technology can enable payments through any device – laptops, PCs, tablets, EDCs, mPOS, and smartphones. Its SDK can be used for online and offline retail, paying for parking, toll, buses, or for making in-flight payments. This combination allows customers from all walks of life to enjoy a payment process which is as convenient, frictionless, and interoperable as the use of cash.
GiveAway — connects donors to verified beneficiaries
Founded in early 2015, GiveAway is a product crowdsourcing platform to connect donors with verified beneficiaries, where anyone from across the globe will be able to donate a range of essentials for the needy. People can donate groceries, ready-made food, books, education, and healthcare support, in partnerships with corporates. Donors will be able to track their donations in real time. Cash donation is, however, not accepted.
GiveAway has joined hands with a few corporates such as e-commerce platforms like BigBasket and Snapdeal. These companies can list their products at a discounted rate on the GiveAway platform, and donors can then make purchases of the products they’d like to donate. These products will then be sent to the verified beneficiaries. Non-profits (homes, orphanages/NGOs etc) can also run their respective campaigns and list the products they want in the GiveAway marketplace.
During its two-and-half years of existence, the startup was also associated with various other major causes, including the Maharashtra drought in 2016 (in association with Snapdeal) and Cyclone Vardah in Chennai, in addition to the planting of saplings post-Cyclone Vardah in 2016 in Chennai.
The Remote Life
The Remote Life is a programme that brings together professionals, freelancers and entrepreneurs to work, live, and travel. It takes care of the research, organisation, booking of your stay, workspace and experience, so that you can see the world without leaving your work behind. It is designed to give maximum focus on your experience and working lifestyle. The food, stay, and activities are native to the countries you would be visiting.
The programme picks 30 participants for each batch on an invite-only basis — mostly entrepreneurs and freelancers (commonly known as digital nomads). “We take care of the logistics for a month, so you can work without interruptions. We also have plenty of personal and professional development workshops and sessions all through the programme, ranging from basic digital marketing to setting up your personal brand and helping with technology and product development,” Dua added.
The fee starts at US$1,300 per month, which includes the flights and fares between the destinations, accommodation, 24/7 workspace with high-speed Internet, airport transfers, visa, insurance and local SIM card, and planned community activities and workshops.