Sun, sand and startups! The uprising of the Goa’s startup ecosystem
(A more detailed version of this article originally appeared on YourStory)
Goa always brings to mind relaxed vacations, but dig a little deep and you’ll find that a startup ecosystem in the state is thriving despite the odds. YourStory spoke to several of these daring young entrepreneurs — most with no connection with tourism — who’ve chosen to put down roots far away from metros and are flourishing in the sunny state. But first, here’s an introduction to these potential superstars(in no particular order).
St. Catejan Church
Fleetrover — enterprise software for fleet management
Founders: Luke Sequeira, Chris Atkinson, Hannah Bain, Joshua Silveira and Aprup Shet. Raised $180,000 in 2015 from angel investors Tim Chen (CEO, Nerdwallet) and Sanjay Venkat (former VP, Bank of America),partner at Cadian Capital. (Detailed story here). They also run DCCPER, a design and development company, which delivers web and mobile applications for startups. In two years, they have grown to 50 people with offices in three countries.
Browntape — cloud-based platform for multi-channel online sales
Founders: Gurpreet Singh and Piyush Goel. Raised nearly $1 million from Seedfund and Krishnan Ganesh in April 2014. Helps online merchants manage their orders and inventory for multiple e-commerce marketplaces. Has grown from 10 people in 2014 to 175 currently; expanded from SaaS to enterprise.
Vacation Labs — Shopify for travel
Founder: Saurabh Nanda (IIT Kanpur alumnus). Current product is a combination of a back-office platform and booking engine, and includes a supplier-side mobile app for tour and activity operators. The two-year-old firm has about 1,800 customers.
Prototyze — incubator for mobile technology ventures (and more)
Founder: Gourav Jaswal. Recently tied up with actress Gul Panag to co-found MobieFit, a start-up focused on fitness-centred mobile apps. Launched their first product, FirstRun, a coaching app for running enthusiasts earlier in 2015.
Androcid — mobile application developer
Founder: Prajyot Mainkar. Mainly works with startups and specialises in developing user-focused, strategic solutions on native and cross-platform mobile development. Their blog publishes Android-related news. Also organizes Goa’s Android-dev conference, Nitrodroid.
Beard Design — website and digital design
Founder: Abhishek Sarda. Helps brands develop beautiful websites and other digital products. Has worked with 150 clients across 27 cities and 11 countries in three years.
Mobobeat — mobile app advertising network
Founder: Tyrone D’Souza. Less than a year old and has clients across the world. Its USP is that it works on cost per install (CPI) basis rather than the traditional cost per click (CPC) basis preferred by traditional ad networks.
GrowthGravy –growth hacking solutions for startups
Founder: Viresh Vazirani. Focuses on the mobile space and claims to have a few big tech startups as clients. Previously worked with EDMofy.com , Startupgoa.org, Goa.me. Launched GrowthGravy after realising startups’ need for growth hacking.
Inventrom — Internet of Things for appliances
Founders: Pranav Pai Vernekar and Vinayak Joshi. First claim to fame was Minion Bot. Now working on NetPlug, an IoT device that helps manufacturers of electrical appliances, electronic devices and industrial machinery connect their products to the Internet. Also lets users control different devices via a smartphone app, social media and other web-based tools. Clients include Mukunda Foods (IoT dosamaker), SS Electrical (IoT lighting) and Ashwini Agarwal (IoT hooter).
The Rodinhoods — An open community for entrepreneurs
An initiative by Alok Kejriwal, (cofounder and CEO of Games2win), The Rodinhoods is a community for entrepreneurs that is almost 10,500 members strong. They hold regular offline events across different cities for entrepeneurs. The website and events are run, co-ordinated and managed by Asha Chaudhary, the co-founder and editor, who is based in Goa.
Come to Goa…to work?
The DCCPER team
Given that Goa is largely perceived as a holiday destination, hiring and retaining talent can be a significant problem. Mobobeat’s Tyrone D’Souza says people from larger cities are hesitant to move here. Fleetrover has faced similar problems — few engineering graduates consider Goa a place to get jobs with high growth potential. “The biggest downside is the lack of experienced technical and design talent,” says Co-founder Luke Sequeira.Compounding this problem is the brain drain — local talent heads to big cities or foreign shores.
On the other hand, people like Mohan Krishnan, Chief Planning officer at Prototyze, who has lived in Goa for 14 years, won’t consider moving out. “In the last year, we’ve been able to attract quite a few senior professionals to Prototyze,” he says, reeling off names of those who’ve left big cities for Goa.
Some companies have hedged their bets by keeping their headquarters in Goa but opening branch offices elsewhere in the country.
Where do startups hang out and meet clients?
“Contrary to popular belief, not many meetings happen on the beach in Goa,” laughs Luke. Most startups meet clients at their own offices(mostly housed in villas) or at cafés. It’s rare to have a meeting — and never a formal one — at a shack or a beach (those are for internal meetings only).
Hiring meetings very often happen at the office itself. Vacation Labs prefers to call people to their office in a villa overlooking a cliff and the river. Saurabh says
That way people get to meet the entire team. If it’s a full-day interview or meeting, we end it by visiting a nearby beachside restaurant.
Funding avenues are limited…for now
While Fleetrover and Browntape have raised funding, most early-stage startups in Goa lack exposure and guidance on how to raise funding.
Puranjaya Singh, Managing Partner at PAN Enterprises got into angel investing by chance and first invested in Mettl, an online assessment firm, in 2010. As a resident of Goa, he is optimistic about the startup ecosystem.
Many startups are doing well and some are very close to raising funds…One aspect which I see lacking in Goa is diversity of talent compared to cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru.
As an angel investor, Puranjaya feels that most Goa-based startups are not on investors’radars but believes this will change soon. For him, the team and the business take priority over where the company is located.