Entrepreneurship, and the spirit that drives it, can be an infectious phenomenon. In 2012, even some of the less entrepreneurial parts of India have started showing signs of life. At a recently held pitch competition in Kolkata, we got a taste of this enthusiasm.
InSync Tech-Fin Solutions
One of the winners was InSync Tech-Fin Solutions, founded in 2009 to help eCommerce merchants worldwide to increase their efficiency by presenting an integrated solution between Magento and SAP Business One. Through their flagship product, SBOeConnect, the company provides both the capability of back office ERP Systems that today’s eCommerce solutions lack, as well as a compelling form of integration.
Atul Gupta’s move to Kolkata in 2006, combined with his computer science background and passion for information technology, provided the inspiration to serve Indian SMBs locally. It was through a focus on both service and product that Atul found the need for SBOeConnect. Initially, the finances for Atul’s venture came from family funds – InSync now operates on cash flow. And with a potential total addressable market of $95 million and a target of established and emerging eCommerce merchants, InSync is already profitable in the realm of $500,000, and has 80 paying customers to date.
Next we have the 2006-founded iQeCommerce, a hosted solution providing easy and efficient setup for small business owners in need of an eCommerce store online. Essentially SaaS via an eCommerce website, what began with the single site design of a collage website has evolved past a freelancing portal into a functional business.
iQeCommerce offers, among its services, custom store design, professional setup and pay-per-click (PPC) setup, with quotes provided based upon services requested. The company aims to develop a solution that maintains a high level of quality, thereby establishing long-term bonds with their clients. Additional claims include ensuring the customer is provided all required tools to compete in their respective market; considering iQeCommerce enters a competitive market itself, working against the likes of BigCommerce and Volusion, it’s an ambitious goal.
Founders Nilmoni Basak and Abhisek Kumar are longtime business partners, counting iQeCommerce as their second startup. Abhisek brings six years of experience in Project Management and Delivery, customer handling and troubleshooting to the venture, while Nilmoni’s past experience includes frontend design and working with the technical team to execute the product. Together, they hope to acquire 1,000 customers on iQecommerce within the next eight to ten months.
Over the past six years, the company can count over 500 customers served, and have designed and developed over 1,000 sites. Product revenues have exceeded the $200,000 mark.
Working to the principle, “keep it simple,” the relatively new Debate.fm is reinventing the previous conceptions of online forums by featuring three full layers of user engagement and is heavily integrated with social media. Founded in May 2011, the startup presents an online platform that allows its users to start a debate in three easy steps, and to continue discussing their ideas with even greater facility. Founder Kamanashish Roy wanted to give debaters simple and varied means to make their ideas heard; moreover, his site provides a more anonymous means of sharing and discussing culturally sensitive issues than popular online communities such as Facebook.
Kamanashish is no stranger to the media space, with degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication as well as professional experience in online marketing. He was inspired to discuss a first post with his partners after watching a televised debate regarding a nuclear power plant in the spring of 2011. Their first prototype launched with just a single debate to widely popular reviews. Debate.fm currently acts as an offering of Kamanashish’s current company, WebPrachar.com, which offers similar services to offshore clients.
Another budding venture, ShopOffice, is an online provider of office supplies, designed to serve the needs of small businesses. Under the slogan “you click we deliver,” ShopOffice is intended to be a one-stop-shop to order needed materials online for delivery, with no hassle.
Founder Rohit Singh became deeply interested in entrepreneurship while still completing a degree in computer engineering, and through his research was exposed to leading office supply providers Office Depot and Staples. Upon discovering that the concept had yet to be introduced in Eastern India, he set out to fill the niche.
Now, let us also look at the companies that are taking off in Bengal.
Indus Net Technologies
Founded in 2002, Indus Net Technologies provides end-to-end Web and mobile technology solutions and digital marketing services – specifically application development for web and mobile, integrated digital marketing and web design with specific work in SEO and SEM. The majority of Indus Net’s business lies in emerging companies, closely followed by digital agencies and enterprise; the company empowers small businesses and startups through the Indus Net Express program.
After purchasing a book on HTML and attending an exhibition on the subject in his hometown of Kolkata, founder Abhishek Rungta used the connections he made and the knowledge he acquired to make his way into the Internet business. Indus Net is a fully bootstrapped venture of over 500 full-time professionals and boats an annual turnover of over $5 million.
Virtual Information and Communications (VirtualInfoCom)
Another Kolkata company, Virtual Information and Communications (VirtualInfoCom) offers all manner of animation and graphics, counting among its accolades the title of India’s first game development training course, India’s first smart phone application training institute and creator of India’s first mythological PC game. In 1999, when the company was founded, animation in India was relatively new. As founder Arijit Bhattacharya was continuously approached by job seekers, he eventually decided to convert the demand into a training institute.
In addition, a team of 91 now spans three separate offices; services offered now include game development, mobile gaming and ad promotion, visual and special effects, Web page design, software development, and many more.
Games are created, sometimes from the concept stage, for sale through resellers, at which time VirtualInfoCom receives royalties for each download. Today, the company has over 175 resellers for their products, providing 60% of the company’s revenue – which has nearly hit the $4.8 million mark. This combines with additional revenues from training institute enrollments and site traffic from an online gaming portal.
Next we have Pinnacle Infotech, providing CAD design, modeling and drafting solutions since its launch in 1992. Using the latest technologies, Pinnacle provides Building Information Modeling (BIM) services for the architecture, engineering, construction, electrical, and plumbing segments, and many more. The company is comprised of a team of 500 engineers, architects, and CAD professionals.
Founder Bimial Patwari began work in management consulting after a degree in electronics engineering, but realized his real passion was for entrepreneurship. After becoming an AutoDesk certified partner and providing training to engineering students in AutoDesk products, he realized the need for AutoCAD design services, which provided the basis for Pinnacle to go global in 1998.
The company has been entirely bootstrapped to the $6 million revenue mark, and continues to grow at a rate of 35% per year. Projects have shifted to larger scale designs such as airports, hospitals and convention centers.
A1 Future Technologies
Another Web design specialist, A1 Future Technologies, was born out of freelance work and gained momentum by specializing in corporate identity solutions.
Founder Srish Agarwal began as a freelance graphic designer while still in college, running a cyber café, during which time he became exposed to and learned web design. He then went on to create his Elance profile and began bidding in 2002. After hiring eight to ten young, fresh designers, he had built himself a team to work on the design projects that were increasing in volume. Once client began offering projects to Srish directly, he felt the time was right to break away from the exchange.
With revenues at $1.25 million in 2011 and a total of 60-65 projects per day, as well as an affiliated animated video site set to launch soon, A1 is doing steady business.
Finally on our long list of Bengal-based startups is FusionCharts, a software suite that allows customers to create Flash charts: animated and interactive charts for use in Web and enterprise applications. Using a combination of Microsoft ASP and Flash technologies, the company offers 14 separate data visualization products that integrate with enterprise applications, PowerPoint and SharePoint, as well extensions for other applications such as Dreamweaver.
FusionCharts co-founder Pallav Nadhani developed and successfully launched the company while still in high school, drawing upon his father’s enthusiasm for technology and the convenience of their longtime home computer. Through a self-taught series of computer skills, Pallav learned that no user-friendly forms of data visualization yet existed.
Today, the company is fully bootstrapped to its current revenue mark of $7 million. Over one billion charts are created each month by 21,000 customers in over 115 countries.
So next time someone tells you that there are no entrepreneurs in Bengal, you can comfortably introduce them to Pallav, Bimal, Srish, Arijit, Abhishek, or Atul.
And in due course, many hundreds of others.
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