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With more than 400-million internet users China’s online success stories, like QQ and Baidu, make even Facebook’s numbers look average. But India’s open economy, its high percentage of English speakers and its highly educated new caste of IT whizz kids make it a perfect breeding ground for tech entrepreneurs.
Here are five of the most interesting startups to watch:
Founded: March 2009
Homebase: New Delhi
Elevator pitch: Voicetap connects people in need of advice with genuine experts on every subject imaginable using ordinary mobile phone technologies. Conversations are arranged using automated SMS and concluded as standard phone calls. Experts are rewarded with redeemable points.
The idea of using technology to connect people to experts is much older than the internet, but rarely has it been done so elegantly and with such a wide reach. India has 600-million mobile phone users. Just 1% of that market would make these guys very rich.
Launched: November 2009
Elevator pitch: An instant keyboard translator that allows you to type in Indian letters (such as Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi) using a standard English keyboard by simply spelling out words phonetically. Also works on mobile phones.
At the moment Quillpad is focussed on India’s enormous local market, but just imagine the possibilites in other non-Latin-script countries like Russia, Greece and – yes – China.
Founded: June 2009
Homebase: New Delhi
Elevator pitch: A “visual website optimiser” that allows you to quickly and easily set up A/B testing and almost instantly see the results. Wingify is the easiest web optimisation solution on the market, without sacrificing any important features.
The web optimisation market is pretty crowded, but Wingify’s simple-but-powerful visual solution takes all the grunt work out of A/B and multivariate page testing. Perfect for small to medium e-commerce and web application businesses.
Founded: January 2008
Elevator pitch: A software-as-a-service e-commerce platform that makes setting up an online store much simpler, cheaper and quicker. Caters for both existing retailers of all sizes, and new online-only players. Also caters for both B2C and B2B markets.
It’s not a particularly revolutionary idea, but MartJack does it well and its customer base is expanding rapidly.
Founded: April 2007
Elevator pitch: Allows users to create and join mobile communities and broadcast to them via SMS. Not so much Twitter via SMS as group chat via SMS, and no smart phone required.
Another Twitter clone? Not at all. These guys recognised how important SMS is to India’s 600 million mobile phone users, and gave them Twitter-like reach and features without all the fancy gadgetry. And the tens of millions of users prove their point. (It also helps that its founders – Beerud Sheth and Rakesh Mathur – are Silicon Valley royalty).
The future is Asian
With both China and India’s economies growing at over 9% per annum, while the world’s developed economies stutter and flat-line, we are seeing a fundamental shift in economic power. This will probably mean that many of India’s millions of bright young things will stop selling their hours to America and Europe and strike out on their own.
The five companies listed above are just the tip of an iceberg that grows larger with each month.
Know any hot Indian startups we missed? There are hundreds more, but we’d love to hear some new ones from you.