Signed, sealed, Delhivered: ET Startup Awards 2019 zeroes in on the best of Indian startups
Delhivery bags top award for its impact on India’s fractured logistics landscape.
A distinguished jury led by Uday Kotak, managing director and chief executive officer of Kotak Mahindra Bank, chose nine winners from a shortlist of 40 contenders for The Economic Times Startup Awards 2019 at a meeting in Bengaluru on Friday.
The jury, comprising a veritable who’s who of entrepreneurship, finance and corporate leadership, chose winners with ambition, the ability to build large, scalable businesses and the perseverance to tide over tough times that are intrinsic to starting up. However, the decisive votes were cast for those entrepreneurs whose ventures held the potential to transform India.
“I am positive of the startup industry becoming a major differentiator in the New India,” said Kotak, who headed a 10-member jury that engaged in intense discussions before settling on a winner.
Delhivery garnered praise for its outsized impact in alleviating one of India’s biggest challenges – a fractured logistics network, as well as for the entrepreneurial flair exhibited by cofounder and CEO Sahil Barua.
“There is cutting-edge work being done by startups in different areas and in every category there was close competition, which made it a very tough call,” said Niti Aayog CEO and jury member Amitabh Kant.
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“That just goes to show the enormous amount of work that Indian startups are doing and the huge impact they’re making in the vast range of areas,” said Kant Joining the Gurgaon-based firm on the podium were Bejul Somaia, managing director at Lightspeed Venture Partners, who bagged the Midas Touch Award for Best Investor; Bootstrap Champ Fit & Glow Healthcare; Top Innovator Tricog Health Services; Comeback Kid winners Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, cofounders of online marketplace Snapdeal; and the company adjudged as the Best on Campus — energy efficient home appliances maker Atomberg Technologies. Priya Krishnan, chief executive officer of education company Founding Years Learning Solutions, was the winner of the Woman Ahead prize while data insights provider SocialCops and feminine hygiene products maker First Steps Digital were joint winners in the Social Enterprise category.
“The theme I kept repeating across categories was weighing business growth, profitability and valuation growth with social impact and relevance for the country,” said Satyan Gajwani, vice chairman of Times Internet. “So, the company that won the biggest award — The Startup of the Year — is changing logistics. If logistics is rapidly organised and improved, that has an impact on the country’s progress.”
Kotak, Gajwani and Kant were joined by Flipkart cofounder Sachin Bansal, Oyo Hotels & Homes founder Ritesh Agarwal, cofounder of food delivery app Swiggy Sriharsha Majety, BookMyShow cofounder Ashish Hemrajani, DST Global’s Rahul Mehta, Multiples Alternate Asset Management founder Renuka Ramnath and SAP Labs India’s Dilip Khandelwal in the three-hour deliberations where the final winners were chosen by secret ballot.
The initial pool of candidates for this fifth edition of The Economic Times Startup Awards was chosen by the founders of India’s most prominent startups as well as the best-known Indian and global investors. ET’s editors worked with knowledge partner Tracxn to arrive at the final shortlist. This ensured that the ET Startup Awards continue to be a recognition bestowed by and for the best among peers.
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Oyo was the Startup of the Year in 2018 while food delivery app Swiggy won in 2017 and enterprise software maker Freshworks bagged the top prize in 2016. The winner of The Startup of the Year in the inaugural edition of ETSA in 2015 was ride-hailing app Ola.
This year too, the discussions were wide-ranging and passionate, with The Startup of the Year emerging as the most contested category. Detailed discussions led to the field being narrowed down to two companies – Delhivery and Nykaa, an omni-channel retailer of beauty products, which also stocks a private label portfolio.
The jury had special words of praise for the Social Enterprise category, where the members were spoilt for choice and finally decided to pick two winners — SocialCops and First Step Digital, maker of the Pee Buddy range of hygiene products.
“I particularly enjoyed the social enterprise category,” said Bansal. “We had two winners there and it was great to see how entrepreneurs are building for India. From all my learnings as a founder, operator and now investor, eventually it’s a great team in an outstanding market that wins.”
Tricog Health Services also came in for praise for its impact in an area of critical concern for India — cardiac care, as did the winner of the Woman Ahead category, Krishnan, for her role in championing the return of women professionals to the workplace after childbirth.
“What I found fascinating is the development of the startup ecosystem and The Economic Times playing a catalyst’s role to encourage the startup industry,” Kotak said.
The Economic Times Startup Awards 2019 is presented by IDFC First Bank in association with Indorse, knowledge partner Tracxn and hospitality partner The Leela Palace, Bengaluru.