Year End Special: Start-ups that made news in 2016

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The year 2016 has been witness to many unprecedented events, most of them dampening for business and industry in general.

While the year saw, the United Kingdom voting to part ways from the European Union, a phenomenon now famously referred to as 'Brexit', Republican nominee Donald Trump's upset win in the US Presidential election also left many companies' stocks hammered.

Closer home, the Indian start-up industry also saw many ups and downs throughout the year. The Narendra Modi-led central government's decision to demonetise 500- and 1,000-rupee currency notes led to a spending squeeze but many start-ups benefitted from the move as well. However, according to reports funding soared in start-ups in 2016 in comparison with the previous year.

ALSO READ: Private equity exits cross $10 billion in 2016: Bain & Co

India’s largest e-commerce firm, Flipkart, made headlines for their continuous markdowns in valuation by Morgan Stanley (Click here) and top level management quitting the company (Click here).

While, mobile wallet Paytm benefitted due to demonestisation, its full-page advertisements after the note ban, congratulating the prime minister drew flak. Recently, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the company’s founder, also sold 1% of his stake in the company for Rs 325 crore.

Similarly, app-based taxi aggregator Ola also saw a markdown in valuation from Japanese investor Softbank (Click here to read story).  It also shut down its TaxiForSure (TFS) business in August and laid off 700 employees in the process (Click here to read the story).

In August, messenger app Hike became the latest Indian start-up to join the list of Indian Unicorns (start-ups valued at over $1 billion) as it raised $175 million in a fourth round of funding (Click here to read the story).

However, other than these biggies there were other start-ups which grabbed attention and created a buzz in 2016. Business Standard takes a look at the start-ups that made news.


Launched in 2015 by Byju Raveendran, Byju’s, an Edu-tech company offers learning app which provides effective learning programs for students in classes K-12 and competitive exams like JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT. The company raised $75 million from Sequoia India and Sofina in March. In September, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropy co-founded by Dr Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, made its first investment in Asia in the Bengaluru-based firm. The $50 million commitment saw funding from existing investors. Recently, the IFC (International Finance Corporation), a World Bank investment arm also pumped money in the start-up.


Founded by Girish Mathrubootham, the Chennai-based start-up is a cloud-based customer engagement software firm. It raised Series F funding of $55 million in November which took the total funds raised by the company to around $149 million. The company also acquired six companies — 1Click, Frilp, Konotor, Framebench, Airwoot, and Chatimity — in the past 15 months. It is also touted to be the next start-up on the Unicorn list.

ALSO READ: The next phase is to prove we can be successful as a multiproduct company: Girish Mathrubootham


The Gurgaon-based company, is a technology-enabled logistics start-up, which was founded by Deepak Garg and Gazal Kalra in 2014. In November, private equity firm Warburg Pincus invested $75 million in the start-up for a minority stake. In August, it ordered 1,200 medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) — the largest commercial order of trucks by any surface transport company — from Ashok Leyland.


Founded by Shashank ND in 2011 Practo is a digital healthcare platform. Bengaluru-based firm has raised over $120 million and has a global presence in over 50 cities in 15 countries around the world. Recently, the firm announced the acquisition of Enlightiks Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a healthcare analytics solutions firm, in a cash and stock deal. The start-up claims to aggregate over 200,000 doctors, in India, Brazil, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. This was Practo’s fifth acquisition in the past two years.


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