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Smriti Mandhana to Prajakta Koli: Class of 2019 Report Card

A look at what the 30 Under 30 alumni have been up to in the past year

Published: Feb 15, 2020 08:51:31 AM IST
Updated: Feb 17, 2020 10:09:46 AM IST

Anugrah Shrivastava, Rohan Gupta and Vasanth Kamath of smallcase
Image: Nishant Ratnakar

Vasanth Kamath, Anugrah Shrivastava, Rohan Gupta
Co-founders, smallcase
Over the last year, smallcase became a more widely accepted financial product to invest in, with the company doubling its tie-ups with brokerages to eight. Its revenues also rose 56 percent to ₹2.5 crore as of FY19 and the customer base to 6.8 lakh, three-fold from a year earlier. Now at least 50 organisations are creating and selling their own smallcases as investment products. The employee strength of the startup, largely based in Bengaluru, has risen to 100 from 60 a year earlier.

Forbes India Impact: “Getting on the list gave us more visibility among our target audience. It also added credibility to our mission with our partners and the industry,” says Vasanth Kamath.

NGOs & Social Entrepreneurship
Maneet Gohil, Sanchit Govil and Albin Jose
Co-founders, Lal10
The startup, which trains over 8,000 artisans in 22 states to make wooden objects, apparel, handloom, lighting, home furnishing and natural fibre products, has seen its revenue almost double in 2019 to ₹10.2 crore. Lal10 now exports to 400 retailers across 18 countries. It raised $1.5 million last November from technology entrepreneurs Amit Ranjan and Nikhil Maheshwari, and will use these funds to connect Indian artisans to global retailers.

Daniel Raj David, Harikrishnan AS, Karthik R, Tarun Kumar Mishra
Co-founders, DeTect Technologies
2019 has been the “best year” for DeTect Technologies. The revenues multiplied 10x, the team has expanded to over 120 employees and the company has been expanding internationally, setting up a subsidiary in the US, besides having offices in Mumbai, Gujarat, Delhi and Chennai. The team was focussed on scaling up the business in 2019, and didn’t raise funds, but it will be doing so in 2020. “Our new fund will be invested in from both Indian and US entities,” says Daniel Raj David, CEO and co-founder.

Forbes India Impact: “We were, are very strong in India right now. But we had never got inbound interest from the US. The moment we got into the 30 Under 30 list in India, and then in Asia, a lot of people who heard about us contacted us from the Middle East, China and the US, and we have capitalised the US right now.”

Smriti Mandhana
The left-handed opener capped another successful year by making it to ICC’s ODI and T20 teams of the year. Earlier in 2019, during the series against England, she became the country’s youngest T20 captain, overtaking Suresh Raina. While a toe injury during the South Africa series kept her out of the game for a few weeks, Mandhana returned with gusto during the tour of West Indies, where she became the second-fastest Indian, behind Shikhar Dhawan, to complete 2,000 runs in one-dayers.

Ashutosh Vikram, Kartheeswaran KK
Co-founders, Ninjacart
In the past year, Ninjacart, a business-to-business agritech startup, has expanded to seven cities with its customer base growing from 18,000 to 60,000. It also raised $49.5 million until last year, and their total funding is now over $100 million. The daily volume has reached over a 1,000 tonnes and the farmer network is now over 45,000-strong, helping them increase their income by 15 percent.

Forbes India Impact: “The list has created more visibility and built credibility for the Ninjacart brand among potential talent, investors and customers. For me, personally, it has improved my credibility on social media, and I was able to inspire fellow colleagues, apart from making the family proud,” says co-founder Kartheeswaran KK.

Artist Diptej Vernekar has completed an eventful 2019 with a number of shows
Image: Debarshi Sarkar


Diptej Vernekar


For Vernekar, 2019 was an eventful year, with a group show at India Art Fair in Delhi under the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation, a show for the CIMA Art Awards at the Cima Art Gallery in Kolkata, and a third show initiated by the Goa Artist Collective in collaboration with the Museum of Goa. He is currently working on a project that maps the culture of indigenous education through the local tradition of making floats around Goa, and is also working on the Goa Open Arts Festival.
Forbes India Impact: “Being a listee has given me social recognition. Following this, my work has been covered by other art platforms and publications as well.”

Consumer Tech
Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel, Shishir Modi
Co-founders, Niki.ai
A virtual shopping assistant for customers, Niki.ai has expanded significantly in 2019. Set up in 2015, Niki.ai is a one-stop solution for services such as payments and online bookings, and uses artificial intelligence to make transactions faster and more convenient. Today it has more than 2 million active users, with a massive growth in tier 2 cities and beyond. “We are poised to hit a turnover of $1 billion in run rate by March 2022,” says Nitin Babel, co-founder. While the business-to-consumer commerce platform has already been launched in Hindi, Bengali and Tamil, the company is planning to expand to seven more languages. 

Forbes India Impact: “The story of the founding team coming from rural India and receiving the recognition reaffirmed the trust our customers have in Niki.ai and the belief our partners have in our vision of transforming the economic lives of middle and rural India.”

Pranay Surana, Tushar Saxena
Co-founders, Flyrobe  
In 2019, Flyrobe, India’s largest fashion rental service, got acquired by Rent it Bae. The acquisition is meant to tap the overseas market and ramp up its omni-channel footprint. “Over the last year, we have focussed on turning the business profitable. Along the way, we also saw synergies with a strategic partner and figured it would be right to grow the business further by partnering with them,” says Pranay Surana, co-founder, Flyrobe.

Aditi Agarwal , Anjali Menon
Co-founders, Gudgudee
Aditi Agrawal and Anjali Menon collaborated with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) to create a playground design toolkit aimed for the decision-makers in Indian cities to help them think of playgrounds differently. In October, the duo saw the completion of the inclusive playground project with the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Haryana, and the Reliance Foundation. It was a one-of-its-kind project in North India and received a great response from the local community.

Ninaad Kulkarni 
Virtual reality director/creative technologist
Kulkarni has had a great year, and was featured by platforms such as Kaleidoscope and presented at a variety of film festivals and conferences across the globe. At the Impact Reality Summit, he presented The Other Side VR, the first-ever virtual reality experience depicting first-hand accounts from the Partition of India, presented in a unique style inspired by traditional wood-cut prints.

He joined hands with NiceShoes, a creative studio in New York, to develop immersive pieces such as an educational virtual reality experience for the UAE ministry of health. Kulkarni has also been consulting and educating producers and creatives on the potential of augmented reality and virtual reality for advertising campaigns, and advocating for South Asian stories and artistes in the immersive space.

Ecommerce & Retail
Sagar Yarnalkar, Anurag Gupta
CEO and COO, DailyNinja
DailyNinja witnessed significant growth in 2019, with a focus on growing sustainably. This has been at a time when subscription-based micro-delivery startups, which deliver daily essentials at the consumer’s doorstep, have struggled to raise funds. The company almost doubled its number of subscribers to 1.4 lakh by October, compared to the previous year, while monthly revenues increased almost three times to about ₹1 crore, says Yarnalkar.

Entertainment & Music
Meghna Mishra
Mishra was recently nominated for Best Playback Singer (Female) for the song ‘Hazar Bochor’ from the film Tritio Adhyay (2019) at the West Bengal Film Journalist Awards 2020. She’s also working on some undisclosed upcoming projects. The 18-year-old won several hearts with her performance in Secret Superstar (2017), which was produced by Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao.

Prajakta Koli
Apart from generating content on her YouTube channel MostlySane, Prajakta Koli launched her YouTube Originals show Pretty Fit, a six-episode series, in 2020. She became the first Indian content creator to do so. The resident of Thane, Mumbai, will be part of another YouTube Originals docu-series about girls’ education with US’s former First Lady Michelle Obama as an ambassador of Creators of Change. She was also invited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their annual Goalkeepers Summit last year. The Australian Open too invited Koli in 2020 to cover the experience.
Forbes India Impact: “Being a part of such a prestigious list alongside such amazing and inspiring people opened up great avenues and conversations on the creator front for me.”  
Vijay Deverakonda
Vijay Deverakonda starred in Dear Comrade after featuring in the 30 Under 30 list. He is now gearing up for his Bollywood debut Fighter, which is being produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. The actor also launched his production house, King of the Hill Entertainment, in 2019 and debuted as a producer with Meeku Maathrame Cheptha.

Kanika Goyal’s creations were worn by sports stars like Dutee Chand and Mary Kom
Image: Amit Verma

Kanika Goyal
Founder, Kanika Goyal Label
In 2019, Kanika Goyal collaborated with various fashion brands, magazines, technology companies and hospitality properties. Her creations were worn by celebrities like athlete Dutee Chand, boxer Mary Kom and YouTuber Lily Singh. Goyal retailed at Bicester Village, UK, as part of The India Edit, was a speaker at events like the National Youth Conclave, and received an award for business excellence from the New Delhi Institute of Management. 

Forbes India Impact: “Being a part of 30 Under 30 has helped me connect and network with a community of professionals from many sectors, which has opened up various new career opportunities.”

Tina Sutradhar & Nikita Sutradhar
Co-founders, Miuniku
The label is at a transitional stage where Tina and Nikita Sutradhar are working towards the relaunch of Miuniku and are in the process of identifying the right business partners and investors.

Nikhil Baheti
CFO, Laxai and Therapiva
Baheti has consolidated his position as a senior finance professional with the two companies he continues to work for—Therapiva (pharmaceuticals) and Laxai (life sciences). Therapiva now manufactures 17 APIs, eight intermediaries and two electronic chemicals in-house, and sources another 11 from a Hyderabad-based pharma unit acquired earlier.

The company has also set up a $20 million innovation fund based out of Singapore, focussed on oncology. Research is on to identify three companies to invest in. Baheti is expected to lead this business. The group has commenced plans to re-enter the infrastructure space, with the development of three malls in Bengaluru, having already signed up agreements with partners.

Karyna Bajaj has expanded her multirestaurant portfolio over the past year
Image: Aditi Tailang

Food & Hospitality
Karyna Bajaj
Executive director, KA Hospitality
The 26-year-old has had a busy year: Her Asian restaurant brand, Nara, opened its second outpost in Mumbai’s Colaba neighbourhood in April; just a few weeks ago it launched a cocktail bar as part of the outlet called Downstairs. Her second restaurant brand, CinCin in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex, turned two in December and unveiled its second house wine, the fruity and floral CinCin Blush. This is another step in Bajaj’s vision to make wine-drinking more accessible to her young clientele.

Forbes India Impact: “The list really expands a person’s network and builds recognition. Companies and people reached out to me, inviting me to be part of panel discussions. As a company, we have seen great opportunities in terms of business partnerships and collaborations globally.”

Kalyan Sivasailam
CEO, 5C Network
5C network, a cloud-based platform that connects hospitals and diagnostic centres to specialist radiologists for on-demand diagnosis of X-ray, CT and MRI scans, has seen revenues jump three times in 2019. It raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Unitus Ventures, Axilor and Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), the technology business incubator of IIM Ahmedabad. “Being a Forbes India 30 Under 30 listee has opened doors and started conversations that have led to strong connections and has also translated into business in some cases,” says Kalyan Sivasailam.

Forbes India Impact: “It has brought a high level of credibility for me as a first-time entrepreneur and 5C as a young and exciting startup in a complex industry where the stakes are high.”

Nitesh Jangir
Co-founder, Coeo Labs
Nitesh Jangir and Nachiket Deval’s brainchild Coeo Labs, set up in 2014, developed a portable CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device called Saans that helps babies breathe. Priced at ₹60,000, the device is affordable enough for primary health care centres. The company has now developed another product, VAPCare, which helps prevent patients on ventilators from contracting infections. Although these products have not only been launched pan-India, Coeo’s operations have expanded to African nations. The company was part of the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers of 2019 and also won the 2019 Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award in London.

Forbes India Impact: “It was a great moment of pride and validation of our work when Coeo labs became part of Forbes India 30 Under 30. It has opened many doors to us, especially the visibility among corporates and investors. It has helped us in connecting with potential investors.”

Industry Manufacturing and Energy
Ankit Garg
Co-founder and CEO, Wakefit
The country’s leading online mattress company branched out into more products and is on track to treble revenues to ₹240 crore. Its new launches include beds made of sheesham wood, travel pillows as well as bed sheets and comforters as part of their plan to reduce their reliance on one product (mattresses) that brings in 90 percent of revenues. Over the year, Garg has made sure the company doesn’t resort to excessive discounting and is profitable.

NGO & Social Entrepreneurship
Pushkar Singh, Sudarshan Ravi, Ankit Parasher
Co-founders, LetsTransport
Since being featured on 30 Under 30 list in 2019, LetsTransport has expanded to 14 cities across India with over 50,000 truck drivers on its platform. It has managed to bag more than 200 enterprise clients. “We have grown 2x over the same period in terms of revenue to become the market leader in intra-state enterprise logistics,” claims Singh. “We plan to expand to 20 cities by the end of this year.”

(From left) Prateek Malhotra, Ritu Malhotra and Pratik Harde of Eventuate Solutions
Image: Rajesh Bansod

Ritu Malhotra, Prateek Malhotra, Pratik Harde
Co-founders, Eventuate Solutions
Eventuate Solutions, which started with a portable spittoon, launched two new products in 2019: A disposal bin for liquid waste to be largely used by the hospitality industry, and a vomit bag for in-flight use. In both cases, the wastes are solidified and converted into fertiliser. The company is working towards partnering with state governments and large corporates to increase sales. The firm clocked sales of about ₹10 crore in 2019, says co-founder Ritu Malhotra.

Hima Das
Sprinter Hima Das made it to the news in the past year after she bagged five gold medals across Europe within a span of 19 days in July; four of the medals were in 200 m races while one was in the 400 m category. Nicknamed ‘Dhing Express’, Das was ruled out from the World Athletics Championships in Doha due to a back injury.

Neeraj Chopra
Javelin thrower Chopra has been out of action in 2019 with an elbow injury that necessitated surgery in May. He is now back to training in Potchefstroom, South Africa, after undergoing rehabilitation in India. Chopra is expected to start competing in a few months and recently qualified for the Tokyo Olympics that will kick off in July.

Abhishek Bansal and Vaibhav Khandelwal, the co-founders of Shadowfax
Image: Nishant Ratnakar

Abhishek Bansal, Vaibhav Khandelwal
Co-founders, Shadowfax
Shadowfax grew 125 percent in the past year, raised $60 million in funding—taking the total to $100 million—and expanded senior staff strength. It also struck a partnership with Flipkart alongside its Series D funding. The company aspires to double its operations every year over the next three to four years, and go public in that time.

Forbes India Impact: “30 Under 30 was a great validation for us. It has given us a strong brand presence across businesses, and build a lot of credibility towards our business model.”

Pranav Goel, Uttam Digga, Vikas Chaudhary
Co-founders, Porter
In 2019 Porter more than doubled the number of driver-partners on its platform to over 45,000, added over 4 lakh customers, and grew revenue more than 2.5 times. It launched new vehicle categories such as motorcycles and three-wheelers, and its driver-partners have seen a 10 percent increase in their average earnings. In 2020, Porter expects to expand to three more cities, and will launch a last-mile delivery solution for the FMCG segment.

Forbes India Impact: “30 Under 30 gave us more visibility and recognition among our customers. It helped us attract like-minded young and talented folks to our mission.” 

(This story appears in the 14 February, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)