Some have found an epiphany in the once-in-a-century chaos as they watched people rush home, cars stop, and businesses and offices shut down because of Covid-19. did. They launched their business in the middle of the pandemic. Like Delhi-based Arham Partap Jain, 31, he founded Trucknetic after seeing trucks abandoned. He calls it “Uber for trucks.” This is an online logistics platform that connects shippers and carriers. “We want to be one of the biggest truck companies by 2025 without him owning any trucks,” he says.

Jain is looking forward to raising money and scaling even as the pandemic seems to be winding down. With over 200,000 fleet owners and his 1,000 shippers, his Trucknetic has a network of over 1 million trucks. Jain is now planning to launch transport insurance for truck drivers, who are often the sole breadwinner for his family.

He’s also looking to raise $10 million in a Series A funding round. “So far it has been self-sufficient, with grants from Microsoft and Facebook. We are in talks with institutional investors and family offices and expect to close the round by December,” he said. says.

Jain is one of thousands who started businesses during the pandemic, resulting in a wave of entrepreneurial activity in logistics, education, network services, online meetings, fitness and beauty. The combination of easily accessible new technology, funding, and a work-from-home format has proven to be a catalyst for new business. And they found more and more customers online, whether for educational or shopping purposes. Around 1,55,300 new companies were registered in India in 2020-21 compared to her 1,22,700 in 2019-20.

Indian start-ups raised over $42 billion in 1,583 deals in 2021, compared to $11.5 billion in 924 deals in 2020. D2C aggregator venture capitalist funding increased 30x his. A recent report from Bain and Company shows that VC investments will surge from $40 million in 2020 to $1.18 billion in 2021, with four new unicorns in the segment. helped generate the

Rajani Sinha, chief economist at CareEdge Group, warns that many of the online businesses born of the pandemic are becoming more hybrid and are losing traction. “You can’t paint all businesses with the same brush. Businesses are moving to hybrid formats to adapt to the current situation,” he says.

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Rajat Singhal, 35, went from running a municipal public school in Gurgaon to co-founding an online school called Cyboard during Covid. “Difficult times are great for starting a business because there is less competition for resources, and you can see the needs of new customers,” he says. “Cyboard is a school without walls.We have classes up to VI.I am about to get CBSE affiliation for classes X and XII.So far I have taught about 1,000 students online, 5,000 from Ladakh to Dubai. We plan to expand to 1,000 students.” It is aiming to raise $4 million in funding. Now that the pandemic has calmed down, Singhal has also reopened its offline schools.

With the economy in turmoil and business sluggish, many fledgling entrepreneurs found they could rent capital at lower interest rates to get space at cheaper rents. In 2019, across India, retail rents increased by 3.8% year-on-year, but he slowed by 1.4% in 2020 and another 0.3% in 2021. However, rents have started to recover, and he rose 1.2% in the first half of 2022. , yoy, says JLL India.

For Jaspreet Dhingra, 42, the pandemic proved the right time to start a networking club for small businesses. Dingra left her investment banking job at HSBC in July 2020 to found BANC (Business and Networking Club). This is a platform where businesses with annual turnover from his 5 million rupees to he 500 crore can reach out through the network and grow their business. “The challenge for SMBs is to increase sales,” he says Dingra. The motto of this company is: If you leverage the power of the network to get business, you win, and if you help someone get business, you get a referral fee. BANC manages close to $8 million in transactions, where he receives a 10-15% commission on each transaction. The goal is for him to reach $50 million in two years. We have customers in India, Canada, USA, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Oman.

Even entrepreneurs have connected online. The Builders Club, a community of investors and startup founders, has proven to be a blessing during Covid-19. In November 2020, he was started by Sohail Khan and saw entrepreneurs from different regions of the world helping each other build products and businesses. “Without Covid, people wouldn’t be able to participate online and spend time in their communities,” says Khan, 36. The club has approximately 25,000 members. “It’s a one-stop shop for growing your startup,” he says.

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of online grocery stores. According to Internet and Mobile Association of India and data analytics firm Kantar, there are 692 million active internet users in India, with 351 million (51%) in rural India and 351 million (51%) in urban India. 341 million (49%). The report estimates that there will be 900 million internet users in India by 2025, driven by rural growth. About 346 million Indians are engaged in online transactions such as e-commerce and digital payments. From 230 million in 2019, digital transactions increased by 51% in his two years. Meanwhile, 762 million people are not yet online, 63% of whom are from rural India.

Rural and semi-urban areas remain largely untouched, so Rozana, an e-commerce startup for rural India, aims to connect villagers to online shopping through a network of small entrepreneurs. increase. Rozana has over 10,000 village partners (“saarthis”) that help customers order online and streamline last-mile delivery. This startup offers him 4,000-5,000 grams of panchayat and in the next 2-3 years he is working on a roadmap to target 300 million customers. “This platform unlocks the potential of a rural market that contributes half of India’s GDP,” said his Ankur Dahiya, co-founder of Rozana. 3one4 Capital and Europe’s He raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by IEG-Investment Banking Group.

Dipanjan Basu, a partner at Fireside Ventures, said consumer-driven businesses saw a “gold-mining opportunity” from Tier 2 and -3 towns during Covid.

The pandemic has expanded the online space for beauty. Ritika Sharma was one of those who rushed to grab it. In 2020, she launched her own company, House of Beauty, and launched her Boddess, a multi-retail format for her beauty products. “Through Boddess, we offered our customers the in-store experience because there was some anxiety among customers about going to the store. A crisis always brings hidden opportunities,” says Sharma, who is 35.

Beauty is a resilient industry with generations of loyal customers. “After Covid, we’ve seen a visible shift towards high-quality products, natural ingredients, and high-value brands,” she says.Boddess is committed to making premium her brand more accessible. purpose. “Soon we will be launching experiential stores in select cities to disrupt beauty retail,” she says.

Covid has disrupted Shivangi Lahoty’s plans to move to Canada in March 2020. But that didn’t stop the 29-year-old. A designer, Lahoty sees students who want to attend fashion and design institutions such as the National Institute of Design (NID) and the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) struggle to find suitable mentors. I was. She started her DesignerShala in mid-2020. “We are preparing for the design entrance exam,” she says. After working remotely for the past 18 months, they just opened an office space in Mumbai.

Entrepreneurs weathering the storm hope the money will catch up and their businesses will grow.

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