HackerEarth is set to host a series of hackathons to commemorate the 70th year of India’s Independence. The hackfest will comprise of four hackathons, which will cover diverse themes like democracy, health, women empowerment & civic society. HackerEarth is inviting all developers to start a digital revolution by building smart and intelligent solutions for a better nation.

Image Source – Hackocrazy

Through these hackathons, HackerEarth aims to encourage the use of technology and the power of computers to bring about a social change. These hackathons are a part of the company’s CSR initiatives which focus on building innovative solutions that can strengthen democracy, empower women, and bring transparency in governance. The solutions can also help in improving health and civic facilities.

The initiative aims to bring together government bodies, NGO’s, corporates and citizens to work towards a common goal of building a more vibrant and responsive democracy, through the power of technology. These hackathons will also bring together people with diverse backgrounds and skills to unite around a common cause and promote fairness, openness, and equality.

The first hackathon in the series starts with HackoCracy [#HACK4HAQ] on 15th August 2017 and will be a 24 hour-long code fest. The hackathon has four themes:

Democracy [Political transparency] – India needs solutions that make it easier for its citizens to be heard by their representatives. The solutions should reach out to the remotest corners of the country so that the people are more that can keep people informed and there is an increased participation in elections and government affairs.

Media [Fake news and Free press] – We need tools for fact checking and helping people decipher fact from fiction. We need tools to ensure the ‘freedom of the press’ holds for those who are attempting to bring the truth to the public.

Corruption [Bring to light the corruption around you] – Solutions are required to ensure that the misdeeds are exposed promptly. It is also required to help control its spread and reach so as to completely purge the system of corruption.

Society [Create a social impact] – We need solutions that will ensure freedom from many social ills such as unemployment, homelessness, child labour, etc. These solutions should make India a better place to live in and trigger a socio-economic change.

The results of this hackathon will be announced on 30th September and the top three winners will be awarded a cash prize of INR 75,000, INR 50,000 and INR 25,00 respectively.

Vivek Prakash, CTO and Co-founder, HackerEarth said

Technology is a great balancer and can bridge the gap between the civic authorities and citizens. Through these hackathons we want to encourage developers to build solutions that can bring about a socio-economic change in the country, which is the need of the hour.  With each hackathon we would ideally like to create at least one workable solution that addresses issues which are plaguing our nation.

For more information, please visit Hackocrazy Page

The digital milkman startup, Doodhwala, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding in its pre-Series A round from investor Tom Varkey, a partner at Stonehill Capital, USA.

The app delivers over 70 varieties of milk while allowing users to shop ad-hoc everything from meat, vegetables, and fruits to shelf-stable items. Since deliveries are between 4 AM~7 AM shoppers receive fresh milk and groceries.

Ebrahim Akbari, Co- Founder, Doodhwala said

Doodhwala is set to digitize the milk delivery system.  We are the first in Bengaluru to provide fresh farm milk directly to houses. We have achieved this using a hybrid delivery model of part time delivery boys and existing doodhwalas who have a milk delivery network.

The infrastructure of fresh milk delivery in India is haphazard despite high demand and a shortage of supply. This gap makes us essential to milk suppliers and creates dependency on our delivery network. Customer acquisition is also very easy and cheap. Customers love the ease of receiving their daily essentials along with milk, and the comfort of getting in touch with their doodhwala.

Founded in 2015, Doodhwala is progressing steadily with over 1,00,000 monthly deliveries.  The startup has expanded operations to Pune while other cities are in its pipeline. The company will be operationally profitable by the end of 2017.

Founders of Doodhwala : Ebrahim Akbari[L], Aakash Agarwal[R]

Tom Varkey, Investor said

Doodhwala has an exceptional approach to the daily needs market. Their unit economics are healthy, as they have an impressive delivery infrastructure with a 25 percent month-on-month growth rate.

By lowering its delivery costs to Rs 3–5, Doodhwala is uniquely positioned in a sector where lots of E-commerce players are struggling. I am excited about our partnership and look forward to seeing this promising company expand.

Doodhwala is soon looking to close its Series A round. The startup will use its current funding to upgrade its technology, further penetrate the market, and grow its team size.

Aakash Agarwal, Co Founder, Doodhwala said

Morning delivery is an efficient model as it’s becoming the answer for consumers to buy products they need daily. We have 80 percent customer retention, and we are expecting the figure to increase in the next few months.

Our subscription model is the magic formula for customer loyalty, predictable income, user information and low inventory. It, additionally, gives customers the assurance that they will have what they need before they need it.

About Doodhwala

Doodhwala is a Bengaluru-based online grocer that is digitizing the traditional doodhwalas.  Doodhwala is the only app in Bengaluru and Pune to deliver fresh farm milk directly to houses. Besides milk the start up offers a variety of groceries, fresh poultry, veggies, fruits and household essentials at MRP. Founded in 2015 by Aakash Agarwal and Ebrahim Akbari, Doodhwala, is present in Bengaluru and Pune. For more details, please visit Doodhwala

Fin-tech is having a huge impact on the financial services in India. It has been largely dominated by the lending and payments companies in India. Initiatives like the India Stack [UPI, e-KYC, Aadhar] by National Payments Corporation Of India [NPCI] have been instrumental in leading the Fin-tech revolution.

Image Source – Fin-tech

There are several companies in the Fin-tech sector that have innovative business models in the areas like Wealth Management [WealthApp], Digital Payments & other services [Paytm, Freecharge, etc.], Payment Banks [Paytm, Airtel, FINO], P2P Lending [i2iFunding, Lendbox, i-lend, etc.], Personal Finance Services [BankBazaar, Capital Float, etc.], Alternate/Unsecured Lending [Qbera, Loan Frame, etc.], Lending based on Credit-Line [MoneyTap], etc. Many of the fin-tech companies are leveraging Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Social Data Intelligence, Blockchain, etc. in order to solve critical business problems. For example, with the help of AI, contextual data and transaction data, your wealth managers can now come up with a ‘more relevant’ financial plan that suits your requirements.

With the rising interest in fin-tech, there is a constant debate on whether Fin-tech would kill banks, but the fact of the matter is that mainstream financial institutions are also embracing change by inking partnerships with these players in order to utilize their services. Even after eKYC, there are significant challenges [that add up to delay] in customer onboarding, a problem that is being solved by few fin-tech start-ups. There is been a rising investor interest in this sector, with fin-tech topping the funding charts of H1 2017. Traditional banking institutions are utilizing this opportunity to co-create innovative solutions with entrepreneurs for building breakthrough banking products and solutions.

Last July, Axis Bank launched its flagship Accelerator Program for start-ups, the very first Indian Bank to do so. The program is run from Thought Factory, Axis Bank’s co-innovation Lab, which is located in the city of Bengaluru. Axis Bank has partnered with Amazon Internet Services, Payments product company VISA and Singapore based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation for co-innovating in the rapidly evolving fin-tech space. The core ideology of the lab is #UnimaginedIsUndone. The ThinkTank for Thought Factory comprises of thought leaders, change agents, serial entrepreneurs, namely Sharad Sharma of iSpirit, Manish Chokhani of Enam Holdings, Vishal Gondal of GoQii & Shankar Narayan, a Singapore based serial entrepreneur along with Axis Bank Senior Management that guides the Thought Factory team in its various functions.

Over the past year, Thought Factory has been a major Fin-Tech ecosystem enabler in Bengaluru, hosting multiple events, workshops, international visitors and other corporate clients; thereby enhancing industry-start-up collaboration.

For the first cohort of its Accelerator Program, Axis Bank’s Think Tank, from an application pool of 108, selected six emerging start-ups. Once on-boarded, the start-ups were given a structured mentorship program and access to Axis Bank’s Thought Factory office space. Axis Bank’s aim behind the program was to expedite the overall growth of these emerging start-ups along with exploring novel banking ideas with them. Axis Bank celebrated the Graduation Day of the first cohort start-ups, namely S2Pay, Pally, Perpule, Fin-techLabs, Paymatrix and GIEOM. All these start-ups target different business problems in the areas of Offline mobile payments, Analytics in lending space, Credit in rental space, etc.

Startups pitching their idea to the audience at the Thought Factory

Below are the startups that graduated from the Thought Factory

S2Pay: Enabling Offline mobile Payments [Category – Payments]

S2Pay forms a layer over payments app and enables the end consumer to make secure payments from their mobile app, even when the consumer is offline. The technology is especially useful in remote areas where there is low data connectivity thus making digital payments a reality for everyone. For more information, please visit S2Pay

Pally: AI Stack based Chatbot for Investment Advisory [Category – Investments]

Pally has created a chatbot that on the input of an image of salary slip creates an investment portfolio which maximizes tax saving for the end customer. It uses AI, Machine learning along with other proprietary algorithms to come up with a customized investment plan for each customer. Pally was also selected for the EIR program at KStart. For more information, please visit Pally

Perpule: Self-checkout on mobile app [Category – Payments]

Perpule’s app lets end customers scan the shopped products from their mobile app, and pay from within the app once the list is complete. Perpule integrates with retailer’s campaigns, thus automatically applies discounts/offers on the go. It has partnered with stores like Hypercity, More, Spar etc. For more information, please visit Perpule 1Pay

Fin-techLabs: Analytics in lending [Category – Lending]

Fin-techLabs is a financial technology innovation start-up, with a vision of providing easy access to financing across the world by powering the lending ecosystem with technology. They make the lending process swift and optimized by automating repetitive management tasks like sending emails, managing files, preparing reports, complying with regulations, etc. For more information, please visit Fin-techLabs

Paymatrix: Credit in rental space [Category – Real Estate, Payments, Credit Cards, Liabilities]

Paymatrix is an analytics-driven property rent management platform that is trying to solve the problem of credit involved in Indian rental market via enabling payments to land lords via credit cards. They also help landlords in rent/property management. For more information, please visit Paymatrix

GIEOM: Software solutions on the Cloud [Category – Analytics]

GIEOM is a cloud based software solutions and analytics company. They offer a unique business visualization technology with Intelligent linking that monitors, controls and optimizes Operations while reducing risk and increasing compliance. For more information, please visit GIEOM

The past six months have been very eventful for the start-ups, Perpule won the semifinal round of Next Money Fin-techFinals 2017 and raised a seed funding of USD 650K from Kalaari Capital, S2Pay and GIEOM on-boarded multiple new clients, Fin-techLabs and Paymatrix expanded their services portfolio while Pally evolved in its product idea and expanded its team.

We were invited for the Graduation Day at the Thought Factory, where we pitched some questions to Rajiv Anand, Executive Director of Axis Bank. Below is the brief Q&A round he had with the media/bloggers where he shares his insights about the Thought Factory, impact it has on the fin-tech eco-system, etc.

Axis Bank has always been keen on adoption of technology in its systems and solutions. Besides the Accelerator start-ups, Axis Bank along with the Thought Factory team has been working with other upcoming start-ups too. With Active AI [a Singapore based start-up specializing in AI stack], Bank is building a chatbot that can take banking & customer service to the next level.

Axis Bank’s innovation team is working on recruitment of start-ups for the second cohort of the Accelerator. For a much quicker implementation, Axis Bank is also developing a Development Platform – a sandbox environment of its APIs, which can be used by start-ups.

Additionally, they also conduct a start-up boot camp, a two-month program for grad start-up ideas under its ‘Future of Jobs’ initiative where five student teams of two members each will receive mentorship to convert their ideas into real businesses.

To know more about the Thought Factory Program, its structure etc., drop a mail to thoughtfactory@axisbank.com or visit Thought Factory

The Government of Karnataka in association with SheThePeople.TV will co-locate The Women Entrepreneur Innovation Summit on August 20th at the Elevate 100 Grand Finale. The summit is aimed at supporting women tech entrepreneurs with access to mentoring and funds earmarked for women entrepreneurs. The Government will also provide necessary support in marketing, accounting and legal matters.

More than 350 women entrepreneurs mostly from Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi and Kalaburagi areas of Karnataka who have registered for Elevate 100 , will participate at the ‘The Women Entrepreneur Innovation Summit’.

ELEVATE 100 is Government of Karnataka’s Flagship Program to identify 100 of the most innovative start-ups in Karnataka kicked-off in July 2017 and has received an overwhelming response from 1700 start-ups across Karnataka. In a first of its kind program, the State Government has held multi city start-up pitches in tier-2 cities – Mangaluru, Kalaburgi, Mysuru and Hubballi to encourage entrepreneurship across the State.

ELEVATE is the brainchild of the Start-up Cell, Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services [KBITS]. It was launched by the Government of Karnataka in partnership with the Deshpande Foundation, TiE and other Industry Association Partners like ABAI, IESA, ABLE and NASSCOM. The programme currently focuses on a number of diverse sectors, including IT, electronic system design manufacturing, animation visual gaming & comics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, life sciences, and more.

Commenting on Elevate 100, State IT, BT Minister, Priyank Kharge

We have received a huge response for Elevate 100 across all cities. For the first time, regional pitches were held in tier 2 cities including Mangaluru, Kalaburgi, Mysuru and Hubballi. The competition has been fierce; it’s very exciting to see so many promising startups move to the next round and looking forward to the finals.

At Elevate 100, we are not just providing  start-ups with access to funds but will also help them with access to mentors from their respective industries, networking and business opportunities and support them in important aspects like accounting, legal & emerging technologies.

For more information about Elevate 100, please visit Elevate 100 Official Page

ACT Fibernet, India’s largest non-telco and 3rd largest ISP in the wired broadband category, increased the data limits for all broadband plans for all its customers in Chennai. Known as a pioneer in Giga enabling an entire Indian city and a disruptor in the Indian broadband ecosystem, ACT Fibernet’s upgraded plans will allow customers to enjoy higher data limits at no additional cost.

ACT Fibernet is combining the upload FUP and Download FUP limits into one monthly data limit. The customer now has the freedom to consume data on uploads or downloads as per his needs and usage.

Under the retail customer plans, ACT Basic will be upgraded to 80 GB total FUP limit with 30 Mbps speed from its current 40 FB Upload FUP and 40 Gb download FUP. Similarly, ACT Blaze will be upgraded to 200 GB data limit with 75 Mbps speed, ACT Storm will be upgraded to 260 GB data limit with 75 Mpbs speed, ACT Lightning will be upgraded to 350 GB data limit with 90 Mbps speed, ACT Thunder will be upgraded to 450 GB data limit with 100 Mbps speed and ACT Incredible will be upgraded to 700 GB data limit with 150 Mbps speed.

Similarly, under the SOHO [Small Office, Home Office] plans, ACT SME Swift will be upgraded to 900 GB data limit with 150 Mbps speed, ACT SME Flash will be upgraded to 1100 GB data limit with 200 Mbps speed and ACT SME Force will be upgraded to 1400 GB data limit with 200 Mbps speed.

Speaking on the new plans, Bala Malladi, CEO, Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt Ltd commented

It is our constant endeavour to provide the best internet experience to our customers through super-fast speeds and enhanced data limits. We are combining our download and upload FUP into total data transfer FUP. This will liberate our customers and provide them significantly enhanced FUP, allowing them the freedom to use internet based on their needs and purpose.

In an increasingly digitized world, we are all becoming extremely vulnerable to misuse of personal, professional and even national security data and what needs to be done. It is alarming yet not a surprise to see another mass scale ransomware attack just weeks after the havoc created by the Wannacry ransomware.

Image Source – Malware

To start with, the genesis of both these attacks appear similar. Both of them uses the Microsoft vulnerability called EternalBlue for which Microsoft had issued a patch. In both cases, they attacked institutional computer networks, which we unsecured – the NHS in UK and now the Ukrainian Government.

However, there is a slight but important difference. Usually in case of ransomware attacks, the demand is made from users and the email for communication is unique to each user. In this case it is observed that there is a single email ID that had been provided to all the affected users for communication. This email ID was since suspended by provider. This alludes to the fact that either the hackers were amateurs or more dangerously this attack is not a ransomware and was not unleashed with the intention of merely extracting money, but to destruct important data.

These new mutations of malware are increasingly getting more and more capable and complex in terms of the speed and reach. We are observing that the malwares are spreading automatically across interconnected networks more freely and with minimal or no human intervention. This, also is different from ransomware of earlier versions, which we more topical and pointed – say an individual hospital system. The free lowing nature of the current ransomware is particularly scary since we have limited control or predictive mechanism to guess which networks will be affected next.

As of now, the effects in India has been observed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust. This can be explained as one of the largest private enterprises to get effected is Maersk, the leading shipping and container corporation whose systems in all likely hood is interconnected with the networks of the JNPT. Having said that it is impossible to predict the next network where the ‘worm’ will sneak in. Also, the Petya ransomware is more fluid than Wannacry as the latter was linear and had one way to move from network to network. Petya has the capability to evaluate multiple options and can use another option of attacking if one fails. It is indeed quite petrifying to imagine a situation is it infects the national service such as the Defense, Police, Financial Institutions and UIDAI.

Considering this, it is clear that prevention is the best form of attack. It should be the responsibility of all computer and internet users – institutional as well as individuals to be aware of the threat and also be prepared for a future attack. Through CERT-IN [Computer Emergency Response Team of India] the Government must issue a ‘what to do’ advisory on prevention tactics to enterprises and individuals. We observe that most of ransomware attacks use ‘end users’ as entry point. The end user might be an individual or a user in an institutional environment. In most cases there is nothing that user can do as these types of ransomware are typically executed through ‘drive-by downloads’ in which legitimate website and browsers are infected. Some of the key action points that can be followed are through basic IT housekeeping such as keeping antivirus software updated & having URL CHECKERS. Also it is recommended that individuals keep only those plug-in’s and add-on’s that are absolutely necessary and used regularly.

Finally, it is high time that system administrators within enterprises and government agencies should have updated defensive security skills. Institutions and governments need strong cyber security and cyber-defense strategies. Cyber-defense capabilities, particularly, is an important mandate as hacking becomes extremely easy and pervasive and IT administrators should know how to ‘defend’ their systems.

Uber the largest on demand ridesharing company have announced the completion of 500 million trips, a key milestone in its four year journey in India. This also comes at a time when the company announced marking double digit growth in the country, and almost 2.5x YoY growth as of June’ 2017.

Commenting on the occasion, Amit Jain, President, Uber India & South Asia said

This is a significant landmark for Uber in India. Four years ago, India was the 18th country in the world to experience the magic of ‘push a button and get a ride’, when we launched in Bangalore with just 3 employees. Today, we are over a 1000 member team who share the common vision of redefining the future of urban mobility. Achieving new milestones and continuing our exponential growth journey is a reflection of a strong business we’re building in India. I’m humbled at the pace at which Uber has grown and the impact we continue to make to the lives of our riders, driver partners and the cities we operate in.

A look at the journey so far…

Growth with impact

Since August 2013, the growing number of driver partners and riders who embraced the new idea of ridesharing and disruptive technology is remarkable. Ever since, the pace of adoption across the country has been truly exceptional. In 4 years, Uber expanded its service to 29 cities across the country.From providing riders with multiple choices to creating micro-entrepreneurship opportunities, more and more people continue to rely on the service for their daily commute and livelihood, which resulted in double digit growth in the country with the business growing by 2.5x in June 2017 YoY.

Partners in growth

4,50,000 registered driver partners – the magnitude of their commitment and ambition is commendable. Four years in, Uber has created flexible working opportunities for tens of thousands of driver partners. Through UberSHAAN, Uber aims to create 1 million livelihood opportunities as micro-entrepreneurs in India by 2018. Today, they are carving out better, more secure futures for their families by making the pivotal switch to be an independent entrepreneur. They keep cities moving every day, helping riders get to where they need to be. Today, over 80% Uber rides are rated a 5-star experience, none of which would have been possible without their commitment and dedication.

Riders who trust in Uber

Riders and driver-partners have travelled over 5,791,025,961 Km together! With over 5 million weekly active riders in the country, India continues to be one of the biggest markets for Uber, outside the U.S. Whether it’s a ride to work, or one after a night out, Uber is committed to provide a service so reliable and affordable that it drives a fundamental shift from the prevailing paradigm of private car ownership to one of shared commute.

Infographic – Uber-completes 500 million trips

Multiple vehicle options

Every geographic region has its own unique transportation requirements and challenges, and the same reflects in Uber’s diverse product portfolio for the Indian-market. With seven vehicle options, Uber offers cities low cost, flexible solutions that cater to various needs. First/last mile ride to the metro station on an uberMOTO, longer duration trips in UberHIRE or a shared ride in an uberPOOL, the aim is to reduce congestion by complementing public transit systems and eliminating the use private vehicle over time.

Shared mobility

Launched in Bengaluru in September 2015, uberPOOL is now available in Delhi Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune. Today, over 25% of Uber rides are taken on uberPOOL. This has resulted in saving over 480,00,000 kms, which equals to 62 trips to the moon and back; 23,00,000 litres of fuel saved and prevented the emission of over 53,00,000 kgs of CO2, that would have otherwise required 4500 acres of forest a year to remove. Backed by technology, Uber is working towards getting more people into fewer cars and helping cities reduce congestion and pollution over time.

Innovating in India, for India and the world

India is a global priority for Uber, in terms of investment, growth as well as innovation. Uber launched Asia’s first Engineering Center in Bengaluru (Bangalore) in January 2016, a testament to Uber’s commitment to investing in India. With over 100 engineers spread across Bangalore and Hyderabad, several India-first initiatives like uberDOST, Emergency Button, Cash and Dial an Uber have also been launched in countries around the world. In 2015, Uber also set up a CoE in Hyderabad, with nearly 400 employees who focus on providing the best customer support to our riders and driver partners, including a dedicated Incident Response Team that manages critical incidents.

The future – leapfrogging car ownership

Despite very low rates of car ownership-just 18 vehicles per 1,000 people in India compared to 797 in the US, cities in India suffer from some of the worst congestion problems in the world with average speeds falling to 15 kmph and slated to reduce to 5 kmph by 2020 in major cities. Tackling alarming pollution and congestion levels requires concerted action and as responsible corporate citizens, Uber aims to be a part of the solution. Complementing government’s efforts around tackling congestion and encouraging the adoption of carpooling with the help of technology [UberPOOL], Uber is enabling several people travelling in the same direction to share a ride – essentially turning the car into a public good. There is a huge appetite for reliable, efficient and affordable ways to get to and from a particular destination, especially around commuting routes underserved by public transit.

All of this wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated service of driver partners and loyalty of our riders. To say thanks and express gratitude, Uber is giving each of the lucky 176 driver partners INR 5000 and the lucky riders Uber credits worth INR 500.

Moving forward, Uber is more focused than ever before on building features for riders & drivers that will help the company get to the next five hundred million.

India is a very diversified country with different cultures and traditions. Every city in India has something unique experience to offer, including the food that each city is known for! However, today’s modern lifestyles and hectic work-life schedules; makes traditional necessities difficult to find. For example, being in Bengaluru it is very difficult to find Misal Pav, the popular Maharashtrian dish. Modern life and its fast pace has taken a toll on our social life that has estranged various communities, scattering them to various distant lands in the search of a better livelihood. But it has left the hearts with a sense of nostalgia, around their socio cultural habits and preferences, longing to belong again to their roots and culture.

This is where Promita Sengupta, an ex-banker & social entrepreneur siezed an opportunity and that is how Cre8comm was born. Cre8comm is India’s first community driven hyperlocal e-commerce marketplace which home-delivers traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India.

It is a marketplace where one can find the most authentic and indigenous products from the varied and diverse communities of India. It provides every community with almost every product – apparel, food from their hometown irrespective of where you live.

Today we have a chat with Promita Sengupta, Founder & Director, Cre8comm. We discuss about Cre8comm, the hyper-local market, opportunities in e-commerce, team building & much more. So let’s get started with the Q&A….

Tell us about Cre8comm, how was the start-up conceptualized and what was the idea behind Cre8comm ?

Cre8comm is India’s first community driven e-commerce marketplace which home-delivers traditional essentials & products to all the diverse communities. The company aims to deliver authentic & special foods, especially those that you are craving for, and we go an extra step by bringing sumptuous traditional dishes and our chefs are locals of the same community.

Considering the popularity of Bengali products, I have noticed people used to travel all across the city and be stuck in traffic for hours to reach CR Park in Delhi, to get authentic Bengali food. This prompted me to start revolutionary service which will address to all communities of India with the plethora of indigenous products.

How does platform work ? How is that you reach your partners and they serve from their own kitchens ?

The entire platform is technology based and all orders are placed online. Cre8comm home delivers traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India. We partner with the best local talent bridging avenues to build relationships in their culturally enriching journeys in delivering to India’s first community services based platform.

This is a service which allows all our partners to serve from their own kitchens. We strongly believe in bringing people together through our socially responsible segment to a socio-cultural platform.

Each of the partners is carefully chosen after having carefully looked at the hygiene and capability to server Cre8comm.  We have a product replacement model in the case of customer complaints which keeps the vendors on their toes. We cater to customer needs, by delivering food items in fresh, raw or cooked categories, traditional apparel, items for a puja samagri for any occasion – be it a marriage or a simply Griha Pravesh, and sweets [Misti]. Our aim is to deliver fresh foods,  preserve its freshness, making life convenient and hassle free.

How do you ensure/maintain the quality of the products being sold on  Cre8comm [since it is eatables and in this category extra care needs to be taken] ?

Each of the partners is carefully chosen after having carefully looked at the hygiene and capability to serve Cre8comm.  We have a product replacement model in the case of customer complaints which keeps the vendors on their toes.

Our hygiene team visits the kitchen [in the case of Cooked food] and shops for raw fresh food. Since we do not have too many vendors, we have been able to fix responsibilities on each to ensure an extra regulatory check.

The challenge is definitely there but we have ensured the quality by keeping lesser number of Vendors. Though it is not be competitive, but it helps keep the quality in check as the vendors do not want to lose lucrative sustainable business.

How did you zero-in on the name Cre8Comm and what were some of the other options that were being explored while naming your startup ?

Considering our vision we were very clear while naming our start-up, as the name itself says Cre8-comm i.e. creating communities.

How does Cre8comm delivering traditional essentials and products to  all the diverse communities of India ?

Cre8comm , based on the community they are catering to, works at the background to do a detailed research on the community, including food habits, culture, music, etc. and then identifies the right kind of vendor for the same.

Contrary to the normal belief of a market place wherein you connect with large number of vendors, we keep our number restricted in order to ensure that we have good response from a quality perspective. Once we are ready with our back ground work including finalising vendors, we go live through social media.

Promita Sengupta -Director, Cre8comm

Can you share details about the competitors of Cre8comm ?

Currently, we don’t have any direct competition. There is no online e-commerce company which does the kind of products we manage. Some online portals are there, but they only handle Raw and Fresh food.

We continue to benchmark ourselves against our own potential and targets. We need to invest in our capabilities to ensure we keep pace with the changing demographic, technology and evolving needs of our customer base.

What are your expansion plans? Please share more about the new initiatives of Cre8comm ?

We are currently focusing on expanding other communities like Oriya, Malayali, and Bihari coming soon. Cre8comm is a diversified community portal, like no other marketplaces in the world. It’s fresh and easily accessible. In the long run, Cre8comm is planning to launch Culture Kitchen which would revolutionize the way meal services are being handled today in the country.

What are your marketing channels & how do you select the next logical place for expansion ?

The Key Marketing channels are:

  • Social Media [Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn]
  • Tele Marketing
  • Reaching out to Condos and Large Offices
  • Connecting with  Restaurants
  • Connecting with Community based Association

What have been the learnings so far and what were some of the biggest challenges in scaling up Cre8comm ?

The key learnings are:

  • Do not compromise on quality, if needed keep cost higher for better quality.
  • Stay very close to the customers. Understand the small needs.
  • Believe your customers. They actually know what they want.

The key challenges are:

  • Logistics. No one does the distance that we cover. So a separate logisitics team was required
  • The right kind of packaging
  • Maintaining the quality of the food
  • Training the Delivery team
  • Keeping system dynamic as per the demands of the situation
  • Being sensitive to people requests

Please share the funding status of Cre8comm & are you looking out for institutional funding ?

We are currently boot strapped and yes looking for Institutional Funding who share our vision.

E-commerce & food-tech as a sector is seeing consolidation [especially vertical e-commerce] and things in horizontal e-commerce are no different, how according to you are things in e-commerce different as compared to what was couple of years back [when e-commerce companies were getting funded based on GMV] ?

e-commerce cannot survive without technology . However the concept of GMV is now gone. It is more on Unit Margins and EBITDA. The investor is keen to see your margins and bottomline.  This will continue for years to come when Investors will likely be more interested where companies can improve shareholder value.

What are some of the parameters your team looks into while selecting vendors for a particular community [Oriya, Bengali, etc.] before onboarding them ?

The Key parameters for checking the vendors are:

  • The offerings
  • Time in Business and customer review
  • If cooked food, we check the Kitchen and see how hygienic they are
  • Professionalism
  • Able to manage credits in the short term
  • Able to cope with the growth of Cre8comm
  • Sustain good quality

Before Cre8comm, you had a social venture [building portable toilets], can you share some of the learnings from that venture since it might be helpful for aspiring social entrepreneurs ?

  • People may talk a lot, but finally not too many wants to put the money in these ventures.
  • Being non-glamourous, the effort is lot more to reach to people.
  • There is a lot of personal satisfaction when small successes show up.
  • Never take people on face value, even if they are very highly placed.Work closely with them and show how your ventures solves a key problem of the society
  • Be ready to face failures as they really are the pillars of success.

You were earlier a banker, social entrepreneur and now e-commerce/food-tech entrepreneur, how do you manage to don so many hats and where do you draw courage from ?

I always wanted my epitaph to read as someone who has tried and not given up on anything.  Besides, the zeal to make a difference in the lives of people in whatever capacity has always been a driving force. I always believe that There’s miles to go before I sleep

A quick piece of advice for all the women entrepreneurs

Starting an entrepreneurial venture is exciting but is not a bed of roses. It is full of challenges. And, being a female entrepreneur it is imperative to develop/nurture the following attributes – Communication, Networking, Ability to delegate, Sales skills and Openness to learn.

Follow your heart. It will always take you in the right direction and never be afraid to take risks in life.

Closing comments for community start-ups ? Please share more about how community driven start-ups are gaining popularity across the country ?

Not many organised community based start-ups are there in the country today. Definitely a void that Cre8comm is trying to fill in. We have just scratched the surface for now. The potential and need is extremely high given the fact that people are moving more & more away from their culture/food, etc. and so is the expertise and knowledge around it.

Our experience shows that if community based products and services are made available in abundance, then the impact can be significant.  A study  has reported that even Amazon has not been able to break the close relationship that people have with the existing unorganised community based services. This could be true for most countries in the world and hence it is an enormous opportunity.

We thank Promita Sengupta for her time and sharing valuable insights with our readers! If you have any questions for her about Cre8Comm, Food Tech, Hyer-local, scaling up, etc., please email them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com or leave your question in the comments section.