Five wise men got together to choose the coolest start-ups of 2014 for Business Today - Mohit Bhatnagar, MD of Sequoia Capital; Saurabh Srivastava, angel investor and venture capitalist; Vijay Anand, Founder and CEO, The Startup Centre; Sharad Sharma, Co-founder, iSpirt; and Prashanth Prakash, Partner at Accel.
Our selection process this year was very different from that of previous years. ('Coolest Start-ups' has been a regular annual feature of Business Today since 2007.) Till last year, recommendations came from the editorial team, after which the editors shortlisted and finally chose the ones to be featured. This year, we opened up the process - any start-up incorporated since January 2010 could apply through an online application form we put up on our website. Some 96 companies applied. Thereafter we had the eminent jury named above do the choosing. (In addition, names were suggested by the jury members, while some more, as in previous years, came from the newsroom.)
The jury met on February 19 to shortlist the companies we would profile. Bhatnagar and Srivastava arrived at the India Today Mediaplex in Noida and were joined via video conference by Anand (from Chennai), and Sharma and Prakash (from Bangalore).
The jury debated all the applications threadbare. Individual jury members recused themselves from voting on companies they were involved with or had ever been in the past. Accel, for instance, is an investor in BEBB India and Teaxpress, two companies the jury ended up picking. However, Prashanth Prakash refrained from voting for either of these companies. Similarly, Sequoia Capital has funded Citrus Payment Solutions, another company the jury liked - Mohit Bhatnagar did not vote on it.
Out of the initial list, Bhatnagar plumped for Delhivery, Freshdesk Technologies, Heckyl, Rolocule Games and Unmetric. Srivastava picked Frrole, Lumos Design Technology and Threadsol. Anand liked Tommy Jams and Flinto Learning Solutions. Sharad Sharma rooted for NowFloats and sought more information on Insieve Technologies, which also eventually made the cut. Prashanth Prakash mostly agreed with Bhatnagar's pickings and added MadRat Games to the final shortlist.
In all, the jury thought 16 start-ups qualified as this year's "coolest" -an interesting mix spanning diverse sectors such as technology, e-commerce, entertainment, logistics, toys and gaming, among others.