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Fintech laughed all the way to the bank, while food startups burnt their fingers in 2016. It’s a new year, and as always the Indian startup story will have more twists. With the dawn of 2017, we bring you a list of 7 startups to keep an eye on in the year ahead

Peer-to-peer lending marketplace
Founders: Rajat Gandhi & Vinay Mathews

Government policy has done a lot to boost the fortunes of peer-to-peer lending platform FairCent in 2016. From RBI’s draft paper with guidelines for the industry to Digital India, FairCent benefited last year and looks to grow further in 2017. “From disbursing Rs 15-20 lakh loans a month, we are now disbursing Rs 1.5 crore a month. India’s shift to digital payments has put us in a sweet spot,” says Rajat Gandhi, founder, FairCent. The company, which began operations in 2014, helps customers get cheaper loans based on their creditworthiness and helps lenders earn high returns from their peers or community.

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AI-driven solutions for retailers
Founders: Atul Rai, Abhishek Sharma

70% of all data online comprises images and videos — a fact that excites Atul Rai, whose company helps users search for products using images rather than words. “If a user wants a floral print dress, she should be able to upload a picture and find similar products,” says Rai, who set up Staqu in June 2015 to provide artificial intelligence (AI) driven solutions for e-commerce. Its product can be integrated into the search technology of e-commerce companies. Among Staqu’s clients are Roposo, Karbonn and Panasonic, and Staqu is staring at a big opportunity as e-commerce is yet to hit the big league in India. The Gurugram-based company raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Indian Angel Network in June.

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Online fish, meat delivery
Founder: Shan Kadavil

FreshToHome founder Shan Kadavil
Shan Kadavil, who founded online fish and meat delivery service FreshToHome in Bengaluru in March 2016, has been doubling sales every three months, and is looking to expand to 20 cities in 2017. It has more than 80,000 customers in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Delhi. “We have a centralised processing model, so it is easier to scale,” he says. FreshToHome has angel investment from Mark Pincus, founder of gaming company Zynga, and Google Ventures CEO David Krane. Google India managing director and angel investor Rajan Anandan says the company has achieved the fastest zero to $5 million revenue in the e-commerce sector in India.

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Packaged ready-to-cook idli/dosa batter, chappatis
Founders: P C Musthafa, Samsudeen T K, Abdul Nazer, Jafar T K & Noushad T A

Bengalurians consume 1 crore idlis a day. In that fact P C Musthafa sees a daily opportunity of Rs 3 crore (at Rs 3 an idli). That’s what pushed the IIM-B graduate to start iD Fresh Foods with four of his cousins in 2006, delivering homemade batter in Bengaluru. Today, its idli/dosa batter is available in 14 cities, and iD’s revenues crossed Rs 100 crore last year. “From the beginning, we were clear that we were not a ready-to-eat brand. Ours is ready-to-cook food,” says Musthafa. iD seems to have cracked the risky fresh food business and 2017 might be the year they cross revenues of Rs 200 crore with plans to launch vada and ragi dosa batter.

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