Startup is the other name of innovation. Without innovation you cannot enter an already crowded market. But that innovation does not necessarily mean that you create something out of this world or you create some innovation only possible through extensive research in expensive laboratories. A startup also means solving a local problem in an indigenous way with a paying customer. And a startup could also mean to solve a business problem to reduce cost, improve efficiency or both. All over the world, many startups are developing simple solutions for problems which existed in their countries simply by proposing out of the box solutions. They should be an inspiration for Pakistani youth to look at problems from a different angle and devise a smart but local solution. Here is a list of six international startups which are making amazing products.
1. Cowlar – wearable device for cows
Cowlar is a very interesting product which has a huge potential for the Pakistani agro-economy, particularly related to dairy. This startup was selected in the New York based prestigious Y Combinator’s best seven startups for 2017 and is founded by a Pakistani team so it can be a termed as a “Pakistani Startup”.
Cowlar makes a special collar i.e. a wearable device for cows that tracks their temperature, activity and other data, and makes it available to farmers. From the data obtained from the device, cow’s infections, its pregnancy time and other important traits can be tracked. If there is any problem with the cow e.g. sickness etc. it can be solved immediately. Similarly, other important stuff for agro-entrepreneurs e.g. to make sure the timely meals of cow, its health, hygiene everything can be tracked and any anomaly can immediately give red signals to the entrepreneur. It can recognise a cow with an infected hoof from the change in its manner of walking, or identify that a cow is pregnant and will eventually produce milk.
Cowlar costs only USD$69 per cow with a USD$3 per month subscription, and provides a solar-powered “cow router” that collects data from the collars. It already has 600 cows on the platform, with 7,200 on the waitlist. It has the opportunity to build an $11 billion business on milk cows worldwide. It can revolutionise the dairy sector in Pakistan by helping farmers in increasing the productivity of their existing cows and by helping cows in living longer and giving more off springs.
2. Delee – A blood test for circulating tumor cells
Cancer is one of the biggest killers in the world. One of the reasons why it is so wide spread is the inability to identify it at an early stage before the formation of a tumour. It has been demonstrated that CTCs (Cancerous Tumour Cells) circulate in blood months and years before the development of metastases (development of a second tumour). If the invasive cancerous cells can be diagnosed and detected before the tumor mass becomes detectable by imaging, then an early treatment can be setup to avoid recurrence and metastases. Unfortunately it was not possible until now.
Delee aims to solve this problem with a blood test device able to isolate tumor cells. The patent-pending device aims to personalise cancer treatments based on a new approach. The founding team is from America’s top universities from the field of biomedical engineering and the startup has already run a successful clinical trial using 15 patients, isolating tumor cells for 13 of them. Delee aims to take on this USD$2 billion market of cancer diagnosis.
3. Symple – Digital payment processing for B2B payments
The whole purpose of a cheque is to be used as an instrument of cash. Most of the businesses do all the payment processing through cheque to keep record of all the incoming and outgoing payment. Thanks to latest image processing techniques, now text in pictures can be converted to readable information which can revolutionise the paper based economy. There are five billion checks written and mailed per year for business-to-business payments in the US. In Pakistan, I am sure the number would be huge as well.
US based Symple lets users take a photo of an invoice to digitise them and pay right through the app. It now has 219 companies on board, and it’s growing virally as businesses force their vendors to sign up. It charges a fixed amount per invoice but waves fees for the first six months to boost growth. The market potential for this startup is USD$2 Billion in USA. It can also be replicated in Pakistan with a huge potential as from a Pakistani perspective, it will reduce two hassles. As a vendor when you receive a cheque from a company, if the cheque is from another bank, it takes one to two working days to process it which can be eliminated. Secondly, it also reduces the hassle of going to the bank, waiting in queues and submitting the cheque. From the buyer point of view, you can streamline your cash flows in a simple dashboard and having your key cash flow data at your palm top.
4. Supr Daily:
We all know about the vegetable hawkers which used to come in our streets and the household women who lived upstairs used to buy those vegetables by sending down a basket attached with a string from their balcony. That was a kind of daily subscription service for vegetables. Similar is the case with our traditional milkmen who come in the early morning to supply milk.
Supr Daily in India wants to be the subscription based digital delivery service which would deliver daily morning goods e.g. milk, bread, eggs, butter, etc, to millions of Indians. The company operates what it says is the first farm-to-home milk marketplace, cutting out middlemen to reduce costs and providing a better quality of product. The company says that it is growing at 40 percent month over month and has 98 percent retention for its subscription service. It sees the milk market as a USD$13 billion market, but it’s looking to use that as a launching point to reach the USD$115 billion grocery market in India. This is a nice concept which can be launched in Pakistan with a stronger value proposition e.g. vegetables at less than the market price, etc.
5. DocTalk – WhatsApp for Indian doctors and patients
In India, it is impossible for patients to get a quick response to their questions, as doctors there don’t want to answer them without getting paid. DocTalk provides a way for doctors to make money by answering those questions, and takes 50 percent of all revenues made by them. According to them, their company is now making USD$720 per doctor per month, but it costs just USD$40 to acquire those doctors.
In Pakistan, where quality health facilities are skewed towards major urban centers, this could be replicated with an online marketplace of doctors where doctors get paid to talk to those patients who are living in faraway areas. The tests required for diagnosis can be done from the nearest authentic labs and payments to doctors made either though mobile wallets or payment solutions such as easy paisa. Doctors can also be paid more to talk to those patients as an incentive and patients will also be saved from the hassle of visiting the urban center every time and save both cost and time.
6. InnaMed – Connected home blood-testing device
Data tells us that one in four patients leaving the hospital after being treated for heart failure is re-admitted in the next 30 days. US based InnaMed helps reduce those rates by helping doctors monitor patients’ health with inexpensive, connected blood-testing devices. By automating and scaling the best practices of hospitals, the company hopes to go after a USD$17 billion market. Similarly, some startups are producing wearables for humans which track all of your health data through your sweat, heart beat and blood glucose levels and if there is anything going wrong in your body it can alert you or your doctor.
The world is open for innovations. It is up to you how you can think out of the box and present a solution for a common problem and make it in to a sustainable business. IoT (Internet of things), Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and subscription based services are the four biggest trends which will be future of the world and where bulk of investor’s money is being pumped in.