2021 has been a mixed-bag sort of year for many, but for the Indian startup ecosystem, which became the third-largest in the world. The Unicorn story is now well told and at Plum, we wanted to shift the spotlight to startups that are early, in some cases bootstrapped and in most cases thinking health-first and we recently called for nominations on Twitter.

We got an overwhelming response and spoke to Founders/Startups who were nominated on what to expect in 2022, their values and culture and their Founding teams. Here is our list!

Binks

What is next in 2022?

Binks is the easiest way for Indian women to get perfectly fitting tailored clothes online. Founded by Aamna Khan and Raj Vardhan, Binks plans to collaborate with offline and online saree and fabric stores in 2022. Customers will be able to place stitching orders right where they purchase their fabric and enjoy a seamless experience. While its model allows it to serve customers everywhere, it also plans on expanding to 6 other metro cities where it will provide doorstep fabric pickup and at-home measurement services. They’re also on track to reduce their turnaround time from 5 to 3 days.

People and Culture

Team Binks

Binks is a nimble team of 15 full-time employees and about 30 tailoring contractors. “We care deeply about providing benefits to our tailors. We are glad that we were able to support them throughout the two lockdowns. Even our existing customers came forward to help”, says Aamna, who started Binks after she had a poor tailoring experience herself.

About how they think of culture, especially in a fast scaling team, Aamna says, “80% of any company’s culture is the founding team. Two things come to mind, first is hiring: with so many fires burning it’s tempting to hire fast but we try to do it with as much thought as possible. The other thing I care deeply about is employee onboarding. We’re already investing in learning and development across all teams. Writing things down to build organizational knowledge is something we try to do consciously. We believe this will give us an edge as we grow.”

As per a recent Willis Tower Watson report, future leaders are thinking culture-first and building people programs that create great places to work.

Flexiple

What is next in 2022?

Flexiple is a network of freelance designers and developers launched in 2016. Over the past year and a half, the company has grown 5 times and is expected to become a $100 million business (in revenue) over the next five years. The company was founded by Karthik Sridharan, Hrishikesh Pardeshi and Suvansh Bansal and has remained bootstrapped over its 6-year journey.

People and Culture

Startups Flexiple

Currently a 25 member team, that will grow to about 45 over the next six months. Says Karthik, “at Flexiple we place a lot of importance on the tone of textual communication and encourage people to be more specific and use more words and emojis. We aim to create an atmosphere of trust and ownership.” He further shares how the company has a culture of spending 5 minutes of every call enquiring after every team member, having a policy of constant improvements of internal policies every 15 days and also coming together to celebrate festivals. 

Says Karthik, ‘bootstrapped startups are spoken about very little and despite being social media shy, we like to share stories and create value to make our story heard.’ Karthik is quite well-known on Twitter and you can follow some of his work here

Research shows that rather than simply increasing spending, 72% of companies are updating pay and benefits programs to address multiple challenges.

leap.club

leap.club’s mission is to have more women in leadership positions. They are building towards 1) building meaningful networks for women in leadership 2) creating access and awareness of relevant jobs and opportunities 3) providing constant learning and development opportunities.

In 2022, the company aims to have 30,000 members, an ARR of USD 4,000K and a team of 100 members focusing on making networking fun again. The company is Founded by Ragini Das and Anand Sinha.

People and Culture

Team Leap.Club

Says Ragini, “I personally believe that culture is the DNA of your organisation,” and she outlines four principles she lives by – 1) think of your teams the way sports managers do 2) people come for the Company, stay for the people 3) the bigger you get, the harder it is to maintain culture and hence, measure and lastly 4) tough love is effective for maintaining great work and relationships. 

leap.club jumped from 10 to 30 people and is now focusing on becoming a great place to work. They are focussing on health insurance/ benefits, having a relatively open leave policy, onboarding a wellness coach, and doing regular employee NPS to ensure they are on the right track with the team as they are with the business. Here is some of the community love that the company has received in its short journey of 20 months. 

Rather than simply throwing higher salaries at the demographic problem and adding to wage inflation, future-focused leaders know that employees often join and stay in organizations with differentiated culture, values, and purpose. Data suggests organizations with transformative employee experiences are far more likely to report lower turnover (source).

Spiti

What is next in 2022?

Spiti is a private, internal Youtube for teams founded by Therese Maggie and Sai Bhava Teja. The company was launched in October 2021 and currently has about 5 customers. In 2022, we can expect new product features like auto-transcription and powerful search capabilities. Further, there will also be more focus on building a collaborative and easy-to-use internal video repository. Spiti is actively fund-raising and hiring to expand its team in Bangalore. 

People and Culture

Therese Maggie and Sai Bhava Teja

Says Therese, “we are keen to provide every employee with the freedom and flexibility to work on their own terms. However, since we are a really small organisation, we would adopt a more hybrid approach. We would like to provide lunch-on-the-house, gym memberships, unlimited leaves and health insurance to our employees. The well being of our team members will always be a priority.”

Millions of people around the world have been personally impacted by the global crises and many more have been indirectly impacted. In response, future-focused leaders promote employee wellbeing (physical, emotional, financial, social), connecting the support of healthy, resilient employees to healthy, resilient organizations (source).

The aim of this post is to acknowledge early-stage startups and their hustle. It is also to showcase how future-focused leaders have been adaptive, culture and wellbeing-first and despite fighting the war of talent, do not compromise on whatever it takes to build a lasting enterprise. 

Team Superminions

Superminions is a growth consultancy with services including growth strategy, content marketing, visual creatives and paid marketing. For 2022, they plan to publish one insightful growth story of startups every day on Twitter – example. Their audience is entrepreneurs, startups and growth professionals. And with each byte-size story, they help uncover the growth strategies of fast-growing startups (swipe-and-learn-growth). It is Founded by Nitin Dhawan and Ruchi Thapa. 

People and Culture

Says Ruchi about their culture, “we are coaches and athletes (not so much managers and employees). As a leader, it is rewarding to coach young athletes and help them grow. Naturally, as coaches, we are quite selective about who we hire and mentor. An ideal athlete (candidate) for us is smart, a fast learner, and growth-oriented. 

She further adds, “We are a remote team, so we have to put in a conscious effort to stay connected. This automatically happens when we do great work collaboratively. However, if the work is getting monotonous, we increase the frequency of fun sessions – play games together, make memes together, browse Twitter together!

Also, we start our morning scrum by asking everyone how they are doing and discussing funny news from our cities.” The team is currently fully remote and the company has no caps/ upper limits to their leave policy. They are a team of Bollywood buffs and like expressing how they feel through memes – here is how they currently feel.

Superminions Startups

Toplyne

What is next in 2022?

Toplyne is a plug-and-play platform that enables PLG (product-led growth) companies to boost their freemium user conversion rates. Launched by Rishen Kapoor, Rohit Khanna and Ruchin Kulkarni the company aims to launch its own self-serve product in early 2022 – much like Toplyne’s early customers like Canva where one does not have to go through a sales demo process to start using the product.

People and Culture

Toplyne Startup
Team Toplyne

Says Ruchin, “Never do we want people to think that they are trading off their family’s well being by working at an early stage startup and hence we pay utmost attention to their health.” Rohit and Ruchin are both runners and the company encourages employees to meet up at Cubbon Park on Saturdays for an open exercise session followed by sumptuous breakfast. 

Every alternate Thursday family and friends of Toplyne get together for dinner and drinks. Treat this as an open invitation to everyone who loves SaaS and startups 🙂

They have intense games of chess and a pet-friendly office. Further their careers page publicly states employee benefits and this has improved their hiring funnel. 

Research reports cultures of dignity translate to gains on key metrics, including the ability to attract and retain talent. Engagement remains highest when high levels of workplace dignity support company purpose and elevate culture, programs and employee experience. 


Early-stage startup? Check out Plum’s self-serve health benefits product: Plum Lite.

Author

Plum is a comprehensive employee benefits platform that provides group medical cover for start-ups, SMEs, and corporate organizations. We provide premium employee health insurance with no co-pay, no waiting periods, and no hidden terms and conditions.