ET Startup Awards 2021: FamPay wins the Best on Campus award
The 11-member jury had to weigh the pros and cons carefully to decide between Pixxel, a startup building a constellation of earth imaging satellites, and FamPay, a provider of payments and financial services to teenagers.
Eventually, after an animated discussion on the prospects of satellite imaging and its potential impact on several traditional sectors on the one hand, and of building financial products for youngsters on the other, the jury members had no hesitation in picking FamPay as the top startup to emerge from a campus in India.
Founded in 2019 by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee graduates Kush Taneja and Sambhav Jain, FamPay has an ambitious target of providing access to digital means of payment to one-third of India’s population below the age of 18.
It is trying to address this with its digital wallet and prepaid cards, with strict parental controls and transaction limits.
FamPay’s product gained traction during the Covid-19 pandemic as it enabled teenagers to own a quasi-digital banking account where parents could deposit ‘pocket money’ or other allowances.
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The company already has over 3 million registered users. Jain said the win validates its strategy.
“This will help us attract more talent, and signal that we are on the right track. We are super happy and super humbled to have been awarded this honour,” he said.
In June, FamPay
raised $38 million in Series A funding, among the largest capital infusions for such a round in India.
“I think they are solving a problem they faced as college students, and they have scaled really fast. They’re educating students on money and finance while getting them to use a card, and that is very interesting,” said Nithin Kamath, founder and CEO of Zerodha and a jury member.
FamPay provides numberless cards in partnership with IDFC First Bank, through which students can make online and offline payments even without a bank account.
The company wants to become the go-to brand for millions of teenagers who use smartphones and the internet for the first time.
Jury members GV Ravishankar, managing director of Sequoia Capital India, and Anu Hariharan, partner at Y Combinator Continuity Fund, recused themselves from both the rounds of voting, since they are investors in FamPay.
Pixxel | Awais Ahmed & Kshitij Khandelwal
Pixxel is a space-tech startup that is building a constellation of hyperspectral imaging satellites which will be able to detect oil and gas leaks, determine crop and soil health, and air and water pollution levels. The company plans to launch its first satellite in October and the second one in December.
HaystackAnalytics | Anirvan Chatterjee, Gaurav Srivastava & Kiran Kondabagil
HaystackAnalytics is a provider of genomic-based diagnostic services for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Incubated out of SINE at IIT-Bombay, the startup has developed a proprietary low-compute genomic analysis platform that can sequence genomes in a few minutes. Its genomic-based diagnostic test for TB has received regulatory approval in India.
The ePlane Company |
Satyanarayanan Chakravarthy & Pranjal Mehta
The ePlane Company is developing compact, affordable, and battery-powered flying taxis to help citizens commute quickly in future. Incubated at IIT-Madras, the startup’s business case rests on short-range flights as these require less battery capacity. The duo has chosen electric-based propulsion as it is cheaper than conventional fuel.
PepperContent | Anirudh Singla & Rishabh Shekhar
PepperContent aims to be the biggest marketplace for content globally. It counts Amazon and Facebook as clients and works with leading media firms, educational institutions, ecommerce, technology and pharma companies. It has started operations in the United States and is looking to expand aggressively across categories such as graphics design, language translations, video, and audio content.