These Unicorns’ Websites Looked Very Different Back In The Day

A brand is a constantly evolving entity, but its most visual aspect is its website.

While today’s unicorn startups like Flipkart, Ola and Paytm have sleek websites that follow latest trends, they have come a long way from being the basic, web 1.0 websites of when they started. After years of iterations and design evolution, these sites look a lot different from their original versions. Along with the Unicorn status, have come new, sleeker websites and in case of Ola or Zomato, new business models too.

Startup pitch and investor community startup ShotPitch recently did some some delving into the past, and dug out the looks of a few Indian startup websites from back in the day. We found a couple more and turned this into a fun Now and Then slideshow. 

(Move the slider over to switch between the Now And Then.)

1. Flipkart

Flipkart may be all sleek and bright colours today, but back then it was a pretty basic and functional website. Not to mention, there was no app.

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2. Zomato

Zomato may be amongst the top 100 most visited websites in India today, but back in 2008, it was called Foodiebay and simply was a restaurant listing website.

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3. Snapdeal

Snapdeal may be the 3rd largest ecommerce website today with an ever expanding product base, but back when it was started, it aimed to provide coupon based deals on goods as well as services.

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4. Ola

Ola has become the largest cab aggregator in India today, but Bhavish Aggarwal wanted to simply have a website providing tours and cabs for outstation trips.

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5. Freecharge

Freecharge has never much strayed from its core business of enabling mobile and broadband recharges, however the website has come a long way, along with a whole new owner in Snapdeal.

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6. Quikr

Quikr came into its own in 2008 when it acquired the classifieds listing website Kijiji India, the Indian version of the internatonal classifieds chain.

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7. Paytm

Paytm is one of the largest ecommerce and payment wallets in India today, but back in 2010, it was a mobile recharging website like Freecharge.

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8. Redbus

Redbus was the first bus booking website when it started in 2007. While many competitors have sprung up now, Redbus remains the top bus player in the city, and maintains a sleek but basic website.

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Musigma Founders Dhiraj Rajaram And Ambiga Dhiraj Divorced

MuSigma founders Dhiraj Rajaram and Ambiga Dhiraj Rajaram have divorced. Dhiraj Rajaram had founded the company in 2004 and his wife Ambiga Dhiraj had been an integral part of its operations. She’s taken over the CEO role when Dhiraj had stepped aside earlier this year. 

Ambiga and Rajaram met when they were classmates at Guindy engineering college, Anna University. They currently live in Bangalore with their son.

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According to a report in The Economic Times the marriage has been on the rocks for the last six months and the investors of the company were apprised of the matter.

Dhiraj and Ambiga have however said that their divorce would not impact the working of the company. “Both Ambiga and I are very motivated to do the best for the company and we continue to be very passionate about Mu Sigma,” said Dhiraj Rajaram.  “Our personal situation will not affect our commitment to the purpose of Mu Sigma,” said CEO Ambiga Dhiraj.

Dhiraj Rajaram has hinted that Ambiga might soon be replaced as CEO. He said that she “may not continue in the role of CEO” in the “long term” although “as of now, she will continue in the role.” After the divorce, there would be a clear demarcation of shares between Ambiga and Dhiraj as part of the ongoing settlement. However, their stakes in the company will remain the same, the report said.

MuSigma is one of the few unicorns in India and has a valuation of around $1.5 billion. Also, unlike other unicorns which are currently mired in losses, it is profitable, having made Rs. 380 crore in profit last year.

Breaking: Karnataka Govt. Asks Uber, Ola To Stop Operations With Immediate Effect

Matters appear to have come to a head in the ongoing tussle between the Karnataka government and cab aggregators in the state. The Karnataka transport department has issued a circular stating that the aggregators who are operating un-licensed cabs in the city will have to stop operations with immediate effect.

The Karnataka government has had an uneasy relationship with cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola. The RTO had earlier issued notices to both companies to ban surge pricing, but neither Uber nor Ola had complied. Earlier this week, hundreds of Ola and Uber cabs had been seized for operating without proper licenses. In response, Uber and Ola drivers had staged protests against the RTO’s decision on Friday.


But it doesn’t seem to have worked. The government circular released today states that unlicensed cabs are a violation under section 193 of the motor vehicles act, and if operations are not stopped by the companies, strict action will be taken by the department.

Both Uber and Ola have large-scale operations in Bangalore, with Uber claiming to have over 30,000 drivers on its platform in the city. Both aggregators had earlier run afoul of government regulations over their bike taxi services. The government had then contended that bike taxis being used by these companies were not commercial vehicles, and after a brief period of uncertainty, both Uber and Ola had withdrawn operations.

But Uber and Ola haven’t always immediately complied  with government orders, as was the case with the surge pricing directives. It remains to be seen if these cabs will operate on the city’s roads tomorrow. 

Paytm CEO Burns Flipkart After It Delays The Joining Dates Of Its Campus Hires

If rubbing salt into one’s wounds could have a virtual manifestation, this has to be it. Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma has magnanimously announced that their company would be happy to take on the graduates who’d been left in the lurch after Flipkart delayed their joining dates. And it isn’t a mere formal announcement – Sharma has taken to Twitter to share memes about what’s transpiring. He just retweeted this:

This couldn’t be better publicity for Paytm, which competes directly with Flipkart in its e-commerce business. While Flipkart has had a rough couple of months, with senior level exits and valuation cuts, Paytm seems to have been doing alright – it recently announced that it had enough cash to last for 5 years.

And by offering to take on helpless Flipkart hires who were facing the prospect of being unemployed for 6 long months, Paytm has just positioned itself as reliable,trustworthy, and willing to step in when needed – all while making Flipkart look like the bad guy.

While Paytm had released its first video commercial yesterday, this incident might just prove to be its best advertisement yet.

Morgan Stanley Cuts Flipkart’s Valuation Again; Now Values It At $9.39 Billion

Flipkart’s valuation has been cut by Morgan Stanley for the 2nd time this year. After it had marked down the value of its shares in Flipkart by 27% in March, the firm has again marked down its shares by 15.5%, valuing Flipkart at $9.39 billion.

Flipkart had last raised funds at a $15 billion valuation in 2015.

Morgan Stanley had picked up shares in Flipkart as a part of its series D round of funding in 2013, when it had raised $360 million in two tranches. It had also picked up additional shares when Flipkart had raised a massive $1 billion investment in August 2014. The company’s 2nd markdown comes close on the heels of two other investors, Fidelity and Valic, which had marked down the value of the shares by 20% last month.

sachin bansal vs kunal bahl
Flipkart Executive Chairman Sachin Bansal


Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal has claimed that these are theoretical valuations and his company’s true value can be ascertained only when it raised its next round of funding.

Flipkart, though, has had a hard couple of months. It has seen the exits of several its top people, and there have been rumours that it’ll be unable to raise money at the $15 billion valuation that it had last commanded. Just this week, in an apparent cost cutting move, Flipkart delayed the joining dates of its campus graduates from June to December. 

This Is The Full Text Of The Letter IIM Ahmedabad Sent To Flipkart

Flipkart announced last week that it was postponing the joining dates of IIM students that it had selected through campus placements. IIM Ahmedabad’s placement committee then swung into action and sent Flipkart a strongly worded letter, urging it to reconsider its decision. Here’s the full text:

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From: IIM A chairperson To: Binny Bansal and Nitin Seth CC: Flipkart directors, placement head and placecom representatives of all colleges Subject: 7 months delay in joining of management trainees at Flipkart

Dear Binny and Nitin,

It really saddened me to read an email (please see below) sent by Flipkart campus team on Friday night. You had earlier promised to give joining in July to our students but now it has been delayed till December 2016. Let me assure you that not only students of IIM-A but all the other students from the different campuses are in shock to see such a mail from a well established name like Flipkart.

Talented students fresh out of campus, on the eve of starting successful careers, feel cheated out of multiple opportunities that the campus had to offer, through no fault of their own, just because they chose Flipkart.
With campus perception of recruiters trickling down from one batch to the next, this can significantly hurt the brand Flipkart on campus during subsequent rounds of campus hiring in the years to come.

This sudden decision will bring below changes:

1. A strong brand attracts the best of talent on any campus, anywhere in the world. Most of the students had chosen Flipkart over other well reputed recruiters on campus because of the strength of the brand Flipkart. Your decision to defer the date of joining, comes as it does so close to the earlier promised date of July 2016, is sure to make this talent pool regret their well thought out decision.

2. With the need to service heavy educational loans that most of the students have taken, it stands to reason that the Flipkart’s decision of deferring joining by seven months puts a lot of personal finances (and by extension careers) in jeopardy and is bound to cause a lot of duress for the students and their families. The amount of 1.5 lakhs offered as joining bonus hardly qualifies as compensation for seven months of forced unemployment.
3. Future engagement of Flipkart with b-school campuses is bound to get affected as a relationship based on mistrust and lack of transparency can never be mutually beneficial.
While we understand that restructuring calls for tough decisions in an organisation, the matter of campus hiring could have been handled much better with campuses forewarned well in advance and engaged as partners in this decision making. Rude shocks due to unilateral decision making does little to help strengthen relationships with the campus.

All of these points only summarise that this decision is going to impact Flipkart, b-schools and most importantly talented students and their families in a very negative manner.

Hence all placement heads and placement committees of all colleges have decided to come forward in support of our students and would like to have a common conference call with you so that we can find a more amicable solution. We request you to consider the following options:


1. An undertaking signed by the CEO guaranteeing that every one of these students will be absorbed when the date of joining is finalised no later than December

2. Either the period of deferment needs to be scaled down or the quantum of compensation for deferment needs to be ramped up (Rs 1.5 lakh for a period of seven months is, to put it mildly, utterly unacceptable) to reflect x% of package.


3. The payment of the compensation shall commence on a monthly basis starting July and not as a lump sum amount as joining bonus or arrears.

As previously mentioned, we would appreciate a speedy response from your side regarding scheduling a conference call in the next couple of days, where all the relevant stakeholders (Flipkart management, placement chairpersons of the campuses, Placecom representatives from the campuses, representatives from Flipkart new joinees) can engage to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

We hope that working together, we can keep the matter from escalating to a wider audience. Our only objective is to protect the careers of our students. 


Meet 17 Indian Startups That Allow Pets In The Office

One of the toughest parts of being away at work is being away from your pet for 12 long hours. While most companies abroad allow pets, in India it still remains a much-desired perk. However, many startups across India are taking matters of the fur into their hands, and welcoming pets into their offices and teams.  After all, apart from free lunches, cool company schwag, being a pet friendly office can be a great work culture hack.

Various studies have proven that having a pet around is good for morale and helps reduce stress levels, and these proud pet parents will vouch for the same.

Here’s some of the startups in India that are pet friendly, along with the pets that grace their offices.

(Note: the list is not exhaustive, and these are the startups that we have spoken with. If you’d like to get included, please get in touch.)

1. Inmobi

Walter dogs at inmobi office

This unicorn startup allows pets at work. It all started when a top executive started bringing her pug Bella Boo to the office. Now Walter, the lab and Becky, the cat are a common fixture at the InMobi office. Walter’s presence even reportedly inspired Mohit Saxena, InMobi co-founder to get a dog of his own. Today many employees bring dogs to work, especially on weekends.

2. Yourdost

Yourdost team

This online counseling startup employs a Chief Fun Officer, Penny, who was rescued as a puppy by the founders Richa and Puneet Manuja and has been in the office ever since. “Her primary duties include eating her food as well as others’, sleeping, peeing, running around and getting cuddled.  She is 8 months old now and makes sure everyone in the office stays happy.”, says Ananya, a Yourdost employee.

3. Pagalguy

Ginger the cat at Pagalguy office

Ginger the cat came into Pagalguy’s office after he was rescued from a fire. But today he’s an important part of the office and enjoys his own Facebook page. Now any employee is welcome to bring their own pets. “After Ginger came to Pagalguy, the office has become a livelier and happier place. There is a stress buster for everyone now. His body is warm and clean and everybody loves to rest their head on his stomach and relax. Ginger allows office employees to do whatever they want to him.”, says Allwin Agnel, founder and CEO.

4. Chumbak

dogs at work

The Chumbak Studio is a pet-friendly space, where the in-house lab Hugo can be seen snoozing around in the office, along with a pretty fighter fish called Shiny sitting on a designer’s desk in a glass bowl. There are also occasional lively visits by Ginger, a naughty cat. Hugo is also usually a part of most of Chumbak’s employee engagement activities. “Pet-friendly workspaces, we think, just tend to be that much less stressful, because what could be more of a welcome break than an adorable puppy gazing into your eyes with a toy in its mouth, inviting you to play? There’s a certain synergy they bring to the team, and one of the first things they teach us is how much happiness there can be in spontaneous moments.”, says the blog at Chumbak.

5. Question Mark Communications

question mark communications

The CEO’s dog Chotu Augustine  (Yes, he has his own Facebook page) is a regular in the office and has always been a part of the team. “He is the Chief Collections Officer but is useless as he can be bought for a biscuit.”, says Kenneth Augustine, the CEO. “Once a client’s team came in (there were four of them) and a few of us took them into the conference room for a brainstorm. Chotu was made to hang around outside. Actually he was lured with a few biscuits but when they finished he decided that he had to be a part of the discussion inside the room so he pushed the door open, walked in, wagged his tail in greeting and then sat in the corner.” Kenneth reveals.

6. Myrah Store

myrah store india dog

At this fashion store, customers are allowed to come shopping with their pets. While the store caters to the humans, the pets can mingle with the in-store “brand mascot” Hachiko, who came into the store 7 months ago after he was rescued. “Hachi welcomes everyone with a wagging tail. We have even had a few customers come shopping with their pets, and it was not just a shopping experience but pleasure to watch two dogs playing! He relieves tension with his gimmicks and since he so photogenic, he looks great in marketing campaigns!”, says Sreetama Ghosh, the proud owner of the store and mommy to Hachiko.

7. Home Raaga

Home Raaga dogs at work

This real estate startup comes with 12 cats and 4 dogs in their home office setup! “The four people you see in the photo have been out all day, but just coming back to an office that is filled with animals can be such a stress buster. “, says Vidhu Goyal, the co-founder.

8. Rang de

Rang de org

The NGO Rang De’s office enjoys the company of Berry, an Indie who was adopted off the streets after the employees experienced serious craving for an in-house dog. “We take turns in taking care of her. This kinds of brings a sense of responsibility and team members take turns and play with her. Berry goes to different team members place every other day. We are kind of proud of her adaptability quotient!”, says Soumya, Chief Belief Officer at Rang De.

9. Look What You’ve Done

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Moby, a Shih Tzu, who was gifted to the co-founder’s by her boyfriend is now an integral part at this ad agency’s office. “The thought of leaving him behind was unbearable. But now he’s an integral part of everybody’s work schedule, be it the tail wagging in the morning, the mid morning break playing with him, the drama during lunch time.”, says Malvika Pai, co-founder at Look What You’ve Done agency.

10. Pennyful

dog at work

Zorro is CEO & founder Ravitej Yadalam’s 1 year old golden retriever at the online deals startup Pennyful. “He comes in whenever possible and instantly brings joy to the office. It creates camaraderie, as everyone who normally are glued to their desks get up and recharge themselves. Also, employees take turn to pet or walk Zorro!”, says Priya Stephen, an employee.

11. CurleyStreet Media

pavitra challam

Bono, the golden lab, has been the “Chief Cuddling Officer” at the production house for the last 4 years. ” When Curleystreet Media was born, our office space was chosen specifically so that Bono had a backyard to play in. He is the first to come in to work every day so that he can be there to greet everyone and the last to leave. No CurleyStreet Media production, celebration, brainstorming session or event is complete without his furry presence.” says Pavitra Chalam, director at CurleyStreet. 

12. Motostore cafe

moto store and cafe

The animal-friendly biker cafe has a bunch of dogs and cats, usually rescued from the streets, who effortlessly mingle with the customers over a coffee. The owners Aashish and Abhijit are staunch animal lovers. While a few people bring in their own pets to the cafe, several have even adopted pets from the cafe.

13. Write Leela Write

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This content creation agency comes with 2 dogs ‘Bitey’ and ‘Content’ as Chief Well-being Officers. “They keep stress far away. We get cuddles in exchange for couch time. Our company has included Bitey and Content in our staff welfare budget. Recently Content had a terrible leg injury and we got him treated through our company. They have been a part of many meetings, clients mostly are ok and only slightly weirded out. Once we tell them they won’t do anything except sniff you clients are at ease.”, says Rheea Rodrigues Mukherjee , the co-founder.

14. Zerodha

Zerodha online brokerage firm

The online brokerage startup Zerodha has 2 rescued dogs – Zero, and Q in their 30,000 sq. ft office. “As a startup, our work environment is relaxed and their presence only adds to that appeal. They keep our spirits high. Initially, dogs feel really uncomfortable having so many people around and tend to bark. But they are smart and quickly recognise the space as home, get used to it and stop disturbing people.”, says, Nithin Kamath, CEO at Zerodha.

15. Graffiti Collaborative 

Dog at grafitti collaborative media

This ad agency is home to two Indies Zoe and Skyye, and the owners believe that they keep the team calm, happy, smiling and engaged all day long. “We don’t just allow pets, we also foster them! We have had many people bring their pets to office. In fact, for our anniversary, we traveled to Goa with four dogs! We also had a rescued crab at the office for a couple of days. We are hoping to have an adoption camp soon.”, says Alex. 

16. Cat Cafe Studio

cat cafe studio

This community collective and production studio loves cats so much that it’s named after them. When not coming up with innovative ideas for art, literature and writing, the people at Cat Cafe Studio are playing with the 27 odd rescue cats that throng the place. Everyone else is free to bring their own cat too.  “Animals are the best stress busters you will ever find, so there is hardly any room for fights, stress, politics, etc. which is usually the case at most workplaces. When it comes to anything related to any of our cats, everyone stands united with each other no matter the personal differences. The work is always better with a cat sleeping on your desk. “, confirms Mihir Bhatt. 

17. DriveU

DriveU founders

At the personal driver hiring startup DriveU, all three founders have one dog each and a few employees bring their dogs to work as well.  “At DriveU, everyone bonds over bathing a dog once a week, taking them for a walk, playing football in the outside mini football field and respond to their emails with a dog lounging around at their feet. When hiring new employees, we make it very clear that we are pet-friendly and candidates also get a taste of this when they come in for an interview. Most rooms are soundproof, feature water bowls, dog beds, and cleaning wipes. Additionally, there are pet perks like dog biscuits, dog toys, chew-sticks and bones that are used while the dogs are being trained for tricks and other games.”, says Madhushri Verma, a DriveU employee. Not just that, DriveU also donates a percentage of their yearly revenues to NGO’s working for animals to help promote adoption of stray animals and for medication and cure of injured animals on the road.

Here’s hoping more Indian offices go pet friendly and welcome a furry friend into their offices as warmly as into their hearts.

Zomato’s Losses More Than Treble To Rs. 492 Crore In 2016

2016 might’ve been a seminal year for Zomato as it entered the food ordering business, but the move has come with a price. The company’s losses have more than trebled to Rs. 492 crore for the year ending March 2016. For the same period last year, its losses were Rs. 136 crore.


Zomato’s revenues, however, haven’t kept pace with its losses. Its operating revenues managed to double from Rs. 96 crore last year to Rs. 184 crore in 2016.

Earlier this month, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal had claimed “they are profitable in the order business at a unit economics level, and the overall online ordering business will hit profitability when they hit an average of 40,000 orders a day”. In February, Zomato had claimed to have achieved operational break even in six countries including India, the UAE, Lebanon, Qatar, the Philippines and Indonesia. 

Less than 3 weeks ago, HSBC had slashed Zomato’s valuation by half. It had valued the company at $500 million, which was significantly lower than the $1 billion valuation it had raised money at last year.

Zomato’s has had a tough few months in the recent past, having let go of 10% of its staff  in late 2015 and having to pull out of its food ordering business in 4 cities. The entire food tech sector has been beset with uncertainty this year. Foodpanda has laid off 300 employees, and rival TinyOwl has shut its operations in all cities other than Mumbai.

Talented Young Students Feel Cheated, IIM Ahmedabad Tells Flipkart

Flipkart’s proposed plan to delay the joining dates of its fresh graduates hasn’t gone down well with India’s top B-school. IIM Ahmedabad has sent a strongly worded email to Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal asking him to guarantee that their graduates will have a job when the date of joining is finalized.

OfficeChai had first broken the news of Flipkart delaying the joining dates of its campus hires from June to December.

Source: CampusAnna

In the email, IIM Ahmedabad suggested that the delay should be shortened and said the compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh offered by Flipkart was “utterly unacceptable.” Compensation should be in the form of a monthly payment starting June and not as a lump sum as joining bonus or arrears, it added. IIM Ahmedabad claims that students need to repay loans and had turned away “multiple opportunities that the campus had to offer”, adding that most students had chosen Flipkart over other well-reputed recruiters because of the strength of its brand.

“The decision to defer the date of joining, coming as it does so close to the earlier promised date of June 2016, is sure to make this talent pool regret their decision of joining your company. Talented students fresh out of campus, on the eve of starting successful careers, feel cheated,” it said.

The email had a note of warning as well. “Future engagement of Flipkart with B-school campuses is bound to get affected as a relationship based on mistrust and lack of transparency can never be mutually beneficial.” 

Flipkart, for its part, has replied saying that that it’s taking on all the students it has hired but it wouldn’t be able to increase the compensation. IIM Ahmedabad has suggested a conference call with placement committees of other top B-Schools, including IIM Calcutta, IIM-Bangalore, IIM Indore, FMS Delhi, TA Pai Management Institute and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, to reach an amicable solution with Flipkart.

These graduates of these top schools had been hired by Flipkart at salaries of upwards of Rs. 20 lakh. A delay of joining by 6 months would translate to losses of around Rs. 10 lakh for these students, and make it harder for them to repay their education loans.

Flipkart had said that it had delayed the joining dates of these students due to an organizational restructuring. The company has had a tough couple of months, having seen its valuation marked down by three investors and the exits of several high profile executives.