If you are an Indian startup looking to leverage cutting-edge technology solutions for cloud, data, and security, #YourIsraelGuy is your go-to person.
Saket Agarwal, aka #YourIsraelGuy, is the founder of Mumbai-based startup Onnivation, which acts as a bridge between Indian consumer tech companies and Israeli startups looking to work together.
“The Indian startup ecosystem is very strong when it comes to consumers. On the other hand, Israel is strong with its SaaS business around data, security, and personalisation,” Saket Agarwal tells YourStory in an interaction.
A chartered accountant (CA) by qualification, Saket saw these as complementary areas.
Indian companies can grow faster with the help of Israeli deep-tech startups, who can assist scale their businesses to help the country’s 1.3 billion population. For Israeli companies, it makes for a lucrative business opportunity that caters to a domestic population of nine million.
In 2021, Israel had more than 2,000 startups in the sectors covering Enterprise, IT and Data, and Security Technologies, both of which raised more than 15.1 billion in investments in 2021, according to data from Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit organisation that tracks the industry in Israel.
Born and brought up in Kolkata in a family of CAs, Saket realised early on in his career that he didn’t enjoy his job. In 2012, he decided to give entrepreneurship a go and started working on a vada pao chain Aao Pao Khao.
But after a year, he realised the business model didn’t work out and dropped the idea. Then, he set out to build an advertising and marketing firm. However, he ended up dropping it too.
The breakthrough finally came in 2015 when Saket met Tejinder Singh, who worked at the Israeli Consulate, at one of Mumbai’s startup events. “That’s when I first heard about Israel,” the serial entrepreneur recalls.
Hearing about the cutting-edge innovations happening in Israel, Saket was intrigued about “the possibilities of India-Israel collaboration.”
In 2015, he used his personal funds to formally launch Onnivation and started consulting several Israel-based tech startups, primarily in the healthcare sector. Soon, he was able to take up a few assignments.
After a year of building connections, Saket decided to go on a 17-day trip to Israel to meet investors and startup founders in 2016.
Here, he learnt about Spot.io, a company that helps optimise Amazon Web Services (AWS) costs with an integration with the customer’s cloud account, resulting in a reduction of up to 80 percent.
For Saket, this presented a lucrative business opportunity. “Indian tech is exploding. Generally, cloud costs are a big pain point for many companies. And, if this company is claiming to solve it, can I be its go-to partner in India?”
According to him, Spot.io’s product “sold like hot cakes” back home, and Onnivation helped it earn high revenue.
The verdict was in. Onnivation’s business model had worked.
Eventually, Saket started attending tech and product conferences, where he pitched his startup to other entrepreneurs.
Besides cloud services, Onnivation helps companies solve some of the biggest problems Indian startups face—DevOps, data science, security, and quality assurance, among others.
Saket says, “We also realised that there are companies that struggle with a common set of issues and don’t have a way to solve it, and Israel produces the best solutions in these categories.”
Besides cloud services, Onnivation helps companies solve problems in DevOps, data science, security, and quality assurance, among others.
Among its Israeli startup partners, Onnivation looks for three things:
- Solving a must-solve problem,
- Strong return on investments, and
- Cutting edge-tech
At present, Onnivation has partnered with over 15 Israel-based startups, including Spot.io, Granulate.io, Drata, MessageBird, Rivery, and Coralogix., and runs their sales by acting as their distributor partner in India.
Of these 15, three Israeli startups generate about 15-20 percent revenue from India.
“We have a sales team, a customer base, and most importantly, we know how to sell,” Saket says. Onnivation charges its Israeli partners a percentage of the sales.
Domestically, Reliance Jio-owned Haptik was the Mumbai-based startup’s first customer.
It also counts unicorns, including BYJU’S, Flipkart, Bigbasket, Lenskart, Delhivery, Jupiter, PhonePe, PolicyBazaar, Khatabook, MakemyTrip, PharmEasy, ShareChat, and Swiggy, among others, as its Indian clients.
At present, Onnivation is a team of 22. According to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) filings accessed by YourStory, the startup clocked a total revenue of Rs 19.02 crore in FY21, up 72 percent compared to the previous year. Its profit also rose 88 percent to Rs 3.6 crore in FY21.
“We are looking to achieve an annual revenue rate (ARR) of $25 million in the next year for our Israeli partners,” Saket says.
It also aims to expand its partners to 25-30 startups.
By 2019, Saket rechristened himself as the #YourIsraelGuy, helping companies from Israel leverage business possibilities in the growing Indian startup ecosystem.
Wanting to do more than just enable sales across the two markets, Saket decided to foray into the investment space.
So far, the bootstrapped startup has invested its own funds in over 40 companies. In India, these include Country Delight, MPL, Jupiter, Mudrex, Blu Smart Mobility, and Chingari. Its Israel investments include FireFly, Helios, Drata, EnvO, Dataloop, Velocity, and Loops. Additionally, Onnivation has also invested in nine SaaS-focused VC funds
Going forward, the company plans to raise capital to help with its investment activities and aims to add 25 more companies to its portfolio.