Fast Company magazine has released its annual list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies, rated by revenue growth, profit margins, sustainable business models and creativity.
Several Indian American-founded companies made the cutoff, such as Redwood City, Calif.-based E la Carte — founded by chief executive officer Rajat Suri — which was listed in 26th place.
The company has developed a tablet, Presto, that allows diners at restaurants to order food and beverages on demand, play games while waiting for food to be served, and pay bills and redeem gift cards without having to flag down a waiter.
Applebee’s has ordered 100,000 of the tablets and Johnny Rockets is now using them at 200 restaurants, Fast Company said.
“We could not be more honored that E la Carte’s innovative approach using technology to transform the restaurant industry and enhance the guest experience has been recognized by Fast Company,” Suri said in a company press release.
“This award places E la Carte alongside businesses worldwide that are fearlessly innovating and leading the way to the future.”
To research his concept, Suri dropped out of MIT and waited tables at a local Irish pub in Boston. “The tablet never forgets to upsell,” Suri told Fast Company. “People who order on Presto are 25% more likely to get upsold.”
Number 13 on Fast Company’s most innovative list is Santa Monica, Calif.-based InVenture, founded by CEO Shivani Siroya.
InVenture is a certified “B” corporation that makes microfinance loans in Eastern Africa, India and South Africa, where 2.5 billion people have no credit scores.
The company’s software allows prospective borrowers to download an app on Android phones that monitors and analyzes 10,000 indicators of a person’s level of responsibility. For example, if a person’s calls average more than four minutes, it could mean they have stronger relationships and are a better credit risk.
In 2014, the software's first year, “InVenture accepted 50% of applicants, for a total of more than 6,000 loans. Most were between $20 and $100, with no fees and just 5% interest. The repayment rate was 85%, and more than 75% of applicants returned for a repeat loan,” Fast Company said.
InVenture also provides mobile and Web tools for individuals to help manage their finances and businesses.
Before InVenture, Siroya was a health cost analyst at UNFPA and worked in mergers and acquisitions at Health Net and Citigroup. A 2013 TED Fellow, she is a blogger for the Huffington Post and on the board of the Los Angeles chapter of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs.
Siroya has a master’s in public health from Columbia University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
In 35th place on the Fast Company list was San Francisco-based Gumroad, founded by 22-year-old CEO Sahil Lavingia.
More than 10,000 sellers — mainly authors, instructors and musicians — used Gumroad in 2014 to sell wares, including musicians Eminem and Bon Jovi and publisher Hachette.
Eminem sold limited-edition tour merchandise and Bon Jovi marketed an album with an autographed CD, T-shirt and iPhone case.
Sellers upload their audio, PDF or app files to the Web site, which generates a customized Web page. Gumroad receives 5% of each sale plus 25 cents per transaction.
It also allows sellers to thank buyers. “On Amazon, you make a sale. That’s the end of the relationship," Lavingia told Fast Company. “On Gumroad, you know that person forever.”
Two India-based companies made the list: Gurgaon-based IndiGo airlines in 9th and Chennai-based Perfint Healthcare listed 46th.
“The no-frills IndiGo has blossomed into [India’s] largest airline — it took delivery of its 100th aircraft in November 2014 and reached a high of 33% market share — as well as its rare profitable one,” Fast Company said.
“The 10-year-old airline has flown 82 million passengers with 550 daily flights, and is in a prime position for the future: India is forecast to become the world’s third-largest aviation market by 2020 and the largest by 2030.”
Perfint Healthcare, Fast Company said, has developed a “minimally-invasive, image-guided robotic system,” Maxio, which guides doctors through “cancer diagnostics, surgery, and pain care interventions.” It has been used in 1,500 procedures in hospitals in the U.S., India, Germany and Russia, and this year will launch commercially in Japan and Korea and other countries in Asia.