Upaya's first acclerator focused on companies that provide job placement, particularly through formalizing
informal sector jobs in India. In selecting participants for our first cohort, we prioritized companies that demonstrated strong potential to create hundreds, if not thousands, of dignified and reliable jobs for the poorest of the poor.

Upaya selected eight companies for the accelerator that ran from April - September 2017. Each entrepreneur was matched with an industry expert mentor and received hands-on support from the Upaya team to fine tune their business plans and prepare them for an investor showcase where Upaya and other investors determined which companies receive equity investments. From this group, Upaya selected two companies, UpSkill and SMV Green for investments.


Cohort Sponsor

Allen Blue
VP Product Management and Co-Founder at LinkedIn


Venture Partner

UChicago Center in Delhi


Outreach Support



cohort 1 companies




An online platform connecting employers with verified cooks, maids, drivers and similar helpers.

Enabled 5000+ job placements

Meenakshi Gupta Jain, CEO

Punit Jain, Mentor



Job Nukkad

A recruitment portal for blue collar and entry-level jobs in roles such as delivery boys, housekeeping, security guards, data entry operators, tele-callers, maids, and car washers.

25,000+ job seekers registered, 50+ placement agencies registered

Ankur Mehta, CEO



Kabadiwalla Connect

A platform that collects and processes recyclable waste from scrap vendors and sells it to downstream processors at a mark-up, while harnessing information technology to map and monitor scrap vendors.

Siddharth Hande, CEO

Sonal Bangera, CTO




An extensive network of certified food vendors that provide timely, hygienic, packaged meals to train passengers who can place and track orders via a mobile app.

Network of 300+ stations, 400+ vendors, and 20,000 paying customers

Amit Deep Kumar, Founder CEO, COO and CMO
Rakesh Gupta, Co-Founder and CTO
Sunil Awasthi, Co-Founder and Chief Vendor Relations Officer



SMV Green Solutions

Selling, financing, and after-sale support services for rickshaw pullers to be able to upgrade to solar/electric rickshaws. Promotes clean urban transport and self-employment, and minimizes the physical burden of pulling manual rickshaws.

Naveen Krishna, Managing Director



The Shoe Men

Provides professional leather cleaning and repair services for footwear and other leather products to retail customers.

Saral Budhiraja, Founder and CEO




UpSkill Management Services

A technology platform that acts as a single point data repository, tracking the continuous skill enhancement and placement management of job-seeking individuals.

12,000 candidate registrations

Mansi Agarwal, CEO and Co- founder

Apaar Kasliwal, Director and Co-founder



Zero Waste Inc.

Solid waste management consultancy and service provider for municipalities in smaller cities in India.

Covering 10,000 households and 900 commercial properties

Amit Lingwal, Managing Director

Himanshu Patwal, Marketing and Sales

Vineet Thakur, Manpower and Transport

Photo credit: SMV Green