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Inspiring / Startup

The Story of a Startup called Akosha

A lot of people ask me how we came up with the idea of Akosha. Here is the story behind Akosha and convoluted path we took.


The early days – a small start


We started off in September 2009 with a very different idea. The plan was to sell legal documents online (a bit like LegalZoom in the USA, which is apparently IPOing this year). We started with Wills first ( I asked my father for a small space in his office in Chandigarh and started off with a MCA grad from DU.


We closed ourselves in a room and started working. Everything was fun and exciting. I read blogs of major startups around the world and tried to understand what went on behind them. We wanted to build for scale and used to ask ourselves questions – “Will our website we able to handle all the traffic and 10000 Wills at the same time?” We obviously hadn’t heard of minimum viable product concept and continued to build new features.


The First Akosha Office - Ankur (left) and Bhuvan (right).


Ankur (left) and Bhuvan (right). See bottom right corner. We used to have a mattress in the office to take quick naps.


We kept working and built the product in about 6 months and then launched it by sending it to 20-30 friends. They all said that it looked like crap and that no one would buy a will online in India anyway. Around this time, Bhuvan left and joined a bigger company (see this post here – Saat Developer Maaf) but not before helping me understand a lot of technology – which came in handy later. We also spoke to some potential customers but a lot of people wanted a lot of customization their Wills.


Moving on and finding a new name


I had been meeting Sameer from Morpheus off and on and he had been pushing me to do a bigger idea and market. Since the Wills idea hadn’t really worked out, we thought that maybe it was time to try out a few other documents focusing on consumers and small businesses. We also did some Google search keyword analysis and came up with 5 documents like wills, rent agreements, power of attorneys, employment agreement.


Sameer, Nandini and I were sitting in a cafe and going through a list of 400 names I had come up with the help of a few friends but nothing was really sticking. Suddenly, Sameer came up with Akosha (we had by then started thinking about names of Indian kings! Yes, we were desperate). It was an empty name “Akosha” – though Nandini and I didn’t like it much, we decided to use it till we found a better name. We googled Akosha up and found that “Kosha” meant something in Sanskrit – and since we were too lazy to change it, it stuck (though the flexibility did come in handy later).


Around this time, someone suggested us that we also offer consumer complaint help for Indian consumers. Though I was skeptical because I thought it was all too complex (didn’t have the simplicity of computer generated documents – :-|), I still decided to add it because we weren’t making much revenue anyway. We got a few customers for this but we still had no clue about what lay ahead.




Around this time, two lucky things happened. First, I had a really bad customer experience with Airtel (see Airtel Live v. GPRS issue – experience with Airtel Customer Care) and I so wished that someone could have handled that whole experience for me – calling, waiting, speaking with an incompetent agent, trying to escalate but unable to, call dropped in the middle, and start again from the beginning. I thought “Wouldn’t it be great if someone could handle such a thing for me? Man, I would even pay for it.”


The second stroke of luck was when Rediff reached out to us saying that they liked what we were doing and wanted to write about us. They wrote this really nice story – How this startup simplifies law for the common man. We got a LOT of traffic in a single day.





Rediff sent some traffic our way


Guess what? Everyone clicked on the consumer complaint help button and we knew that it was time to change our focus again.


Around around this time, I moved from Chandigarh to Delhi since I thought it would be easier to build a team in Delhi. So now, Akosha was running out of a rented 1.5 BHK in Kalkaji in New Delhi.



Our first office in Delhi – 1.5 BHK in Kalkaji




After the initial press coverage, the traffic dropped again and we were back to thinking of how to get our next set of customers. I happened to attend a session by Hitesh Oberoi on the early days of Naukri and how they got their first customers. Something clicked inside my head – we decided we couldn’t wait for our customers to discover us – we had to reach out to them.


I, along with two interns from NLS Bangalore, started cold-calling customers who had posted their complaints on (a forum) and began pitching our service. When we said that we had read their complaint against company X, they would start abusing us thinking that we were from the company itself! We would then slowly explain to them that we were a new kind of service which helped them outsource their hassle of following up with the brands and resolving their complaints. Some of them said refused, but we still managed to get our initial set of customers.


To take our product roadmap forward, we also needed to find a solid technology guy. I happened to meet Sarvjeet Ahuja (our interim CTO) at a Startup Weekend and in a 5 minute conversation we (Sameer and I) decided that we should get Sarvjeet onboard.


One day, out of the blue I got an email from one Avinash Vankadaru, a Masters student at the prestigious ETH Polytechnic at Zurich (same place Einstein studied! I tease him). He applied to Akosha with this presentation expressing HIS vision of what Akosha should be and what he brought to the table.



Needless to say, he’s still with us and plays an important role here at Akosha.


I also went to Startup Saturday and presented about what we were doing at Akosha. Post the talk, I met Ankur Warikoo (a guy with tons of internet experience, who later became CEO at Groupon India) – another stroke of luck. We meet regularly after that and he took me through SEO/SEM/Analytics, helped me prioritize/build strategy etc.


Slowly things picked up


To build traction, we also wrote a lot of content on our info blog, and started getting a lot of press coverage. Meanwhile things picked up on Facebook and Twitter as well.


This specific tweet brought a lot of followers and helped us spread the word as well.




From under 10 complaints a week, we slowly started getting 1000+ complaints every week. We kept our nose to the ground, kept working with the initial customers (here are some stories from early customers) and brands. Being part of the Morpheus startup accelerator program was insanely helpful. Some angels and VCs heard about the work we were doing and showed interest. In September 2011, we raised a small round of capital. More recently, a kick-ass angel investor also invested – he’s spending a lot of time with the team, making introductions, etc. to help Akosha grow faster.


To put some perspective on the last 6 months (Nov 11 – Apr 12), here’s a quick snapshot:


Growth in the last 6 months


Another way to put it would be:



We of course internally track a lot of other performance metrics (including resolution rate, CAC, LTV etc. – maybe I’ll share some of the other metrics in a subsequent post).


Building the team


As the complaints started increasing (which is a good thing in our business 🙂 ), we had to build the team one by one. Nitin joined us in SEO/SEM (ex-deals4loans), Manoj in technology (ex-Alston), Neha in Sales (ex-iYogi), Gaurav (ex-Religare) in Operations. Our most recent hires were Sanchit (who interned with us twice) and Runjhun (left a 18 lakhs p.a. job at a top law firm to handle content on the Akosha info blog). We are now a 30 people team and recently shifted to a new office in Jan 12.




Our philosophy while building the team was simple: Hire entrepreneurial people looking for a challenge.


We work hard. It’s a small team and there’s no place to hide. But we have some fun too!



Playing Table Tennis on the office Kinnect


If you are interested in joining us, just write to me at ankur @ You can check out the latest career opportunities here.


What lies ahead


A technology company: Gradually as our relationships with brands and our understanding of our customers improved, people started referring us and our traffic and scale grew. Alongside, we also realized how at our core we were primarily a technology company (see Marc Andreessen talk about how AirBnB is primarily a technology company) trying to use internet + mobile to improve customer service in India. The scale (there are over 25 crore unhappy customers every year – you are one of them!) and the challenges (each sector has its nuances) are huge.


Questions we ask ourselves: To understand the future, we ask ourselves the following questions:


    • Does customer service really have to be so bad?


    • What can we do to help customers voice their complaints better?


    • Do you really need to call and hold for 5 mins and then talk to someone for 10 mins?


    • Do brands really know how good their customer service is compared to their competitors?


    • What can we do to make brands improve their policies and become more customer friendly?



Whatever we are trying to do hasn’t been done before. We may or may not succeed but it’s bloody exciting.


Written by Ankur Singla, Founder and CEO at Akosha.













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  1. hey ankur,

    i loved your start up story. i actually travelled with you while reading it! kudos for putting it together so well. when someone wants to write their start up story, i shall share this link with them!

    keep writing. keep posting.



  2. Thanks Asha.

  3. hey Akur,

    It’s really inspiring especially for young entrepreneur.
    Keep updating more about akosha!!

    Wish you all the best!!!

  4. Thanks Govil.

  5. Hi Ankur,

    It was really nice to listen to yet one more start up story 😀
    you put it very well which would help many like me!!

    Thanks for sharing and All the Best to Akosha 😀

  6. Thanks Venkatesh.

  7. That’s what I call a true startup story! Very inspiring. You people have a lot of scope in this field. There are many players, and you need to differentiate yourself. Companies treat customers like dirt. I had an issue with Airtel. 30+ emails, 10+ calls, 4+ visits to relation ship center and they still couldn’t help me. I gave up. They just take people for granted.

    If you don’t mind my asking, what’s your conversion rate? No of paid complaints / total complaints?

  8. Hi Ankur,

    Thanks for sharing your struggle and success phases it will definitely help many young entrepreneur specially me as I m in the initial phase of Business.


    Pankaj Upadhyay


  9. Nishant thanks. However, I won’t be able to share those numbers – hope you’ll understand. Sorry.

    – Ankur

  10. Thanks Pankaj.

  11. Ankur,

    Inspiring stuff. Would love to drop by your office whenever I am in Delhi. Would love to meet you guys.

  12. Thank Ronak. Feel free. My mail is ankur AT akosha dot com

  13. Thanks Ankur. 

  14. Hi Ankur,

    Thanks or sharing this insightful & interesting story. I think this is a real need & pain point. Wish you & your team lot of success.


  15. No problem at all

  16. Great inspiring story!! Great work Ankur!! Keep it up 

  17. A start-up done right! Keep it up and all the best for the future!

  18. Hey Ankur…. very inspiring, especially the way you kept on going despite low outcome initially and the way you finally came to the right mix of offerings… very well presented too…. Wish you and Akosha Team a Fantabulous time 🙂 Cheers !!! 

  19. Excellent story. However, I would like to know if Akosha was a part of The Morpheus’s startup acceleration program in the typical sense?

  20. Hey Ankur…congratulations on the amazing growth. We keep reading about Akosha, and hearing about you from Ashish and your Father. I still remember your Chandigarh days, and I think the initial days are the most cherished ones somehow.
    Knowing you and your potential, I am sure this is just the beginning of things and you will reach out to many more people who are desperate for simplification of Legal systems.
    All the best to you and your team, and yeah, let’s meet up, it’s been a long time 🙂

  21. Yes, we were part of their batch 5 back in Dec 2010.

  22. Thanks man Saurabh. 

  23. Hi Ankur,

    Good one. You have come a long way since we last met. Congratulations.

    I think you are basically a legal firm who is helping customers get legal help to get their complaint resolved.

    I think you can expand your services to other legal issues which involves sending notices/follow ups. Some of them are:

    – Sending legal notices to vanishing employees

    – Customers who don’t pay up on project completion.

    – Govt dept. who don’t push files 

    Best regards,


  24. Whatever we are trying to do hasn’t been done before. We may or may not succeed but it’s bloody exciting.

    That’s what I love about this story! Keep those guns blazing! 

  25. Ankur, Its wonderful and I would certainly use Akosha for my grievances.

    Best of luck in whatever you do… !

    Regards, Puneet Aggarwal

  26. Hey Ankur, great work guys!!

    while reading this post i was constantly thinking of the problem which i am currently facing in terms of bad service from a reputed cmpny and if you guys could be of any help to me. It would be grt if we could catch up offline. 

    My id is


    Ashish Kothari

  27. Ankur very well written and nicely put !! Congrats and luck for the future 🙂

  28. Thanks! have emailed you Ashish.

  29. Very interesting and inspiring Ankur….way to go…

  30. @Ankur: Do you have competitors  ?

  31. All the best to you!

  32. amazing:) 

  33. Hey Ankur,

    Your story is such a delight to read, given the fact that we(Headstart) have had such close relationship with you!. Glad, that Startup Saturday made a valuable addition for you!.:)

    FYI- I lead Startup Saturday Bangalore!.:)

  34. Pretty Pretty Interesting. 🙂

  35. Hi Ankur

    What does one do if one has to place complain against Akosha Itself.

    I had logged a complain on aksha on 20th for dell. (paid Rs 999 from the same.) But interestingly there was no update, no call, no follow up from Akosha untill 24th sept (today) . And only when I place a call to the call center of akosha to follow up did one Swatantra Jha from akosha cared to call up on my issue  (after waiting for 4 days) .

    The interesting part is when I told Mr Jha that this was not the kind of service I expected from Akosha, the reply comes- ” you call us so solve the issue or we call you, how does it make a difference”. 

    I, for sure , am not going to pay Akosha again, will follow up with dell (or any one else) instead of paying akosha and then  following up with them. 

  36. this is a good question!

  37. Hi Ankit,

    I am extremely sorry for this.

    We have an automated process of assigning all our premium customers to a separate team. Unfortunately in your case, our system didn’t capture the payment from gateway and hence we couldn’t call you on the same day.

    We have strong guidelines and internal processes, to ensure that customers are contacted within the same day. We internally track average time to first call to paid customer (currently it is 0.8 days including non-working hours / weekends). However,  based on your feedback, I will further sit with my operations head and do an audit of our existing systems.

    I have also listened to the call recording of which I am not entirely proud of. It is actually my fault – we will be investing even more in training and quality.

    I personally request you to have faith in Akosha, and give us one more opportunity for helping you resolve the complaint.


    Ankur Singla

    PS: I’ll also be calling you tomorrow morning. Feel free to reach me at ankur at

    PSS: As a startup, we are learning to keep up with the volume and complexity of operations – it’s a moving target and one that keeps me awake at night. Thanks for writing this note – it’ll make us work double hard in improving ourselves.
  38. Hi Ankur

    I understand such issue can come up in any set up , let alone a startup. The more important thing is to acknowledge it and work towards improvement. 

    The fact that you acknowledge the issue and aim at filling the gap is satisfying for me. 

  39. Something is seriously wrong with Akosha.

    Akosha recent activity board shows that one Aayush Tayal from akosha has been trying to call me  (and it was me who has been missing the calls) but when I contact Aayush, he says such a message has popped in the activity board due to internal errors.   

    Also, Its been more than 11 days that I paid akosha and nothing concrete has happened till now. And this time again I had to contact akosha for an update. (One has to wait in queue on the akosha call center for a turn and finally the EPABX turn down the call telling – no customer representative is available and asks to call later. , just like DELL does.)

  40. Hi Ankit,

    Further to our conversation in the morning, please do let us know once you have submitted the laptop with the Dell service  center. We have made multiple escalations with Dell in the last one week and hopefully your problem shall be resolved soon.

    I am really sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. My personal email id is avinash at and Ankur’s is ankur at Feel free to mail us or call on my mobile number.



    P.S: Posting from Ankur’s account.

  41. Really inspired by the story. These people helped me once in my college time. Thanks once again and good luck for the future.

  42. hey ankur,

    many congrats on the funding!!

    pls do post about the good news and your learnings – everyone will feel very proud and inspired.

    keep rocking!
  43. Congratulations, Ankur ! Let us have your learnings !

    Regards, Puneet

  44. hey ankur,

    many many congrats to you and the akosha team on the 100 crore funding!!! so so proud of you!

  45. Who was the guy who suggested consumer complaints ? You should give that man a cookie.

  46. Congrats guys!

  47. ps: i couldn’t contain myself – updated your post with the awesome news!! keep rocking 🙂

  48. Congrats Ankur and team.

  49. Congratulations, Ankur and team!

  50. Hi Ankur,

    Nice and encouraging story, further what ever I am writing please just take it as a friendly (though I am conversing with you for the first time) and positive feedback and not as a complaint:

    After reading your story I my self reached Akosha ( and tried to get your services as I want to make complaints about my Idea postpaid billing but not able to find a place to post a complaint, Akosha home page is containing so much informations that are not valuable for every body (even me) who are coming to do complaints and get your services. I suddenly realized I am on a sub domain of Akosha and tried to find a link to reach a home page of Akosha and found two links for home (giving me confusions which link is actually for home page) and one link saying I clicked on one of the Home link and unfortunately landed on same page then I clicked on and found that link is broken or not working.

    Hope this feed back will help you in taking this wonderful service to next and higher level

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