‘More startups will opt for IPOs’

Source: Financial Express, 17 January 2023

The year 2023 is expected to be another formidable year for startups even as both global and domestic VCs sit on large amounts of dry-powder funds amounting to billions of dollars. Though late-stage dealmaking is expected to take a huge hit this year, fund managers and partners at domestic VC firms expect 2023 to be a reasonable year for early-stage startups. In an interview with Salman SH, Prime Ventures’ managing partner Sanjay Swamy shares his expectations for 2023. Edited excerpts:

Was 2022 a year of funding slowdown or a correction?

If you filter out the funding volumes from 2021, which was an aberration, and compare that with the 2022 and 2019 volumes, the figure looks almost similar. However, there’s no question that we moved into an era of a substantial slowdown. But this slowdown wasn’t an unexpected one, because broadly these bull run cycles don’t go on forever. We should expect 2023 to be a flat year in terms of funding volume growth. Growth-stage capital will still be very scarce and only exceptionally good companies will continue to attract capital. As a founder, if you’re lucky to have raised a large late-stage round in 2022, you should be utilising that capital ideally to break even rather than expecting to do another large raise this year.

Do you expect deals to be more selective in 2023? Would quarterly funding drop below the usual average of $3.5-4 billion?

Stage-wise, I expect seed rounds to have more activity this year in comparison to late-stage deals because this is the best time to start companies. The cost of funding new firms just became much lower for VCs as well, with founders willing to accept lower valuation multiples. But at the moment, deals above Series B stages will become much more selective because of the bar (funding criteria).

Historical data indicates that global VC funds have begun to slow down investments in India. Is this situation an advantage for domestic VCs in India?

Do you expect deals to be more selective in 2023? Would quarterly funding drop below the usual average of $3.5-4 billion?

Stage-wise, I expect seed rounds to have more activity this year in comparison to late-stage deals because this is the best time to start companies. The cost of funding new firms just became much lower for VCs as well, with founders willing to accept lower valuation multiples. But at the moment, deals above Series B stages will become much more selective because of the bar (funding criteria).

Historical data indicates that global VC funds have begun to slow down investments in India. Is this situation an advantage for domestic VCs in India?

Zunpulse: Devices with a next-gen feel

Source: Financial Express, 13 July 2022

Rising inflation has been a menace to the global economy, hitting each and every stratum of society. Barring rich and upper-middle-class families, households have been forced to make lifestyle changes to accommodate the rise in prices. While certain expenses can be curtailed, a few cannot. Gurgaon-based startup zunpulse, the winner of the National Startup Awards 2021 in the energy sector, is helping its customers save up to 40% on electricity bills with its energy-efficient appliances and clean energy-generating solar products.

Growing up in the small city of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, Pranesh Chaudhary, founder & CEO of zunpulse, had witnessed electricity shortages throughout his childhood. While completing his engineering at IIT Kharagpur, he became friends with Sushant Sachan, a product buff who loves hardware and technology and is now the chief R&D officer at zunpulse. On a mission to deliver smart choices for the electricity needs of every Indian home, they have together grown the company to a level where it has impacted over 100,000 households, aiming to reach five million households in the next five years.

“Technology has evolved significantly over the past decade and with the Internet of Things, the possibilities are endless, limited only by one’s imagination,” says Chaudhary. “With further advancement and use of artificial intelligence, we will be seeing these devices communicate with each other, e.g. lights turning on automatically when the door is unlocked and the door unlocking on its own when the doorbell recognises your face.”

zunpulse has developed an entire ecosystem of connected devices you can simply plug and play to automate your home. For instance, their latest range of smart BLDC fans consume 50% less electricity compared to a regular fan and can be operated with a remote. If you have a Wi-Fi connection at home, you can also control the fan’s working from your phone through the zunpulse app. “Let’s say you forgot to turn off a fan while leaving for office; you can simply use the app to check if the fan is on, and turn it off, avoiding electricity wastage,” says Chaudhary. “You can do the same with your air conditioner, TV, heater, geyser, and every other electrical appliance at home. With the energy monitor, you can also track the energy consumed by each appliance and identify energy-saving opportunities with its reports,” he adds.

Apart from monitoring and controlling your appliances through your phone, you can set timings for the appliances to turn on and off, says Chaudhary. “Let’s say you go to bed at 10:00 pm; you can schedule your air conditioner to turn off at 2:00 am and turn on at 6:00 am, thus saving you four hours of electricity consumption every day. You can also schedule your geyser to turn on at 7 am and turn off at 7:15 am every morning, and set similar schedules for every member of your household.”

The products have received a good response from the market, with the company witnessing over 2.5x annual growth in the sales of its smart devices over the last two years. “With these smart devices, you can easily save up to 40% on your electricity bills without compromising your lifestyle,” he says. With the use of AI and machine learning, the company is now working to ensure these smart devices can communicate with each other, further simplifying our lives.


— The firm has impacted over 100,000 households, and aims to reach 5 million households in the next five years
— Sunpulse has developed connected devices you can simply plug and play to automate your home
— Apart from controlling your appliances through a phone, you can set timings for the appliances to turn on and off

Committed to developing robust startup ecosystem: Piyush Goyal

Source: Economic Times, 24 December 2021

The government is committed to developing a robust startup ecosystem, which would help formalise the economy and help in improving ease of living and doing business, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said Friday.

Delivering the keynote address at the 3rd meeting of National Startup Advisory Council virtually, Goyal said that apart from mass jobs creation, startups had the potential to catalyse India’s integration in Global Value Chains and increase the country’s footprint in global markets.

Goyal also said that Indian Missions all over the world would also be sensitised about the need to promote entrepreneurship in India and this would open doors across the world to Indian startups.

He asked successful entrepreneurs, especially unicorns to share their experiences with students and youths in order to inculcate startup culture and entrepreneurial spirit at grassroot levels, especially in regions like the North East of India. He asked academia, government and industry to work hand in hand in promoting entrepreneurship at the grassroots level.

The minister said making mistakes should be normalised and failures should not be seen as the end of entrepreneurial Journey. “We must learn to celebrate failure too,” he added.

He called upon startups to explore the unexplored areas like rural tourism in terms of agri-stays, hotels and homestays that would help create additional income for farmers, an official statement said. He also asked successful startups to focus on the rural economy and work on solutions such as drip irrigation, natural farming etc. to improve the lives of farmers.

Six National programs were presented to the Minister as part of the third National Startup Advisory Council meeting to strengthen the startup ecosystem in the country.

The key interventions discussed at the council meeting included the National Capacity Building Programme for Incubators, providing thrust to the startups engaged in the manufacturing sector, and empowering the larger pool of Family Offices and High Networth Individuals (HNIs) to invest in startups. Apart from that interventions suggested also included accelerating Deep-tech Startups which would act as a catalyst in empowering pioneers, establishing an international platform and a gateway for Indian startups to go global, propelling participation of women in the startups and a holistic program aiming at enabling global mentorship, market access, international opportunities, B2B connects, it said.

The meeting was virtually attended by Prashanth Prakash from Accel, Renuka Ramnath, IVCA, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, InfoEdge, Debjani Ghosh from NASSCOM, Amitabha Bandyopadhyay from IIT Kanpur, Venktesh Shukla from TiE, and Lizzie Chapman from ZestMoney and Council members Manoj Kohli, Country Head, SoftBank India, Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital, Sivasubramanian Ramann, Chairman and Managing Director, SIDBI, Sharad Sharma, Founder, iSPIRT, Shradha Sharma, Founder, YourStory, Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Aarin Capital Partners and Abhiraj Bhal, Co-founder, UrbanCompany.

Senior government officials representing various ministries/departments such as Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Revenue, Department of Science & technology, Ministry of Labour and Employment and key stakeholders of the startup ecosystem were also present, it added.

Microsoft launches programme for nurturing, scaling startups leveraging AI

Source: Business Standards, 21 October 2021

In its efforts to support the startup ecosystem in the country, technology giant Microsoft has launched a programme for nurturing and scaling startups that are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI). Microsoft AI Innovate is a 10-week initiative that will support startups in India leveraging AI technologies, helping them scale operations, drive innovation, and build industry expertise. Both B2B and B2C startups from diverse industries including financial services, healthcare, education, agriculture, space, manufacturing and logistics, retail, and e-commerce are invited to participate in the quarterly cohorts of this immersive program. Supported by TiE Mumbai, the launch cohort will kickstart in November 2021.

“AI is increasingly at the heart of digital transformation and Microsoft is invested deeply in helping organizations transform through AI. More specifically startups are the future signal generators for all of us and AI and ML (machine learning) technologies can really help create disruptive models,” said Microsoft India president Anant Maheshwari during a fireside chat with Sandeep Singhal, co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners at the Microsoft event. “Our vision is to help every startup in every industry (doing) meaningful innovation into actionable results. It’s really important to support the ecosystem, with the right programs, tools, and scaling.”

With the third-largest ecosystem for startups in the world, India holds opportunities for emerging businesses to accelerate innovation across industries.

“India has the third-largest AI startup ecosystem in the world,” said Maheshwari. “AI adoption can add more than $90 billion to the Indian economy by 2025.”

Through the new exclusive programme, Microsoft will focus on providing tech and business opportunities to startups for improving their solutions, transforming their organisations and building responsibly to make AI accessible to everyone. The program will also enable startups to reach out to newer customers and geographies with Microsoft’s sales and partner networks. The selected startups in each of the cohorts will have access to industry deep-dive sessions and AI masterclasses by industry experts, mentoring by unicorn founders, skilling and certification opportunities, among other benefits.

“Microsoft’s vision is to help every startup across industries turn meaningful innovation into actionable results. Microsoft AI Innovate will create an engaging platform to empower startups with opportunities to build, scale and transform with agility,” said Sangeeta Bavi, director, Startup Ecosystem, Microsoft India. “We are committed to ensuring that every startup gets expert guidance and best-in-class tech resources for strengthening their approach to the responsible use of AI.”

Catering to both technical and business audiences, the programme will bring together leading-edge tech know-how, global GTM partnerships as well as engineering and research experts from Microsoft. It offers a range of benefits to startups across different tiers:

All startups: Qualified Seed to Series B startups will be provided with technical enablement benefits including Azure benefits (in addition to free cloud credits), product engineering support, unlimited 24×7 technical support amongst many other benefits. They will also receive support with business and sales acceleration needs such as marketplace onboarding.

Startups with enterprise-ready solutions will be provided opportunities to build their solutions alongside a dedicated team of professionals. They will get go-to-market support as well as co-selling benefits with Microsoft’s sales team and partner ecosystem. The startups will also get access to top partner and customer events to strengthen their networking reach.

Also, enterprise-ready startups will be supported to envision their solutions with industry experts, future-proofing their technology with dedicated professionals as well as enhancing production with expert partners.

Microsoft AI Innovate aims to bring together startups, corporates, industry bodies, governments, and venture capital firms, and create a shared platform for learning and innovation.

“Microsoft has played a very important role with a couple of our companies and I hope there would be more of those, in terms of the go-to-market,” said Singhal of Nexus. “So it’s not just about the technology piece but it’s also about an understanding of what our customers are looking for.”

Indian startups raised $7.8 billion in first four months of 2021

Source:  Economic Times of India May 24, 2021

Risk investors continue to pump in record funds into new-age emerging businesses in the country even as the overall macroeconomic activity has taken a hit amid a severe second wave of Covid-19.

Startups raised total investments of $7.8 billion in the first four months of this calendar year, which is almost 70% of the overall corpus of $12.1 billion raised in entire 2020 and more than 50% of $14.2 billion raised in 2019, data from US-based research firm PitchBook shows.

The average funding size has increased to $25.21 million so far in 2021, up from $14.94 million in 2020 and $18.41 million in 2019, as per data exclusively sourced by ET. There have been 402 funding rounds during January-April against 1,114 deals in 2020 and 1,036 in 2019.

This is one of the highest average deal sizes in the last five years. An increasing number of companies are raising larger rounds on the back of positive sentiments around the digital economy as the pandemic has forced companies and institutions across the world to speed up digital adoption. Increased global liquidity has further accelerated the pace of investments.

Investors and founders said the increase in deal flow is primarily led by significant liquidity in the venture capital space and overall bullishness in the technology sector across private and public markets, globally.

“It is a heady market and 3Vs of a bubble are at play – value, volume and velocity,” said Vikram Vaidyanathan, managing director of private equity firm Matrix Partners India that has backed companies such as ride-hailing major Ola and online payments firm Razorpay.

“We all know some correction is coming, but like after each correction in the past, things are likely to settle at a new high driven by deepening markets and founders getting better each year,” he said. “What’s different this time is businesses have meaningful scale in revenue with crisis-tested economics.”

IPOs, exits on anvil
With market leaders now considering public listing either through initial public offerings (IPOs) or special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), investors are getting attractive exit routes, which in turn is attracting even more investors both local and global.
Zomato, PolicyBazaar, CarTrade, Nykaa, Flipkart, and Delhivery are among startups headed for listing.

“Upcoming IPOs will be the final piece of the puzzle and most important milestone in the India digital story,” Vaidyanathan said. “So, we are long-term believers and super excited.”

New kinds of investors are looking to take advantage of potential IPOs likely to take place in the coming year or so. Funds like Falcon Edge have made record investments of $800 million to $1 billion, as ET reported in its May 19 edition. Others like D1 Capital and Dragoneer Investment Group are backing more local startups across growth and late stage.
Big valuations
This year has been phenomenal not only in terms of how global investors have scooped up deals and backed winning ideas, but also in terms of valuation bump-up seen by mature businesses, leading to many unicorns being created.

Since January, India has seen around 13 companies attain the unicorn status, that is, being a company with more than $1 billion in valuation. These include Digit Insurance, Innovaccer, Five Star Business Finance, Meesho, Infra.Market, CRED, Pharmeasy, Groww, Gupshup, ShareChat, Chargebee, Urban Company, and Moglix.

“There is huge capital chasing a smaller number of startups,” said Souvik Sengupta, cofounder of Infra.Market, a business-to-business startup for construction material. “Valuations are also high because investors are recognising companies that have handled a crisis like the first wave of Covid-19 last year, survived it, and also managed to grow at the same time. When you come out of crisis like the ongoing second wave. This separates the market leaders and others a bit, more and thus comes the premium (on valuation).”

Infra.Market became a unicorn earlier this year after Tiger Global, which first invested in it in December 2019, led a $100-million funding round with a jump of four times in valuation since its previous fund-raise.
The new bunch of unicorns are from a diverse set of sectors like B2B, social media, insurance, business-to-consumer (B2C), and fintech “Many factors like improved unit economics, better organic customer acquisitions have helped startups reduce their cash burn and create a roadmap to profitability,” said Ankur Pahwa, partner and national leader for ecommerce and consumer internet sectors at EY India. “Some of these companies are justified in quadrupling their valuations, especially for late-stage funding rounds as the potential and addressable market size continue to be massive.”

Sengupta of Infra.Market said B2B space is less risky than B2C, which has duopoly in sub-segments like ecommerce and food delivery. “These companies (B2B) have better unit economics, can become profitable faster (than B2C startups), and go public sooner,” he said. “Companies like ours, Zetwerk, Moglix and others, we are not taking away from each other, but rather the broader market.”

Startups see 37% more first-time global backers

Source: ETRetail.com, Mar 16, 2021

Chennai: The success demonstrated by Indian startups in turning into unicorns (valued at $1 billion or more) and the massive global private equity investment drive in 2020 by Reliance Industries brought record global investor interest to the country’s startup ecosystem in the pandemic year.

Despite geopolitical tensions halting Chinese investment, around 59 international investors made their first-time PE-VC investment in India in 2020, according to data analysed by consulting firm Praxis Global Alliance. This is a 37% rise in the number of global first-time investors who invested in Indian startups, given that the corresponding number stood at 43 in 2019.

Not only did Indian startups attract more foreign investors, they also saw larger bets and raised greater capital for the ecosystem in 2020. The top 10 new global investors in 2020 participated in around $7 billion worth of deals, while this was only $1.2 billion in 2019, data showed. This includes co-investment by other players in the same deals.

There were sovereign funds like Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which pooled almost $4 billion into RIL’s fund-raising for its group companies. Other instances of global firms tapping India included Luxor Capital Group’s investment in Zomato, Alkeon Capital’s backing of Byju’s, and South Korea’s NXC Corporation investing in DMI Finance.

International investment came in from over 15 countries. Of these, 60% investors had their headquarters in the US, followed by 7% who had their headquarters in Japan and South Korea each. The Middle East region was another major investor base. The investment deals by such first-time international backers were highest in consumer apps and platforms (14 deals) followed by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) & Artificial Intelligence (AI) at 11 deals.

Praxis Global Alliance managing partner and CEO Madhur Singhal said Indian internet companies are scaling up rapidly, prompting global investors to participate in the ecosystem’s growth. “Also, many experienced India fund managers at global investment firms who understand the nuances of the startups here have turned entrepreneurs and set up their own funds,” he added.

As of December 2020, India was home to 37 unicorns with 14 companies making it to the elite list in the pandemic year alone.

44 startup unicorns created $106 billion in value

Source: LiveMint.com, Feb 23, 2021

New Delhi: Forty-four Indian tech unicorns have generated huge value for founders, employees, investors and the economy by creating $106 billion in value, resulting in direct and indirect employment of 1.4 million plus jobs annually.

Over the last decade, these unicorns with a valuation of over a billion dollars include MakeMyTrip, InMobi, Paytm, Byjus, Cars24, Ola and others have cumulatively created $106 billion value for the startup ecosystem, according to Indian Tech Unicorn Report 2020 by Orios Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital fund.

While the financial payments sector saw the maximum number of unicorns, retail and SaaS (software as a service) were a close second, the report said. Other verticals include logistics, data analytics, travel, food and gaming.

In 2020, 12 startups including Razorpay, PineLabs, Zerodha and Postman, joined the coveted unicorn club, the highest ever in a year.

At $16 billion, Paytm continues to be the most valuable unicorn, followed by edtech startup Byju’s.

“…The Indian startup ecosystem has generated tremendous value for founders, employees, investors and the economy. Most of these are backed by technology and that is the key differentiating factor between unicorns of the 21st century versus the prior era,” said Rehan Yar Khan, managing partner, Orios Venture Partners.

Orios has invested in unicorns like Ola, Druva and Pharmeasy since their early days and look forward to being part of another 3-5 unicorns over the next few years, added Khan.

Interestingly, 41% of unicorns are from India’s startup capital Bengaluru, followed by Delhi at 34% and Mumbai at 14%.

“In fact, many former executives who have exited from these successful startups have continued onto their second ventures and have become angel investors of some repute bringing their experience and cheques to help grow the burgeoning ecosystem to help create the next unicorn,” said Ankur Pahwa, partner and national leader, e-commerce and consumer Internet, EY India.

The technology startup ecosystem continues to see a significant growth trajectory on the back of rapid digitalization and tech adoption.

“Startups are at the forefront of this widescale digital disruption. Segments such as edtech, healthtech, agritech, B2C (business-to-consumer) channels, social commerce, gaming and enterprise tech companies that are spurring the growth, are just few of the sub-segments witnessing double-digit growth and adoption and are expected to bring in the next wave of unicorns,” Pahwa said.

Startups in the country are also likely to see a rush of initial public offerings (IPOs) this year, aided by improving profitability and scale in various verticals.

While MakeMyTrip, JustDial and Naukri.com are the only unicorns to have been listed so far, multiple firms such as food delivery startup Zomato, logistics firm Delhivery, Walmart-owned Flipkart and e-tailer Nykaa are expected to enter the public market this year.

“E-commerce companies are also looking to go in for public listing (either India or overseas) to help tap into the interest and growth that they are generating, expect more news and traction regarding companies tapping into this funding channel in the next 12-24 months,” added Pahwa.

The average time period of eight years for a startup to become a unicorn is now reducing as availability of global investment and capital becomes more accessible, among other things, the report said.

Startups such Naukri.com, MakeMyTrip which were founded pre-2005, took over 14 years to achieve unicorn status, while Zomato, Flipkart and Policy Bazaar took around 8.7 years. Nykaa and Oyo have taken even less time at 5.8 years while Udaan and Ola Electric have taken only three years to achieve a valuation of over a billion dollars. Industry body Nasscom in January had said that at least 12 unicorns will be created in 2021.

Gaming startup MPL set to become next unicorn after $95 mn fundraise

Source: Business Standard, Feb 04, 2021

Bengaluru: Mobile Premier League, Asia’s largest e-sports and mobile gaming platform is now valued at $945 million after raising $95 million in a Series D round. The round was led by Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures, with participation from Base Partners, RTP Global, SIG, Go-Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Founders Circle and Play Ventures.

The total capital raised by MPL since its inception in 2018 now stands at $225.5 million. The Bengaluru-based firm’s valuation had reached to about $450 million after raising $90 million from investors in last year in September, according to the sources.

MPL will use this fresh influx of funds to expand its esports portfolio and bolster its efforts to organize more such esports tournaments nationally and internationally at scale. The funds will also be used to accelerate MPL’s international expansion this year.

“As we grow our presence and expand, this fresh round of funds will help us focus on our core value propositions – a robust platform with the best features for gamers and onboarding the best esports titles,” said Sai Srinivas, co-founder, and chief executive of MPL. “The esports community in India is thriving, and we believe this is the perfect time to take Indian-made games to the world as well as help Indian gamers get recognized for their talent.”

The MPL gaming platform has over 60 million users in India and over 3.5 million users in Indonesia. With over 50 games across categories on its Android and iOS applications currently, MPL has worked with 28 game developers to publish their games on the platform and provide them with a new revenue stream.

“As an industry leader in the gaming market, we believe the company will continue to innovate and drive the evolution of esports, both in India and internationally,” said Kanush Chaudhary, managing director, Composite Capital.

The coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020 provided a fillip to an already-booming esports industry in India and the world. MPL said it is at the forefront of democratizing esports in India and Indonesia, with initiatives such as the College Premier League (CPL), which was India’s biggest mobile esports festival. CPL saw participation from over 13,000 gamers and more than 100 colleges in India in November-December 2020, with Rs one crore in prizes and scholarships.

“As we double down on our investment in MPL, we are eager to see it increasing its international footprint and becoming a global leader in the mobile gaming and esports industries,” said Eduardo Latache, partner, Base Partners.

Last week, MPL also announced raising $500,000 from existing employees under its ’employee investment plan’ which saw participation from 10 per cent of the company’s employees.

“We are thrilled to have Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures as new partners,” said Joe Wadakethalakal, senior vice president, corporate development and investor relations, MPL. “We look forward to working with them as we continue to build a global gaming business out of India.”

Earlier, MPL had signed Indian Cricket Captain Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador and sponsored two top Indian Premier League (IPL) teams – Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. It had also bagged the presenting sponsorship of reality TV show Bigg Boss, anchored by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan. With approximately 300 million gamers, India sits among the top five gaming markets globally. Further, there has already been a boost in online gaming in recent months, as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on society. With social distancing measures in place, telecommuting becoming the new norm, and physical sporting events remaining limited, e-sports and mobile gaming has received a boost.

Indian startups attract $10.14 bn in funding in 2020, says report

Source: Business Standard, Jan 26, 2021

New Delhi: Indian startups are estimated to have received USD 10.14 billion in funding across more than 1,200 deals in 2020 despite the COVID crisis, a report by consulting firm HexGn said.

Even though the total investment received in 2020 is lower than that of 2019 (USD 14.5 billion), the number of deals were higher by 20 per cent, the report said.

“Weathering negative sentiment, seed stage investment deals grew by 50 per cent from USD 353 million over 420 deals in 2019 to USD 372 million over 672 deals in 2020. This is a good sign for people looking to plunge into startups, as early-stage investors are now keen to back risk-takers early on,” the report noted.

This can be attributed to the work done by Invest India, Startup India, AgNii and other agencies of the Indian government to boost investor confidence and entrepreneurial culture, it added.

This is the third year in a row that India has kept its number four position globally after the US, China and the UK.

Globally, startups raised over USD 308 billion in funding, with the US garnering USD 165 billion.

The report said Bengaluru, Delhi NCR and Mumbai accounted for 90 per cent of the startup investments in the country, signalling concentration of angel investors and appetite in these regions.

Bengaluru led with USD 4.3 billion in startup investments, followed by Delhi NCR (USD 3 billion) and Mumbai (USD 2 billion).

In terms of sectors, e-commerce attracted the highest investment with USD 3 billion, followed by fintech at USD 2.37 billion and edtech at USD 1.52 billion.

The biggest gainer has been the edtech segment that grew four times this year from USD 380 million in 2019. However, sectors like transportation and logistics, and travel and tourism saw more than 90 per cent drop in investments in 2020 as compared to 2019, it added.

Startups that attracted maximum funding in 2020 include Zomato (USD 1.02 billion), Byju’s (USD 922 million), Phonepe (USD 807 million), Unacademy (USD 260 million) and Ecom Express (USD 250 million), as per the HexGn report. These numbers do not include funds raised by Jio Platforms (Rs 1.52 lakh crore) in 2020. The report noted that these numbers are early guidance and there could be changes as more companies make announcements on funds received.

Startups on new-age tech surge in India

Source: ETRetail.com, Jan 18, 2021

CHENNAI: A maturing ecosystem and tailwinds on the digital front due to Covid have expanded the ‘deep technology’ component of the Indian startup ecosystem. Deep tech includes the use of emerging and new-age tech such as AI, machine learning (ML), augmented & virtual reality, blockchain, robotics and 3D printing.

At 19%, now nearly one in five tech startups are leveraging deep-tech solutions for their businesses. The pool of deep-tech ventures is expanding at a fiveyear compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41% — faster than the overall ecosystem, a study said.

Over 2,100 startups adopted deep technologies in their ventures as of 2020, up from the over 1,600 in 2019. Further, 14% of the total startup investments in 2020 were in deep-tech ventures, higher than the 11% in 2019. Up to 87% of these investments were in AI/ML startups in 2020. The Nasscom and Zinnov study further notes that deep tech will continue to grow at a CAGR of 40-45% in 2021.

Tech startups not just stayed afloat amid uncertainties but also converted the crisis into an opportunity, the report said. It noted that ‘digital maturity’ in the ecosystem jumped to 55% in 2020 from 34% in 2018. The acceleration in digital adoption brought about by Covid has resulted in “deep tech getting deep rooted into startups’ DNA”, the report added.

Jatin Desai, managing partner at Inflexor Ventures, a deep tech-focused VC firm, says they have observed a steady growth of such startups pitching to them for investments over three-four years, and anticipates this to continue into 2021.

“Over 50% of our current portfolio companies are deeptech startups,” he said. The country’s tech startup base is estimated to be growing at a scale of 8-10% year-on-year. Nasscom defines tech startups as active tech product or platform companies incepted in last five years.