Looking back, 2015 seems to be the year India’s startup ecosystem really came of age. To be in the top 25 most funded startups, you must have raised more than $50 million [roughly Rs. 331 crores]. Another indicator of research growth from startup data tracker Tracxn – there have been more than 114 Series A rounds this year, up from 46 in 2014. But beyond the numbers, startups and funding also captured our popular narrative. Hyper-funded startup entrepreneurs have become household names, while TVF Pitchers, a YouTube series about startup life, has created several meme-worthy quotes that have permeated pop culture.
It’s been quite an interesting year, as it has seen a shift from irrational exuberance at the start to an equally irrational narrative of a funding winter, following a Chinese stock market crash in June. Layoffs at Housing, TinyOwl, Grabhouse and Zomato dotted the news cycle, while Grofers acquired Townrush and Spoonjoy, two startups that did not receive follow-on funding. As usual, the reality of things lies somewhere between these extremes. There are a lot of changes and a lot of room to grow in certain spaces.
On-demand services that bring just about everything to the user’s doorstep are all the rage these days, considering the venture capital funding business. It has been applied to nearly every aspect of commerce, grooming, healthcare, home services, groceries, and food delivery, even scrap metal. At the other end of the value chain, you have logistics startups that have turned drivers and bikers into independent contractors.
According to Afsal Salu, co-founder of hyperlocal delivery service Delyver, owned by Bigbasket, an average driver now earns Rs. 19,500 rupees per month, compared to less rupees. 10,000 per month, which was the average in April of this year. An Ola Prime driver I spoke to recently said he was earning Rs. 2,500 a day, and he seemed reasonably happy with his job. That’s quite different from the narrative we usually hear in Western media about apps like Uber – about how that translates into lower revenue for the service industry. This is not to say that these platforms have had no drawbacks, only that the situation in India is not like the rest of the world, and it is quite complex.
Globally, many on-demand startups have seen unicorn valuation levels (over $1 billion, or around Rs 6,631 crore) following some of the biggest funding rounds, and some also went bankrupt. For now, all this so-called foam in the market seems to be translating into better earnings for everyone, and while that may change, it’s too early to start predicting doom.
These are still early days for these companies, and as they tighten their purse strings or introduce more peak price economies, we’re likely to see more stories of tensions between users, workers and consumers. technology. For most people in the industry, the startup sector has opened up opportunities.
Nandan Nilenkani’s quote about India having its WhatsApp moment in finance seemed fair enough, with Paytm growing a user base of 100 million. With payment bank licenses now issued, digital wallets are likely to have many cascading effects on the economy and the way Indians transact on a daily basis. E-commerce companies, hyperlocal logistics players and food tech startups have seen plenty of fundraising activity this year, as have ed-tech and healthcare startups.
Beyond the usual suspects, there is a huge diversity of startups in India today – many of which are taking other startups to the next level. Need help incorporating? There is Vakilsearch.com. Need an IVR system to manage customer support requests? There’s the super receptionist from Knowlarity. Mumbai-based Wingify, Inoho, Ather Energy, and competing coding platforms HackerEarth and HackerRank. These companies aren’t talked about as much as unicorns, but they do groundbreaking work, in my opinion.
With all the tools that exist to service the startup ecosystem, lean startups can now focus on how to scale and add value to a specific part of the value chain, and leave the gnarly bits behind. to other startups. If you have an idea and the execution skills to create a product that scales and is 10 times better than anything out there, now seems like the best time to take the leap.