Principal at Nexus Venture Partners
Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.
Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.
With rapidly rising disposable incomes among India’s middle class (India has the fastest growing major GDP economy in the world), access to increasingly affordable smartphones (smartphone penetration increased from 6% in 2013 to 24% by the end of 2018), availability of high speed mobile internet (at just US$0.26 / GB compared to US$12.37 / GB in the US, and US$9.89 / GB in China), and a growing presence of investors that cumulatively invested US$13.88 billion in Indian startups in 2018, India is ripe for disruption by savvy entrepreneurs who are willing to go the extra mile.
Long perceived as a copycat market for ideas from the West, the Indian startup scene is reinventing itself by building exclusively for the next billion Indians who are entering the digital realm for the first time. The Great Indian Startup Ecosystem is taking a shape of its own (very different from the US and China), and is building for people who have leapfrogged several use cases. Many unique models have emerged that will redefine how Indians interact with technology over the years to come. However, challenges do exist: scarcity of high quality talent and liquidity for investors are still preventing the ecosystem from reaching its full potential. Some interesting spaces include financial services companies on top of new payments infrastructure, personal and enterprise mobility solutions, next generation e-commerce, technology based enablement of agent/broker networks, and user generated content creation and consumption.
Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.
Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.
Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.
Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.
India has more than 48 million small businesses, more than twice the number of small businesses in the US. Indians have been enterprising for decades perhaps due to limited opportunities in the corporate sector until the brink of the century. Secondly, although India has a long way to go in terms of tech talent, India’s IT boom in the 1990s and 2000s created a large pool of technical talent that is evolving into product and deep technology talent, creating a fairly strong base in the country. Lastly, unlike previous governments, the Modi government has recognized the role of startups in propelling the economy forward and has launched several programs to help cultivate the ecosystem.
Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind?
IDG Ventures India/Chiratae Ventures (Bangalore, New Delhi): Invests across the consumer media & technology, fintech, healthtech, and software/SaaS sectors. (Source: IDG Ventures India/Chiratae Ventures)
Inventus Capital Partners (Bangalore): Inventus India is an early stage Venture Capital firm that invests in Series A rounds in technology focussed companies. It invests across sectors in both B2B and B2C areas. Inventus Capital Partners raised two previous funds in 2008 and 2013. For the third fund, the team restructured itself into funds based on geography – India and US. (Source: Inventus Capital Partners)
Lightspeed India (Bangalore, New Delhi): Invests in early and growth-stage technology companies with a strong base of operations in India, targeting India and/or global markets in consumer and enterprise. (Source: Lightspeed India)
Matrix Partners India (Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi): Invests between the Seed and Series B stages. (Source: Matrix Partners India)
Steadview Capital India (Hong Kong): A leading global private equity firm with several investments in Indian startups, including ride-hailing service Ola, education app Unacademy and fintech startup BharatPe. (Source: Steadview)
Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) (Ahmedabad): A startup incubator established by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA). (Source: CIIE)
Startup Village/SV.CO (Kochi): A digital incubator program and learning platform for student developers. (Source: SV.CO)
WeHub (Hyderabad): A government-funded program providing incubation and mentorship to women from rural and urban areas in India. (Source: WeHub)
50k Accelerator (Hyderabad): A four-month program to help startups with their go-to market strategy and execution, business development, and enterprise customer engagement. It conducts a tri-annual programme with three startups in each batch. The core team consists of top executives and entrepreneurs from companies including Hitachi Consulting, BlackBerry, Tech Atlantis, and RedBus. (Source: Inc42)
GSF Accelerator (Gurugram): A 13-week program that aims to provide selected startups with unparalleled access to venture and business networks, personalised and intensive mentoring, and initial capital. The selected Indian tech startups must relocate themselves to NCR for the duration of the programme. It provides accommodations to those entrepreneurs who come from outside NCR. Furthermore, shortlisted startups have to complete phone screens and an in-person interview with the investment team before being called up. (Source: Inc42)
Kyron Accelerator (Bangalore): A gateway for B2B startups to access corporate customers. Kyron started as an accelerator programme, with a duration of three-four months. It later pivoted to Corporate Acceleration/Innovation/Digital Transformation providers. It identifies opportunities offered by Fortune 500 companies and links them to innovative solutions offered by startups to maximize value and make it a win-win on both sides. At present, it runs four programmes in partnership with Lowe’s Innovation Labs, LEAP, InsurTech, and Anscelerator. (Source: Inc42)
Target Accelerator (Bangalore): Aims to help early-stage startups to develop concepts that could improve Target’s business and the broader retail industry. Through the four-month intensive programme, Target aims to foster a culture of innovation in the startup ecosystem. It is looking to tap into the startup ecosystem while providing startups with an opportunity to work with the Target leadership team in a specially designed, energetic, and creative hub at Target India’s office in Manyata Tech Park, Bengaluru. (Source: Inc42)
TLabs (Bangalore): Founded in 2011, TLabs is a startup accelerator as well as an early stage seed-fund for Indian internet and mobile technology startups.
Venture Catalysts (Country-wide): Venture Catalysts is India’s top incubator for startups. Its integrated approach offers funding, mentorship and network of CXOs, successful founders, unicorns, deep tech product experts. It has a present across Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kolkata, Raipur, Surat, Nagpur, Jaipur, Kochi and Dubai UAE, and Hong Kong. It invests in the range of US$500,000 to US$1 million. (Source: Venture Catalysts)
Venture Nursery (Mumbai): India’s first angel-backed start-up accelerator. Established in March 2012 by two like-minded Angel Investors -Shravan Shroff, Founder and former MD, Fame Cinemas and Ravi Kiran, former CEO-South East & South Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group and Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Friends of Ambition, the accelerator runs its physical premises out of Mumbai, India. (Source: Venture Nursery)
ad:tech New Delhi (New Delhi): India's #1 marketing and media technology event, where marketing, technology and media communities come together to share new ways of thinking. (Source: Bizzabo)
Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit (Mumbai): This conference features in-depth research and advanced best practices in application strategies, business application management, mobile applications, modern application architecture, and emerging technologies including advances in Blockchain. (Source: Bizzabo)
Open Data Science Conference India (Bangalore): ODSC is one of the biggest specialized data science events, with a focus on impactful tools and leading industry practices. Our speakers include core contributors to many open source products used by data scientists all over the world. (Source: Bizzabo)
UnPluggd (Bangalore): UnPluggd is a two-day conference created by NextBigWhat and focused on technology, product, and entrepreneurship. It is meant to bring together entrepreneurs, CXOs, Growth Experts, Geeks and Product Managers from all over India. (Source: UnPluggd)
Yourstory TechSparks (Bangalore): Since 2010, TechSparks has become a benchmark platform where startups, emerging business leaders, corporate executives, policy makers, investors, innovators & media houses converge to discuss, debate and develop ideas & engagements that build and shape the technology, innovation & entrepreneurship narrative in India. (Source: TechSparks)
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM): Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. AIM’s objective is to develop new programs and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy, provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders, create awareness and create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country. Programs include Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) and Atal Incubation Centers (AIC). (Source: AIM)
National Initiative for Development and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI): An umbrella program for nurturing ideas and innovations (knowledge-based and technology-driven) into successful startups. (Source: NIDHI)
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI): The Principal Financial Institution for Promotion, Financing and Development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector. (Source: SIDBI)
Startup India: Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to catalyse startup culture and build a strong and inclusive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India. (Source: Startup India)
Action for India: A non-profit organization that helps India’s social enterprises address their challenges by providing them with access to technology, investors, mentorship, government agencies, local partners and business development support. (Source: Action for India)