A deep dive into India’s startup ecosystem and its unprecedented boom

How are international investors funding multiple Indian startups? What are the reasons for the sudden bump in Indian unicorns? Experts discuss on a panel discussion at TechSparks 2021.
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The COVID-19 pandemic last year and the ensuing restrictions led to many startups and MSMEs shutting shop or scaling down. Despite the threat to economic recovery, the Indian startup ecosystem is now seeing a steep surge in funding. From just a handful of startups 10 years ago, to having 66 rapidly growing unicorns that are experimenting with a wide range of technologies, the startup ecosystem in India is booming.

At YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, TechSparks 2021, experts from the startup ecosystem in India came together for a panel discussion on the topic: 'Decoding the method in the mania'.

The panel consisted of industry leaders including Karthikeyan K, Co-founder and CTO, KreditBee; Mitesh Agarwal, Director, Customer Engineering, Google Cloud India; Shreyans Daga, Co-founder, MyGate; Vara Kumar, Co-founder and CTO, Whatfix; and Sumit Maniyar, Founder and CEO, Rupeek.

What’s fueling the startup boom?

Startups in sectors like IT, healthcare, mobility, ecommerce and retail have become a magnet for investors.

“COVID-19’s negative downside scenario has changed. I believe people are willing to factor in future growth at current levels itself,” said Sumit.

Vara mentioned that the ecosystem is witnessing an outpouring of funds from various investors. Sumit concurred by saying, “People are now willing to believe that Indian consumers are going to gravitate towards new tech products and change their lifestyle with rising disposable incomes.”

The role of MNC’s in mentoring startups

By playing a crucial role in buying new tech, hosting, and guiding new businesses through incubator programmes, MNCs are not only helping startups but also helping themselves by outsourcing corporate research and development efforts.

Mitesh shared how Google itself is very deeply invested in the success of startups, and how the Google for Startups programme has helped numerous businesses.

“GFS remains to bring the best of Google to India’s thriving startup ecosystem or leverage all the learnings we have globally while helping startups build the best products or the best customer experiences that we bring in,” he added.

The pre and post-unicorn stage

Shreyansh concurred with Vara and said, “While we solve the same core problems, it is the product and specifically the experience that has to also scale. But, the internal factors also matter a lot. When the growth is high, you also need to grow the organisation which means people, process, and a lot of internal tooling.”

Sumit spoke about the importance of innovation for standing out from the competition. “You’re not actually competing with direct competitors but you’re competing with other substitutable offerings as well. If we do not innovate under the spectrum of data science underwriting, we are bound to get eaten up by unsecured providers. So the importance of innovation is just to make sure that you’re meeting your customer’s needs before someone else eats you up.”

How can startups scale up?

Mitesh added that all the panellists shared some amazing perspectives. He shared his thoughts on Google’s one out of four beliefs and the two elements that make this up – culture and innovation.

He said, “Innovation can’t be ordained. But, you can always create an environment that allows it to evolve organically. The focus needs to be on the customer or the user. When businesses do that, everything else will follow.”

The growing sectors

Karthikeyan put forth his view that the fintech sector is definitely growing. “Because as a growing country, you need a lot of capital to grow and fintech has a lot of potential because we have to provide for customers who need capital to enhance their lives.” he reasoned.

Sumit added that SaaS, as well as fintech, have tremendous potential. The panellists reiterated that with great investment comes great responsibility.

Mitesh said that everyone, sooner or later, will have to match step with the pace of transformation: “If you’re not ready for the now and the next, using the tech differentiators and the customer experience differentiators and the data differentiators, that’s going to become table stakes now for everybody.”

He also added that what matters is whether companies can provide more value to their customers, and Google is always going to support businesses that do. 


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For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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