India, once a rising star in the global startup ecosystem, has slipped to the fourth spot in the number of startups that have received over $50 million in funding, according to a new report by Startup Genome. The report, which analyzed the scaleup success factors of startups across the world, found that India had 429 startups that crossed the $50 million mark in venture capital investment, trailing behind the US, China, and the UK.
India’s Startup Growth Story Hit by Covid-19
The report attributed India’s decline in the scaleup ranking to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which severely disrupted the country’s economy and public health system. India faced one of the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus in the world, with over 34 million cases and 450,000 deaths reported as of December 2023. The pandemic also led to lockdowns, travel restrictions, and consumer behavior changes that affected many startups in sectors such as travel, hospitality, retail, and entertainment.
According to the report, India’s startup funding dropped by 15% in 2023 compared to 2022, while the global average increased by 12%. India also saw a 25% decrease in the number of scaleups, or startups that reached a valuation of $50 million or more, in 2023. The report noted that India’s scaleup rate, or the percentage of startups that scaled to $50 million within four to eight years, was 3.9%, lower than the global average of 4.5%.
India Still a Major Player in the Startup Ecosystem
Despite the setback, India remained a major player in the global startup ecosystem, ranking third in terms of the total funding raised by its scaleups, with $127 billion, and the cumulative tech value of its scaleups, with $446 billion. India also surpassed the UK in both these metrics, indicating its potential to bounce back from the crisis.
The report highlighted some of the strengths of India’s startup ecosystem, such as its large domestic market, its high level of global connectedness, and its innovation in sectors such as edtech, fintech, and healthtech. India also produced 44 unicorn startups, or startups that reached a valuation of $1 billion or more, in 2021, the highest number in its history. Some of the notable unicorns that emerged from India in 2021 were Zomato, Byju’s, Meesho, CRED, and PharmEasy.
India Needs to Boost Its Startup Support System
The report also suggested some areas of improvement for India’s startup ecosystem, such as increasing the quality and quantity of its talent pool, enhancing the local and global network of its founders, and providing more support and incentives for its startups. The report recommended that India should invest more in education, research, and development, as well as foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation among its youth.
The report also urged India to strengthen its collaboration with other startup hubs in the world, especially in Asia, and leverage its diaspora network to access more resources and opportunities. The report also called for more policy interventions and regulatory reforms to create a more conducive environment for startups, such as easing the tax burden, simplifying the compliance process, and facilitating the access to capital and markets.
The report concluded that India has the potential to regain its momentum and become a leading force in the global startup ecosystem, if it can overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic and leverage its strengths and opportunities.