Although the severe second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted businesses across sectors during the early months of 2021, it hasn’t stopped venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) firms from cherry-picking opportunities and parking their funds in Indian businesses with growth potential and offering good returns. The numbers tell a story. Between January and August this year, privately-held companies, including startups, have raised a whopping $28.35 billion in total funding—which was spread across 1367 deals—according to data from analytics firm Tracxn.
E-commerce, financial technology (fintech), enterprise applications, education technology (edtech), food and agritech were the top-funded sectors during the period under review. Tracxn’s data reveals that in the e-commerce space, Walmart-owned Flipkart raised an eye-popping $3.6 billion in a Series J funding round in July this year led by GIC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, and Walmart. The funding round valued Flipkart Group at $37.6 billion post-money. The other key deals in the space include Meesho—a social commerce platform—raising $300 million and business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce startup Udaan raising $280 million. The data includes funding rounds between January 1 and August 31, 2021.
Tracxn further added that this year, the month of July recorded the highest funding amount at $7.9 billion spread across 163 deals.
“Some business-to-consumer (B2C) industries like edtech, food delivery and e-commerce have seen a significant acceleration in maturity by two-three years due to the pandemic and hence these players have been raising capital to scale up appropriately. In other industries, entrepreneurs are betting big on the earnings cycle turning positive over the next 3 -5 years,” says industry expert Sandeep Das.
According to Tracxn, in the fintech space, the major deals include digital payments service provider Pine Labs attracting $600 million, fintech startup BharatPe raising $370 million, and Bengaluru-based Cred raising $215 million valuing the company at $2.2 billion. While in the edtech space companies such as Byju’s, Unacademy, Eruditus, and upGrad ruled the roost in raising funds in the last few months. Both upGrad and Eruditus also joined India’s coveted unicorn club—which are privately-held companies that have reached a valuation of $1 billion or more—during the period under review.
Das points out that some of this buoyancy is related to the monetary policy stance taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve. “As the Fed intends to continue the easy monetary policy for the next 3-4 quarters, the money supply is likely to continue. In addition, the expectation of a significant recovery in earnings and massive government investment should see entrepreneurs looking to raise more funds. Some tech investors might be looking at India as an alternative to China given the Chinese government crackdown on the tech sector,” says Das, the author of Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s Guide to Making it Big.
However, according to data from Tracxn, between January 1 and August 31, 2020, Indian companies including startups raised total funding of $33.2 billion across 1321 deals. Last year Reliance Industries Ltd’s technology and digital services arm (Jio Platforms) and retail segment (Reliance Retail Ventures) were the most funded companies. Reliance Retail Ventures raised $6 billion in growth capital, while Jio Platforms raised a staggering $20 billion in the months during the nationwide lockdown in 2020.