2019 Round-up: Start-ups and Investors who made their debut in India
2019 was the year when India got the chance to shine on the global stage. We have seen many leading international names surpassing industries making their way to India. We also saw many big giants announcing their India launches while investors were eager to pump in a great deal of money.
India has over the past years emerged as a hot breeding ground for startups and international private equity investors. The sectors that have been promising for global marquee investors are electric vehicles, fintech, digital entertainment, agritech and edtech.
Here we bring to you a list of leading international start-ups and investors that made its entry into India in 2019 -
1. Spotify arrives in India
Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service launched its operations in India in February. The Swedish company that bet high hopes on the India market saw more than 1 Mn users signing up within a week of its launch.
“India has an incredibly rich music culture and to best serve this market, we’re launching a custom-built experience. Not only will Spotify bring Indian artists to the world, we’ll also bring the world’s music to fans across India. Spotify’s music family just got a whole lot bigger,” said Daniel Ek, Spotify founder and CEO.
Spotify now has more than 2 Mn users in India and has been increasing its focus on the Indian market. The music streaming giant has recently launched its original audio-based content for the Indian market called Spotify Podcast Originals.
2. YouTube Music launches its music streaming service
Within a week of the launch of its music streaming service in March, YouTube Music hit 3 Mn downloads. The Google-owned video sharing platform introduced a free ad-supported version of YouTube Music while the premium paid version for ad-free music was for INR 99 per month.
YouTube later also forayed into the original video streaming market in India with YouTube Originals. Both YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium also decided to offer prepaid plans for its services in the country.
3. Binance acquires Indian cryptocurrency startup WazirX
Binance took over Indian cryptocurrency startup WazirX in November. The global cryptocurrency exchange and blockchain ecosystem also came up with the option for users to buy and sell crypto with Indian rupees (INR) on the Binance Fiat Gateway.
With this the users can directly place orders on the web platform or the Binance apps to purchase Tether (USDT) against INR. This also gives the users the option to trade any digital asset available on Binance with the purchase of USDT from the WazirX digital asset marketplace.
4. Qoo10 acquires ShopClues
Singapore-based Qoo10 announces the acquisition of ecommerce company ShopClues in an all stock deal in October. According to media reports, while ShopClues was valued at $1.1 Bn in late 2015, the Qoo10 transaction valued ShopClues at $70-100 Mn, the largest valuation meltdown for an Indian startup ever reported.
Qoo10 caters to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Southeast Asia via localized online marketplaces in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and other regions. The acquisition was looked at as an opportunity to increase cross-border commerce opportunities for consumers and sellers in India as well as the regions where Qoo10 operates.
ShopClues that had more than 700K small and micro-merchants during the acquisition is said to be able to reach customers in Qoo10’s Southeast Asian markets. The company’s statement added that Qoo10’s merchants and cross border logistics business on the other hand will get access to the Indian market.
5. Alibaba reinforces its India Focus
Alibaba Group announced its entry into the Indian ecommerce market through the popular UCWeb browser app. While announcing to start fully-owned ecommerce business in India, the Jack Ma owned Chinese company said that it would also include online movie ticket bookings, which would put it in competition with BookMyShow and Paytm.
As a matter of fact, Alibaba owns 30.15% stake in Paytm, which runs ecommerce marketplace Paytm Mall. Alibaba’s entry is said to have an adverse effect on Paytm’s ecommerce business.
Alibaba has also invested in the Indian startup ecosystem and at present owns stakes in Snapdeal, Zomato, Xpressbees, BigBasket and the latest one being VMate, a short video sharing app launched by UCWeb.
6. Education Index launches Blockchain platform
Edtech startup Education Index launched a blockchain-enabled peer-to-peer international student recruitment platform called Libereka in October. The London-based company gives students preparatory materials including a personalized dashboard to recommend degrees and programs based on their profile and goals. They can also access free online courses to prepare for university.
While commenting on the platform, Soumik Ganguly, the CEO of Education Index said that this will make recruiting students simpler, cheaper and more efficient, freeing up time for universities to focus on what matters - securing the best and brightest students.
7. Ping An Global Voyager ventures into India with CarDekho investment
Ping An Global Voyager Fund marked its venture into India by leading a Series D funding round of $70 Mn in Indian automobile classifieds platform CarDekho.
The Hong Kong-based investor, which has so far invested approximately $250 Mn across Europe, Asia and North America, shifted its focus to Indian start-ups this year by funding in CarDekho.
CarDekho plans to use the funds to further strengthen its transaction businesses and expand its international footprint. The company entered the Philippines market this year with the acquisition of Carmudi.
8. Global VC Hatcher+ comes to India
Hatcher+, a data-driven venture capital firm that uses AI and machine learning-based technologies to identify early-stage opportunities in partnership with leading accelerators and investors worldwide invested an undisclosed amount of funding in Thane-based portable vibrating mat for kids company NapNap, thus foraying into the Indian market in January.
NapNap announced that it would be using the funds for research and development of new product concepts in the babycare and mothercare space and geographic expansion into Southeast Asia and MEA markets. The entry of Hatcher+ entry into India displays the potential for growth in this market, as its H2 Fund has received funding interests from 161 countries in just the first 12 months of operations.
9. Equity firm Apis Partners enters India to invest in India’s NBFC
Private equity firm Apis Partners entered the Indian market with the commitment to invest in India’s non-banking financial company (NBFC), L&T Infra Debt Fund Ltd.
The firm has raised $550 Mn for its second fund in limited partner commitments. The second fund will make equity investments of between $30Mn and $50 Mn into financial services with a focus on capital-light financial services and financial technology companies across the growth markets of Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
10. Danone Manifesto Ventures makes its first investment in India
Danone Manifesto Ventures, the venture investment arm of Danone Manifesto located in New York City and Paris made its first investment in the Indian market this year.
Mumbai-based fresh FMCG Products Company Drums Food International, the parent company of Epigamia, raised $25.58 Mn (INR 182 Cr) in a Series C round of funding led by Belgium-based consumer-focused investment firm Verlinvest and Danone Manifesto Ventures.
11. UAE giant TravellerPass pins high hopes on its India entry
App-based lifestyle platform TravellerPass that has been around for more than five years in UAE, has launched in India this year.
Given the growth potential in India, TravellerPass aims to be the one-stop app for dining, entertainment, wellness and shopping with discounts. The platform will also offer packages which are available on the global platform. According to its founder & CEO, Mat Philips, entering India is an important part of its global expansion plans. It plans to enter 20 cities in India by 2021 after Bengaluru, followed by Mumbai and Delhi.
(This article is part of Inc42’s special year-end series and VARINDIA is re-publishing by making some slight changes in its content)