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Updated December 28th, 2023 at 21:54 IST

Indian startups navigate a challenging 2023 — A Year End Review

As 2023 nears its end, let's check how the year fared for Indian startups. How did the funding winter impact the creation of new unicorns? Read on.

Sankunni K
Startup review 2023
Indian startup review 2023 | Image:Republic World
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Indian startup year-end wrap-up: The year 2023 has proven to be a formidable period for Indian startups, marked by a significant decline in funding, a reduction in the creation of unicorns, and a shift in investor focus towards certain sectors.

Source: Tracxn

Funding Landscape: Lowest in Five Years

  • The Indian tech startup ecosystem faced a funding winter, recording the lowest funding in the past five years. A report by Tracxn revealed a 72 per cent decline in funding, amounting to $7 billion until December 5, 2023, compared to $25 billion in the previous year.
  • Late-stage funding saw a substantial drop of over 73 per cent, leading to India's global ranking slipping from 4th to 5th place.
  • Only two new unicorns, Incred and Zepto, emerged in 2023, in stark contrast to the creation of 23 unicorns the previous year.

Sectoral Dynamics: Winners and Losers

  • FinTech, driven by factors like smartphone penetration and government initiatives, received $2.1 billion in funding, marking a decrease from $5.8 billion in the previous year. Notable player PhonePe secured $750 million, comprising 38 per cent of the sector's funding.
  • The retail sector faced a 67 per cent drop in funding, with Lenskart leading with $600 million raised.
  • Environment Tech and SpaceTech stood out, with $1.2 billion and a 6 per cent increase to $122 million, respectively.

Regional Hubs and Investor Landscape

  • Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi-NCR continued to attract significant funding, with notable investors like LetsVenture, Accel, and Blume Ventures supporting the growth of the Indian tech space.
  • The funding slowdown led to India dropping from the 4th to the 5th position among the highest-funded geographies globally.

IPO Resilience and Regulatory Support

  • Despite the funding challenges, the initial public offering (IPO) momentum remained robust, with 18 tech companies going public in 2023.
  • The government's Startup India initiative achieved a milestone, surpassing 100,000 registered startups, positioning India as the third-largest startup ecosystem globally.

Strategic Shifts and Bright Spots

  • Startups navigated economic headwinds, witnessing venture funding, layoffs, and leadership churn.
  • The space tech ecosystem achieved new heights, AI-focused companies garnered investor interest, and electric vehicle startups contributed to green mobility.

Top Startups of 2023

LinkedIn's annual list highlighted 20 startups that excelled in employment growth, engagement, job interest, and attraction of top talent. Fintech dominated, with Ditto Insurance, Fi, Jar, and StockGro making the list.

As the year concludes, the challenges faced by Indian startups reflect a complex interplay of global economic conditions, investor sentiments, and sectoral dynamics. While the funding winter poses hurdles, the resilience, innovation, and strategic adaptability showcased by startups indicate a promising trajectory for the Indian tech ecosystem in the years to come. The industry's focus remains on overcoming challenges, fostering innovation, and contributing to India's growth story.

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Published December 23rd, 2023 at 13:09 IST

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