This has been a monumental year for India’s startup ecosystem. The country got its 100th unicorn in May this year, making for a total valuation of $332.7 billion. This occasion is even more special as it coincides with the 75th year of India’s Independence.
In fact, when you think of it, one can view India’s Independence as the birth of a startup too. The people of the country, who adopted a problem-solving approach to gain independence, set the premise for our national culture to innovate, be self-reliant, and help the country flourish. This victory led to an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the country’s length and breadth. And in its 75 years’ rich legacy, transformations have put India on par with leading economies.
In the past few decades, startups have become imperative for the growth of the Indian economy and a significant source of FDI. Our robust startup network has generated jobs and ushered in a wave of innovation. According to ‘Decoding India’s 100 unicorns’ report by Inc42, the 100 Indian unicorns have raised over $90 billion collectively, and have a combined valuation of about $333 billion.
Several factors have contributed to this — a large talent pool with an entrepreneurial streak, adoption of digital services, digital payments, smartphone penetration, and advanced technological capabilities.
One must also give credit where it is due and acknowledge the Indian government’s efforts in building an entrepreneurial ecosystem and playing a role in facilitating the growth of early-stage startups.
The Startup India Initiative provides tax benefits to startups, and since its launch on January 16, 2016, it has recognised more than 75,000 startups till August 2022. There is also the Startup Accelerators of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for Product Innovation, Development and Growth (SAMRIDH) Scheme, designed to provide funding support to startups and extend customer-connect and investor-connect, among others. When aspiring entrepreneurs have these resources at their disposal, the sky is the limit in achieving success.
So which sectors will see startups chart out the next frontier of growth and be the most significant contributors to India’s GDP? Let’s look at the top 4:
Agritech: Our country relies heavily on agriculture, and this sector has consistently contributed over 15 percent to the GDP over the last three years. This makes it an essential driver for our economy, thus making it important that there is grassroots development to keep the momentum strong. Over the last few years, agritech startups have become a ray of hope in Indian agriculture as they look to infuse modern technologies in old agricultural systems and develop innovative solutions to smoothen the agriculture value chain and ultimately support farmers. In fact, according to an EY report, India’s agritech market has the potential to reach $24 billion by 2025. It is thus imperative to capitalise on the limitless possibilities of this sector to propel India’s growth story.
Emerging technologies: Web 3.0 is touted to be the next significant enabler to boost India’s GDP growth. FICCI-EY’s 2022 report shows that Web 3.0 and blockchain can add a staggering $1.1 trillion to India’s GDP by 2032. Additionally, crypto assets, metaverse, and NFTs are the top buzzwords in any conversation. The potential of these digital assets remains tremendous, and their seamless infusion into our daily lives makes our future incrementally more exciting, especially in the next 25 years. Another element has been the paradigm shift in the entertainment landscape. Compare a cinema piece or game from a couple of decades ago to now — the embracing of VFX technology and mixed reality has transformed the media and entertainment industry to a whole new level.
Fintech: This sector has rapidly become essential to the global economy. From the amount of paperwork undertaken decades ago to seamless online transactions, this sector has truly helped script India’s new story. The country has seen the adoption of digital financial services in remote parts, and even kirana stores or street vendors accepting digital payments; this has enabled economic equity across the country. India has produced 22 fintech unicorns to date and recently got its overall 104th unicorn through OneCard.
Wellness: In India, wellness has always been essential, with the country introducing the world to yoga, which has formed the bedrock of wellbeing the world over — physical, mental, and emotional. Over the past 75 years, wellness has transcended its conventional definition and now encompasses mindfulness and collective welfare. This sector is booming, with wellness providers also responding to this change and embracing technology to create apps that provide access to mental wellbeing resources to one and all. Moreover, the central government’s schemes like AYUSH, the introduction of the International Day of Yoga, and startup initiatives have fuelled the boost. It will indeed create a more emotionally fit populace in the next 25 years.
India is a land with a plethora of opportunities, and Indian startups have proven to be the true champions in India Inc’s growth story. They have paved the way for the country’s journey towards self-reliance and self-sustainability and aim to bring to fruition the government’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. It will be exciting to see what the country achieves in the next 25 years when India celebrates the 100th mark with India@2047. And if the last few decades are anything to go by, the sky is truly the limit!