India's year of the unicorn: Start-ups in spotlight of 2021 tech boom

MUMBAI: Sumit Gupta has had a big year -- turning 30, getting married and seeing his start-up become one of India's newest tech unicorns.Hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and too busy expanding and getting funding for his cryptocurrency platform CoinDCX, his team finally grabbed a few days on the beach in Goa to celebrate recently. "That was very delightful to everyone," Gupta told AFP. "It's been a very, very exciting journey. I've learned a lot ... The future of India is very bright." This year 44 Indian unicorns - privately held startups valued at more than US$1 billion - were minted as investors piled money into a country long overlooked despite its vast potential. Overseas funds put more than US$35 billion into Indian start-ups in 2021 - a tripling from 2020, according to data compiled by Tracxn - buying into everything from fintech and health to gaming. Foreign investors have long preferred China, another Asian country with more than a billion people. But Beijing's clampdown on runaway growth in China's powerful Internet sector, and reining in of big businesses, have spooked investors and wiped billions off giants such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. In the start-up space, investors this year sank US$54.5 billion into Chinese firms, down from US$73 billion in 2020, analysis by GlobalData showed. India by contrast became more attractive, with its large pool of well-educated entrepreneurs upending how many businesses work using a fast-developing digital infrastructure. "India really is that final frontier where businesses can attract a sixth of the world's population," said Siddharth Mehta, founder of investment firm Bay Capital Partners. "I think India is about 13-14 years behind China in terms of size and scale of the market. India's overall digital marketplace is about sub-US$100 billion today but that number can easily be a trillion or US$2 trillion over the next 10 to 15 years."

India's year of the unicorn: Start-ups in spotlight of 2021 tech boom

MUMBAI: Sumit Gupta has had a big year -- turning 30, getting married and seeing his start-up become one of India's newest tech unicorns.

Hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and too busy expanding and getting funding for his cryptocurrency platform CoinDCX, his team finally grabbed a few days on the beach in Goa to celebrate recently.

"That was very delightful to everyone," Gupta told AFP. "It's been a very, very exciting journey. I've learned a lot ... The future of India is very bright."

This year 44 Indian unicorns - privately held startups valued at more than US$1 billion - were minted as investors piled money into a country long overlooked despite its vast potential.

Overseas funds put more than US$35 billion into Indian start-ups in 2021 - a tripling from 2020, according to data compiled by Tracxn - buying into everything from fintech and health to gaming.

Foreign investors have long preferred China, another Asian country with more than a billion people.

But Beijing's clampdown on runaway growth in China's powerful Internet sector, and reining in of big businesses, have spooked investors and wiped billions off giants such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

In the start-up space, investors this year sank US$54.5 billion into Chinese firms, down from US$73 billion in 2020, analysis by GlobalData showed.

India by contrast became more attractive, with its large pool of well-educated entrepreneurs upending how many businesses work using a fast-developing digital infrastructure.

"India really is that final frontier where businesses can attract a sixth of the world's population," said Siddharth Mehta, founder of investment firm Bay Capital Partners.

"I think India is about 13-14 years behind China in terms of size and scale of the market. India's overall digital marketplace is about sub-US$100 billion today but that number can easily be a trillion or US$2 trillion over the next 10 to 15 years."