India’s 30 Highest Funded Tech Startups Of 2014

Photo Credit: Shutterstock, A pile of stacked wads of indian rupee banknotes on an isolated background

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ A pile of stacked wads of indian rupee banknotes on an isolated background

 

Billion dollar deals and everything below that marked a stellar year for Indian startups

2014 was a record year for Indian startups when it comes to venture capital funding.

Flipkart had a billion dollar funding round, which was matched twice over the very next day by rival Amazon (AMZN), who handed over a two-billion-dollar check to its Indian arm. Japan’s Softbank then came in to bolster Snapdeal with two-thirds of a billion dollars.

Apart from ecommerce, it was the taxi apps Ola and TaxiForSure that were on a funding high in India to counter global player Uber, although they all ended the year on a regulatory low.

But there were other high-flyers like real estate portals Housing.com and CommonFloor, classifieds portal Quikr, food guide Zomato, and messaging app Hike. Data tech plays like Druva, Vizury, and AdNear too were hot this year.

Here’s a look at the 30 highest funded Indian tech startups in 2014.

1. Flipkart – $1.91 billion

Ecommerce leader Flipkart became the first VC-backed company in India to have a billion dollar funding round. Tiger Global and South African media group Naspers led the $1 billion funding in July, which followed a $210 million round just two months earlier. And it rounded off the year with another $700 million from new investors. Part of the funds went into acquiring leading fashion portal Myntra. Three months before the merger, Myntra had raised $50 million. Tiger Global and Accel were the leading investors in both Flipkart and Myntra, and are believed to have pushed for the merger to shore up the battlefront against Amazon.

Flipkart says it aspires to be the Alibaba of India, in an obvious swipe at its main competitor Amazon from Seattle, USA, where Flipkart’s founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal once worked as techies.

 

2. Snapdeal – $861 million

Snapdeal, headquartered in Delhi, is the main local rival to the Bangalore-based Flipkart. The eBay-backed startup raised $234 million in two back-to-back funding rounds in February and May, but still looked under-funded after Flipkart’s billion-dollar funding round in July. Months of speculation followed on how Snapdeal would cope. Then Japanese telecom giant Softbank came to India in October with bagfuls of cash. And Snapdeal, whose co-founder Kunal Bahl was forced to leave the U.S. after studies because he could not get a work visa, got $627 million more in funding to play in the big leagues.

 

3. Ola – $251.5 million

On-demand taxi apps in India have hit a roadblock since the rape of a young woman in Delhi by an Uber driver. Until then, they were on a roll. The leading local player Ola had a whopping $210 million from Softbank in October on top of the $41.5 million it had raised earlier in the year, taking its total funding in 2014 to over a quarter of a billion dollars. That gives it ammunition enough to compete with global rival Uber, provided India’s transport regulators give them the green signal in the new year.

 

4. Quikr – $150 million

Tiger Global came on board to give a boost to local classifieds portal Quikr in its battle with global player OLX. Two funding rounds of $90 million and $60 million this year were a recognition of the continuing appeal of the online classified listing sites despite the mushrooming of ecommerce sites. From gadgets to secondhand household goods and jobs, the diverse offerings on this former subsidiary of eBay are heavily advertised on TV. Who will become the Craigslist f India? Maybe 2015 will tell.

 

5. Housing – $109 million

Real estate portal Housing.com was the third big beneficiary of Softbank’s largesse in India, with a $90 million infusion of funds. This came on top of a $19 million funding round in June, taking its total for the year past the 100-million-dollar mark. Founded in 2012 by 12 young engineers from IIT Bombay, Housing.com has been a trail-blazer among Indian real estate portals, pioneering the use of map-based mobile technology to make house-hunting in a disorganized market easier.

 

6. Hike – $79 million

Indian messaging app Hike raised two rounds of funding with its $14 million series B in March followed by a much bigger series C of $65 million in August. This endorses the relevance of a local messenger despite the popularity of WhatsApp in India. Hike founder Kavin Bharti Mittal told Tech in Asia that the funds would help the startup to develop India-specific features. For example, its offline option seamlessly converts messages into SMS when a user is not connected to the internet, which happens quite frequently in India.

 

7. IndiaHomes – $74.8 million

This is another real estate portal that raised big money this year – nearly $75 million in two funding rounds. Investors have been drawn towards property sites which are adopting tech platforms to expand. IndiaHomes is also reported to be eyeing acquisitions for inorganic growth both in India and abroad.

 

8. Zomato – $60 million

Restaurant finder Zomato is going global fast, expanding to 20 countries, including Canada – which can been seen as a stepping stone to the USA to do battle with Yelp on its own turf. Its appetite for growth led to five acquisitions in New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Italy. And its $60 million funding late in the year makes it poised for new milestones in 2015. From restaurant discovery and menus, Zomato is building itself up into a global food community platform. In the process, it is showing other Indian internet companies how to think global.

 

9. CommonFloor – $40.4 million

Two rounds of funding this year consolidated the advantage this tech savvy real estate portal has gained over more traditional sites. Competition in the tech stakes looms from another portal started by IIT graduates, namely Housing.com. What sets CommonFloor apart is that it began as a community platform for house-owners, property seekers, and tenants to connect, interact, and solve everyday problems. Today, a huge real estate business has grown on top of it, but the hyper-local social network has developed alongside.

 

10. Hungama – $40 million

Intel Capital, the VC arm of the global chip maker, and Bessemer Venture Partners invested $40 million in Hungama, a digital entertainment company that has become the largest repository of Bollywood movies and music. The funds are helping Hungama to go mobile in a big way, to cater to the insatiable appetite for Bollywood songs and movies among the growing numbers of smartphone users in the country.

 

11. TaxiForSure – $40 million

Just like the market leaders Uber and Ola, this taxi aggregator too finds itself in a regulatory quagmire following the insistence of transport authorities in India that taxi app companies register as cab services. This came right after TaxiForSure raised $30 million in series C funding and tied up with Tata Motors to launch a Nano line, probably the world’s smallest taxis which cost less than three-wheelers (auto-rickshaws) in India. Now its plans for more funds and expansion face an uncertain future.

 

12. Delhivery – $35 million

Riding on the back of an ecommerce boom, logistics services Delhivery grew rapidly, raising $35 million in series C funding just a year after its second round. This has so far been the biggest deal for an ecommerce support venture. The last mile problems that ecommerce runs into due to poor infrastructure in India makes services like Delhivery’s vital.

 

13. FreeCharge – $33 million

FreeCharge, which provides a platform for recharging mobile phones and data cards, is among the startups that have gained the most from the smartphone explosion in India. This attracted a top VC like Sequoia in a $33 million series B funding round in September. It’s a uniquely Indian business model of rewarding users for using the platform to recharge their phones, and could be replicated in other markets. FreeCharge CEO Alok Goel tells Tech in Asia that it will also leverage its growing user base for targeted marketing.

 

14. BigBasket – $32 million

Compared to how ecommerce raced ahead this year, the online groceries sector has been like a tortoise. The leading online grocer BigBasket’s series B round of $32 million in September came a surprising two-and-a-half years after its $10 million first round. At least BigBasket finally appears to be in expansion mode, with a presence in four cities – Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.

 

15. Freshdesk – $31 million

Freshdesk became the first Indian company to get backing from Google Capital, one of the two venture capital arms of the search giant, in its series D funding of $31 million in June. One reason is that its helpdesk software is on par with the best in the world. In fact, a G2 Crowd report rated Freshdesk higher than its illustrious global rival Zendesk. It has brought cloud computing and mobility to customer support with SaaS-based solutions.

 

16. CarTrade – $30.2 million

Auto classifieds portal CarTrade raised $30.2 million in a funding round led by private equity fund Warburg Pincus, who is also an investor in the broader Indian classifieds portal Quikr. In recent years, India’s used car market has been growing fast, driving the growth of online marketplaces with vehicle and price comparisons, reviews, and certifications.

 

17. iYogi – $28 million

Remote and on-demand tech support firm iYogi raised $28 million in series E funding to support its global expansion. This came four years after its previous funding round, but the market for iYogi services appears to have picked up again. Its services were recently launched in the U.S., and iYogi supports automation of customer support in 10 other countries.

 

18. Jabong – $27.5 million

Lifestyle and fashion ecommerce portal Jabong raised $27.5 million from Britain’s CDC Group. It also joined a Global Fashion Group of similar businesses backed by Rocket Internet, namely Dafiti of Latin America, Lamoda of Russia, Namshi of the Middle East, and Zalora of Southeast Asia. Rocket Internet’s earnings after its October IPO revealed that Jabong saw faster growth than Zalora, with GMV (gross merchandise value) rising 195 percent year-on-year to INR 5.1 billion ($81 million).

 

19. Druva – $25 million

The volume of corporate data is doubling every 14 months. This creates a growing demand for the data protection services of Druva, which has grown from a small Pune startup to a global company. It helps over 3,000 enterprises in 76 countries get a grip on the mobile assets their employees use and the data lying outside corporate firewalls. Druva is one of the emerging B2B software product success stories out of India.

 

20. BookMyShow – $25 million

Bigtree Entertainment, which owns BookMyShow, raised $25 million in June. BookMyShow has expanded from movie ticketing to cover sporting events and music concerts. Becoming the ticketing portal for the Indian Premier League (IPL) was a coup in a country where cricket is a religion. It also competed against global players to bag the ticketing rights for cricket’s Twenty20 World Cup this year.

 

21. Yatra – $23 million

Yatra raised $23 million to have the wherewithal to compete in the tough travel booking market in India, which has much larger players like MakeMyTrip, ClearTrip, and GoIbibo. One of Yatra’s strategies is to go mobile first to carve out a niche for itself.

 

22. Techfront – $23 million

Chennai-based sports management firm Techfront raised $23 million from a sports-focused fund of FidelisWorld. From arena and spectator management to digital display systems, Techfront provides tech solutions for some of the top sporting events around the world.

 

23. UrbanLadder – $21 million

Bangalore-based furniture etailer Urban Ladder, which raised $21 million in July, appeals to urban middle class Indians with minimalist, functional designs. The startup works with small furniture manufacturers in Bangalore, Mumbai, Rajasthan, and Chennai. The challenge is to scale up its supply side as it executes its plan to expand across the country. Urban Ladder is also developing “complete room solutions”, co-founder Ashish Goel tells Tech in Asia.

 

24. PolicyBazaar – $20 million

This Indian portal offering price comparison and analysis of insurance products raised $20 million in series C funding this year. Part of the fresh funds are going into making potential customers aware of the advantages of comparing insurance products before making any purchase decision.

 

25. Practo – $20 million

Practo is a doctor discovery and booking platform for patients who want to make an informed choice. It started out in Bangalore with a street-by-street mapping of doctors, because there was no reliable information online. Today it lists more than 100,000 doctors in India and Singapore, where it launched in March this year. Practo is also eyeing other Southeast Asian markets, because the problems people face with healthcare are the same everywhere, co-founder Shashank ND tells Tech in Asia.

 

26. AdNear – $19 million

Japanese VC Global Brain came on board in the $19 million series B funding round of AdNear, which expanded its footprint from India and Australia all the way across to Japan. This Indian startup, which is now headquartered in Singapore, provides location-based intelligence for advertising, using big data technology, and looks set to become a major player in the global adtech market.

 

27. Newshunt – $16.5 million

Homegrown news reader app NewsHunt raised $16.5 million in series B funding. This Flipboard-esque app has over 14 million monthly active users, mostly in India. The startup supports 11 Indian languages in addition to English. Aside from aggregating national and international news, the app also has an ebookstore.

 

28. Attero – $16.5 million

E-waste in India is estimated to reach 1.72 million metric tonnes by 2020, as growing consumption of electronics goes hand in hand with faster discard rates. Yet most disposal and recycling of e-waste is unorganized, resulting in pollution. Attero Recycling attempts to fill that gap. This green venture announced a US$16.5 million series C round of funding in August.

 

29. Knowlarity – $16 million

Cloud telephony company Knowlarity Communications secured $16 million in series B funding. This Indian startup, which is also headquartered in Singapore, is using the fresh funds to expand operations into Southeast Asia, and fuel research and development. It aims to provide solutions to small and medium enterprises which cannot afford to install expensive hardware.

 

30. Vizury – $16 million

Ad retargeting firm Vizury is a rare outsider to prise open the Chinese market, counting ecommerce site Yintai and travel portal CTrip among its clients. What it offers is an end-to-end stack, where the data management, intelligence building, and ad optimization are offered in one box, on a pay-per-result basis. Intel Capital, the global chipmaker’s venture capital arm, was among the investors who participated in its $16 million series C round.

 

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