India’s startups beat COVID-19 odds to raise $11.6b in 2020

Photo by Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash

Indian startups recovered faster than expected despite the COVID-induced fog of uncertainty last year, and the numbers are proof. Private equity firms and venture capitalists pumped in at least $11.65 billion in startups in 2020, according to DealStreetAsia – Research & Analytics’s latest report.

According to India Deal Review: Q4 2020, while the year began on a high note, Indian startups started to experience a drop in deal numbers April onwards and hit a nadir in May. While overall investment sentiment remained tepid amidst the coronavirus crisis, fundraising started to show signs of a recovery in June and hit a peak in September with record transactions worth $1.9 billion.

Deal volume peaked in the fourth quarter at 272 transactions that collectively raised $3.07 billion, a tad lower than the third-quarter tally.

Among the top-performing industries during the year were education and training, financial services and software. Edtech witnessed exceptional growth as schools and universities remained shut for over nine months to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Byju’s alone raised over $822 million across four rounds, which is also the highest amount raised by a single startup in 2020.

“Indian startups have performed phenomenally to attract capital from all over the world. We have to give credit to the top Indian funds like Sequoia and Accel for attracting global capital and ensuring that India is always on the radar of US investors. With hedge funds and growth funds coming in, Chinese capital or SoftBank hasn’t been missed at all,” India Quotient founding partner Anand Lunia said.

COVID-19 accelerated the digitisation process across education, financial services and e-commerce in 2020, which is expected to open up avenues for other sectors too.

“Agri-tech and Indic language alternatives will be the hot sectors for this year as the new farm bills and Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) have captured the interest of the nation. Build for Bharat theme will underscore all the top investment sectors in India,” said Siddarth Pai, founding partner at 3one4 Capital.


India Deal Review: Q4 2020 covers fundraising by the country’s startups in the fourth quarter and overall year, including data on:

  • Top ten industries and verticals
  • Quarterly deal value and volume trends
  • Deal volume at different funding stages
  • Unicorns of 2020
  • Most active investors

The report is available exclusively to DealStreetAsia – Research & Analytics subscribers. Subscribe/upgrade your subscription now to access our entire set of reports. Still not sure? Opt for a one-month trial for only $299.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.