India Deal Review: Big-ticket deals push startup funding to $4.6b in October

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Riding high on several big-ticket deals, Indian startups raised $4.65 billion across 162 private equity and venture capital transactions in October, according to proprietary data compiled by DealStreetAsia. This is a jump of about 37% in value over September when startups had collectively raked in $3.4 billion from risk capital investors.

Deal volume, however, was down 16% from 193 in September owing to a drop in early-stage deals. Of the total transactions in the month, the value of 22 deals was undisclosed, the data showed.

October alone saw six startups enter the unicorn club (startups value at $1 billion and above). They included meat startup Licious, crypto exchange platform CoinSwitch Kuber, digital insurance company Acko, online portal for new and used cars CarDekho, digital payments firm MobiKwik, and internet restaurant company Rebel Foods.

India has already produced 34 unicorns so far this year. An earlier Nasscom report had stated that India will have 50 unicorns by the end of this year.

There were about 16 mega deals (that were worth $100 million or more) in the month, which accounted for about 70% of the total deal value.

Expand Table

Mega Deals ($100m and above)

StartupHeadquarterInvestment Size (USD)Investment StageLead Investor(s)IndustryVerticals
PharmEasyMumbai350,000,000UndisclosedAmansa Capital, Sanne GroupPharmaceuticalsE-commerce
Byju's Bengaluru296,000,000Series FOxshott Venture FundEducation/TrainingEdTech
CoinSwitch Kuber Bengaluru260,000,000Series CAndreessen Horowitz (a16z), Coinbase VenturesFinancial ServicesBlockchain
CredBengaluru251,000,000Series ETiger Global Management, Falcon Edge CapitalFinancial ServicesFintech
GrowwBengaluru251,000,000Series EICONIQ GrowthFinancial ServicesFintech
CarDekhoJaipur250,000,000Series ELeapFrog InvestmentsAutomobiles Other Vehicles & PartsE-commerce
Acko General Insurance LtdMumbai225,000,000Series DGeneral Atlantic, Multiples Private EquityInsuranceInsuretech
OfBusinessGurugram200,000,000Series FTiger Global ManagementFinancial ServicesFintech
Rebel FoodsMumbai175,000,000Series FQatar Investment AuthorityFoodRestaurant Tech
Drip CapitalMumbai175,000,000Series CTI PlatformFinancial ServicesFintech Lending
Dhani Services LtdMumbai160,000,000EquityGeneral Catalyst, Sameer GehlautFinancial ServicesFintech
Twin HealthChennai140,000,000Series CUndisclosedHealthcare SpecialistHealthTech
HubiloAhemdabad125,000,000Series BAlkeon CapitalInternetSaaS
DeHaatPatna115,000,000Series DSofina, Lightrock IndiaAgribusinessAgTech
OpenBengaluru100,000,000Series CTemasekFinancial ServicesDigibank
PorterBengaluru100,000,000Series ETiger Global Management, Vitruvian PartnersLogistics/DistributionSaaS

In the month’s biggest deal, online pharmacy PharmEasy closed a funding round worth nearly $350 million ahead of its initial public offering (IPO). Of that, around $204 million reportedly came in through primary infusion from Amansa Capital, ApaH Capital, Janus Henderson, OrbiMed, Steadview Capital, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund ADQ, Neuberger Berman and Sanne Group. The company raised another $130-140 million via secondary share sale, The Economic Times reported.

In another big deal, Byju’s raised an additional funding of around Rs2,200 crore led by New York-based Oxshott Venture Fund. Other investors in the round included Edelweiss’s Crossover Opportunities Fund, IIFL, Verition Multi-Strategy Master Fund, and XN Exponent Holdings.

Financial services grabs top spot

Tech investments in India have been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic, particularly in the financial services space. Startups within financial services raised a whopping $1.8 billion across 41 transactions in October, accounting for about 39% of the total deal value in the month.

Within financial services, CoinSwitch Kuber raised the largest round of $260 million in Series C funding round from a clutch of investors at a valuation of $1.9 billion.

Pharmaceuticals industry moved up to the second spot led by PharmEasy fundraise and garnered $423 million in total funding across three transactions. Online pharmacies have emerged as one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic-induced lockdown in India. India’s online pharmacy market is estimated to grow to $2.7 billion by 2023 from about $360 million currently, according to a report by EY last year.

Education was the third most funded industry with a total of $421 million in its kitty.

Together, the three industries – financial services, pharmaceuticals and education – accounted for about 59% of the total deal value.

Within verticals, fintech startups grabbed the lion’s share at $1 billion in total funding while e-commerce followed with $991.3 million.

Growth-stage deals account for bulk share

In terms of value, growth-stage startups led fundraising in October. Companies in Series B or post-Series B rounds collected an aggregate of $3.4 billion through 34 investments as against $2.45 billion through 36 investments in September. This comes to about 70% of the total deal value in the month.

Deal volumes were led by early-stage transactions in October but saw a dip over September. The month saw 48 deals worth $81.4 million as against 77 transactions worth $93.6 million in September.

Startups in pre-Series A and Series A stages raked in about $228.6 million across 39 transactions as against $343.8 million across 46 transactions in the previous month.

Most active investors

Venture Catalysts, along with its early-stage startup fund 9Unicorns, was the top investor in October with at least 20 investments compared to 14 in September. Their investments included AI-driven SaaS platform Toch.ai, silk-tech startup ReshaMandi, direct-to-consumer jewellery brand Melorra, vehicle interface solution provider Numadic, content startup Instoried, and pregnancy and parenting app Healofy, among others.

Sequoia Capital India occupied the second spot with at least 10 investments including those in intra-city logistics company Porter, fintech platform Groww, online beauty store Purplle, trade finance company Drip Capital, agritech startup DeHaat, and financing solutions startup Progcap.

Tiger Global made at least eight investments in October while Titan Capital made six investments. Accel, Blacksoil, Inflection Point Ventures and LetsVenture made at least five investments each.

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.