#Asia India’s biggest funding stories of 2016


2016 wasn’t the year of fat paychecks, unless you are Amazon, that is. It wasn’t even the year of a funding race. If anything, 2016 saw India’s tech and startup community move from flashing around headline-grabbing numbers to a more mature state of play. Unlike in 2015, when Flipkart topped funding with US$700 million, this year the highest draw was for US$250 million – and not from one of the poster children of the startup ecosystem.

According to Tracxn, a total of 924 Indian startups were funded in 2016, raising US$3.89 billion in all. Last year, a total of 904 companies raised US$7.54 billion.

Read on to check the top 10 out:

1. Ibibo

Indian online travel website Ibibo Group started the year with a US$250 million check from South African global internet and media company Naspers. Ibibo is a joint venture between Naspers and Chinese internet giant Tencent.

This happened in February, before India’s oldest travel website operator MakeMyTrip bought Ibibo out to create what is being called the biggest player in the online travel and bookings industry in the country.

Ibibo was launched by Ashish Kashyap in January 2007 as a social networking site. It then changed to focus on travel, and in 2009, it launched travel booking site Goibibo. In 2013, it acquired online bus and hotel ticketing site RedBus.

2. Snapdeal

Snapdeal raised US$200 million in February, led by Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, giving it a valuation of US$6.5 billion.

Snapdeal’s all new red delivery boxes with the new logo. Photo credit: Snapdeal.

“We continue to make targeted investments in building internal and external capabilities,” Anup Vikal, chief financial officer of Snapdeal, said then.

Since then, Snapdeal underwent an image makeover and is investing heavily in backend operations, but is yet to catch up to rivals Flipkart and Amazon when it comes to market share.

3. Hike

Hike Messenger, India’s answer to WhatsApp, rocked the local industry with its US$175 million fundraise from Chinese internet giant Tencent and manufacturing firm Foxconn in August.

Keeping aside the check amount, the deal was important on the count that Tencent, the company behind WeChat, was bringing its expertise and innovations to Hike.

Founder and CEO Kavin Mittal told Tech in Asia that the company was working on a feature where the app will use a special sensor in smartphones to capture and attach smell to messages.

Kavin Mittal Hike

Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike. Photo credit: Hike.

Brand channels built on geolocation is another feature the company is working on. By way of technical know-how sharing, WeChat’s popular mobile wallet which lets friends send each other digital cash, may also find its way onto Hike’s platform.

4. BigBasket

BigBasket hit the jackpot with a US$150 million funding round led by the UAE-based Abraaj Group.

Amid the deluge of scale-backs and shutdowns this year, BigBasket steadily launched in new cities, roped in one of Bollywood’s top stars as brand ambassador, and increased its product offerings.

“Grocery is not like selling a T-shirt or a mobile. You can’t just put it online to become an ecommerce store. At BigBasket, we had already worked in the offline grocery channel for years, and knew suppliers and the local channels. We took that expertise online,” CEO Hari Menon told Tech in Asia earlier.

See: BigBasket’s secret to handling 35,000 orders a day, where even Amazon fumbles

5. CarTrade

When 2016 had just kicked off, Mumbai-based car classifieds site CarTrade bagged US$145 million from Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings, US-based March Capital, and existing investor Warburg Pincus in a fresh funding round.

Photo credit: Dinuraj K.

Customers using CarTrade can buy and sell new and used vehicles. CarTrade also offers consumer review and comparison services, as well as automobile news. Founded in 2009 by Rajan Mehra and Vinay Sanghi, this is one of India’s biggest auto classifieds websites since its acquisition of competitor CarWale from German media company Axel Springer in 2015.

6. ShopClues

A new unicorn was born when ecommerce startup ShopClues raised US$100 million in a series D funding round, according to Tracxn. The company had kept the actual funding amount a secret back then.

When ShopClues launched in 2011, it was one of the many ecommerce companies trying to make it big in India. In six years, it cracked into the unicorn club and is even planning an IPO by 2018.

Radhika Aggarwal of ShopClues.

Radhika Aggarwal of ShopClues. Photo credit: Shopclues.

Where Flipkart makes money selling smartphones, ShopClues sells US$4 towels and bedsheets and unbranded clothes. Where Myntra sells branded clothes, ShopClues sells utilitarian stuff like kitchen utensils. Home furnishings are the company’s biggest sales drivers.

7. BookMyShow

Movie ticketing site BookMyShow raised US$81 million led by US-based Stripes Group. Existing investors Network 18, Accel Partners, and SAIF Partners also participated.

“These funds will be utilized towards rolling out exclusive entertainment experiences on BookMyShow, enhancing the overall offering for our users, while we hopefully build out a 360 degree gateway of entertainment in India,” CEO and co-founder Ashish Hemrajani told media then.

The Mumbai-born startup made international plans this year, and launched a localized version of its site in Indonesia.

Founded in 1999, BookMyShow is present across 350 towns and cities in India. The company gets around 60 percent of its revenues from movie ticket booking, and the rest comes from sports, live shows, and other events.

8. Byju’s

India’ biggest edtech startup had a golden year, and the biggest strike was when it raised US$75 million in funding from Sequoia Capital and Belgium-based Sofina.

That round was the biggest edtech fundraise in India’s history – bigger than all of the money raised by the top ten highest funded edtech startups last year combined.

Founder Byju Raveendran originally started to help students in India prepare for tests like the GMAT and GRE. Then he decided to take his services online, but this time with a focus on students between primary and high school.

Photo credit: J P Davidson.

After that, the startup raised US$50 million from Sequoia and the personal fund created by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan in September. Then this month, the startup announced it got an undisclosed investment from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.

9. Rivigo

Logistics startup Rivigo bagged US$75m in series C funding led by an affiliate of Warburg Pincus.

The Gurgaon-headquartered Rivigo said it will put the investment toward scaling up its service offerings across India, technology, and talent.

Logistics is a booming business, thanks to ecommerce. Photo credit: Brando.n

Founded in 2014 by former McKinsey consultants Deepak Garg (an IIT-Kanpurand IIM-Lucknow alum) and Gazal Kalra (a Stanford and Harvard grad), Rivigo uses data, technology, and Internet of Things (IoT) to solve challenges in delivery logistics. Its services include temperature-controlled (“cold-chain”) supply systems, as well as full truckload and part truckload shipping. It claims to operate over 2,000 trucks, with the startup’s India network covering 150 locations.

10. Mobikwik

The craze around fintech notwithstanding, MobiKwik is the only digital payments startup that made the top 10 in funding. In May, the company raised US$50 million in fresh capital led by Japan’s GMO Payment Gateway, and Taiwanese semiconductor company MediaTek.

Founded in 2009 by Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku, the company has raised three rounds of funding in all – from Sequoia Capital, American Express, Tree Line Asia, MediaTek, Net1, GMO Payment Gateway and Cisco Investments.

With over 100,000 merchants, the app lets users locate nearby outlets where they can pay with MobiKwik.

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