Last week marked a watershed for technology startups in India, as a record bout of fundraising shifted attention to the world’s second-most populous market, just as investors were becoming spooked by a crackdown on internet companies in China.
Food-delivery app Zomato Ltd. became the nation’s first unicorn to make its stock-market debut, raising $1.3 billion with backing from Morgan Stanley, Tiger Global and Fidelity Investments. The parent of digital payments startup Paytm filed a draft prospectus for what could be India’s biggest IPO at $2.2 billion, while retailer Flipkart Online Services Pvt raised $3.6 billion at a $38 billion valuation, a record funding round for an Indian startup.
“Indian entrepreneurs have been quietly building startups for a decade now, the country’s internet infrastructure has vastly improved in that time and there’s a very good appetite for tech stocks globally,” said Hans Tung, the Silicon Valley-based managing partner of GGV Capital, which manages $9.2 billion in assets. “Investors are beginning to see the huge upside and they expect India to be a China.”
Unlike China, where online usage is much more developed, many of India’s 625 million internet users are just dipping their toes into the world of video streaming, social networking and ecommerce. Opportunities in online shopping are particularly attractive, as ecommerce accounts for less than 3% of retail transactions. Tech startups in India are still paying to build supply chain and delivery networks.