The success rate for funded startups is less than 10 percent, and as many as 1,000 startups shut down last year. But that’s not stopping India’s startups from shooting for the stars. Venture debt firm Innoven Capital will release its #Startup Outlook Report 2017 tomorrow, but here’s a sneak peek at how founders are viewing the upcoming year – namely, their chances of obtaining venture capital, India’s government policies, and the industries they think are overrated – come what may.
Fundraising: rose-colored glasses in stormy seas
Around this month last year, there were around 19,000 startups in India. Innoven Capital surveyed 175 founders in 15 industries across bootstrapped, angel-funded, and VC-funded companies – and found them optimistic for the future.
50 percent of those surveyed tried their hand at fundraising last year. Of that group, 63 percent “did not have a favorable experience.” However, 94 percent of all survey respondents are looking to fundraise this year.
The average startup pitched to six or seven investors before raising a round.
The average startup pitched to six to seven investors before raising a round, and 38 percent of startups that attempted to raise funds secured a “favorable” round.
The study pool named equity fundraising as its greatest challenge – 26 percent found it challenging, followed by talent management and market creation.
The crowd was evenly split between thinking investment hunting would be easier or not this time around. They also split into even thirds – along responses “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” – when asked if India was in a technology bubble. Of the third that answered “yes,” 54 percent said they thought the bubble would burst “soon.”
VC-funded startups tend to seek the greatest amount of funding this year – a median of US$12.5 million – while angel-funded, seed-funded, and bootstrapped startups seek a median of US$2 million.
Help wanted with investors
The most important factors in choosing a lead investor included the investor’s “strategic fit” and network, particularly for early stage startups. VC-backed companies tended to focus on the investor’s clout and the terms of the deal.
Perhaps ambitiously, the majority of angel-funded and bootstrapped startups were aiming for profitability for the next two years. 11 percent of surveyed startups were already profitable, but virtually all startups in the study saw themselves becoming profitable in four or more years. 64 percent saw themselves achieving an exit within six years.
A few good women
Sales talent narrowly topped the list of most difficult hires – nearly one-fourth reported that as the hardest talent to obtain – followed by chief technology officer (CTO) and chief marketing officer (CMO) at 23 percent respectively.
Less than half – 42 percent – reported women in leadership roles, either on the board (24 percent) or as a CXO – a chief-level position like CEO, CTO, etc. (18 percent). However, 33 percent said they were “looking to hire” women in leadership roles.
Hype, or lack of it
Respondents rated agritech, artificial intelligence (AI), and logistics the most underrated industries. Digital payments, hyperlocal services, and AI were named most overhyped areas. (Yes, AI fell into both categories.)
Despite the hype (or perhaps because of it) of payments startups, Paytm emerged the favorite startup of those surveyed, followed by Uber. Paytm’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma was named the group’s favorite founder – Elon Musk followed close behind.
An area of comfort is location. The majority of study participants – 76 percent – were headquartered in either Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, or Mumbai, with most concentrated in Bangalore (36 percent). Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed liked their location and did not plan on moving.
Taxes and the government
Though the Indian government’s goods and services tax reform was received well by the survey participants – 40 percent named it the most helpful government initiative – a better tax policy topped the list of requests the founders had from the government. Cheaper financing was the aim of 19 percent of respondents – just 1 percent less than those who asked for a better tax policy.
For more information, see Innoven Capital’s Startup Outlook Report, which will be announced in full tomorrow.