When Jitendra Gupta launched a brand new startup in July this 12 months, he leased the identical workplace in Mumbai’s Khar suburb the place he began his first agency. However in addition to that, the 38-year-old entrepreneur, who co-founded funds startup Citrus Pay and bought it to Naspers for $130 million in 2016, is doing issues very in a different way.

His new fintech startup focuses on customers, and never institutional shoppers. He’s not hiring former Citrus executives as a result of he needs a recent tradition to construct a client centered product and doesn’t need members of the management group to suppose the “outdated membership” is working once more.


One other distinction is the quantity of capital he has raised on a paper plan — about $25 million — from prime enterprise capital traders Sequoia Capital India and Matrix Companions India. Whereas operating Citrus-Pay, he managed to lift that quantity solely in 2015, after 5 years of operating the enterprise and revenues to point out for it. This time, he had funding provides from eight to 9 totally different enterprise traders, based on two sources briefed on the matter.

The itch is to do one thing larger. “We launched Citrus (in 2011) when the startup ecosystem didn’t exist and bought it at a time when it was simply getting traction. There was a sense that had we stayed longer, issues would have been totally different,” mentioned Gupta. He declined to touch upon the funding.


Master All in regards to the new wave of techpreneurs Gupta and dozens of different founders symbolize a brand new wave of entrepreneurs within the Indian startup ecosystem. They’re both ‘repeat entrepreneurs’, who wish to construct a much bigger enterprise, or those that have labored at profitable startups in India over the previous eight years, bringing operational credibility.

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All of them are effectively networked and have been in a position to elevate over $5 million on a paper plan. That is the fourth wave of enterprise capital-backed tech entrepreneurs in India (see graphic), and it exhibits the rising maturity of the home ecosystem, mirroring how bigger ecosystems like Silicon Valley function.

“The profile of entrepreneurs has modified utterly. Earlier, skilled operators and repeat founders have been 1 / 4 of the deal stream. Now, they’re two-thirds of it,” mentioned Avnish Bajaj, managing director at Matrix Companions India, which has backed ride-hailing main Ola and vernacular information aggregator Dailyhunt. “The sooner wave of copypaste entrepreneurs and enterprise fashions is over and isn’t coming again. You want this variation to construct distinctive India enterprise fashions.”

Related tendencies will be seen at different prime enterprise capital corporations, together with Sequoia Capital India, Accel India, SAIF Companions and Lightspeed Enterprise Companions. There’s a serial entrepreneur behind about 10 of 20 Indian startups backed by Surge, an accelerator programme for early-stage corporations began by Sequoia this 12 months. Investments by Surge are along with corporations backed immediately by Sequoia, the largest India centered enterprise fund with $four.2 billion underneath administration. Accel can also be working with 10 repeat entrepreneurs as part of ‘Rebound’ programme.

This wave of entrepreneurs backed by VCs is totally different from the earlier increase cycle, when founders of their mid-20s, simply a few years out of IITs, have been favoured due to their ardour though they lacked execution expertise. Amit Lakhotia, a member of the brand new crop, has over 10 years of working expertise in startups, together with at Indonesia’s on-line retail main Tokopedia. In 2011, he co-founded ride-hailing enterprise Getmecab, which failed. It’s his working expertise which has helped him elevate near $10 million.

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“VCs noticed me function at Tokopedia and we saved in contact. My spherical was dedicated earlier than the marketing strategy was finalised,” mentioned Lakhotia, who’s beginning up in automotive parking administration area.

The push amongst traders to again these startups comes at a time when there’s a “financing bubble”, given the surplus international liquidity. What has modified for VCs is that the market is deeper, and by backing confirmed entrepreneurs and operators, they’re taking execution danger away.

What has additionally helped VCs construct conviction about signing massive cheques on the thought stage is the quantity of follow-on capital startups like Cred, began by Freecharge cofounder Kunal Shah; Curefit, began by Myntra’s Mukesh Bansal; and Udaan, began by former Flipkart executives, have attracted. All these founders are constructing startups which might be distinctive and have localised enterprise fashions.

“There’s a clear demarcation on people who’ve proven hustle at fast-growing startups versus those that have simply labored in conventional companies,” mentioned Revant Bhate, who labored at cloud kitchen participant Insurgent Meals for 5 years, launching new manufacturers like Behrouz Biryani. He added in elevating capital, founders coming from corporations like City-Clap and Swiggy would have an edge over these from Unilever. Bhate can also be beginning up within the client area.

Founders know they’ve a bonus and are making one of the best of the setting, because it permits them to barter phrases. For some, these are elements like valuation, for others it’s deciding which investor or what number of ought to be part of the board of the agency.

Buyers really feel tech entrepreneurship has grow to be extra broad-based with web penetration. As an illustration, Lightspeed runs mentorship programme ‘Excessive Entrepreneurs’ which noticed the variety of functions double to 900 in 2019 from a 12 months earlier. The variety of cities these functions got here from stands at 102 as in opposition to 45 final 12 months.

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“5 years in the past, entrepreneurship playbook was an engineer popping out of an IIT and beginning up. I feel that’s now not the case,” mentioned Vaibhav Agrawal, associate at Lightspeed. “As web adoption will get deeper, the place the entrepreneurs come from and issues they attempt to resolve are spreading past metros.”

Whereas VCs are betting disproportionately on skilled founders, they’re anticipated to proceed backing the youthful lot, which has traditionally created extra worth. Probably the most valued venturebacked corporations in India — like Flipkart ($22 billion), Paytm ($10 billion) and Ola ($6.2 billion) — have been began when the founders have been of their mid to early 20s with just some years of outdoor expertise. Oyo, which has a valuation of $10 billion, was began by school dropout Ritesh Agarwal, who was a teen then.

Some traders suppose as in 2014-15, the market is transferring forward of itself and VCs are assuming enterprise constructing could be very simple. By backing skilled entrepreneurs, VCs are taking away founder and execution danger. However there are different elements, similar to go-tomarket, enterprise mannequin and product danger, which the founders should deal with.

“The speed at which the dimensions of Sequence A has elevated to $10 million in India is in tandem with the US, however the market there’s deeper. All these entrepreneurs should ship Three-4x the valuation at which they’ve raised capital, which is loads of work,” mentioned a Mumbai-based VC investor.