- Between 2014 and 2018, such business-to-business (B2B) ventures grew by more than three times from 900 to 3,200, says the study by data management company NetApp and consulting firm Zinnov.
- Funding to B2B startups surged by 364% to $3.7 billion.
BENGALURU: Technology startups serving retail customers – like Flipkart, Ola, Oyo and Swiggy – have hogged much of the attention these past few years. A new study now says tech startups serving businesses are growing in numbers significantly faster than the consumer ventures, and that funders too are becoming excited about the segment.
Between 2014 and 2018, such business-to-business (B2B) ventures grew by more than three times from 900 to 3,200, says the study by data management company NetApp and consulting firm Zinnov. Funding to B2B startups surged by 364% to $3.7 billion.
While B2B startups were 29% of overall tech startups in India in 2014, they rose to 43% last year. At least five of these startups have achieved unicorn status (a private company valued at $1 billion or more). These include InMobi, Freshworks, Udaan, BillDesk and Delhivery. And five more – Pine Labs, Druva, GreyOrange, Rivigo and Lendingkart – are expected to soon hit that milestone.
Zinnov CEO Pari Natarajan said there has never been a better time to be a technology entrepreneur in India than now. “The incredible rise in the number of B2B startups as a percentage of the total tech startups is a testament to this,” he said.
Venture firm Blume Ventures managing partner Sanjay Nath said there’s been a sea change in the B2B startup environment. Earlier, he said, the B2B founders were excellent technologists, many had returned from overseas. But they wouldn’t find enough talent – those with PhDs and Masters in areas like data science and AI – to build a good company. “But now you have people coming out of the NetApps, Ciscos and Microsofts in India and joining startups. I was in a GreyOrange warehouse a couple of years ago and I saw this white Caucasian guy interviewing an Indian guy in Gurgaon. Earlier, you got global talent at the MNC stage, not at the startup stage. That’s abig shift,” he said.
Corporate accelerators are also playing a huge role in mentoring B2B startups, providing them technology support and market access. The study says there are over 50 corporate accelerators and incubators in the country.
Among those that have accelerators are NetApp, Cisco, Target, Intel, Swiss Re, Bosch, Oracle, Airbus, as also Indian entities like Essel Group, Yes Bank and Axis Bank.
The corporates too benefit from the innovations by the startups in their programmes. “Industries where there is a high level of disruption, like banking, need to look for innovation outside the organisation,” Natarajan said.
The study said over 800 of the 3,200 startups could be categorised as ‘advanced tech startups’ – leveraging technologies such as AI, blockchain, data analytics, IoT and 3D printing to build their core product or service offering. Bengaluru has the most B2B tech startups, at about 800, followed by Delhi-NCR (550) and Mumbai (400).
There are two kinds of B2B companies. There are those that build for the India market, many of which are serving the e-commerce ecosystem, like Udaan, BlackBuck and Rivigo that support the logistics or small business infrastructure. And there are those who are building for global markets, like Freshworks, Chargebee and Druva.
“Many are thinking global from day one. In ambition levels, we are right up there now,” Nath said.
Read More: The Times of India