Winners of The ET Startup Awards 2023 to be feted today, and other top tech, startup stories this week

It’s D-day! Top entrepreneurs, policymakers and investors will come together in Bengaluru today to honour the stars of Indian entrepreneurship at the ninth edition of The Economic Times Startup Awards.

Union minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal and minister of state for information and technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar will be the guests of honour at the marquee event, which will see the country’s most coveted awards for entrepreneurial excellence being presented to the winners.

Piyush Goyal_Rajeev Chandrasekhar_2

Union ministers Piyush Goyal (left) and Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Also at the event today, leading entrepreneurs, chief executives and investors will congregate for a panel discussion on ‘New order for Startup Inc: decoding the playbook for sustainable businesses’.


From left: Prashanth Prakash, Harshil Mathur, Aadit Palicha, Rashi Narang and Lalit Keshre

The panel will comprise Lalit Keshre, cofounder and CEO of Groww; Prashanth Prakash, partner at Accel; Harshil Mathur, cofounder and CEO of Razorpay; Aadit Palicha, cofounder and CEO of Zepto; and Rashi Narang, founder of Heads up for Tails.

Meet the winners: The high-powered jury tasked with choosing the winners of ETSA 2023 met virtually on September 12 to pick the winners across eight categories, in the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous periods for the Indian startup ecosystem. They are:

All winners

What the winners said about their journey and the road ahead | In the run-up to the awards ceremony, we spoke to this year’s winners, asking them to reflect on their journey and disclose their ambitions for the future.

OfBusiness seeks ‘high’ of having its ticker on exchanges: Business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce platform OfBusiness, which was voted the Startup of the Year at ETSA 2023, won the jury over with its revenue and profit scale.

As the company begins to gear up for its initial public offering (IPO), likely next year, cofounder and chief executive Asish Mohapatra said that while the exercise is being undertaken to allow some of its early investors to exit, there was a “philosophical high” to see the OfBusiness ticker on the stock exchanges.

Indian SaaS companies can tap domestic public markets too: Nexus’s Jishnu Bhattacharjee | Winner of the Midas Touch category, Bhattacharjee is one of the foremost names backing the domestic cross-border SaaS industry. Based in Silicon Valley, Bhattacharjee has clocked over 15 exits. His unrealised gains include Postman, an application programming interface (API) management startup valued at $5.6 billion, and Druva, a software company providing data protection and management, valued at over $2 billion. Read what he has to say about the IPO markets.

Founders must know when to pivot when things are off: String Bio founder: If there is one thing that Vinod Kumar, the chief executive officer and cofounder of Top Innovator String Bio, wants to highlight from his entrepreneurship journey, it is the critical pivot his company made, and the timing of that pivot, which eventually helped it get a product with genuine demand in the market.

‘We work for user validation, not investor approval’: Govind Agarwal and Afsar Ahmad, cofounders of online gaming firm Gameberry Labs, which won in the Bootstrap Champ category, said the company is focused on growing steadily, without any external funding. The Bengaluru-based startup, in fact, is considering acquisitions as its profit piles up.

Financial security for the poor the next step: Fia Global founder | Social Enterprise category winner Fia Global is venturing into lending, insurance and investments after offering basic account opening and payment services. Fia Global has more than 82 million customers today, and founder Seema Prem wants that number to touch 100 million by 2025.

Woman Ahead winner HUFT’s Rashi Narang up for global market entry next year:
Petcare brand Heads Up for Tails is looking to chart newer domains for growth and plans to take its private-label portfolio across nutrition, grooming and lifestyle products to the global market in 2024, founder Rashi Narang told ET.

Space company Digantara has enough in the tank to soar higher:
“Founding a space startup on a university campus has been an incredible adventure,” said Anirudh Sharma, CEO of Digantara, which won the Best on Campus award at ETSA 2023. Having no prior experience of the complexities of building a startup in a sector like this, in fact, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

We wanted to be in the driver’s seat to control our destiny: ZopSmart’s Mukesh Singh | After shutting their consumer-facing grocery-delivery platform ZopNow in 2018, Mukesh Singh, Raj Pandey and Vikash Kumar turned it into a B2B enterprise, offering their omnichannel retail expertise to retailers globally under a new name, ZopSmart. In four years, the company has recorded strong profits. Read what the cofounders have to say about their journey.

Top Stories This Week

Dalvir dunzo_2

Cofounder Dalvir Suri to Exit amid Tough Times at Dunzo:
Following several weeks of crisis triggered by a severe cash crunch at Reliance Retail-backed Dunzo, cofounder Dalvir Suri is leaving the embattled instant delivery startup, according to multiple people aware of the matter. His departure comes after discussions on the issue with cofounder and chief executive Kabeer Biswas over the last couple of months at least, they added.

Dunzo recent troubles_SEP_2023_Graphic_ETTECH

Dunzo valuation may drop to $200 million, firm seeks nod for rights issue: The quick commerce startup is seeking a final nod from its board to raise up to $35 million through a rights issue even as some of its investors are of the view that the valuation of the beleaguered startup be slashed to about $200 million – or one-fourth of its peak value of $800 million – for the critical financing round, several people aware of the matter told ET.

Dunzo nears funding but TC apply_Graphic_ETTECH

Decoding government’s tax math for online gaming players: The Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI), which has issued over a dozen show cause notices to real-money gaming platforms, has calculated the dues on the actual bets placed on portals since 2017, sources in the know told us. According to the official, GST has been calculated on every bet placed on the platform. “So even if an individual places four bets amounting to ₹100, GST of 28% is applicable every time a bet is placed,” the person explained.

Also read | Gamers put real money on table ahead of 28% tax regime

Game On A timeline final

Bizongo lays off 50 post $50 million fundraise: Business-to-business vendor-digitisation platform Bizongo, while announcing a funding of $50 million in an all-staff call, fired about 50 employees, amounting to about 15% of the total workforce, sources in the know told ET.

The Mumbai-based startup’s cofounder and chief executive Sachin Agrawal informed employees of the decision during a meeting on Wednesday.

Fintech Slice to merge with North East Small Finance Bank: Slice said on Wednesday it is merging with North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB). The fintech said the proposal has received a no-objection certificate from the Reserve Bank of India and that they are awaiting shareholder consent and other regulatory approvals for the deal.

Slice takes a swipe on banking ambitions_OCT_2023_Graphic_ETTECH

Government plans 25,000 GPUs cluster to support AI startups: The government is considering a proposal to set up a cluster of 25,000 GPUs (graphic processing units) under a public-private partnership to be made accessible to Indian companies working on artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies that require high computing capacity, four officials told us.

The proposal, which will cost close to Rs 8,000-10,000 crore, is being debated at the highest levels in the ministry of electronics and IT (Meity), they said. It may be finalised as early as December this year.

Nvidia rival Cerebras Systems spots openings in India to expand operations: India needs to address the real challenge of data centres shortage to support fast supercomputers at a time when the market is burgeoning with tremendous growth in engineering talent, according to startup chipmaker Cerebras Systems.

Fintech Corner

cred kunal shah

Kunal Shah, founder, Cred

Cred’s FY23 revenue more than triples, losses grow marginally: Fintech platform Cred’s total income for fiscal 2023 ended March 31 rose three-and-a-half times to Rs 1,484 crore from Rs 422 crore the previous year. In FY2021, the company had posted a total income of Rs 95 crore. Its loss widened to Rs 1,347 crore from Rs 1,279 crore in FY22.

Cred Financials_Graphic_ETTECH

Mobikwik continues profitable streak for second quarter in a row: Digital payments and financial services company Mobikwik said it has posted its second consecutive quarterly profit and seen growth in revenue, driven by sharper focus on its credit strategy.

For the quarter ended September 30, Gurugram-based Mobikwik recorded a revenue of Rs 208 crore, up 17% from the previous quarter, while total profit stood at Rs 5 crore.

Groww revenue up 252% in FY23, expenses up too: Wealth management startup Groww reported total revenue of Rs 1,294 crore for financial year 2023, up 252% from Rs 367.4 crore the previous year. Net profit jumped to Rs 73 crore from Rs 6.8 crore. Expenses shot up too, by nearly three-and-half times to Rs 1,197 crore from Rs 357 crore.


Also read | NBFC NeoGrowth Seeks New Strategic Deal as its Biz Becomes Profitable

Tech Policy

From encashing digital in 2021 to Metaverse in 2022

Tough rules will hurt metaverse innovation, say firms, experts: Metaverse companies and experts have rejected the need for strict laws and regulations for the mushrooming ecosystem arguing that it will hamper innovation.

From QR codes to tokens, firms parse ideas for age-gating: A QR code that certifies whether a person is a minor or an adult, the virtual Aadhaar ID or combined age verification at the app store level are some of the measures that social media platforms are considering to verify the age of users as mandated by the new Data Act.

IT Updates

IT companies are looking for captives include unprecedented economic crisis_THUMB IMAGE_ETTECH

IT companies nudge staff to work from office all five days: Wipro, Capgemini and LTIMindtree are among the leading IT companies in India that have begun nudging employees to be in office on all or at least 50% of the working days in a week, according to sources, in what could signal the end of the work-from-home era in the country’s tech sector.

Indian IT firms explore African markets as way narrows in US, EU: Top IT firms TCS and Infosys last week announced significant deals in the African continent, with market research firm IDC predicting technology spending in the Middle East-Africa market to reach $30 billion by 2027.

IT firms delay campus hiring on low demand visibility: With the biggest in global tech services, Accenture, offering a rather circumspect business outlook, Indian pure-play outsourcing firms are going slow on campus hires. Wipro, Capgemini, HCLTech and Tech Mahindra said that they are taking a phased approach to hiring.

ETtech Deals Digest: Startups raise $86 million in funding this week

Overall funding trend for Indian startups_ET_Monthly Funding Tracker_30 Sep-6 Oct 2023_ETTECH

As the third quarter kicked off in October, the funding taps remained dry for new-age technology startups in the first week of the month with only $86.5 million being pumped into the ecosystem, across nine rounds.

Top funding rounds in_ET_Monthly Funding Tracker_30 Sep-6 Oct 2023_ETTECH

Funding in Indian startups plummeted almost 38% from $139 million raised across 33 rounds in the same period last year, according to data provided by market intelligence firm Tracxn. However, sequentially, the amount of investment pumped into the startup ecosystem saw a slight uptick of 8% from last week’s $80 million across 22 rounds.

most active VCs this week_ET_Monthly Funding Tracker_30 Sep-6 Oct 2023_ETTECH

Zurich-based private equity fund Schroder Adveq’s $50 million-investment in B2B vendor digitisation platform Bizongo was the largest round this week. The round formed 58% of the total funding raised for the week, and was also the only bet in a late-stage startup.

Here is a list of startups that got funded this week


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.