Underscoring Indian startups’ role in combating the Covid pandemic and leveraging it to enable growth, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said startups have demonstrated their ability to convert this ‘severe adversity’ into a great potential of the future. Addressing the first edition of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Startup Forum, the minister said that futuristic vision combined with decisiveness has provided India with a solid startup ecosystem. India is currently the third-largest startup ecosystem after the US and China with around 9,300 technology startups, according to Nasscom’s May 2020 startup pulse survey.
Goyal also highlighted the role of edtech startups, particularly in offering free-of-cost learning content to students, during the pandemic to ensure continuous learning. “Our hunger for growth is demonstrated by the number of edtech apps for upscaling and education which have provided free access to content for learning to millions of Indians during the Covid period,” said Goyal. For instance, Byju’s in April said that 6 million new students accessed free lessons on its platform in March 2020. The company had also launched free ‘Live Classes’. Toppr too had announced free access to live classes and video classes while Unacademy had announced 20,000 free live classes.
Apart from online education, digital sectors including online grocery delivery, medicine delivery, telemedicine gained significant prominence as people avoided moving out of their homes amid Covid-induced safety and hygiene concerns. Goyal added that startups had reacted fast and very flexibly to the pandemic by sharing best practices and knowledge, engaging with corporates and investors, monetising, and mobilising capital and more. “We provided an encouraging framework to have more startups come up with brilliant ideas,” said Goyal.
In fact, Covid’s impact on startup funding as well didn’t turn out the way it was expected as investors remained nearly bullish. After a 338 per cent jump in Q2 2020 funding from the year-ago period, Q3 saw a 201 per cent increase in investments vis-à-vis Q3 2019, according to the data shared by startup research firm Tracxn with Financial Express Online. Startups have raised $14.90 billion in 316 rounds during the July-September quarter up from $4.94 billion in relatively higher 447 rounds in the same quarter last year.