Early Q3 indications show India’s startup ecosystem is going gangbusters

Though it appears to lag key rival China -- for now

Ola Electric announced this morning that it closed a $200 million round at a $3 billion valuation. The EV company’s parent, Ola, is best known as an Indian ride-hailing platform. Ola itself has raised more than $4.5 billion to date, per Crunchbase data, while Ola Electric is now over the $500 million fundraising mark, if we’re doing our morning sums correctly.

That none of those numbers really surprised you is indicative of how active the Indian startup ecosystem has become. It seems that every day TechCrunch covers yet another new unicorn from the country, or at least a tidy nine-figure round as a consolation prize.

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I was curious about what early third-quarter data could tell us about India’s recent venture capital results. I’m also interested in whether all the noise coming from the country’s startup market was adding up to anything. So we’re doing a little bit of a data dive.

We’ll examine historical data from India, and then do some quick and dirty data pulls to get a handle on where the country is heading as Q3 comes to a close. And for comparison’s sake, we’ll loop in both historical and present data from the Chinese startup market to see how India stacks up.

Venture capital in India

When The Exchange examined Q2 2021 data from the global venture capital market, we leaned on CB Insights’ second-quarter data to a large degree. That data set indicated that Indian startups raised $6.3 billion, a quarterly record.

Today, we ran India-focused queries in PitchBook, keeping the data set constrained to venture-backed companies with their HQ in the country. We pulled both Q2 and Q3 numbers for this year, though, of course, the Q3 number is not quite finished; there are a few hours left.

The PitchBook query for Q2 Indian startup fundraising activity came in a little bit above ($6.81 billion) where CB Insights pegged the data. That PitchBook has a larger number for India’s Q2 a few months after CB Insights closed the books on its Q2 report is not surprising. Venture capital data is laggy, and quarters tend to fill in over time.

Regardless, with both $6.3 billion and $6.8 billion numbers for Indian venture capital fundraising in Q2, we have a good base to compare against for Q3. Which, per PitchBook data, includes more rounds and far more capital. Indeed, Indian startups have raised $17.23 billion, PitchBook reports, across some 459 deals in the third quarter.

Those numbers will wiggle around as PitchBook adds in what’s left in the quarter and cleans up the data. But regardless of whether we prefer the $6.3 billion or the $6.8 billion Q2 number, it appears that India’s startups utterly crushed previous venture records in the third quarter.

What does that tell us? That India is precisely as bonkers-busy as we thought. And that it’s coming for China.