Startup: ET Startup Awards 2022: India may weather the global storm

Indian startups with a strong economic unit will fare better than their counterparts abroad amid global turmoil, according to founders, investors and policymakers attending the eighth edition of The Economic Times Startup Awards, India’s most coveted awards for entrepreneurial excellence. They said that despite headwinds hitting markets around the world, India has emerged as a bright spot compared to developed economies like the US and Europe.

In an elite gathering of more than 350 guests from across the country’s vibrant business and start-up community, Guests of Honor Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Consumer Affairs, Textiles, Food and Public Distribution; Ashwini Vaishnau, Minister of Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology and Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai presented the awards to the winners at a grand ceremony in Bengaluru on Saturday.

“Despite many global challenges, optimism about India’s future was pervasive and contagious,” said Nandan Nilekani, Non-Executive Chairman of Infosys, who was present at the high-profile event.

Online payments company
Razorpay won the prestigious Startup of the Year award, with a team of all-star jury members who chose the Bengaluru-based startup based on the strength of its technology and product suite that has the potential to make some of its business global. The company — the country’s most valuable fintech company that currently raised more than $500 million in funding last year — joins a distinguished list of past winners including food delivery startup Zomato, brokerage Zerodha and service firm Delhivery and Hospitality. Logistics and supply chain. Oyo Hotels and Homes. Among the early winners are food delivery company Swiggy, enterprise software maker Freshworks, and the Ola app, which took top honors in its inaugural release in 2015.

Among this year’s winners was Falguni Nayar, founder and CEO of Nykaa
Received the newly launched CEO Award. Shekhar Kirani, partner of Accel, won an award
Midas Touch Award For Best Investor after it backed Nasdaq-listed Freshworks with a $1 million initial check that generated multi-mark returns when it went public.

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Bootstrap Champ has gone to Noisewhich is a smart wearable brand with great revenue and profits while getting an award
Top Innovator went to Eyestem, a Bengaluru-based cellular therapy company. Cloud communications platform
Exotel has been named winner in the Comeback Kid category and Solinas Integrity, a deep-tech company founded in IIT Madras that develops robotic solutions for the pipeline and wastewater industry,
Adjudged as the best on campus.

Smita Deorah, co-CEO of LEAD, an educational technology company, was
Winner in the “Women Forward” category. during the initiation of plastic recycling
Banyan Nation won the Social Enterprise.

In keeping with the prevailing sentiment, startup founders and CEOs discussed the need for companies to re-evaluate business plans and expectations on valuations amid the deepening financing crisis even as India appeared to be in a relatively better position than other countries.

I was positively surprised by India’s level of positivity in the discussions. Ananth Narayanan, Founder and CEO of Mensa Brands, a unicorn e-brand aggregation company, said, “At the same time, topics such as the need to build a sustainable business were very relevant.

In a panel discussion: “The Great Reset: Tracking Profitability vs. the Conundrum of Growth Amid Tech Winter,” Sumer Junga, Managing Partner, India and EMEA, SoftBank Investment Advisers, said the startup’s valuations are set to be readjusted. “I think 2023 is going to be tough, companies that sort out the economics of their units and have an appreciation of what’s going on and realize very quickly what they need to do will be in a better position,” he said.

Amrish Rao, CEO of payments firm PineLabs, said sentiment around India has definitely emerged as positive amid global headwinds. “In the long run, this will help Indian start-ups even with a short-term financing crisis,” he said.

As in previous editions, this year ETSA also becomes the main platform for facilitating dialogue between policy makers and the startup community. Many current hot issues in the industry were discussed on the sidelines of the ceremony.

“The ET Startup Awards continues to be the preeminent celebration for startups in India, and this year’s event not only dedicated the breakthrough in entrepreneurship across various categories but also provided guidance to startups across the country on how to handle the current volatility,” said Kunal Bahl, Partner. Founder and CEO of Snapdeal.

The event also witnessed potential collaborations between the government and startups from a policy point of view. “I spoke with Minister Goyal and we discussed driving exports to markets like the UAE and Australia from the perspective of Mensa Brands and how it can help create more jobs,” Narayanan said.

Committee member Harsh Jain, co-founder and CEO of Dream Sports also echoed the bullish trend in India and said that India is well-positioned for growth with the help of government initiatives and need not just follow in the footsteps of the US market.

The lively confidence in the Indian startup community was quite evident as investors called this the time they had been waiting for – digital India at large.

“Scalability is now proven across sectors and profitability is not far behind unlike what people expect. There are a range of players – founders, regulators and investors – who are involved in it for the long term,” said Vikram Vidyanathan, managing director at Matrix Partners India. To build organizations that stand the test of time.

The Economic Times Startup Awards 2022 is presented by IDFC First Bank. Those supporting the event include knowledge partner Tracxn, hospitality partner The Leela Palace, Bengaluru, and broadcast television partner ET Now.

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