Indian Startup Ecosystem: A look at India’s most popular startup apps


India has been spearheading startup revolution for a few years now. The country has generated large number of startups that are prevailing globally. Recent studies by Paganresearch depicted that there are currently around 39,200 active startups in India, and the numbers are growing by the day.

India, with nearly 500 million consumers and a large number of young & talented crowd, has piqued the interests of investors. Everybody wants to get a piece of the vast consumer base. The numbers show just that. According to Paganresearch, in 2017, $13.7B of fundings were raised by the Indian startups. Following that, they secured another $13B in 2018, giving them a valuation of nearly $140B.

Startup Hubs

The National Association of Software and Services Companies or NASSCOM released a report on startup ecosystem in India in 2018 revealing some interesting statistics that could proof useful to understanding the current ecosystem in India.

In the below image, we can see that India had 8 unicorn startup companies (Unicorn is a term used for startup companies whose value reaches $1 billion) in just one year, hence making it the 3rd largest startup market in the world.


A stand out fact about Indian startup is that 50% of them last year were focused on Deep technology, and the other 50% on other areas.


The image below maps major startup hubs in India. As seen, Bengaluru alone makes up 25% of all startups.


According to yourstroy, Hyderabad is now one of the upcoming startup hubs, given considerable increase in the number of incubators and the city’s much better infrastructures when compared to Bengaluru. The below image clearly shows that the number of startups and the funding size have improved over the past 4 years.


In this article, we will briefly introduce 5 successful Indian born apps through data obtained by App Ape to understand how they compete with local and international competitors.


The graph below shows Monthly Active Users (MAU) of Paytm’s application. The app has seen rise in number of MAUs over the past year.


Paytm’s competitors are Google Pay and PhonePe.



Flipkart’s has over 100 million MAUs which indicates the app’s huge popularity.


Having said that, Amazon India has the largest user base with over 150 million MAUs recorded in June. Although the difference is large, Flipkart could someday beat Amazon and become the top mobile application in India’s Android shopping category.



According to yourstory, Oyo claimed to be the third largest hotel chain in the world with 10,000 rooms in total. As seen below, the app’s user base as been growing has been growing steadily since January 2019.


One might assume that OYO’s main competitor would be Airbnb but that is not the case. OYO’s business practices make it appear adjacent to a travel agency rather than a private accommodation service provider such as Airbnb. In fact, Indian travel agency websites like MakeMyTrip and Yatra are counted as the app competitors. The graph below indicates that the difference in number of MAUs between OYO’s and MakeMyTrip is around 10 million. This is not a large number and OYO may one day top the competition.



Ola, one of the two popular taxi apps in India, other being Uber India, has earned millions of monthly active users. Ola’s strategy is to rent cars with All India Permit to enable unobstructed access to customers to every part of the country. Whereas, Uber is limited to the car owner’s license limitations. (Yousuccess)


Ola is the top most used transportation app in India. Uber India and Rapido (A bike sharing App) are considered their main competitors.



Swiggy, a food delivery app, has also earned millions of monthly active users in India.


Bloombergquint reported that Swiggy raised nearly $1.3 billion compared to its older rival Zomato $400 million. However, Swiggy is still lagging behind Zomato, its main competitor in terms of profitability. Having said that, the data obtained from App Ape indicates that Swiggy could soon catch up to Zomato.


How Indian startups are different from American ones

The capital is limited in India. So they need to show exceptional financial results to gain funding. Limited capital can have negative impact on startups often times leading them to fail to gain stability and stay in business for long. In order to gain sufficient funding in the later stages, startups need to spend most of their time improvising their business practices to obtain large user base and need to be recognized as a truly unique company among other startups.

Given that most of the startups in India fail due to insufficient funding and improper guidance, Indian entrepreneurs take failure as the end of the road and give up on their dreams. An article by Forbes pointes out that “Indian business culture must begin to examine its tolerance for founders’ missteps – and encourage the knowledge gained from failure to be applied to future success”. It also compares Indian startups with American startups and says that the only major difference is that the American startups can attain funding on the basis of strong concepts and foundations.

Changes in policies

Startups have been credited to be one of the biggest source of job creations in India. Therefore, making meaningful changes can bring more job opportunities and potential economical benefits to the country.

Recent changes made in tax department and FDI rules should come as a positive move to overcome funding drawbacks. Some of the major changes that could help sustain rapid growth of startups include: entrepreneur

1.Relief from angel tax scrutiny. This was seen as a barrier to most of the startups because if the funds they received exceeded the value of startup company, it would be taxed as income. But now , the startups can declare the source of funds and avoid paying such tax.

2.Changes to FDI limit from 49% to 100% ownership.

3.Establishing TV channels and media dedicated to startups. The amount of coverage and exposure of startups have increased as they are consistently looking for new and unique startups.

What to expect in the near future

Growing presence of Indian startups in the global market, flood of new and promising investors, and a large array of startups in different fields other than IT should be considered as an indicator of increasing opportunities for new startups interested in testing grounds in the Indian market. an article by instamojo mentions that it is a great time to be a startup in India. Finally, the recent changes made in the FDI policy and increasing government support are positive signs that must not be ignored. And, according to Failroy, the top 53 Indian born startups which are currently in operation, are growing at an incredible pace.

The recent reports from various sources have provided useful information of investor activity growth since January this year. According to livemint, in the first half of this year alone, the amount of funding exceeded the last year’s total amount recording a whopping $3.9 billion. Moreover, there was a 44% jump in total number of deals made indicating a surge in the capital allocation in the first half of 2019. The article also reports that valuations of startups have risen sharply in the early stages of a company as well. Ever since the $16 billion deal between Walmart-Flipkart, the confidence levels of investors have increased and latest investing activities can be seen in the following examples.

An American based hedge fund, Steadview, investing in gaming startup, and wealth management. livemint. Tiger Global invested $300 milion into agriculture based startup “Ninjacart” livemint. Samsung’s venture investment corporation is spearheading the investments in IoT and computer vision fields with plans to support over 100 startups in a 3-5 year span business standard.

The investment is not only limited to IT and tech companies! logistics sector in India, transportation in particular, suffers from poor infrastructure that any improvement in that aids its development can be highly appreciated. And, Indian startups such as Blackbuck and Zinka Logistics acknowledge this scenario and are banking on this idea. For instance, Zinka Logistics, (uber for trucks) which began in 2015 is about to reach the unicorn stage within the 4 years of its establishment. It eyes to employ million truck drivers and aspires to become the largest truck hailing service using deep technology in the Indian subcontinent. According to Nikkei, Zinka raised $150 million in a Series D fundraising round in April, taking its valuation to over $900 million. Logistics in India is one area with the potential to become a $225 Billion industry by 2025.

There is such fierce and yet great competition in India that make the underpinnings of Indian startups to be one of the robust ecosystems with great opportunities for locals and a potential target location for foreign based startups to participate in the market and see exponential growth. It may seem difficult for foreign companies to enter Indian market, but once the company understands the underlying ecosystem they could succeed with flying colors.

This report includes only a small portion of app usage data that App Ape provides. To keep up-to-date with the latest app trends and to stay ahead of the competition, visit App Ape.

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