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The Great Indian Startup Ecosystem: Decoding The Evolution Brick By Brick

The Great Indian Startup Ecosystem: Decoding The Evolution Brick By Brick

Ever wondered how a nation recognised for commodities like cotton, jute or spices and regarded an exotic land far removed from the global path of progress metamorphosed into a powerhouse of Software and Information Technology capabilities. So much so that today it is among the four most exciting startup ecosystems in the world, the other three being US, Europe and China. 

Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSPIRT, says that entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley built products for the first billion people on the planet, India is poised to serve the next 6 billion!


No wonder the size and nature of change of India’s image and relevance in today’s economy is indeed enviable. As per Ravi Gururaj, Chairman of NASSCOM Product Council, India has a unique opportunity to build products and solutions for the southern hemisphere of the world. But how did this sea change in its image come about? Who were the organisations and people and events responsible for it?

As one of the contributors to the startup ecosystem in India, Microsoft Accelerator, decided to take a bird’s eye view of the developments, and chronicle the history of the entire startup ecosystem. This 18-month long exercise which has taken the form on an eBook, involved perusing hundreds of documents, research papers, and newspaper articles and involved several man-hours of deliberations.

Says Ravi Narayan, Director Microsoft Accelerator, “We began by delineating major milestones in the last several years of the journey and understanding its impact.”

On analysis, they came up with four distinct phases of growth and maturity that we have traversed so far:

  1. Software services and global delivery model
  2. The dotcom era
  3. Rise of product startups
  4. Growth of startup ecosystem

The result – an exhaustive infographic snapshot of this journey which is captured in detail in an ebook which was launched at the accelerator’s flagship event, Think Next 2016 on June 23 in Bangalore.


This ebook, titled ‘History of Indian Startup Ecosystem’ contains over 150 such events which shaped the thriving entrepreneurial world we live in today.

The key events in the evolution of the Indian startup ecosystem highlighted in the infographic include-

  • In 1984, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declared the “liberalisation of computer industry” removing various rules & regulations which were previously imposed on the IT Industry.
  • NASSCOM started with 38 members in 1988.
  • In 1989, Canbank Venture Capital Fund was the first Public Sector Bank to setup a Venture Capital Fund.
  • The dotcom era in India began in 1995 when VSNL launched the first commercial Internet service exposing Indians to the World Wide Web. The same year, Info Edge was founded, which is regarded as one of the earliest Internet companies in India. Ajit Balakrishnan registered the first domain in India and launched  Also,, the first matrimonial website was launched.
  • In 1996, Zoho was founded.
  • In 1997, ICICI Bank became the first bank in India to offer Internet banking.
  • In 1999, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), world’s largest network of entrepreneurs and a non-profit global community, started in Bangalore to promote entrepreneurship.
  • In 2000, Information Technology Act 2000 passed. MakeMyTrip Limited founded and India Limited became India’s first company to be listed on Nasdaq.
  • In 2004, MuSigma was founded.
  • In 2006, Info Edge went public, which by then had several lucrative ventures such as and This led to the emergence of second generation Internet companies like redBus, Infibeam and Also, the first cross-border VC from India – Nexus Ventures founded.
  • In 2007, Flipkart was founded.
  • In 2008, Morpheus, Zomato, and Quikr were founded.
  • In 2010, MakeMyTrip went public on NASDAQ. Also, Freshdesk, Ola, Snapdeal and Paytm were founded the same year.
  • In 2011, Browserstack, Webengage, and Shopclues were founded.
  • In 2012, and Jabong were founded. Also, IndiaMART became the world’s second-largest B2B marketplace after Alibaba. Also, Flipkart became the first India Unicorn.
  • In 2013, Amazon entered India. Also, NASSCOM initiated its flagship programme NASSCOM 10,000 startups. Thinktank iSPIRT also founded the same year.
  • In 2014, Swiggy was founded. Ola & Snapdeal became Unicorns and Flipkart acquired Myntra.
  • In 2015, Infibeam went public in India and became first ecommerce company to get listed in India. Paytm, Zomato & Quikr became unicorns.
  • In 2016, “Start-up India, Stand-up India” initiative launched. Also, Shopclues joined the unicorn club. Also with an estimated 375 million Internet users, India is now the second largest Internet market in the world.