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Introducing 2021 In Review: The 8th Edition Of Our Startup & Tech Recap Series

Introducing 2021 In Review: The 8th Edition Of Our Startup & Tech Recap Series

In the 8th edition of our year-ender series, we will bring you more than a dozen features that seek to go behind this breakthrough year for Indian startups

For the first time, our year-ender series will analyse the market sentiments and acceptability of apps across categories

Besides this, we will revisit the funding landscape, the hottest trends, the most active investors, acquisitions, controversies and lawsuits, and more

Even as the world looked to put 2020 behind it, the second wave of the Covid pandemic in March and April this year, and the Omicron scare at the end of the year have bookended a record-breaking 2021 for the Indian tech industry and the startup ecosystem.

Any way you look at it — market penetration, funding and valuation growth, acquisitions, exits through IPOs, app downloads, startup clashes and more — 2021 has been one of the most incredible points in the journey of the Indian startup ecosystem, and we are here to review the best of it.

As usual, we have been on top of all the developments and have covered everything that matters in the world of technology, startups and entrepreneurship in 2021. It has been an eventful year — we published more than 3,500 articles, a mix of exclusives, opinion pieces and data-packed analysis, and also hosted five groundbreaking events this year under the Inc42 Plus banner — The Makers Summit, The Crypto Summit, WTF:Startup Equity and two editions of The D2C Summit.

And now it’s time to revisit everything that made the headlines and more as we recap the best of 2021. In the 8th edition of our year-ender series, we will bring you more than a dozen features that seek to go behind this breakthrough year for Indian startups. We will be going through the paces and look at the state of the app ecosystem across categories, the impact of the funding glut in the Indian startup ecosystem, the hottest trends, the most active investors, acquisitions, controversies and lawsuits, and more.

Here’s what you can expect in our 2021 In Review series:

App Nation: How India Used Tech This Year

For the first time, our year-end series will analyse the market sentiments and acceptability of apps across categories, ranging from music streaming to OTT platforms to short videos, hyperlocal delivery apps, as well as a comparison between ecommerce giants Flipkart and Amazon.

What exactly is working for the apps that are among the leaders in these categories and what needs to be better? Our Apps Analysis mini-series within 2021 In Review will have all the answers.

Funding Boom: The Year Of Growth & Unicorns  

With a month to go in 2021, Indian startups have already raised over $38 Bn this year. That’s a staggering amount — more than the past three years combined. And to go with it, we saw startups launch mega marketing campaigns to acquire users and increase their penetration and market share.

So which sectors grabbed the most funding? Were there any surprise sectors that emerged out of the blue this year? This feature will reveal the aftermath of the funding spring throughout 2021.

We have seen a record number of 40 unicorn startups in 2021 as well thanks to the funding boom, and startups are entering the $1 Bn valuation club faster than ever. We have tracked these unicorns as they are created throughout the year, but our 2021 In Review recap will once again highlight the trends among the unicorns.

Joining Forces: Acquisitions On The Rise

With so much capital floating around in the market, startups are also eyeing acquisitions and mergers to boost market share. The other major factor is the talent crunch in the Indian market, where larger startups have acqui-hired companies to bolster their own engineering and development teams.

Led by edtech unicorns scooping up multiple companies this year, the funding growth in 2021 has opened up the M&A exit opportunities for early-stage startups in sectors with too much competition. Find out more in our year-end analysis.

Investor Delight: Celebrities & VCs Join The Party

Naturally, the funding growth was fuelled by venture capitalists and angel investors backing startups in a big way. We have seen the Indian investor pool expand with the entry of the likes of a16z, Peter Thiel-backed Valar Ventures among others and nearly 1,500 deals in 11 months, thanks to dozens of new funds being launched for the Indian market.

Another trend this year was the number of celebrities backing Indian startups, particularly D2C brands. We’ll go over all the celebrity-led deals in 2021 that have widened the investor pool for early-stage startups.

Plus, do watch out for our list of the 30 most active angel investors and the top 50 funds in India this year.

Sharing The Wealth: ESOPs Back On The Table

As funding grows for growth-stage startups, ESOPs or employee stock options are coming back in a major way. Unicorns such as CRED, OYO, PharmEasy, Paytm, Flipkart, Snapdeal and others have executed major rounds for their employees, with the likes of Tata Digital offering management stock options or MSOPs to founders of the companies it acquired, and Unacademy extending stock options to its educators.

Of course, besides the funding, the major reason for companies executing buybacks is to retain talent and key employees by creating wealth for these resources. We’ll see how this has impacted hiring in Indian startups and whether the trend of ESOP buybacks will continue to grow in 2022.

Startup Vs Startup: When Disputes Went Too Far 

BharatPe and PhonePe. Unacademy And Scaler. OYO and Zostel. No, we are not just naming startups from the same sector; these are the startups that got into lawsuits, public spats and disputes in 2021. From trademark infringement to digital ads manipulation to disputes related to term sheets and investments, this year again proved that startups are not beyond taking their grouses public.

Big Game Hunting: Tech Giants & Headline Makers

From Amazon’s dispute with Future Group on the Reliance deal, to the ecommerce giant’s alleged anti-competitive practices in India, or Google’s fight against Indian startups when it came to in-app billing for Android apps, to Facebook and WhatsApp’s many challenges this year — we love a good controversy.

It was hard to go a month without seeing some controversy or alleged scandal related to big tech companies this year. So watch out for our recap to relive the fireworks.

And as every year, we will also look at the major newsmakers from the Indian market — the likes of Deepinder Goyal and Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who took their companies public; veteran entrepreneurs Sanjeev Bikhchandani and Sridhar Vembu who were bestowed with national awards and more.

Recapping The Biggest Trends Of The Year

In addition, throughout December, The Outline series will revisit the momentous trends that gripped 2021 and might well shape things to come in the next decade.

We have already delved into the 15-minute economy on the first Saturday of December, and next up are overviews on startup IPOs, the implications of the funding boom as well as a look at how conglomerates and legacy India Inc are redefining themselves in the wake of the digital revolution.

There’s a lot to unpack. So, bookmark this story and read at your leisure. We will link to our year-end articles as they are released through December, under the 2021 In Review label.

We look forward to bringing you more stories in 2022 and beyond. And we also want to take this opportunity to wish you all the luck and success for the new year.

Explore Inc42's 2021 In Review

 

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