This year could well go down as a landmark year for the Indian start-up ecosystem. There were many firsts. The Walmart-Flipkart deal finally put to rest some of the growing concerns about India’s ability to provide exits to private market investors. One swallow does not a summer make, but it was much-needed validation that Indian start-ups can scale and execute well enough for global companies to partner with them. This has got the attention of marquee global investors as well and it doesn’t get better than an endorsement from Berkshire Hathaway.
Chinese and Japanese investors joined the party much earlier and their ability to write large cheques in late-stage funding not only helped start-ups scale their business but also provided some of the India-focused vintage funds exits through secondary sales. While most of the businesses are still figuring out their path to profitability, the ability of Indian start-ups to attract investors from across the world means they are no longer dependent on Silicon Valley for funding. This could well be the make or break difference in their journey as it was with Flipkart. With some of the biggest India-focused VC funds raising money this year and new strategic and financial investors waiting on the sidelines, 2019 could be another bountiful year for Indian start-ups. Our lead story looks at what’s in store.
Among other stories, we have a feature on American sports and lifestyle brand, Skechers. Despite being a late entrant in the Indian market, it has managed to create a niche by taking a cue from its global strategy and focusing on an untapped segment – walking and women. It’s initial strategy having paid off; Skechers is now looking to take on the leaders in the sophisticated performance segment. Can Skechers win this fight on price and its value-positioning strategy?
Then, we take a look at truck maker Ashok Leyland. After orchestrating one of the finest turnarounds in recent times, it is grappling with macro headwind, policy change and increasing competition. Can the truck maker navigate this bumpy ride?