Recently, we closed our sixth India fund—$550 million of new capital that will be primarily invested in seed and early stage startups across what we believe to be one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world: India.
Accel was founded in Silicon Valley over 35 years ago. But, we believe bold, exceptional entrepreneurs—people we refer to as “Originals”— are not confined to geographies, they come from everywhere. It is the reason we have a presence in India for over 15 years and in Europe for nearly two decades.
When we started our first fund in India in 2005, the world was a very different place. Just 1 in 50 Indians had access to the internet and mobile phone ownership was nascent. Yet we firmly believed that India was on the cusp of a big change.
Today, the opportunity ahead is significantly bigger than when we started in 2005: India can now digitally identify 1.3 billion people, has 600 million internet users and 150 million online transacting customers with a national payments platform that processes $20 billion a month.
Investing in Originals
In order to find these Originals, our global team of investors applies a thesis-based investing approach. That means we do the work upfront: developing perspectives on current technology themes and markets, informed by primary research and sharing this knowledge across regions.
This approach has led us to partner with 100+ early-stage startups in India alone. For instance, we started with an $800,000 investment in Flipkart and continued backing the company until its acquisition by WalMart valued it at over $21 billion—the largest-ever acquisition of a private, venture-backed company in the world. When we partnered with Freshworks in 2011, software-as-a-service as a category from India was almost non-existent. Our first cheque was $1 million when the company had 6 employees. Today, it has more than 2,500 employees and is valued at $3.5 billion. Our seed investment in Swiggy was $1 million when it was making around 100 deliveries a day in Bangalore. Swiggy now handles more than 1 million daily orders and is valued at $3.4 billion.
In fact, we were the first institutional investor in more than 85% of all our investments and in addition to the companies above, we are fortunate to be the first partner to founders at category-defining startups such as Acko, Akamara, Blackbuck, BookMyShow, Bounce, BrowserStack, Cogoport, Clevertap, Curefit, Drip Capital, Farcast Biosciences, Mindtickle, Moglix, Ninjacart, Portea, Rupeek, Samunnati, StanzaLiving, UrbanClap, USPL, Zenoti, Zetwerk, Zinier and many more.
Seed to Scale
At Accel, we largely prefer to be a founder’s first partner because it is where we believe that we can help the most. We are not passive investors, and our team has significant insights and frameworks to help younger companies throughout their growth. We support our startups in the following areas: product and scale thinking, brand and digital marketing, organizational scaling and culture, and financial metrics.
Additionally, our shared insights from our global teams and across our portfolios offer tremendous advantages. For example, partnering with Atlassian, Slack, Dropbox, Qualtrics, UiPath, and Freshworks has helped us get real experience in understanding what it takes to build best-in-class global SaaS companies. Likewise, our investment in Spotify, Supercell, Deliveroo, Swiggy, Kayak, UrbanClap, Bird, and Bounce shaped our understanding of how tech-led consumer companies scale globally.
The Path Forward
With a robust digital infrastructure firmly in place (and expanding rapidly), we expect digital adoption in India to only accelerate. We see this trend playing out not only in categories like food delivery, digital payments, and e-commerce, but also across sectors like agritech, education, insurance, logistics, healthcare, real estate, and manufacturing. In the last decade, Indian tech startups have created around $100 billion of enterprise value and as the GDP doubles in the next decade, we see startups creating a disproportionately higher value.
Our team of 50+ in India is deeply grateful for the partnership from entrepreneurs who have helped us in our Accel journey. We feel humbled with the trust that our founders have put in us, and have the same excitement, anticipation, and promise today that we started with 15 years ago. We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and partner with the next generation of bold, exceptional entrepreneurs who are shaping the future—a new generation of Originals.
––The Accel team