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15 Early Stage Startups Eye $100 Mn Funding From Global Investors At 9Unicorns’ 4th Demo Day


The fourth edition of 9Unicorns’ DDay will be held virtually on October 18, 2023

The DDay is expected to be attended by over 1,500 investors including venture capitalists, family office and corporations, all of whom are potential investors for the selected startups

During the previous editions more than 70 startups cumulatively raised a funding of $440 Mn from global and Indian investors.

Despite the recent funding slowdown, investor enthusiasm seems to be rebounding, especially for early stage startups. Besides improvement in funding deals, the launch of several early stage focussed startup funds has further improved the funding sentiment. 

To further foster this environment, Mumbai-based Accelerator VC 9Unicorns  is gearing up to host the fourth edition of DDay (Demo Day) on October 18, 2023. The platform will provide an opportunity for 15 early-stage startups across seven sectors, a chance to present their business models to Indian and international investors. 

Notably, over 58% of the founders of these startups are serial entrepreneurs with a track record of successfully building businesses in the past. The one-day virtual event will be streamed across multiple global locations, including Singapore, India, London, Dubai, and the United States. 

The DDay is expected to be attended by over 1,500 investors including venture capitalists, family offices, and corporations. 

Dr. Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, cofounder and managing director of Venture Catalysts & 9Unicorns, pointed out that the previous edition, hosted in April 2023, was a resounding success, with 23 startups raising $80 Mn from 700 global and Indian investors.

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An Inside Look At DDay 4

According to the Mumbai-based VC fund, the participating startups in DDay 4’s cohort have already raised an average of $4 Mn in prior funding rounds, attracting investment from global and Indian backers.

For the fourth edition of DDay, the spotlight will be on startups from sectors including agritech, consumer, deeptech, ecommerce, edtech, financial services and fintech, healthcare as well as media and entertainment.

Explaining the focus shift towards deeptech, agritech and fintech, Sharma notes that consumer trends suggest these sectors are on the rise. Specifically for the financial services and fintech sectors provides financial stability to businesses to help scale.

On another note, Sharma emphasised the growing adoption of AI and machine learning technologies that are giving rise to businesses with specialised models, to optimise operations. 

The accelerator VC fund said that investors like Peak XV (formerly Sequoia Capital India), Harmonic PE Equity, LC Nueva, Alpha Wave Global, Sony Innovation Fund, Beenext, Lightspeed, Pentathlon Ventures, 3one4 Capital and Info Edge Ventures would participate again at DDay 4.

Sharma is optimistic that the startups in the upcoming cohort could collectively secure over $100 Mn in Seed to Series A funding during DDay 4. According to the VC fund, 70+  startups in its previous cohorts have already raised a staggering $440 Mn collectively.

As for the selection criteria, the fund will shortlist founders who have built multiple businesses and exited successfully from their previous ventures. These selected startups show strong growth and profitability.

DDay will also offer startups the opportunity to network with high-profile family offices and venture capitalists. Additionally, participants will gain access to mentorship from industry leaders, unicorn founders and C-level executives, enriching their journey further.

DDay — The Journey So Far

DDay 3, which took place in April, witnessed 23 startups from diverse sectors such as ecommerce, proptech, legaltech, digital entertainment and social impact technology, pitching to global investors. 

According to the accelerator VC fund, participating startups raised a total funding of $80 Mn since DDay 3.

Among the standouts was gaming tech startup Rooter, which secured $16 Mn in funding from an array of investors including Lightbox, Trifecta Capital, ADvantage VC, AntHill Ventures, Pivot Ventures, Baldota Family Office, Global Play Media, Denlow Private Trust, Venture Catalysts and Potential Ventures.

Similarly, Delhi NCR-based edtech startup Leverage Edu raised $40 Mn in the Series C funding round led by the Princeton-based Language Testing conglomerate ETS, Blume Ventures, DSG Consumer Partners and Kaizenvest PE. 

Founded in 2017 by Akshay Chaturvedi, the startup has previously attracted investment from names like Blume Ventures, Kaizenvest, LetsVenture and 9Unicorns. Leverage Edu assists students aspiring to study abroad by providing personalised career counseling, connecting them with leading international colleges and facilitating access to loans and scholarships.

9Unicorns has also been instrumental in the growth of several noteworthy portfolio startups. Like SaaS based video editing platform VideoVerse raised $46 Mn, EV startups BluSmart and Zypp raised $25 Mn separately, D2C cosmetic brand Renee raised  $10 Mn, healthcare insurance and service startup Kenko raised $25Mn and vehicle leasing startup OTO raised $10Mn, among others.

Other startups that have also raised funding include video-led affiliate marketing firm Flickstree, EV startup Blu Smart Mobility and D2C brand Power Gummies. 

Although the funding winter has taken a toll, causing a 72% YoY decline in startup funding — from $19 Bn in H1 2022 to $5.4 Bn in H1 2023 — the outlook is not entirely bleak. Programmes like DDay offer a beacon of hope for the startup ecosystem.

Reflecting on this, Sharma expressed optimism, stating, “Markets have their ebbs and flows; however, investor sentiment has recently seen a resurgence. We’ve observed a notable uptick in investments into early-stage startups with robust fundamentals.”

He remains confident that both Indian and global investors will continue to support early-stage startups with the calibre to evolve into industry leaders.

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15 Early Stage Startups Eye $100 Mn Funding From Global Investors At 9Unicorns’ 4th Demo Day-Inc42 Media
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