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Y Combinator bets big on Indian startups

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  • Y Combinator has selected 28 Indian firms for its winter batch, more than twice what it selected for its summer batch
  • Y Combinator is typically a 2-3 month programme where startup founders get to interact with industry experts as well as other founders and investors while building their business

Startup accelerator Y-Combinator, an early backer of firms such as Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit, has selected 28 startups from India for its winter batch, more than double its previous 12, said two people directly aware of the matter, indicating aggression in early stage investing.

The Silicon Valley-based firm’s earlier India bets, such as payments firm Razorpay, tax filing startup ClearTax and social commerce firm Meesho have scaled well, leading it to deploy more here.

Among the startups selected for this year’s batch are Squats Fitness- which provides health, fitness and corporate wellness services, Urban Kisaan- seeking to make and sell fresh produce, NearPe- which collects cash for orders on behalf of online firms, and AuthLayer- which provides software to banks for identity verification.

Other Indian startups in the batch also include Deepsource- which helps detect bugs and security issues in code, BotAroma- which is developing a technology tool to help celebrities and publishers interact with their audience and Chutney- building a social shopping app, said the people cited above.

While Squats, Urban Kisaan, NearPe and DeepSource confirmed their selection, but declined to comment further, the other startups and Y-Combinator did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Y-Combinator is typically a 2-3 month program where founders get to interact with industry experts, other founders and investors, all the while building their business. This culminated into YC Demo Day, where the selected companies pitch their products to potential investors.

Programs of this kind help companies build their networks at an early stage on a global level, receive mentorship from veterans in the business, and helps develop potential investors.

Times of India on Tuesday reported on the 28 startups being selected.

The startups selected this time are also from fairly diversified sectors- from consumer internet and software as a service, to agriculture, fitness and deep tech, compared to a few years ago where most firms used to be either e-commerce-based on a broader play on the consumer market.

Early stage investors such as Sequoia, Accel and Matrix, and accelerators such as YC and Sequoia’s Surge continue to be aggressive despite an expected slowdown in venture capital funding next year, following large IPO disappointments in the US such as Uber and WeWork.

“Early stage investors are still aggressive because they are still seeing interesting opportunities. Even if some companies may face challenges to scale later on, the inherent promise is there. Which is why every early stage VC in India is either raising, or has recently raised a large fund," said Gagan Goyal, partner at India Quotient, an early stage investor.

YC’s bullishness in India comes even as it abruptly stopped a dedicated China program last month, it announced in a blog post. While the company said a change in leadership prompted a change in its China strategy, the withdrawal comes amid political tensions in China- a trade war with the US, protests in Hong Kong, and separately, a slowing venture capital market in China after years of record funding.

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