The year 2020 threw a curveball across all the businesses, especially start-ups, with some bringing down the shutter or struggling to stay above water, while others showing resilience and coping with pandemic blues. However, with regard to investors’ sentiments, although the number of funding rounds fell to its lowest in five years in 2020, the amount raised was $9.3 billion, which was higher than 2016 and 2017 signalling continued investor interest this year.
Start-ups in Travel and Hospitality Sector
The sector took a severe hit among all. Besides budget hotel aggregator OYO rooms, which raised $507 million from Softbank Corporation in March, no other start-up received substantial funding. Bengaluru-based budget hotel chain Treebo Hotels and FabHotels also managed to raise $225 million and $110 million, respectively. Some of the tech-based start-ups like Mobile-based train booking app IntrCity by RailYatri, travel app Ixigo and SaaS start-up RateGain received funding later in the year.
Food and Beverage Industry
With nearly 90% of the restaurants having to shut down during lockdown, diners switched to takeaway options, leading to a shift towards cloud cuisine besides the traditional food delivering services. Gurugram-based Zomato closed four rounds of funding, securing its latest round of $102.5 million from Tiger Global Corp. With the latest fundraise, Zomato, which hosts several cloud kitchens on its platform, is now reported to be valued at $3.4 billion, close to its rival Swiggy which also received $43 million in its first round of funding led by Chinese internet giant Tencent.
Cloud Kitchen brand Rebel Foods raised $50 million in Series E funding round from US-based hedge fund Coatue Management while Hoi Foods and Yumlane raised over a million. There was also a spike in sales and investors’ interest for businesses in the fresh and nutritious food space in 2020 with start-ups FreshToHome, Country Delight, Gourmet Garden, Timios raising substantial funds. Chaayos raised $21.5 million in a mix of equity and debt in its Series B funding round while Gurugram-based beverage and snack brand Paper Boat raised $4.1 million.
Beauty, Health and Wellness Start-ups
The healthcare sector saw the maximum boom as COVID-19 threw the spotlight on the shortcomings and amplified the need for new-age digital health solutions. Among the biggest deals was Bengaluru-based health tech start-up MedGenome raising $55 million. Health tech start-ups Dozee, HealthPlix, Crysta, Qure.ai, Tricog and Truemeds also received funding. Ayurveda-focussed NirogStreet raised $2 million in a pre-Series A round led by Wavemaker Partners and Amand Ventures. Online medical consultation and self-diagnostic based start-ups also caught investors interests besides healthcare aggregators.
At-home fitness start-ups also made gains in 2020. Fitness start-up Curefit and Fittr raised $115 million and $2 million, respectively, from various investors. Beauty startup Nykaa expanded its platform and raised $13.1 million from its existing investor while money was pumped in Yoga and mindfulness-focussed start-up Sarva and No Worry No Tension Healthcare.