Business 2023: The ones that boomed, and the ones that didn't

The Indian tech startup scene faced a rollercoaster ride in 2023. We break down its share of highs and lows

Zepto founders Kaivalya Vohra (left) and Aadit Palicha (photo: IANS)
Zepto founders Kaivalya Vohra (left) and Aadit Palicha (photo: IANS)

NH Economic Bureau

As we bid farewell to 2023, the year has proven to be pivotal for the Indian tech startup sphere. A turbulent journey unfolded as the ecosystem grappled with the financial aftershocks of the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. The repercussions were starkly evident as investments in tech startups plummeted to an alarming nadir, hitting an unprecedented low of $7 billion.

This downturn resulted in a significant reshuffling of global rankings, with India slipping from third to fifth position. Amidst this financial turbulence, the startup landscape witnessed a tale of contrasting fortunes — some thriving amidst adversity, while others teetered on the brink of failure. In this comprehensive review, we dissect the noteworthy successes and the near-misses that shaped the narrative of the year.

The hits...


Founded in 2021 by the innovative minds of Stanford University dropouts, Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra, Zepto has emerged as a mover and shaker in the world of e-commerce. Branded as a "smart" delivery platform, Zepto distinguishes itself through its remarkable speed of delivery, achieving the impressive feat of delivering orders in under 10 minutes.

Operating in major cities like Delhi, Chennai, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, Zepto has successfully carved a niche for itself. The Mumbai-based startup achieved a significant milestone in August, securing a substantial funding round of $200 million, thereby attaining the coveted status of India's first unicorn of 2023.

Business 2023: The ones that boomed, and the ones that didn't


With a presence in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, BluSmart offers electric ride-hailing services, boasting a 5,500-car fleet. Founded in 2019, its USP lies in being easily available, especially at airports, where waiting time is a huge concern for tired travellers. Currently, the company plans to increase its fleet to 10,000 cars and also set up more chargers in the country.

In a recent development, the company successfully secured $24 million (Rs 200 crore) in a fresh equity funding round, witnessing enthusiastic participation and oversubscription from existing investors, founders, and the leadership team. The influx of capital is earmarked for the creation of large-scale EV charging superhubs, a strategic move to facilitate the expansion of BluSmart's electric ride-hailing service.


The startup is focused exclusively on working professionals and provides affordable yet luxurious co-living spaces, replete with all amenities, thus eliminating nosy landlords and high broker fees. Safety of women remains one of their key priorities, as they operate across five Indian cities and more than 75 properties.

Over the coming four months, Housr has ambitious plans to inaugurate nine centers strategically located in Gurgaon, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. With a keen eye on financial growth, the company has set its sights on surpassing the Rs 100 crore revenue mark in the fiscal year 2023-24. Notably, Housr achieved a commendable revenue of approximately Rs 70 crore in the preceding fiscal year, highlighting its steady trajectory in the competitive market.


Earlier known as Mindhouse, the wellness and life management startup offers personalised health, yoga, nutrition, and dermatology programmes. With in-house dietitians, doctors and nutritionists, Shyft also addresses key concerns such as weight loss, pregnancy et al. Founded by Zomato co-founder Pankaj Chaddah, the company has received attention for its focus on women’s health and lifestyle.

Pocket FM

The audio series platform provides audio entertainment across multiple genres and Indian languages with the help of its 100,000+ content library. Founded in 2018, the company claims to have a dedicated pool of 80 million listeners globally. Pocket FM is also celebrating the remarkable success of numerous audio series, boasting 17 that have surged beyond the 100 million-plays milestone and 40 titles that have garnered over 50 million plays each.

In a substantial financial triumph, 13 audio series have crossed the Rs 10 crore revenue mark, while an additional 25 series have achieved collections totalling Rs 5 crore. A standout in this accomplishment is the audio series Insta Millionaire, which emerged as a mega-blockbuster, raking in a staggering Rs 100 crore in revenues. On user engagement metrics, Pocket FM has reported streaming minutes exceeding a remarkable 75 billion, showcasing an average monthly streaming of over 6 billion minutes.

Ditto Insurance

In the intricate landscape of the financial services sector, insurance often feels like a labyrinth for those lacking in-depth knowledge. Compounded by a historical dearth of credible advisors, the insurance sector has left individuals seeking guidance to secure their future somewhat adrift. This is precisely where digital insurance advisory platforms emerge as invaluable assets.

Among the latest entrants in this space is Ditto, an online insurance advisory platform founded in February 2021 by the co-founders of Finshots. Positioned as a solution to the complexities of the insurance realm, Ditto aims to provide clarity and expert guidance to individuals navigating the intricacies of securing their financial future.

This is an insurtech startup that makes it easier for you to buy, invest and understand insurance policies through its streamlined process and easy references. Not only that, but it also helps you compare policies with other companies, helping you make an informed decision. Ditto has been in the news for having addressed burning customer questions culminating in the convenient purchase of insurance — all within the confines of a unified platform.

Business 2023: The ones that boomed, and the ones that didn't


Taking a cue from the age-old practice of treating gold as an investment, Jar is an automated gold savings app that helps people invest their savings in digital gold. It also offers daily, weekly and monthly savings options, to suit every budget and boasts an enviable 1.5 crore users.


Supersourcing is a B2B AI-enabled platform that hires remote engineers and provides tried, tested and vetted developers to medium and small-sized businesses, enterprises, and funded startups.


Landeed simplifies the usually cumbersome process of buying, selling, and renting property. It also eliminates extensive paperwork and helps you invest in property with minimum hassle. The Proptech startup recently raised $8.3 million in funding.


Another one in the fitness domain, Rigi provides personalised workout courses and virtual coaching for individuals struggling with weight management issues. Rigi raised approximately $12.3 million in funding from companies like Elevation Capital, MS Dhoni, and others.

The misses...


Ironically, this one offered hobby learning options from leading celebrities, but had to shut shop in July this year, after being unable to find a footing in the startup space.


India's largest ed-tech company, the startup has been struggling with problems for years now. As one of the best erstwhile tutoring startups that had the likes of Shah Rukh Khan promoting it, BYJU'S failed to file its financial accounts on time, even skipping an interest payment on its term loan, leading to legal battles with creditors. Between October 2022 and June 2023, the company laid off almost 5,000 employees, with many going public against its allegedly toxic organisational culture.


Anar was a B2B networking platform founded by Nishank Jain and Sanjay Bhatt. Starting off as a one-stop shop to connect manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and resellers across the value chain of small and medium businesses (SMBs), Anar eventually had to shut shop this year, returning the remaining capital to its investors.


Founded by Lizzie Chapman, Priya Sharma and Ashish Anantharaman in 2015, ZestMoney is in the process of shutting shop. Initially valued at $450 million in September 2021, the startup rose to prominence for its buy now, pay later (BNPL) concept. However, after an acquisition deal with PhonePe fell through, the company started to lose ground and could never regain momentum.

Business 2023: The ones that boomed, and the ones that didn't

Swiggy Handpicked

Touted as a premium delivery service from food delivery giant Swiggy, the startup shut down in April this year after a trial run in only a few areas of Bengaluru. Eventually, the business model was not found to be sustainable and operations had to wrap up to reduce the overall cost of the company.

Belora Cosmetics

A Gurgaon-based clean beauty brand, Belora Cosmetics boasted of cruelty-free, vegan, long-lasting, toxin-free, and certified vegan products. However, it wrapped up operations in the market in October this year, owing to excessive competition and lack of a defined USP.


Touted as a writing platform for individuals for long and short form content, Bluepad's main aim was to enable individuals to write in their own vernacular languages, thus fostering a community of like-minded people. Unfortunately, despite its novel concept, the company could not find its footing and shut shop.

Business 2023: The ones that boomed, and the ones that didn't

DUX Education

Founded in 2020 by Rohit Jain and Udit Chaturvedi, DUX Education was an online live tutoring platform for K-12 (kindergarten to standard 12) students. Eventually, with the reopening of physical coaching centres after the pandemic, the startup lost steam and shut operations in April this year.


A startup specialising in sexual wellness, haircare, weight management, mental health and women’s wellness, the company ran into financial irregularities soon after its inception. Eventually, the company’s board decided to cease operations, returning money to its investors.

Flint Money

Flint Money was a crypto investment app launched by Flint Labs. Initially envisioned as a novel concept, the startup decided to cease operations, owing to the volatile market and regulatory challenges. Later, the startup launched GasPay, which is a Web3 solution to pay gas fees in any form of token.

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