NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant surprised that Delhi-NCR has more start-ups than Bengaluru

Rajan Anandan, former Google India head and now managing director for investment firm Sequoia Capital, said at the event that Delhi lacks …
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant
File photo of NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant | Image: PIB
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New Delhi: Admitting that he didn’t know the National Capital Region was home to the most start-ups in the country — more than Bengaluru or Hyderabad — NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant Tuesday urged the capital’s wealthy to invest in the sector.

Kant was speaking at an event organised by the Delhi-NCR chapter of the TiE network, one of the world’s largest entrepreneur networks. The event saw the release of a report which revealed that Delhi-NCR has 7,039 start-ups compared to Bengaluru’s 5,234, and recommending how to ensure Delhi-NCR’s start-ups realise their potential.

“I have all along believed that as far as start-up ecosystems (are concerned), Bengaluru and Hyderabad were more vibrant and more dynamic. Suddenly, this report comes up and says that Delhi actually has more start-ups than any other city in India,” Kant said, adding that this is “a huge revelation” that the world didn’t know about until now due to poor marketing.

“There’s been a lot of very poor marketing by the NCR region over the years,” Kant told Saurabh Srivastava, chairman emeritus of TiE Delhi-NCR.

“You need to learn the art of branding, the art of positioning, art of marketing, much better than Bengaluru and Hyderabad. They seem to have just told the entire world that they are next to Silicon Valley, whereas I think you are way ahead of Bengaluru. This story should have been told much earlier,” Kant said.

Also read:How IIT-Delhi start-ups are helping draw visually impaired students into science

Funding and resources

Despite being home to the most Indian start-ups, Delhi-NCR has less funding and resources for them compared to the rest of India. In the first half of 2019, Delhi-NCR start-ups received only 13 per cent of all early-stage investments made in India, the report said.

Rajan Anandan, former Google India head and now managing director for investment firm Sequoia Capital, said at the event that Delhi lacks incubation centres and has no Centres of Excellence, while there are many in the south.

Kant, who was addressing an audience including billionaires like founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani, said while the government is ready to help, Delhi’s rich should also come forward to invest.

“There are a huge number of wealthy people living in Delhi… They must open up and actually they should start investing in start-up enterprises. They are the ones who must put in capital, they are the rich people who have generated a lot of wealth in the early days,” Kant said.

Help from Atal Innovation Mission

Kant added that the NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission — which is encouraging technology innovation among students across India by opening nearly 3,500 tinkering labs replete with robots and 3D printers — is ready to set up sufficient incubation centres in Delhi-NCR, if it gets viable proposals.

“We don’t get good viable projects… That’s a challenge I’m throwing to the Delhi-NCR TiE chapter, to Rajan Anandan, to Saurabh Srivastava, and to Sanjeev Bikhchandani, is that we from the Atal Innovation Mission are willing to support 25 incubation centres this year itself if you come up with good proposals,” he said.

Also read: India must boost start-ups to catch up with China’s private space firms

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ChrysCapital leads Series D funding round for co-working startup Awfis

Commercial real estate is as large a market, if not larger, than any other shared economy,” said Ishaan Mittal, principal, Sequoia Capital India Advisors …

Delhi-based Awfis Space Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which offers shared working spaces, said it has closed a Series D round of fundraising led by private equity major ChrysCapital.

The funding round of $30 million (about Rs 212 crore at current exchange rate) also saw participation from existing investors: Venture capital firm Sequoia and The Three Sisters: Institutional Office, which is the family office run by Radha Rana Kapoor, Raakhe Rana Kapoor, and Roshini Rana Kapoor, the three daughters of Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor.

The proceeds would be used to introduce new products/services and further establish new micro markets in India while enriching the experience for community members.

“The additional capital raised will support us in expanding our footprint in India with 400 plus centres and 200,000 seats over the next 36 months. Our focus is to fortify our base in Tier-I cities and further enter newer markets with expansion into Tier-II cities,” said Amit Ramani, founder and chief executive officer, Awfis.

Awfis currently has 30,000 seats across 63 centres in 9 cities, with a member base of 25,000 plus customers. Awfis services over 1,500 companies with a varied clientele portfolio across corporates, startups, SMEs/MSMEs, and large enterprises. It forms its coworking community in India with companies like Syngenta, Dun &Bradstreet, Duff & Phelps, Hinduja Global Services, Vodafone, Reliance, Hitachi, Blazeclan, Zomato, and Practo. The company currently has a total real estate portfolio of two million square feet across India.

Awfis was founded by Amit Ramani in 2015 with initial funding from The Three Sisters: Institutional Office and himself. In 2017, Sequoia partnered Awfis to back the firm’s aggressive expansion plans. They received further backing from InnoVen Capital, Sequoia and The Three Sisters: Institutional Office in 2018.

“Sequoia has invested in companies capturing the shared economy market across the world — Airbnb, Uber and Ola are just some examples. Commercial real estate is as large a market, if not larger, than any other shared economy,” said Ishaan Mittal, principal, Sequoia Capital India Advisors.

Maple Capital Advisors, a New Delhi-based investment banking firm, acted as the sole financial advisor for this round of funding. Maple had also worked on getting Awfis its first investor – Sequoia.

Deals in the co-working segment

Co-working as a segment has taken off in recent years, with startups and established firms seeking to differentiate themselves by providing access to features which are economically flexible, and are not found in traditional working spaces.

Last month, the SoftBank-backed OYO Hotels & Homes acquired co-working space provider Innov8 to expand in the fast-growing segment. The move is part of the hospitality unicorn’s strategy of entering new areas to diversify its operations.

Similarly, in October last year, Delhi-based office-sharing firm One Co.Work bought Mumbai-headquartered IShareSpace for about Rs 3.5 crore ($475,000).

Recently, co-working startup GoHive raised Rs 2.5 crore (about $359,175 at current exchange rates) in a pre-Series A funding round.

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[Funding alert] Coworking startup GoHive raises Rs 2.5Cr in Pre-Series A

GoHive, a coworking startup in Delhi-NCR, has raised Pre-Series A funding of Rs 2.5 crore in a round from undisclosed angel investors to fuel its …

GoHive, a coworking startup in Delhi-NCR, has raised Pre-Series A funding of Rs 2.5 crore in a round from undisclosed angel investors to fuel its growth and expansion plans.


The company has seven centres in Delhi-NCR with about 2,500 seats as of now. It is coming up with a new centre at Golf Course Extension Road in Gurugram next month. With this funding, GoHive aims to double its current size and reach to 5,000 seats within a year, with a presence in NCR, Bengaluru and Mumbai.


Mishu Ahluwalia, Founder & CEO, GoHive, said,

“The round has showcased investors’ confidence in our business strategy and our initiative to make spaces more accessible and suitable to different business needs, empower young companies, and enable deeper business inclusion in the ecosystem.”

GoHive aspires to be one of the most preferred choices for collaborative workspace across India for startups and enterprises with strong community engagement and inspiring workspaces.


The coworking space segment is ever-growing in India. According to real estate advisory firm CBRE, India’s flexible workspace saw a 277 percent jump in leasing to reach nearly three million sqft in the first quarter of the calendar year 2019.

According to a JLL report, in the coming years, coworking spaces will take over conventional office spaces owing to the growing demand. On their part, entrepreneurs – a large number of them being millennials – seek convenience, ease of setting up office, and several amenities, all of which coworking business centres provide

Players like SoftBank-backed hospitality unicorn OYO is also now looking at the coworking segment. Recently, OYO Hotels and Homes acquired Delhi-NCR-based Innov8 for Rs 220 crore, and made its entry into the coworking space.

Innov8 is now part of OYO’s larger segment – Oyo Workspaces, led by Rohit Kapoor, CEO, New Real Estate Businesses. Being a fully controlled workspaces solutions provider, it is designed to meet the needs of over 80 percent of the working population in the country. 

Some industry experts say that India is at the cusp of a coworking revolution with domestic and global players like WeWork and CoWrks aggressively pushing the India market. Last year, coworking space provider Awfis garnered a whopping $20 million in a single fund raise led by Sequoia Capital.

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)

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