Y Combinator

Silicon Valley seed money start-up accelerator Y Combinator, which has launched over 2,000 companies, including Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise Automation, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch, and Reddit, has made the headlines by selecting a record number of Indian start-ups for its winter 2021 (W21) batch. At least 43 local start-ups have made the list that features a total of 350 start-ups from 41 countries, with 50% of them being based outside the United States.

This marks the highest number of Indian start-ups to feature in Y Combinator’s batch to date, surpassing the previous record of 25 Indian start-ups in the January 2020 batch. Thus, it highlights the increasing role Indian start-ups may play in the global arena. Earlier batches featured a significantly lesser number of Indian start-ups – 14 in the S20, 12 in the S19 and W19, and one each in the W16, S15, and W15.

Y Combinator, it seems, has deviated from its usual pattern from selecting not more than 180-200 start-ups (with more than 60% of them being from the US) for its batch. The post-pandemic era has seen the widespread use of remote applications, which helped more and more start-ups to apply for the Y Combinator program.

Y Combinator has not officially disclosed the names of the Indian start-ups in the W21 batch, but independent announcements by start-ups have revealed that they include QuestBook, Leap Club, Cash Book, Bueno Finance, Splitsub, GimBooks, BusinessOnBot, Zoko, Fountain9, Prescribe, Weekday, Chatwoot, and others.

“India has emerged as the single biggest market for YC outside the US now. The numbers are pretty high as YC continues to increase focus on India. This is a noteworthy jump for Indian start-ups even as total batch size has also expanded,” one of the people aware of the matter said.

In a statement to TechCrunch, the firm said, “YC’s remote work has helped make YC more attractive to companies at different stages and in distant geography. For companies in India, founders no longer need to spend three months outside of clients or teams. Covid also taught us that creating a program that is more remote and more software-based makes YC more accessible to founders around the world. When it comes to choosing founders in India, we accept them based on the same criteria that we evaluate anywhere. Founders should be able to inform the local context with investors. It’s an important skill.”

Y Combinator is a well-known name in international circles, having backed more than 2,000 companies, with 25 of them now having a valuation of more than $1 billion. US start-ups Airbnb and DoorDash, which launched their initial public offerings (IPO) in recent times, owe their rise to Y Combinator. It made its entry in India with backing digital payments gateway Razorpay, which announced its third ESOP buyback program worth $10 million three weeks ago.

Some of the Indian start-ups that have profited from pre-seed funding round by Y Combinator held on Tuesday are Delhi-based Jeevam Health (which raised $150,000) and Bengaluru bike rental start-up Tilt (which raised $125,000).