India’s startup landscape has witnessed remarkable growth, emerging as the third-largest hub in the world, following the United States and China. Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, topped the list of women-led startups, boasting 1,783 women-led startups, leading the charge for gender diversity in entrepreneurship. Despite the overall success of the startup ecosystem, the gender gap remains a significant challenge.
According to the data of Traxon, Bengaluru is at the forefront of women-led startups, with 1,783 ventures, followed by Mumbai (1,480) and Delhi (1,195). Noida, Kolkata and Ahmedabad also make notable contributions, ranking eighth, ninth and tenth, respectively, showcasing the geographic distribution of women entrepreneurs in India.
Karnataka has taken pioneering steps to support women entrepreneurs. It became the first state in India to provide a grant-in-aid of Rs.50 lakh to encourage innovators in need of early-stage funding, without taking equity in return. This program has specially highlighted women entrepreneurs, with 30% of the winners being female founders.
Top-Women Led Startups
Prominent startups led by women in India include Zomato, Byju’s, OffBusiness, Upstox, Lenskart and Open. These companies have not only made a mark in their respective industries but also serve as role models for aspiring women entrepreneurs.
While the funding scenario for women-led startups growth from 2014 to 2022, with the number of funding rounds in increasing from 171 to 460, 2023 presents a different picture. The number of funding rounds is expected to decrease to 185. Funding for women-led startups has declined, with only seven startups receiving funding this year, down from 183 in 2014. This downturn underscores the ongoing challenges women face in accessing capital.
The journey of women-led startups in India is marked by notable achievements. From 2008 to 2018, 14 women-led unicorns emerged. Bengaluru-based neobank Open, with its 100th unicorn status, stands out with two women co-founders, COO Mabel Chacko and CFO Dina Jacob. Other unicorns like Nykaa, Mamaearth, Hasura, Pristine Care, OffBusiness, MobiKwik, The Good Glam Group and Livspace also feature at least one female co-founder.