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Startup IPO Benefits: A Case Study of Top 3 Indian Startup IPOs

Why are Indian startups increasingly turning to public markets? What benefits do they reap from this significant step? How has this decision impacted their performance and long-term strategies? Find out in this TICE story!

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Shreshtha Verma
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Why are Indian startups increasingly turning to public markets? What benefits do they reap from this significant step? How has this decision impacted their performance and long-term strategies? These questions are critical as we delve into the recent financial performances of several notable Indian startups that have gone public.

The Trend of Startup IPO Profitability

Despite some negative press surrounding Indian startup IPOs, those that have chosen to go public are reporting a positive trend this quarter. The emphasis has been on profitability, showcasing that for many, going public has been a smart move. Let's learn from some Indian startups that have gone public and launched their IPOs in recent times. 

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Zomato IPO: Leveraging Memberships and Strategic Fees

Zomato, a well-known food delivery platform, has shown impressive financial growth. In Q3 of FY24, Zomato reported revenue of ₹3,288 crore and a profit of ₹138 crore. This is a significant increase from Q2 of FY24, where the revenue was ₹2,848 crore and the profit was ₹36 crore.

So, how did Zomato achieve this? A key factor was the relaunch of their Zomato Gold program in early 2023. This program offered benefits like on-time delivery guarantees and free delivery on orders above ₹199, attracting 3.8 million members. However, these members were initially less profitable. To counter this, Zomato introduced a platform fee, which increased from ₹2 to ₹4, and removed the on-time guarantee. These strategic changes helped boost their revenue and profits, leveraging their dominant market position in India’s food delivery sector, which is largely a duopoly between Zomato and Swiggy.

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Mamaearth IPO: Strategic Marketing and Distribution

Mamaearth, under the umbrella of Honasa Consumer, reported robust financials as well, with Q3 FY24 revenue of ₹488 crore and a profit of ₹26 crore. Mamaearth has maintained profitability through a three-pronged strategy: brand building, innovation, and extensive distribution.

The company invested heavily in marketing, which has paid off by establishing a strong brand presence. They spent around 40% of their revenue on marketing, a substantial investment that has built a loyal customer base. Additionally, Mamaearth launched 122 new products in 2023, keeping up with market trends through data-driven innovation. Their extensive distribution network, with products available in over 170,000 stores, has also been crucial, especially when competing with established giants like HUL.

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Delhivery IPO: Efficiency and Strategic Customer Selection

Delhivery, India’s largest integrated logistics platform, has also turned profitable for the first time, with Q3 FY24 revenue of ₹2,194 crore and a profit of ₹12 crore. Though this profit might seem modest compared to others, it marks a significant milestone for the company.

Delhivery achieved this through operational efficiency and strategic customer selection. They improved resource utilization and adjusted customer rates, focusing on profitability. A major efficiency boost came from increasing the use of tractor trailers for long-haul transport. In Q3 FY22, only 22% of their goods were transported this way, but by Q3 FY24, this had increased to 60%, following a partnership with Volvo initiated in 2020.

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But Why Do Startups Go For IPOs?

The trend of Indian startups going public not only benefits the companies themselves but also has broader economic implications. It signifies the maturity of the Indian startup ecosystem and adds depth to the Indian stock market. For retail investors, this trend opens up opportunities to invest in high-growth companies, fostering wealth creation and economic development.

Here are some common reasons that motivate startups to go public - 

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The Allure of Going Public

Going public, or launching an Initial Public Offering (IPO), marks a significant milestone for any startup. It signals a company’s transition from private to public ownership, offering its shares on a stock exchange. For many Indian startups, this step is not just about raising capital but also about achieving a new level of prestige and visibility.

Financial Fuel for Growth

One of the most compelling reasons for startups to go public is access to substantial financial resources. Through an IPO, companies can raise large amounts of capital that are often unattainable through private funding sources. This influx of funds can be pivotal for scaling operations, investing in new technologies, expanding into new markets, or even acquiring other businesses.

For example, consider a tech startup that has developed a revolutionary software platform. While private investments might suffice for initial development and market entry, scaling up to meet national or international demand requires significant capital. By going public, the startup can secure the necessary funds to expand its infrastructure, hire top talent, and enhance its marketing efforts.

Enhanced Credibility and Visibility

Going public also enhances a startup’s credibility and visibility in the market. Publicly traded companies are subject to stringent regulatory requirements and transparency standards, which can boost investor confidence. This heightened credibility can attract not only investors but also potential partners and customers.

A prominent example is the e-commerce giant Flipkart, which, although not yet public, showcases the potential benefits. If Flipkart were to go public, the increased transparency and investor scrutiny could further solidify its market position and attract a broader customer base.

Liquidity for Investors and Employees

An IPO provides liquidity to early investors and employees who have invested their time and money in the company. It offers them an opportunity to realize returns on their investments, which can be a significant motivating factor for retaining and attracting top talent.

Imagine an early-stage employee of a fintech startup who has been compensated partly with stock options. The company going public provides a clear path for the employee to cash in on their equity, rewarding their contributions and loyalty.

Strategic Flexibility and Market Expansion

Being a public company can also afford greater strategic flexibility. With the ability to issue stock, startups can engage in strategic mergers and acquisitions more effectively. Additionally, the heightened profile that comes with being publicly traded can open doors to new markets and opportunities.

For instance, a healthcare startup with groundbreaking medical technology might find it easier to partner with global healthcare providers and enter new international markets after going public. The public status can act as a testament to the company's robustness and potential.

Economic Impact and Market Dynamics

The trend of Indian startups going public is not just a boon for the companies themselves but also for the broader economy. It signals the maturation of the Indian startup ecosystem and contributes to the depth and diversity of the Indian stock market. Moreover, it provides retail investors with opportunities to invest in innovative and high-growth companies, potentially leading to wealth creation and economic development.

If we look at the case studies mentioned above, we find that the move to go public has proved advantageous for many Indian startups, providing them with the capital necessary for expansion, enhancing their market credibility, and offering liquidity to early investors and employees. Companies like Zomato, Mamaearth, and Delhivery exemplify how strategic changes and leveraging market positions can lead to significant profitability post-IPO. As more Indian startups pursue this path, they are not only shaping their destinies but also contributing to the evolution of the Indian economy, fostering innovation, and providing new investment opportunities.

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