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Women entrepreneurs shine like never before – A list of 12 women-led Indian Start-ups that are on the way to becoming ‘Future Unicorns’ according to the Hurun India Future Unicorn List

 How the Start-up ecosystem is thriving in India and set for exponential growth

Perhaps never in history have women entrepreneurs shown their business acumen and skills to become leaders in their respective domains as in these times.

Not that women did not have the capability or that they did not take up leadership roles in the past, but it is likely that the numbers were few and did not garner much attention; we can say that today’s fast-paced media reports and technology have played a significant role to make sure that all that is trial blazing are covered and given their due attention.

 Entrepreneurs Focusing on 2021, according to the ‘Hurun India Future Unicorn List’, which marks its debut list of 12 women-led start-ups, trailblazers that are on their way to becoming ‘future unicorns’ with $1 billion or more valuation.

The number of women-led start-ups that are on their way to becoming super successful businesses is indeed a matter of great pride for the women working in the corporate world and otherwise, as years of being played down has finally let up to many taking up leadership roles and doing wonders at it.


Hurun India Future Unicorns List

On 2 September, Hurun India Debuts, the Hurun India Future Unicorns List, marking a great moment on the calendar.

Even in the pandemic times, Indian corporate seen has been extraordinary. Indeed many businesses suffered but balancing the act were many more that came into the limelight, taking their mark to success.

The aim of the list is to acme India’s fast-growing start-up ecosystem to potential investors, the government, and the international community and boost aspiring entrepreneurs. 

future unicorns

Interestingly, Hurun Research Institute has distinctly classified these start-ups as

  1. Unicorns – Start-ups founded after the year 2000 with a valuation of US$1BN.
  2. Gazelles – Start-ups that are most likely to go Unicorn in the next two financial years.
  3. Cheetahs – Start-Ups that are most likely to go Unicorn in the next four financial years.

The evaluation of these businesses is based on regulatory filings, some of active India – focused VC funds, angel investors and feedback from other entrepreneurs.

To enter the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021, each start-up is required to have a value of US$200 Mn (INR 1500 crore) March 2020 - The Management Accountant 1

Here is a look at some of the women entrepreneurs that have made it to the list of Future Unicorns – 





Zilingo – Ankiti Bose

WinZo – Saumya Singh Rathore


Mamaearth – Ghazal Alagh

MyGLamm – Priyanka Gill


MobiKwik – Upasana Taku

Square Yards – Kanika Gupta


Ecom Express – Manju Dhawan – Rati Shetty


Acko General Insurance – Ruchi Deepak

Pratilpi – Sahradayi Modi



SironLabs – Kanti Prabha



Zivame – Richa Kar


India Shining

Here are some interesting statistics –

  1. India is home to 51 Unicorns and in 2021 it added 25 Unicorns, 32 Gazelles and 54 Cheetahs.
  2. Interestingly, India added circa 3 Unicorns each month over the last one year.
  3. India’s future Unicorns are worth US$36 BN, which is almost at par with one third of GDP of the state of Delhi at current prices.
  4. 11 co – founders are under the age of 30 while 15 co – founders are above the age of 50 – clearly showing that neither is it too early to begin and nor too late to reach success.
  5. Of these start – ups Zilingo has been tagged as the most valuable Gazelle and Pepperfry (online furniture platform) is the most valuable Cheetah.

The above data clearly shows that the Indian start–up ecosystem is thriving in the country making it the third-largest Unicorn ecosystem in the world and the number of ‘Gazelles’ and ‘Cheetahs’ is only growing and that too at an exponential pace.

The sectors that are clearly shining are – FinTech and SaaS which compromise almost 49% of the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021.

Bengaluru has clearly emerged as the winner when it comes to the start–up ecosystem with almost 31 start–ups making their mark, followed by Delhi NCR – recording 18 start -ups and Mumbai following with 13 start – ups.

Keeping the current trend of Cryptocurrencies in mind – CoinSwitch Kuber is the only crypto start – up in the list.

Also, the IPO race and its recent success, RateGain, MobiKwik, MedPlus, Fino Paytech, and ixigo are on their way too soon announcing their respective IPO’s to raise INR 6,840 crore by the end of this year.

Spinny, an E-Commerce start -up’s revenue grew (hold your breath) 92 times yoy.

India home to 21 startups valued over $1 billion, just a tenth of China's:  Hurun Global Unicorns List - BusinessToday

Comparison:  India VS other countries






No: of Unicorns





Avg Years to becoming Unicorn





Avg. Valuation (US$Bn)





4.7N3.3o2.7: of Unicorn’s added





According to the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021, the top investors in the Gazelles and Cheetahs are Sequoia, followed by Tiger Global. The former has 37 investments while the latter has 18 investments.

Sector Analysis

As mentioned before FinTech has attributed to maximum start ups with 18 start ups in the list, closely followed by E-Commerce with 17 and SaaS with 7.

Other promising upcoming sectors are – EdTech, Gaming, Logistics and Artificial Intelligence in the India scenario.

Despite the fact that Covid -19 presented great challenges in the year 2020, the FinTech, E-Commerce and Shared Economy sectors raised investments upto US$2.8Bn, US$2.5Bn, and US$1Bn respectively.

Sachin Bansal's Navi, Tata-backed Curefit, D2C brand Mamaearth in Hurun  India Future Unicorn List 2021

The outlook for sectors, India

The finTech market in India is the strongest and the largest in the world with the highest FinTech adoption rate of 87%, which is higher than the global average rate of 64%. Mobikwik is the most valued Gazelle followed by Bengaluru based Navi Technologies.

E – Comerce is the most favored sector in the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021 with 17 start-ups, of which 6 are Ghazelles and 11 are Cheetahs.

SaaS start-ups, have in India for the last two years shown exponential growth with 7 start ups in the list.. RateGain is the most valued India SaaS Gazelle.

‘India – Top India start – up cities in the list

  1. Bengaluru clocks the top position with 31 start ups in the list
  2. Mumbai follows with 13
  3. Gurugram with 12
  4. New Delhi with 5
  5. Noida with 5

Another interesting fact that the list has thrown up is that age is no bar when it comes to running a successful business. The Youngest start-up founders on the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021 – is Dilsher Singh, age 25 and Siddhant Saurabh, age 25 of Zupee (Gazelle), followed by Aditya Prasad (28 years) OkCredit, Neetish Sarda (28 years) of SmartWorks, Sanjay Dasari ( 28 years) WayCool, the list is ongoing.

Conclusion: Indian start-up sector is garnering great interest in the international community as it continues to shine showing tremendous growth opportunities as more and more startups register success and are set to join the list of Unicorns.

Hence, 2020 – 21 may have come with its own set of challenges and damaged the economy of the country but it wasn’t enough to damage the spirit of entrepreneurs who continued to with what they do best!




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