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PM Modi applauds India’s 100 unicorns achievement, claiming that startups reflect the spirit of the country’s new era

PM Modi applauds India’s 100 unicorns achievement, claiming that startups reflect the spirit of the country’s new era


The topic of today’s Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly address, was India’s 100 unicorns, as he praised the country’s startup ecosystem for reaching the milestone.

“Our country reached such a milestone a few days ago that encourages us all and gives us renewed faith in India’s talents,” Modi remarked. “India has scored a century in another domain, which is extremely unusual,” he said, comparing a cricket “century” to the 100 unicorns.

“On the 5th of this month, India’s unicorn population surpassed 100,” Modi stated.

According to Inc42 data, the country’s unicorns are worth $330 billion, or INR 25 lakh crore. The prime minister said that the country’s unicorns have a faster average growth rate than those in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries.

Modi claimed that India will have produced 14 unicorns by 2022, up from 44 last year.

“Another positive thing [about India’s unicorns] is that our unicorns are diversifying,” Modi stated when asked about their nature. According to the PM, India’s unicorns work in many industries, including eCommerce, fintech, edtech, biotech, etc.

“Another thing that I feel more vital is that this world of startups symbolises the ethos of new India,” the PM added of the startup environment in general.

Modi stated that India’s startup environment is spreading across the country and is no longer limited to the country’s major cities. “Entrepreneurs and people from small towns and cities,” he explained.

It’s worth noting that the government has been aggressive in pursuing a more equitably distributed startup sector. As a result, the government has made several initiatives to encourage more companies to come from Tier 2+ cities. Approximately half of India’s recognised startups are from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

Many government stakeholders predict that these locations will become the future hotbeds of India’s startup ecosystem. Union Minister of State for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar recently stated that Tier 2+ cities would be the epicentre of India’s next wave of startups.

In response to the many challenges that have arisen at some of India’s major startups, Modi stated that proper direction is required inside the startup ecosystem. He listed some of the startup founders who have “dedicated themselves to mentoring India’s startups” as a result.

Modi cited Sridhar Vembu, the founder of Zoho, as one of these persons and spoke about how he mentors other entrepreneurs. The PM stated that Vembu is working to assist rural businesses by working from a village, which Vembu himself had mentioned during his speech at The Makers’ Summit, 2022.

“It gives us tremendous pleasure that there is now a robust support framework in place for startups in the country,” Modi remarked.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade reports 70,681 registered startups in the country. According to Anurag Jain, Secretary, DPIIT, roughly 80 companies are registered every day in India. At this rate, the country will reach 100,000 companies in just over a year – 366 days, to be exact.

With the launch of some of India’s largest businesses, like Flipkart and Zomato, the startup ecosystem in India began to gain traction in the late 2000s. Info Edge, India’s first unicorn, debuted in 2011.

In October 2021, India’s startups received more than $100 billion in funding. The overall capital in the startup ecosystem now exceeds $126 billion, with $17.5 billion raised in 2022.



Decoding India’s Unicorn Rush: 100 Unicorns


Increased fundraising and funds raised at high values have entirely transformed the startup scene in the last few years. In 2021, Indian IT companies raised $42 billion in 1,579 agreements, leading to a unicorn fever.

With the appearance of 42 unicorns last year, the number of unicorns was tossed out the window. A new norm has been established in terms of startup predictions and expectations.

According to a study published at the end of 2019, India will have 100 unicorns by 2025. Over the last two years, consumer and business use of digital products and services in the aftermath of the epidemic has shifted the expected trajectory. After accounting for growth in 2021, we reduced the number of enterprises to 100 by the end of 2022. We believe that India will have 250 unicorns by 2025, with 100 unicorns likely before the end of the year.

Since 2020, Indian startups have undergone enormous development and scalability, resulting in an influx of capital from international investors and a broadening of the domestic investor pool. The focus now shifts to upcoming major anniversaries.

The government has set a goal of 1,000 unicorn enterprises in the next two to three years, with a substantial number of new unicorn startups projected to emerge from India’s rural areas. If this occurs, it will be considered as a sign that some critical industries require more policy clarity.

The creation of unicorns, on the other hand, has surged in the previous two years. The findings from India’s unicorn club, which has 100 members, are remarkable.



Unicorns In India: Total Valuation Of Over $333 Bn


Flipkart and BYJU’S are the two most valued privately-held companies in India, with valuations of $37.6 billion and $21 billion, respectively.

Nykaa is presently the most valuable publicly-traded company globally, with around $10.6 billion market capitalisation.

Ecommerce takes the lead, followed by Fintech

Open is not only India’s 100th unicorn but the fintech industry’s 20th unicorn. Also, Open is the third neobanking company to join the club, after Zeta and Razorpay, offering neobanking services.

Fintech is the second startup category to hit the 20 unicorn mark, after only eCommerce, with 23 unicorns. Enterprise technology is on track to join this club next, with 17 unicorns in the sector.


Bengaluru’s Unicorn Dominance Grows


Open, India’s 100th unicorn, was founded in Bengaluru, making it the 39th company from the country’s so-called startup capital to reach $1 billion in valuation. Bengaluru, home to India’s first unicorn, InMobi, created 17 unicorns last year.

Delhi-NCR is a distant second with 29 unicorn startups, while Mumbai is even farther behind with 15 unicorn startups.


Upcoming Unicorns


A record number of unicorns in 2021 had raised the stakes for 2022, and now all eyes are on the next batch of enterprises to join the unicorn club and push the total number of unicorns to 100.

Like the unicorn frenzy, we saw more unicorns or probable unicorns in 2021 than any other year. Many of the 73 unicorn companies have achieved unicorn status. According to data, Bengaluru will have 31 unicorns in 2021, with 19 from Mumbai and 13 from Delhi-NCR.

Of course, while these projections were based on a record-breaking year for investment, there will be a huge drop-off in 2022. Month-to-month financing has fallen from $4.6 billion in January 2022 to $3.4 billion in March and $2.6 billion this month. Due to investors’ international shift toward better-value projects, the anticipated IPO frenzy in 2022 did not materialise.

It was previously anticipated that a weakening economy combined with an increased focus on corporate governance and financial standards would result in layoffs, down rounds, poor values, and troubled M&As for Indian firms. However, the focus will be on the 100th unicorn in the Indian startup sector for the time being.



What is a unicorn?


A unicorn is a startup valued at $1 billion or more in the venture capital market.

Aileen Lee, CEO of Cowboy Ventures, coined the term “unicorn” to designate the 39 companies worth more than $1 billion. The name was coined to emphasise how uncommon such businesses were at the time. The definition of a unicorn startup hasn’t changed since then. 


Characteristics of a unicorn startup


Disruptive innovation: Almost every unicorn has used disruptive innovation to make a major contribution to their profession. It, like Uber, revolutionised how people commuted. 

The ‘firsts’: Unicorns are known for being trailblazers in their respective domains. They gradually alter people’s behaviour until they become mandatory. They’re expected to be improving to stay ahead of the pack.

High-tech: Unicorns are famed for their technologically advanced commercial tactics. According to recent data, software accounts for 87% of unicorn items, hardware accounts for 7%, and the rest of goods and services account for the remaining 6%.

Consumer-oriented: Unicorns in the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector account for 62% of all unicorns. Customers want products to be simple for them to utilise regularly. The low-cost structure of these companies is another distinguishing feature. Like Spotify has made music more accessible to individuals all around the world.

Privately held: Mostly, unicorns are privately owned; their value jumps when a huge corporation invests in them.

There are 361 private firms worth more than $1 billion in the world. India has sixteen firms, which account for 4 per cent of the global market. India is just a little behind the United Kingdom in terms of unicorns, with 19 unicorns and a 5 per cent global share.


Is it true that only a startup can be a unicorn?


Yes, it’s correct. A unicorn is a firm having a market capitalisation of $1 billion or more. Companies with more than $10 billion in market value are known as decacorns. Decacorn firms include Dropbox, SpaceX, and WeWork, to name a few.

In Canadian startups, what we refer to as a unicorn has its own moniker. ‘Narwhal’ is the word. In Canada, a narwhal is a publicly-traded firm with more than $1 billion in market capitalisation. 


India’s unicorn startups are listed below.


Flipkart: Flipkart is the success tale of two friends, Sachin and Binny Bansal, who launched Flipkart in 2007 and are now one of India’s top e-commerce enterprises. It is far ahead of all other Indian e-commerce companies, with more than $15.5 billion in market capitalisation.

PayTM: Vijay Shekhar launched PayTM in 2010, and it is owned by One97 Communications, founded in 2010 when mobile phones were still new to Indians. After transitioning from a mobile top-up service to a bus and rail ticket booking service, a bill payment enabler, One97 Communications was renamed PayTM. Its current market capitalisation is a little around $2 billion.

Razorpay: Razorpay was co-founded by GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and Sequoia Capital, and our current backers Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global, Y-Combinator, and Matrix Partners, and became a unicorn after raising $100 million in Series D funding. They founded the company to assist all businesses in accepting digital payments, and they’ve made significant progress in that direction.

Meesho: It is a reseller platform for small and medium businesses that helps them establish an online presence through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Meesho began in 2015 by Sanjeev and Aatrey Barnwal. The Bangalore-based firm claims to have over 100K registered suppliers who provide over 26K postal codes in over 4000 locations, with individual businesses generating over INR 500 crore in revenue.

PharmEasy: Founded in 2015 by Dhaval Shah and Dharmil Sheth, PharmEasy offers various services, including diagnostic sample collection, teleconsultation, medication delivery, etc. It enables pharmacists to package items and assist with delivery and logistics. PharmEasy works with about 60K pharmacies and 4K doctors throughout 16K postal codes in India.

Cred: Kunal Shah started the Bangalore-based fintech company in 2018, and it was recently welcomed to the unicorn hub with a $2.2 billion valuation. The company is a members-only organisation that offers attractive discounts and access to high-quality events in exchange for timely credit card bill payments. It’s a service that lets customers manage several credit cards while getting a credit report.

Urban Company: It’s a one-stop-shop for high-end service providers such as masseurs, beauticians, upholstery cleaners, carpenters, and technicians. It was started in 2014 by Abhiraj Bhal, Raghav Chandra, and Varun Khaitan, and over five million consumers have been handled by Urban Company’s network of 40,000+ licenced service experts in important urban zones across the world.

Zeta: It is a neo-banking platform that allows businesses to establish unique retail and corporate solutions by providing credit, debit, and prepaid cards. If a company wants to automate, it can look to Zeta for digitised solutions.

BharatPe: Ashneer Grover and Shashvat Nakrani founded BharatPe in 2018.BharatPe was the first firm in India to offer UPI QR codes, and it has now grown to provide other financial services. With over fifty lakh merchants in 35 cities throughout India, BharatPe is the market leader in UPI offline transactions.

Mindtickle: It is a data-driven sales readiness and enablement solution that helps companies boost revenue and build brand loyalty. Mindtickle can help revenue and sales leaders regularly review, diagnose, and improve the knowledge, skills, and behaviours needed to engage buyers, and drive growth effectively.

In India, GST has impacted how businesses operate today. Many indirect taxes have been repealed, and the GST has absorbed them. Strict GST requirements must be followed for startups to benefit from GST compliance relief and other perks.





Startup Ecosystem in India


With 66,359 DPIIT-recognized firms spread across 642 districts as of March 21, 2022, India had become the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem. In terms of innovation quality, India is ranked second among middle-income countries, with top rankings in scientific publications and university quality. India’s ingenuity isn’t restricted to a few industries. IT services accounted for 13%, healthcare and life sciences 9%, education 7%, professional and commercial services 5%, agriculture 5%, and food and drinks 5% of the companies found.

In recent years, the Indian startup ecosystem has grown exponentially, with the number of investors expanding 9X, overall startup funding increasing 7X, and the number of incubators increasing 7X.

In today’s fast-paced and dynamic market, Indian unicorns are thriving. These businesses employ a large workforce and create cutting-edge products and technologies. Until the year 2016-17, an average of one unicorn was added per year. The number of new unicorns that have grown each year over the last four years (beginning in FY 2017-18) has consistently increased, with an astounding 66 per cent increase year over year. As of 2022, India has 94 unicorns valued at $319.67 billion. 


Investors in Unicorns


According to a report, 23 investment agreements of at least $ 100 million were disclosed in Q3 2021, showcasing the robustness of the Indian startup ecosystem. The four transactions totalled more than $500 million in value. The most active investor in Indian companies has been Sequoia Capital, followed by Tiger Global Management, Accel, and Softbank.

Also, traditional fundraising methods have changed, with entrepreneurs considering crowdfunding, revenue-based financing, venture debt, and bank loans as options. Startups like Zerodha, which has been bootstrapping since its inception, are defying unicorn funding constraints by encouraging independence and income generation from the beginning.


Unicorn Sector Snaps


  • Healthcare

The Indian HealthTech industry is predicted to grow at a 39 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $ 5 billion by 2023 as a result of the outbreak. The rise of the market, advances in technology, and favourable government policies were all aided by the digital revolution.

With a valuation of $ 1.3 billion, Innovaccer, a health tech company, has become the first Indian unicorn in the healthcare sector. Innovaccer’s healthcare data analysis can help healthcare practitioners, hospitals, insurance companies, and other organisations.

Pharmeasy became a unicorn earlier this year with a valuation of around $ 1.5 billion. Innovaccer’s healthcare data analysis can help healthcare practitioners, hospitals, insurance companies, and other organisations.

With a valuation of roughly $ 1.5 billion, Pharmeasy became a unicorn earlier this year. The online pharmacy plans to go public shortly, with around a $7 billion IPO valuation.

Thanks to health-tech companies like Cure, India’s healthcare sector may soon see a burst of unicorns. Others include fit, Practo, and HealthifyMe.


  • Social Commerce

In July 2021, social commerce businesses in India generated $554 million in sales, a 7x increase over the previous year and the highest since 2015.

According to analysts and investors who consider social commerce as a natural extension of e-commerce, it has boosted the whole e-commerce business by opening tier 2 and tier 3 markets and allowing massive e-commerce platforms to enter low-margin categories like fast-moving consumer goods and groceries.

Meesho, a Facebook-backed social commerce business, has joined the unicorn club with a valuation of $ 2.1 billion, making it the first Indian social commerce company to do so. The company is a social media reseller network for individuals and small and medium businesses who sell products to other network members via WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. It has roughly 13 million independent enterprises that serve 45 million Indian customers through eCommerce.

Meesho claims to have fulfilled orders from over 100K suppliers to over 26K pin codes over 4,800 locations, totalling more than INR 500 crore for each organisation.

Many companies compete for customers’ and investors’ attention in India’s social commerce sector, including SimSim, DealShare, CityMall, and Bulbul.

According to Piyush Goyal, India has created a unicorn every five days since 2022.

In the first 40 days of 2022, eight new Indian companies joined the Unicorns list, kicking out the year on a high note. A unicorn is a corporation worth $1 billion or more on the stock market. According to Piyush Goyal on Twitter, India has produced a unicorn every five days in 2022. Polygon, a blockchain technology startup, and ElasticRun, a B2B e-commerce company, are two of the newest Unicorn members.

Goyal called for the creation of 75 new unicorns by 2022 during the inaugural event of the Indian Startup India Innovation Week. Firms are expected to add 75 new unicorns in 2022, with half of the total 83 unicorns valued at $1 billion in 2021, according to the minister.

While the rest of the world was coping with the pandemic, Goyal hailed new-age entrepreneurs, claiming that Indian companies had shown outstanding development and turned misfortune into opportunity.


India is becoming a global unicorn hub. Here’s why


In 2020, a slew of unicorns arose. In the last few years, eleven unicorns have been discovered, the first of which appeared in 2021. The total is 37, which is up 33% from the last year!

India is the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem and, without a doubt, the fastest-growing. These enterprises have grown exponentially, not as a result of the epidemic but as a result. They took advantage of changing consumer tastes and quickly adjusted/swivelled to satisfy the needs of their customers. These companies emphasised the significance of focusing on the market and the client to grow. A number of well-known Indian and international investors have contributed to their investment. Each of these companies has raised funds and delivering value to its investors.

Unsurprisingly, India is the focus of the world’s attention. A startup’s success depends on several factors, including large, diverse markets, technological innovation, ground-breaking proposals, and highly qualified employees. International investors pay close attention to the country and its businesses to make quick investments. Unicorns were formed due to VC and private equity investments in unlisted startups and developing firms, accounting for around 75% of total FDI, or $184 billion.

India has a long history of invention and fast-growing firms in various industries. Indian unicorns can be found in education, beauty, retail, finance, e-commerce, mobility, management software, healthcare, grocery, insurance, analytics, mobile ads, and other fields. These companies serve both businesses and consumers, and they employ a variety of business models, including B2B, B2C, and B2B2C.

India, which has led the way, has produced three decacorns and 37 unicorns. Nonetheless, transformative enterprises that solve global problems and develop globally are only now beginning to emerge in the country. 

In the Indian ecosystem, a unicorn has given birth to two more unicorns. This is unusual because it helps entrepreneurs start profitable firms while also demonstrating the value created for investors. Decacorns, worth $10 billion, was just discovered in India! There are already three decacorns in India, with more on the way!

Some businesses were forced to move from manual to digital processes due to the lockdown and social isolation, resulting in more good conduits for market forces. Several companies deployed artificial intelligence, the internet of things, data analytics, big data, robots, and other cutting-edge technologies to address gaps in their operations. They capitalised on consumer/customer demand for digital, resulting in increased business growth.

Without question, India is the centre of the world’s attention. Large, diverse markets, technological innovation, ground-breaking initiatives, and exceptionally high-quality individuals are part of the startup growth story. International investors pay close attention to the country and its businesses to make quick investments. Since 2015, India has attracted $250 billion in FDI in the five years. VC and private equity funds, which invest in unlisted startups and emerging enterprises, account for over 75% of total FDI, or $184 billion.

India will have a unicorn club of 50 or more by 2021 and a unicorn club of 100 by 2025. This is a reasonable target to aim for. Many unicorns are on their way to the countryside. We will not be surprised if India achieves its unicorn goal of 100 by 2025! Untapped areas like agritech, health tech, cleantech, and so on will unavoidably provide these.

In answer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demand for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat,’ these organisations offer solutions for India. They are, but, answers for the entire globe since they have gone global. They’ve built multi-national businesses and developed best-in-class solutions to meet real-world problems.

Because their founders are mindful of their responsibilities to investors, employees, and stakeholders, these companies that have produced value are now looking ahead. Interestingly, VC/PE funds, which are the key funders of the startup ecosystem, backed 60% of Indian enterprises that went public in the last five years.

Enterprises led by decacorns, unicorns, and soonicorns have created 1.3 times the number of employment and paid nearly double the amount of tax as non-funded companies. Thanks to angel investors, venture capitalists, and private equity firms, the new business creates money for its founders, employees, and investors.

India, which has led the way, has produced three decacorns and 37 unicorns. However, revolutionary enterprises that solve global problems and develop globally have just recently emerged in the country. Unicorns are predicted to occur from many industries and geographies across the country, including tier two and tier three cities, at a quicker rate in the ecosystem.


Next Stage: Going Beyond the Unicorn 


As the world realises the potential of startups, the global startup ecosystem is changing. The decacorn age is gradually displacing the unicorn period.

A corporation having a market capitalisation of $10 billion or more is referred to as a decacorn.

As of 2022, 46 companies from all across the world have received the decacorn accreditation. The 4 Indian startups in the decacorn cohort are Flipkart, BYJU’s, Paytm, and Swiggy.



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