In the startup ecosystem, Aileen Lee, a venture capitalist, personified the term “unicorn” in 2013 to denote the rarity of firms with a valuation of more than $1 Bn. Unicorns in India are now commonplace ten years later! When neo-banking firm Open secured $50 Mn to become India’s 100th unicorn in May, the country has 100 unicorns.
India reached the milestone soon after a frenzied funding year in 2021 during which Indian entrepreneurs raised $42 Billion across 1,583 deals and creating 42 unicorns. India came close to achieving a unicorn century by the end of 2021 with 86 unicorn enterprises.
In 2022, India added 20 surplus unicorns to the club, which allowed the march to continue.
The Indian startup ecosystem has travelled a long and dramatic path from producing its first unicorn, InMobi, in 2011 to reaching the century of unicorns in India by 2022. The Startup India initiative has been instrumental in the country’s unparalleled growth in VC investment and IT entrepreneurship.
The Startup India project has seen the announcement and launch of multiple initiatives, FoF and thematic funds, incubation programmes, tax holidays, and tax benefit schemes since its commencement in 2015.
India is now ready for the next phase of technological development with a crucial tech shift toward digital services and goods in place with a subscriber base of over 783 Mn active internet users.
While 2021 saw record-breaking funding, India achieved a historic milestone in the first few months of 2022 with the addition of 20 Indian firms to the unicorn club. Now, the emphasis should be on ensuring the longevity of these 100+ unicorns and assisting a fresh round of Indian entrepreneurs in becoming unicorns.
To achieve the realistic goal of having 250 unicorns by 2025, the government will need to work on removing some of the barriers, such as addressing structural issues in the economy, preventing the migration of Indian startups to cities like Dubai, and improving the ease of doing business, among other things.
India’s Startup Ecosystem
As of August 29, 2022, there were around 77,000 DPIIT-recognised startups in 656 districts around India, making it the third-largest startup ecosystem in the whole world. India ranks top for the standard of its universities and scientific publications and ranks second among middle-income countries in terms of quality of innovation. The innovation of India is not at all restricted to a few industries. With 13% coming straight from IT services, 9% from the healthcare and life sciences sectors, 7% from the education sector, 5% from professional and commercial services, 5% from the agriculture sector, and 5% from the food and beverages sector, we have identified entrepreneurs solving issues in 56 different industrial areas.
The Indian startup ecosystem has grown significantly in recent years (from 2015 to the present):
- An increase of 15 X in startup funding
- A rise of 9X in investors
- 7X more incubators are now available.
In today’s fast-paced and rather dynamic market, Indian unicorns are continuously thriving. In surplus of creating cutting-edge products and technologies, these fantastic businesses do produce a good amount of jobs. Up until the fiscal year 2016–17, about one unicorn was indeed added yearly. This number has been rising rapidly for the past four years (from FY 2017–18), with an astounding 66% Year-on-Year growth in the number of new unicorns introduced each year. India was home to 107 unicorns as of September 7, 2022, with a total net worth of $ 340.79 billion. Of the total, 44 unicorns totalling $93 billion in value were born in 2021, while 21 unicorns totalling $26.99 billion were born in 2022.
What led to the unicorn craze?
While the pandemic’s effects on work from home policies drove the development of digital enterprises in India, the catastrophe also gave a wide unicorn list. The main drivers of investment interest are a growing digital payments infrastructure, a sizable smartphone user base, and digitally first business models. The unicorn boom in India is being fuelled by tech businesses, whose brands have gone mainstream. This is because the epidemic has dramatically expanded the usage of smartphones and the digitisation of trade in all spheres of life. In addition to banking, e-commerce groceries, SaaS, and marketplace firms make up the majority of unicorn contributors.
In India as of September 2022, there are 107 unicorns, with a total valuation of $ 340.79 Bn.
With 44, 11, and 7 unicorns per year, respectively, 2021, 2020, and 2019 saw the highest birth rates in India. Globally, COVID-19 has brought about a great deal of socio economic distress, yet it is at this time that the tenacious Indian entrepreneurs have worked seamlessly to support both the economy and COVID-19 relief operations. We saw the birth of more than ten unicorns in 2020. With 44 unicorns blasted into the ecosystem and many soonicorns waiting in line, the motto of 2021 has been “It’s raining unicorn.”
Geographically the hub of the high-tech sector in India, Bengaluru is the city with the most unicorn headquarters, followed by Delhi (NCR) and Mumbai. While unicorns are active in Tier I cities, this ecosystem is not exclusive to those areas and is present in every region of the nation. The market is dominated by conventional sectors like content, gaming, hospitality, data management & analytics, and e-commerce, but there is also a strong wave of unconventional sectors like content, fintech, e-commerce, supply chain & logistics, and internet software & services that are making their mark.
The lowest and maximum times it takes for a firm to become a unicorn are 6 months and 26 years, respectively. Every startup has a different road to becoming a unicorn. Mensa Brands became a unicorn in 2021 in just 6 months, making it one of Asia’s fastest unicorns.
In 2021, Indian startups became unicorns.
India alone saw the birth of 44 unicorns in 2021, with a total estimated value of $93 billion. In 2021, Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, and Mumbai will continue to be the most popular places for unicorn headquarters. Unusual industries and subindustries, such as NBFCs, Conversational Messaging, Cryptocurrency Exchanges, D2C, Cloud Kitchens, and many others, made their entrance into the unicorn area.
As a following step to realise the development potential, Indian unicorns are now looking into public listing channels. Zomato, Nykaa, PolicyBazaar, Paytm, and Freshworks are a few of the well-known unicorn names that have offered an IPO, while others like Delhivery, Mobikwik, and CarDekho are already in the queue.
One unicorn out of every ten that exist today was born in India. Overall, the number of firms joining the unicorn club has increased exponentially in 2021. This is evidence of the thriving startup environment in India.
21 unicorns have been born so far in 2022, with a total estimated value of $26.99 billion.
Investors in Unicorns
According to a YourStory Report2, in H1 2022, 891 investment deals were reported, which is 82.8% more than in H1 2021, demonstrating the strength of the Indian startup ecosystem to date in 2022. (541 deals). Startups raised over $ 17 billion, which is 1.8 times the amount they raised in the first half of 2021 ($9.4 billion). The most active investor has been Sequoia Capital India. Tiger Global Management, Kunal Shah (founder of CRED), Better Capital, Inflection Point Ventures, LetsVenture, Accel, Blume Ventures, 9Unicorns, and Alpha Wave Global have been the next most active investors.
FinTech, EdTech, E-commerce, Social Network, FoodTech, Logistics and Supply Chain, Media and Entertainment, D2C Brands, SaaS, and HealthTech are some of the top industries seeking investment. 19.7, 9.4, and 6.2 percent of the overall funding went to fintech, EdTech, and e-commerce, respectively.
A change in the conventional method of fundraising has also occurred, and companies are now considering alternative methods such as venture debt, bank loans, revenue-based financing, and crowdfunding. Startups like Zerodha, who have operated entirely on their own funds since the beginning, are challenging the unicorn funding rules and encouraging independence and revenue production from the very beginning. Since the start of COVID-19, an unusual trend has been noticed: new unicorn club members who haven’t made any investments the size of billion-dollar tickets.
Let’s have a look at Top 10 Best Valuable Unicorns in India in 2023 –
India just has one e-commerce website or marketplace that Indians mostly like and that is Flipkart, and it is presently utilised by a sizable sector. Across the nation, it has been receiving a lot of appreciation. The only e-commerce site that doesn’t require an introduction is Flipkart, whose massive billion days event is one of the most anticipated online occasions for millions of Indians.
This company, which was created by Sachin and Binny Bansal and has a recorded valuation of approximately $37.6 billion as of 2021, is regarded as the most valuable in India. Flipkart was established in Bengaluru, Karnataka, in 2007. It has been assisting the marketplace and e-commerce sectors. It has various important investors, including Walmart, Softbank, Tencent, and many more. The application process for Flipkart is simple.
After InMobi, the first Indian unicorn, Flipkart has been listed as the first Indian unicorn to achieve unicorn valuation between 2011 and 2012. It now has more than 350 million users and 150 million products spread across more than 80 categories. For Indian homemakers or the general public, Flipkart is the only platform that offers the greatest domestic goods and services. The scale has grown quickly and easily as a result of Walmart’s whopping $16 billion acquisition of this e-commerce behemoth in 2018.
The Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd. company, formed in 2011 by Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath, produced the BYJU app. It began as a coaching class and has now developed into one of the top EdTech companies in the world.
Byju now has a market value of up to $16.5 billion USD, is used by over 15 million students worldwide, and has over 9 900,000 paying customers.
It is a global Indian firm with its main office in Bangalore. It has been offering the best education, delivered by the top mentors or teachers. In addition to giving pupils an education, it gives the majority of people a platform for employment.
You are in the correct location if you want to pursue a career in sales; it is a great company to work for. Since 2017, Shah Rukh Khan, one of the greatest and most well-known actors in India, has served as the startup’s brand ambassador. Through social media platforms, he has been the one most responsible for encouraging students to join the Bjyu platform.
It is an Indian merchant aggregator, payment platform, and digital payment app that promotes all digital payments made using QR and POS. This platform is run by Resilient Innovation Private Limited, a private limited company rather than a government organisation. The Company, which has its corporate headquarters in New Delhi, India, on August 4, 2021, it upped its value to $ 2.85 billion and joined the club of unicorns.
The payment platforms, fintech, and financial services industries are served by this Unicon, which was created in 2018. Ashneer Grover, Bhavik Koladiya, and Shashvat Nakrani started it.
The majority of businesses may easily sign up, get payments instantaneously into their bank accounts, and choose to receive up to 12% interest on those payments. By giving retailers a single QR code to accept all payment methods, comprising BHIM, Paytm, Google Pay, PhonePe, and more than 150 additional UPI applications, BharatPe makes accepting payments incredibly straightforward.
4. OLA Cabs
The ride-sharing business Ola Cabs was founded in India in 2010. In 250 cities as of 2019, Ola has more than 1.5 million drivers. Many Indians favour it and use it often. In September 2018, Ola launched their networks into their first international markets, Australia and New Zealand. Ola launched its business in the UK and popularised the auto-rickshaw.
Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati formed this unicorn, which has its headquartered in Bangalore and works in the transportation sector. By installing the Ola app from the Google Play Store or the App Store, users may utilise it with ease.
It is a global Indian ride-sharing company that also engages in financial services, traditional cloud computing, and an online used-car marketplace. It is regarded as a highly safe and secure method of getting from one location to another, and it has been assisting many individuals who have trouble with their transportation options.
5. OYO Rooms
Ritesh Agarwal, a 21-year-old man, created it in 2013, and it is one of the best travel businesses in India, offering the most affordable hotels. The rooms at Oyo start at a low cost of Rs. 999, and this business has partnered with some of the greatest established hotels to provide travellers awakened rooms at substantially lower prices.
The Softbank Group, Greenoaks Capital, Lightspeed India, Hero Enterprise, Airbnb, and China Lodging Group are a few of the company’s major investors. “On your own” rooms, or OYO, has the fictitious tone of something a teen might invent.
Perhaps this is so because Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of Oyo, is an Indian who launched the business after quitting college. One of the top global platforms, Oyo Rooms’ main goal is to enable entrepreneurs and small businesses with hotels and houses by providing complete stack technology that boosts earnings and ends all operations.
Founded in 2014 by Nandan Reddy, Sriharsha Majety, and Rahul Jaminj, Swiggy is one of the most well-liked and worthwhile online food ordering and delivery services. Swiggy offers delivery services in numerous locations, including Hyderabad, Delhi, Jaipur, Nagpur, Gurgaon, Lucknow, and Bangalore. This platform has more than 5,000,000 mobile application installations. Additionally, it provides an on-demand grocery delivery service called in the stomach as well as an immediate parcel delivery service known as Swiggy genie.
Swiggy introduced its immediate pick-up/drop-off service in September 2019. It is utilised for a variety of things, such as laundry and document or package delivery to business clients and retail customers.
Swiggy has also introduced the Moonlight Policy this year. Swiggy is regarded as one of the greatest businesses to work for since it pays well enough and fosters a positive workplace culture. The company’s managers and staff members are willing to help.
One of the top online travel agencies in India was established in 2000 by Deep Carla. The Company’s main office is located in Gurgaon. It is well recognised for offering services including booking vacation packages, hotel rooms, movie tickets, and regular transport tickets for flights, autos, and trains.
With over 30 franchisee stores in 28 locations in India alone, it runs operations in 14 cities across the globe. Users can obtain the fundamental details on more than 1 million routes around India with the route planner tools. This company has been very helpful to people like you and me in the internet travel market by making it simple for everyone to find the greatest hotels at the most reasonable pricing.
It gives 15% off all flights, the biggest savings for all new customers, and a special rate for all students. You can save up to 35% on hotels by utilising this app, ensuring that your trip is truly unforgettable. By logging in or registering up on their website, you may effortlessly use the services. The website of the company even enables all users to locate their offers in all hotels in the preferred language. In the settings choices, you can adjust it to your preferred language.
Falguni Nayar created Nykaa, one of the top cosmetics-focused e-commerce companies, in 2012. The headquarters of Nykaa are located in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is well-known for its website and application, which provide skincare, wellness, and cosmetic products. As of 2020, it offers a huge variety of 200,000 products from 2000 national and international brands.
Nykaa has an inventory-based business model and has warehouses in Bangalore, Kolkata, Haryana, Pune, Mumbai, and New Delhi. In addition to its primary online business, it will have 76 physical stores dispersed around the country by the year 2020. It is said that there are over 200,000 products available from 2,000 producers.
Nykaa Luxe, Nykaa On Trend, and Nykaa beauty Kiosks are its three offline retail designs. High-end international brands like Huda Beauty, MAC, Dior, and Givenchy are included in the Luxe format along with Nykaa Beauty, the in-house line of cosmetics. Products in the Nykaa On Trend format are grouped according to how popular they are. Only Nykaa, an online store in India, carries international brands including e.l.f., Charlotte Tilbury, Tonymoly, Becca, Sigma, Limecrime, Dermalogica, and Murad.
An Indian cryptocurrency exchange aggregator called CoinDCX, which is situated in Mumbai and specialises in crypto-enabled financial services, has been working to create the best financial aid without regard to national boundaries in order to facilitate a simple and secure movement of funds. CoinDCX is the first cryptocurrency unicorn in India after raising $90 million in series C funding.
Neeraj Khandelwal and Sumit Gupta formed this business to offer their expertise in blockchain, fintech, and cryptocurrencies. It was established in 2018 and has grown significantly with the assistance of renowned investors like B Capital Group and Polychain.
You can simply buy and sell bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on what is regarded as India’s most robust and secure cryptocurrency exchange platform. Users of this platform can quickly and conveniently link to their bank accounts in order to buy and sell cryptocurrency in Indian rupees (INR) through IMPS, RTGS, NEFT, UPI, or one of their affiliated payment gateways.
The required security of the digital assets, along with cryptocurrencies, and user data maintained within the exchange is always given the utmost priority by CoinDCX. With a zero-fee policy, it is an application that finally streamlines the challenging process of purchasing, selling, and maintaining bitcoins.
Dharmil Sheth, Dhaval Shah, and Nikhil Innan founded it as an internet platform for the delivery of healthcare in 2015. The organisation, which is today regarded as one of India’s top online healthcare aggregators, is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Along with helping users choose the closest local pharmacy and diagnostic centre depending on their medical needs, the PharmEasy platform allows them sell their medications online.
It has distributed the medications over 22,000 pin codes and more than 1,000 cities. Additionally, it states that over 1.5 million orders have been placed and that there are over a lakh medications available on the internet.
It is active in a number of important Indian cities, and you can buy medications there online. Finding the drug is now simple for people, families, and friends.
What’s the point when they become unicorns after the most recent $1.5 billion investment round? Every test ordered through PharmEasy is always carried out by the most reputable, certified labs that are completely reliable for all patients. Additionally, you receive a free sample that is collected from your house or another convenient location by the most skilled phlebotomists.
As the awareness increases of the promise held by startups, the global startup ecosystem is changing. The era of unicorns is gradually giving way to the era of decacorns.
A company that has accomplished a valuation of more than $10 Bn is referred to as a decacorn.
46 businesses worldwide have attained the decacorn designation as of July 27, 2022. India now has four startups in the decacorn cohort: Flipkart, BYJU’s, Nykaa, and Swiggy.