India is home to 100 unicorns worth US$240 billion
India has hit the big 100 in business, boasting 100 unicorns, private companies that are valued at more than US$1 billion, according to Swiss brokerage firm Credit Suisse India.
Unicorns are generally defined as technology startups which have attained the billion dollar valuation while still being privately held- generally within 10-12 years.
According to the report, titled ‘100 Unicorns: India’s changing corporate landscape’, “these are only at the top of a fast-growing pyramid of 80,000 startups in India, which are incrementally now nearly 10% of new companies formed every year; the number of firms is up 70% in 8 years."
Delivered cross-industry, including technology, gaming, non-banking finance, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, Credit Suisse’s research report reveals that the country’s 100 unicorn companies have a combined market capitalisation of US$240 billion.
Among India’s 100 unicorns is Vishal Mega Mart, ReNew Power Ventures, Parle Products, Serum Institute of India, Wonder Cement, Manipal Hospoitals, PolicyBazaar Insurance and Piramal Glass, with nearly 75% of the unicorns born post 2005.
So, why the explosion in unicorns after 2005? According to the report, favourable infrastructure, a buoyant funding environment, expansion of the internet, regulations, and highly-skilled human resources.
In fact, in India, private market fundraising has exceeded public fundraising for each of the last ten years. “This may not be a permanent phenomenon, given generally the much larger liquidity and size of public markets, but is definitely not a fluke either,” the report says.
Among the most popular type of unicorns in India are those in the fintech sector, with five India-born fintech firms having achieved US$10 billion of capital funding, while the software as a service (SaaS) sector is also proving successful due to their attractiveness for venture capitalists. In fact, there are now 7,000 SaaS firms in India, a sector booming due to the extensive quantity and quality of IT trained professionals across India.
The Edutech sector is another that’s doing well and certainly picking up, with expectations that edtech will grow five times by 2025 to US$ billion.
When it comes to location, Bangalore, Delhi-NCR and Mumbai are the where the most unicorns are born.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.