Unicorns of 2021: The Indian Unicorn Mania

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With the worsening pandemic situation in the country currently, no one seems to expect any good news. But guess what? There is.

For the world of business and startup, there definitely is great news. The number of unicorns in the country is on a steady rise. Last year, India witnessed 10 startups joining the “Unicorn Club”, which included companies like Firstcry, Zenoti, Nykaa and Zerodha. But this number appears to have surprisingly improved this year. In a span of less than four months, 10 new startups have been added to this prestigious “Club”. Let’s find out what this hype about “Unicorn” is and those making their debut in the list this year.

What is a Unicorn?

A privately owned startup whose value is more than $1 billion is generally called a Unicorn in the venture capital industry.

You see, for a startup, procuring funds is quite a struggle. The fundraising process usually begins from friends and family. As the company expands, it gradually approaches an angel investor and then the venture capitalists for fund acquisition. To gain the confidence of the investors and acquire funds is indeed a tough row to hoe. However, some horses sprint this hurdle race and achieve the prestigious tag of Unicorn.

This term ‘Unicorn’ was first conceived by venture capitalist Aileen Lee back in 2013 in one of her articles to acknowledge such successful startups. Since then, this has become a widely used word in the industry; and startups are continuously striving to attain this status.

Which Indian startups turned Unicorns in 2021?

1. Digit Insurance

This is the first Indian based startup that entered the Unicorn community in 2021. Digit insurance aims to do exactly what its mission statement says- To make insurance simple. It uses technology to simplify the process of general insurance and thereby, changing the perspective of people towards the same.

Though the company hasn’t disclosed the latest acquired amount, few reports suggest that the funding took place in 2 lots of $84 million and $18.5 million. Since its establishment in 2016, the startup has raised approximately $244.5 million.

2. Groww

Founded in 2017 by four former Flipkart executives, Groww is an online trading platform with a user base of over 1.5 crore. The company facilitates paperless investing options, has its platform powered by intelligent user experience and user interface design.

Groww raised $83 million in a series D round led by Tiger Global wherein other existing investors like YC Continuity, Propel Ventures Partners, Ribbit Capital, and others participated; post which it is now termed as Unicorn.

3. Meesho

The heavily advertised social commerce platform, Meesho facilitates individuals to start their businesses through channels like Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook. It majorly focuses on women entrepreneurs and homemakers wishing to be financially independent.

In a round led by Softbank Vision Fund, the company raised $300 million; post which, it joined the unicorn club with a valuation of $2.1 billion.

4. CRED

The fintech startup founded by Kunal Shah turned into a unicorn after it closed its series D funding at $215 million. Series D funding is generally made when the company is stable, earning sufficient revenue, and may have plans for an IPO in the future. A new investor has joined the cap table of CRED, Falcon Edge Capital. This 2-year-old start up is currently valued at $2.2 billion.

If you are wondering, Yes! This is the same CRED that released an ad written by the stand up comedian Tanmay Bhat, featuring Rahul Dravid’s anger issues, that went viral all over the internet.

5. Innovaccer

Innovaccer is an online platform that strives to provide efficient and effective healthcare through transparent data and pioneering analytics. In 2019, it was awarded the “Best Healthcare Big Data Platform”. Currently, the company is valued at $1.3 billion.

The latest funding is estimated to be close to $105 million, though the exact amount remains undisclosed. A new investor OMER Growth Equity has joined the existing investors Steadview Capital, B Capital group, Dragoneer, Mubadala Capital, and M12.

6. Five Star Business Finance

Five Star Business Finance is a registered non-banking financial company that focuses mainly on lending funds and providing other financial services to small businesses in the country.

The startup raised $234 million in a round led by its existing investors Sequoia Capital India, along with the participation with few other existing and new investors. The current valuation is at $1.4 billion.

7. Infra.market

Infra.market is a B2B technology company that attempts to modify while simplifying the process of material procurement by construction and real estate companies for their projects.

The company’s valuation rose to $1 billion posts a series C funding of $100 million, led by Tiger Global. Few other existing investors also joined in.

8. PharmEasy 

PharmEasy became the seventh startup to be recognised as a unicorn this year. It reported a valuation of $1.5 billion after it procured $350 million in a series E round that was led by TPG Growth and Prosus Ventures.

PharmEasy is a healthcare delivery platform that connects individuals to pharmacies and diagnostic centres, facilitating easy and quick access to medicines and tests.  

9. Gupshup

The name is quite suggestive of the business Gupshup is into. It is a messaging services company. Its main aim is to build and provide tools that help businesses and their customers converse effectively through mobile messaging.

It entered the unicorn club following the $100 million funding from Tiger Global.

10. ShareChat

If you aren’t already aware of it, ShareChat is one of the popular Indian social media, also providing social networking services which was founded by three IIT graduates and was developed by Mohalla Tech Private Limited.

Confused how this is even surviving in the industry with giants like Instagram and Facebook? The mere fact that this application allows usage in 15 Indian languages helps reach potential users at the grass root level of the country.

On 8th April 2020, ShareChat raised $502 million from Lightspeed Ventures and Tiger Global. With this, the valuation of ShareChat is at $2.1 billion.

                               

The bottom line

India has witnessed a sudden rise in the number of unicorns. And the reason for this could be the commendable improvement in the infrastructure, funding and, in general, the business environment. Customers have become wiser, and businesses are striving towards reducing the customer gap. There is also an increased urge among the youth to start something unique with the right guidance and exposure. The risk appetite also seems to have improved.

Having said that, it is not always a cake walk. There are multiple startups that have rushed to secure a place in the industry but miserably failed and shut its operations. Hence, it is always advisable to go slow and steady while also staying relevant in the dynamic business environment.

Anyway, this list of new unicorns could be a huge motivating factor for someone with a unique business idea willing to establish a startup.

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