Unicorns is a term used to describe start-ups that are privately held and have a valuation of $1 billion or more. India saw a dramatic rise in the number of unicorns in 2021, what fueled this was the existing base of widely used digital payment platforms, digital first business models and a country with a large number of smartphone users.
The ecosystem around start-ups in India is now the 3rd largest globally as of March 2022, as per a digital publication by Invest India, a company in which the government of India holds 49% of shares. Their article also shares that India is ranked #2 in innovation quality among other aspects. These tech based start-ups are spread across 56 diverse industrial sectors including IT, healthcare, education, agriculture, sports, F&B among others.
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Till the first quarter of 2022, there were 94 unicorns from India with a total valuation of $ 319.67 billion. What is truly exceptional in this is that 44 unicorns were born in 2021 and 13 unicorns were born in 2022. Here is a look into some of the leading Indian start-ups that have recently entered the unicorn club:
Bharat Pe – Fintech sector
Founded in 2018 by Ashneer Grover, Bhavik Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani, Bharat Pe, as the name may suggest is an Indian digital payment platform. This start-up is valued at $2.85 bn (approx) and is backed by Steadfast Capital, Coatue and Sequoia among others.
Their prime focus of this Indian fintech start-up is to offer services of digital payments to small vendors and merchants ( as a merchant aggregator) of the country – the kirana store owners essentially. What makes the start-up special is their offer to merchants for free payment acceptance (no transaction charges) with a single QR code each to accept all payments from various apps such as PayTM, PhonePe, Google Pay, BHIM and close to 150+ more UPI applications. They also offer Bharat Swipe (POS machine) to accept cards and small business financing for a short duration of time.
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Eruditus – Edtech sector
Founded in 2010 by Ashwin Damera and Chaitanya Kalipatnapu, Eruditus is an Indian Edtech start-up that holds a valuation of close to $3.2 bn and is backed by Softbank Vision Fund, Prosus Ventures, Accel, GSV ventures among others.
Their main focus is to offer state-of-the-art education to working professionals and executives with their exclusive range of e-learning offerings. Eruditus turned into a unicorn in 2021 with their Series E funding round. Their incredible A-list partnerships with leading schools like Wharton, MIT, Cambridge, Berkeley, Harvard, INSEAD among others is the core reason why they have a growing number of working professionals eager to upskill and re-skill themselves for relevant positions with their curated list of courses.
ShareChat – Social networking, digital services sector/ Mobile application sector
Founded by Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and Faris Ahsan in 2015 in Bangalore, India, ShareChat is a video sharing- social networking service.
The start-up is backed by Hero MotoCorp, Twitter, SAIF partners, Lightspeed Ventures among others and stands at a valuation of $3 billion (approx)(2021)
This Indian start-up has more than 250 million monthly users ( active) across multiple Indian languages. This social networking platform offers features like private messaging, tagging, sharing videos, songs and other multiple language based content. This content consumption and sharing platform’s vernacular catering content is built to cater to 1.17 billion wi-fi customers of India. It is also known that ShareChat has over 50 million creator communities.
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Browser Stack – Cloud Infrastructure and software industry
Founded in 2010 by Ritesh Arora and Nakul Aggarwal, BrowserStack is backed by Insight Partners, Accel and Bond among other investors. Browerstack is claimed to be valued at close to $4bn (June 2021). This Indian cloud net and mobile testing platform start-up offers developers to test their website and mobile application across multiple on-demand browsers, operating systems and various real-time mobile devices. Leading developers ( close to two million) around 135 countries use their platform to perform various tests on a daily basis.
With a focal point to limit time, price and protection overhead related to testing, they have been able to have over 25,000 global corporations use BrowerStack including Microsoft, National Geographic, Volvo, HubSpot, Walt Disney, MasterCard among others.
upGrad – EdTech/ e-learning sector
Founded by Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli, Ravijot Chugh and Ronnie Screwvala in 2015, upGrad is an e-learning / Edtech start-up based in Mumbai, India. It is backed by IIFL, Temasek Holdings along with others and is valued close to $1.2 bn ( in the later half of 2021).
This Indian edtech online coaching platform is the country’s largest online platform offering higher education in partnerships with world renowned universities like IIT Madras, Duke CE, Liverpool John Moores University, Deakin University and others in a wide range of industry-ready courses ( Bachelor’s degree, MBA, Law, Data Science and more).
A robust tech platform, outcome based learning approach, placement service and support, industry-relevant pedagogy has set them as leaders in the India education sector. Their key differentiator is program validation by NASSCOM and government approved National occupational Standards.
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MobiKwik – Fintech sector, payment gateway
Founded by a husband-wife duo in 2009, Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku, MobiKwik has had 16 funding rounds with the most recent one in Series G and is backed by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Dosch Pharmaceuticals among 20+ other investors. It has been valued at $1bn (2021).
This Indian fintech payment service provider is essentially a digital wallet and mobile based payment system that also offers small loans. Known to be the largest buy now pay later service provider ( BNPL) in India, MobiKwik is aimed at addressing the unmet credit needs of the fast growing country. Zaakpay is one of their product offering to integrate and collect payments from debit and credit cards, mobile wallets, UPI and netbanking.
The brand claims to have over 3 million merchants using the digital wallet to accept payment, and over 101 million registered users.
CRED – Fintech sector
The solo founder of this fintech company, Kunal Shah, started building CRED up from 2018. Today, after a Series D funding round, the start-up is backed by Falcon Edge Capital, Insight Partners, Tiger Global, DST Global and a few others. With a fresh funding of $215 million, the brand is valued at $2.2 bn.
It is a members only platform where you can pay your credit card bills and get incentive offers leading you to improve the way you manage finances and your financial behavior. When a CRED user pays their credit card bill on the app, they earn “Cred coins”, these coins collected can be redeemed for buying a product, booking a workshop or entering a contest. These products and experiences on CRED are offered in partnership with a multitude of leading brands like Puma, Samsung, Dineout, The Lalit and more.
Groww – Fintech sector / Investtech
Founded in 2017 by Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Ishan Bansal, and Neeraj Singh, Groww is a fintech investment start-up that is backed by Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, YC Continuity, Propel Venture Partners along with a few others. Groww is changing the investment landscape in India by making it digital and is valued at close to $3bn after its Series E funding round.
This mutual fund investment platform offers stock broking services, investment in direct mutual funds, IPO, ETF and digital gold. The brand entered the unicorn list in 2021 and is part of CB Insights List of 250 world’s most promising companies. Teaching young professionals and millennials to invest their money wisely, Groww is making investment Easy, Fast and Transparent. They have over 20 million users and are focused on educating their user base on various investment types.
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Digit Insurance – Insurance Tech/ FinTech Sector
Founded by Kamesh Goyal in 2017, Digit Insurance is backed by Sequoia Capital, IIFL Alternate Asset Managers, Fearing Capital, TVS Capital and others. It has reached a valuation of close to $3.5 bn by July 2021 being one of the first start-ups to enter the unicorn club from India in 2021. It is also one of few brands to be successful in less than 4 years.
Their product offerings include insurance for health, car, employee, 2 Wheeler, 3 Wheeler and others with documentation in simple words, no technical jargon or hidden clauses. They are working on building a transparent process that is valued by the customers. Digit Insurance is also backed by Fairfax, one of the world’s largest insurance companies.
If working in leading start-ups of India excites you and makes you want to explore more, HETIC India offers you a strong foundation with BMS Digital Business course that will make you future careers ready with its agile pedagogy and skill offering in technology, design and management of tech based businesses.
Also, stay tuned to know more on the start-ups from India entering the Unicorn club in 2022.
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