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NEW DELHI : India’s startup ecosystem is expected to spawn 22 unicorns in 2022, a VCCircle analysis showed. The country is projected to have more than 100 unicorns in the next couple of years.

These ‘soonicorns’, or startups on the verge of turning unicorns, raised funding in 2021 at a valuation above $500 million, but less than $1 billion. Among the top five in the list are logistics startups ShipRocket and Porter.

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In contention (Mint)

Shiprocket raised $185 million in funding co-led by Zomato, Temasek and Lightrock at a valuation of about $950 million, while Porter raised $100 million led by Tiger Global Management and Vitruvian Partners at a valuation of $525 million.

They could be joining other logistics unicorns Zinka and Delhivery.

Other soonicorns include online gaming firm Games24x7, and three fintech startups OneScore, Jupiter and ClearTax. The list spans eight broad sectors, with fintech startups leading the pack, followed by retail and edtech companies.

Mobile-first credit card OneScore; neobanking platform Jupiter; tax return filing startup ClearTax; kirana-tech startup KhataBook; gold-loan startup Rupeek; and neobank Open made it to the list of fintech soonicorns.

OneScore raised $76 million in its series C round of funding from Ocean View Investment, Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital, QED Innovation Labs, and Hummingbird Ventures at a post-money valuation of over $720 million. Neobank Jupiter raised $86 million in a round co-led by Tiger Global and Sequoia at a valuation of $711 million, and Open raised $62 million from Temasek and Google, along with Tiger Global, at a valuation of $500 million.

ClearTax raised $75 million in its series C round led by Kora Capital at a valuation of $700 million.

Digital ledger Khatabook raised $100 million in its series C round led by Tribe Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures, and online gold loan marketplace Rupeek raised $32.5 million in a round led by GGV Capital at a valuation of over $500 million.

They are expected to join other fintech startups UpStox, Slice, Acko, MobiKwik, BharatPe, GoDigit, CoinDCX, Groww and ChargeBEE that turned unicorns in 2021.

In the retail sector, online interior decoration enabler LivSpace, B2B marketplace for packaging supplies Bizongo, 10-minute grocery delivery startup Zepto, and beauty product seller Purpple could raise funds at a valuation above $1 billion.

While Livspace was valued at over $620 million in 2021, Bizongo raised $110 million at a valuation of $600 million in a round led by Tiger Global, and Zepto achieved a valuation of $570 million from a $100 million round led by Y Combinator. Also, Purpple received $65 million in its series D round of funding led by Kedaara Capital at a valuation of $566 million.

If they do make the cut, these startups will join other retail sector startups such as MamaEarth, Spinny, NoBroker, Mensa, CureFit, Good Glamm, CarDekho, Licious, Urban Co. that joined the unicorn club in 2021.

While 2021 saw edtech startups Vedantu, Eruditus and UpGrad joining the coveted club, the three additions for 2022 are likely to be LEAD School, Teachmint and BrightCHAMPS.

LEAD School, a B2B management software provider, raised $30 million led by GSV Ventures. Teachmint received over $70 million led by Rocketship.vc and Vulcan Capital. BrightCHAMPS, on its part, raised $63 million from Premji Invest, GSV Ventures and others. All three edtech firms were valued at more than $500 million.

The list includes a couple of agritech, online gaming, logistics and media companies.

Gurugram-based online marketplace for farm products and services DeHaat and B2B marketplace for farm produce Ninjakart raised $115 million and $145 million, respectively, at a valuation of over $500 million each. Games24x7 and Zupee are the online gaming startups expected to join their peers Dream11 and Mobile Premier League in the unicorn club this year.

The other three firms are software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup Whatfix, which raised $90 million led by SoftBank, news aggregator InShorts , which received $60 million led by Vy Capital, and music app Gaana.

To be sure, India’s startup ecosystem gave birth to 44 unicorns in 2021, compared with just 11 in 2020. India hosts over 70 unicorns and is the third behind the US and China.

By some estimates, India already has over 100 unicorns. These startups were collectively valued at over $240 billion till March 2021, according to Swiss brokerage Credit Suisse, and came not just from the technology sector but also from pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, Credit Suisse India equity strategist Neelkanth Mishra said on 23 March 2021. He had then pointed out that two-thirds of these 100 unicorns were born after 2005, with most unicorns emerging from the fintech sector.

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