India’s coveted startup club of unicorns- firms valued at $1 billion or more, is growing faster than ever. 2019 alone has produced over half a dozen unicorns so far, with a new one just last week.
Icertis, a contract management software platform raised $115 million led by US-based venture capital firm Greycroft and Premji Invest, the family investment office of billionaire Azim Premji.
The other unicorns created this year include grocery startup BigBasket, trucking logistics firm Rivigo, ecommerce logistics firm Delhivery, software firm Druva, fantasy gaming startup Dream11, IT healthcare firm CitiusTech and Ola Electric, the electric vehicle arm spun off from ride hailing startup Ola, itself one of India’s earliest unicorns, according to data from Venture Intelligence
“The state of today's startup ecosystem has a lot to do with efforts of these early unicorns, startups which bore significant market development costs. Now add to this hugely favourable macro changes, capital supply and the maturing consumer, and you have a growing unicorn tribe," said Radha Kizhanattam, investment director at Unitus Ventures, an early stage investor.
Just halfway through the year, the list of unicorns created this year is at par with all of 2018. That was a record breaking year too, with hotelier Oyo Rooms, insurer Policybazaar, food delivery firms Swiggy and Zomato, online retailer Paytm Mallsoftware firm Freshworks, payment firm Billdesk and business-to-business marketplace Udaan all becoming unicorns.
Further, of the 25 unicorns in the country so far, 15 have been from 2018 alone, indicating the surging number of scalable firms, the data from Venture Intelligence says.
The creation of these highly valued companies stems from a massive availability of capital, keenness to deploy in India, and the global ambitions of homegrown firms.
“Investors such as Tiger Global, Softbank etc. with deeper pockets, riskier appetites, patient timelines now chasing opportunities in India on the back of early successes (Flipkart exit). Their confidence also comes from parallels on timing on trends and growth of equivalents in other economies, potentially betting on riding a similar trend in India. This in turn leading to more capital available at earlier stages given there is more visibility into potentially meaningful exits," Kizhanattam said.
The potential pipeline for unicorns also looks strong, with dozens of firms currently raising funds at unicorn valuations, or startups which are currently valued at over $500 million. These startups are emerging from well-heeled sectors such as ecommerce, fintech and logistics, as well as newer sectors such as content, social commerce and mobility.