The promise and pitfalls of India’s startup boom
Our spectacular run of new unicorns reflects a Schumpeterian embrace of risk that should eventually serve the Indian economy well. Till then, tax reforms could advance the cause
In his latest Mann Ki Baat broadcast on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew popular attention to India’s startup boom and the post-covid enlargement of our unicorn club. Modi noted that India now has as many as 70 unicorns, defined as startups with valuations of $1 billion or above, and hailed the vibrancy of a space that frequently resets its own investment records. “It is true that this is the era of startups," he said, “and it is also true that in the world of startups, India is leading in a way today." This is indeed a positive sign for our economy. A glance at the latest roundup by VCCircle of weekly startup activity shows robust inflows. In the most recent seven-day period under its review, the total value of private equity and venture capital deals involving new ventures jumped over threefold, with three new unicorns added to our tally. This is a torrid pace. By VCCircle’s count, nearly $1.7 billion was raised, with as many as 42 deals notched up, five more than in the preceding week. Separately, Slice made news over the weekend as our 41st unicorn born this year, and the 11th fintech firm to achieve this prized status, after it raised $220 million from investors. This was shortly after online broker Upstox had been celebrated as India’s 40th. Losing count has never been easier.