2021, the year of Unicorn Startups in India

The year 2021 has been designated as the year with the greatest number of unicorn startups in India, with approximately 12 unicorns being born in a single year. In a span of seven years since 2015 India has seen only 34 companies becoming unicorns. Unlike previous years, 2021 has already seen 14 startups making it into the list of Unicorn company worth more than one billion U.S. dollars in market capitalization. There is no doubt that 2021 will be remembered as the year in which greatest number of unicorn startups were born.

In April 2021, eight startups joined the unicorn club: fintech startup CRED, social media startup ShareChat, wealth management company Groww, messaging platform Gupshup, social commerce startup Meesho, and epharmacy PharmEasy. In May, two Indian startups, Moglix and Zeta, joined the unicorn club, bringing the total number of Indian tech startups in the club to 56. In the month of June, BrowserStack became the 14th new unicorn in India.

Between April 5 and April 9 it marked a historic week for indian tech startups, half-dozen Indian startups were reported to have raised approximately 1.55 billion USD, on their way to joining the unicorns club. The six companies were Meesho, a social commerce startup, Pharmeasy, a healthcare startup, Groww and Cred, and social and content platforms ShareChat and Gupshup. This was also thought to be a record in terms of funding weeks in the domestic new-age Internet ecosystem.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online technologies in India. According to a January report by Nasscom, the country's technology industry trade body, more than 1,600 new startups were founded during the coronavirus pandemic and the stringent lockdowns of last year, bringing the total in the country to more than 12,500.

Digital Insurance was the first startup to join the unicorn club in 2021. It is an insurtech startup based in Bangalore. In January, the company raised $18 million (INR 135 crore) from existing investors A(!PArtners, Faering Capital, and TVS Capital at a valuation of $1.9 billion.

Innovacer was a shining star in the Indian startup ecosystem, and it went on to become the first Indian healthtech unicorn. The company creates solutions for western markets such as the United States. Several governments and private institutions use their product to keep medical records of millions of patients.

Meesho is an online reseller network that operates in the Indian social commerce sector. The startup is still in its early stages, but it is expected to grow at a rapid pace. One of the most significant milestones in the segment has to be Meesho's listing to the unicorn club, which will have ramifications for the segment and its growth momentum.

B2B online procurement marketplace for real estate and construction material Infra.Market has been profitable since its inception and has joined the unicorn club raising $100 million from its existing investors. The platform aggregates demand and connects it to the supply chain, offering wholesale pricing on materials as well as affordable credit or financing, which is not always available to small businesses in this sector.

Pharmeasy, a startup that provides services such as sample collection for diagnostics, medication delivery, and teleconsultation, has become India's first epharmacy unicorn. Following the merger of Pharmeasy and Medlife in 2020, the company was able to enter the unicorn list by raising $323 million in a Series E funding round at a valuation of $1.5 billion.

Groww, a five-year-old startup, has been named India's second wealth management unicorn startup. The company became the fiftieth Indian unicorn after raising $83 million in Series D funding led by Tiger Global. Groww's tech platform, which is available via mobile application and web platform, allows users to invest in stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, IPOs, and gold.

After capturing the attention of users across Tier II and III India, Bangalore-based social networking service Sharechat has finally made its way to the unicorn club. ShareChat has raised $828 million in eight funding rounds, the largest of which was $502 million in its Series E round. The funding puts an end to speculation about Google investing in Sharechat.

Gupshup, a conversational messaging platform, became a unicorn in 2021 after raising $100 million in a Series F funding round led by Tiger Global Management. In the round, the company was valued at $1.4 billion.

Chargebee, a subscription management platform based in Chennai, became the tenth unicorn of 2021 after raising $125 million in its Series G funding round at a valuation of $1.4 billion. Tiger Global, along with Sapphire Ventures and Insight Venture Partners, led the round.

BrowserStack, the most valuable SaaS platform, has raised $200 million in Series B funding. BrowserStack was valued at $4 billion after the funding. BrowserStack became the ninth Indian SaaS startup to join the unicorn club as a result of the funding round.

Urban Company, a hyperlocal service provider based in Gurugram, is the latest startup to join the unicorn club, with the company being valued at $2 billion in its most recent $188 million Series F funding round. Prosus led the investment, with DF International and Wellington Management also participating.

An industrial B2B marketplace Moglix, became a unicorn in May 2021 after raising $120 million in a Series E round led by Falcon Edge Capital and Harvard Management Company (HMC). The company was worth $1 billion.

Zeta, founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Bhavin Turakhia and Ramki Gaddipati, became a unicorn on May 24, 2021, after raising $250 million in a Series C funding round led by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.

Cred, a Bangalore-based fintech startup that allows customers to make credit card payments through the app, began with only INR 57 Lakh ($76K, at current conversion rate) in operating revenue in FY 2020 and has now entered the unicorn club with a whopping valuation of $2.2 Bn in 2021.

Taking a look at the most recent tally, we come to realization that the most popular sectors in the Indian unicorn club are generally enterprise, fintech, and e-commerce.