The Pandemic Unicorn Club

While the pandemic has largely spelled doom for a vast majority of companies across the country, here is a list of startups that took the big leap in evaluation to enter the coveted Unicorn Club during the pandemic.

Covid 19 has been a major spoilsport for almost every aspect of our lives in 2020 and the startup eco-system is no different. As March set in and talks about a national lockdown started floating around, investor activity started slowing down. A complete contrast to the first half of 2019 which was one of the busiest years for startup investment, the first half of 2020 only saw about 240 deals as opposed to 476 deals clocked the previous year.

But as time went by, the entire nation got accustomed to the new normal. While common people saw this time as an opportunity to focus on bettering their quality of life, startups woke up to various new opportunities presented by the market. With people being compelled to stay indoors, reliance on digital avenues for self-reliance saw massive increase. Sectors such as education, healthcare, everyday essentials, gaming, biotech, IoT etc saw maximum activity with newer players entering the field and existing players sharpening their digital arsenal. Come July, investor activity also picked up gradually.

It was during these tumultuous times, a handful startups took a major leap and entered the much coveted Indian Unicorn Club.

The first entrant of the pandemic unicorn club was Nykaa. The online beauty omni-channel platform raised INR 66.64 crore from Steadview Capital, its primary existing investor in May. the company’s latest round of funding increased Nykaa’s valuation to $1.2 billion thus making it a part of the startup unicorn club.

Founded by Falguni Nayar in 2012, Nykaa is known for its extensive product range and omnichannel reach. The company also has its own signature product line. Having turned the pandemic into an opportunity for growth, Nykaa is redefining the Indian beauty and lifestyle industry.

In June, Postman, an enterprise SaaS collaboration platform raised $150 million in a round led by Insight Partners with participation from existing investors CRV and Nexus Venture Partners. The latest round of investment took Platform’s valuation to $2 billion catapulting it into the startup unicorn club.

Based in San Francisco and Bangalore, Postman is an Application Program Development platform being used by over 11 million developers across 500,000 companies globally. Founded in 2014 by Abhijit Kane, Abhinav Asthana, and Ankit Sobti, the company is claims that 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies use their platform.

In June Zerodha, a Bangalore based stock brokerage company announced ESOP buyback exercise and valued itself at INR 700 crore (close to $1 billion). The company valued each share at more than four times the book value of Rs 700 per share. A few months later the Harun Global Unicorn list of 2020 was released which valued Zerodha at a whopping $3 billion.

Founded in 2010, Zerodha experienced a doubling of its average monthly user number from pre-COVID-19 levels to around 200,000 users per month since March 2020. Founded by Nithin Kamath and Nikhil Kamath, the company has been bootstrapped since its foundation. The ambitious firm had clocked a revenue of INR 850 crore with a net profit of INR 350 crore in 2019.

In September, Unacademy an edtech platform raised $150 million from Japan based VC fund SoftBank taking its valuation $1.45 billion. The company’s existing investors General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Facebook, and Blume Ventures also participated in the round.

Based in Bangalore, Unacademy became the second Indian edtech company to enter the coveted unicorn club after Byju’s. The deal signaled the massive investment activity taking place in the Indian edtech sector.

Founded in 2015 by Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini, and Hemesh Singh Unacademy has over 350,000 subscribers and counts over 18000 teachers in its network.

The latest entrant in the unicorn club is Razorpay, a payment gateway provider. The Bangalore headquartered fintech company raised $100 million in series D funding led by GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund along with participation from Sequoia and existing investors Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global, Y-Combinator and Matrix Partners. With the latest infusion of capital Razorpay was valued at $1 billion.

The company is the fifth fintech startup to join the unicorn club after Paytm, Phonepe, PolicyBazaar and BillDesk.

Founded in 2014 by Shashank Kumar and Harshil Mathur Razorpay is also the first operational neobank to become a unicorn.