Top 5 Unicorns in India

Created on 14 May 2022

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Updated on 15 Jun 2023

India ranks 3rd in the race of startup hosting countries in the world, leaving behind countries like Canada, North Korea and the UK. We recently hit the mark of 100 Unicorns, and the numbers are still growing. With the saturation point for startups coming close in countries like the US, investors are looking at India as the new Silicon Valley.

But, will all of these unicorns be able to survive in the Indian market? Well, the answer is simple, only the best ones will survive. Let’s take a look at India’s top 5 unicorns in 2022 and why they are considered the best.

What Is A Unicorn?

Before getting into the top 5 Unicorns in India, let’s first understand what Unicorn is.  A Unicorn is a fictional animal in general terms, but in economics, it is a company or a startup whose valuation reaches $1 billion. This term was coined by  Ailin Lee, who owns an investment firm called Cowboy Firms.
The reason behind calling it a unicorn was that people might believe in a unicorn's existence, but it doesn’t exist in real life. It’s completely fictional, just like having a valuation of $1 billion. When this rare phenomenon became a reality, she said it was like spotting a unicorn.

Features of a Unicorn Startup

Here are some features of a Unicorn startup:

  • They disrupt the market with innovation.
  • Most of them are tech-driven to make things more efficient.
  • They solve problems in the world.

Unicorns in India

Indian Unicorns are making people’s lives easy through their ideas. 60% of the total funding in India went into Fintech, SaaS and e-commerce sectors. 75% of all the Indian Unicorn companies have been built in the last 11 years. Out of these, 50% were founded after 2017. Recently, Neo Bank Open became our 100th Unicorn startup.
VCs are attracted to India for the size of the market, young customers and more spending power. Now, let’s take a look at the top 5 Indian Unicorn startups.

1. Swiggy

Founded in 2014, Swiggy is a food tech unicorn in India with a valuation of $7.1 billion. It was primarily an online food ordering and delivery platform, which then also started Instamart, a grocery delivery service and Swiggy Genie, a same-day package delivery service.
The founders, Sriharsha Majety and Nandan Reddy established a courier service company named Bundl, which became Swiggy in 2014. The rebranding of Bundl into Swiggy was an excellent step for the food industry in India as it gave the nation a firm with good services and even better copywriting.

Industry: Foodtech
Valuation:  $7.1 billion
Investors: Invesco, SoftBank Vision Fund, Prosus Ventures, and more
Founders: Sriharsha Majety and Nandan Reddy
Founded in: 2014

2. OLA Cabs

Ola was launched as a ride-sharing service in India in 2010. The business model was very similar to that of Uber but what made Ola different was Rickshaws. People would rather take a rickshaw than a cab in India, and Ola made it safer and hassle-free to book an auto ride.
Founded by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati in 2010, Ola joined the $1 billion club in 2020, it raised a valuation of  $250 million in 2020 and marked its place in the Unicorn club.

Industry: Transportation
Valuation:  $5 billion
Investors: Hero Enterprise, IIFL, Edelweiss, Siddhant Partners and more.
Founders: Bhavish Aggarwal, Ankit Bhati
Founded in: 2010

3. OYO Rooms

Ritesh Agarwal started OYO Rooms in 2013, which is a hospitality chain for leased and franchised hotel rooms. Customers can book hotel rooms for a few hours using the OYO Rooms app or website at affordable costs.
This startup was a revolution in the hotel chain & hospitality industry as it focused on an area which was neglected poorly.

Industry: Hospitality
Valuation:  $6.5 billion
Investors: SoftBank, Airbnb, Microsoft, and 11 others
Founders: Ritesh Agarwal
Founded in: 2013

4. Flipkart

Flipkart is disrupting the e-commerce industry.  Founded by Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal in 2007, Flipkart introduced itself as a small e-commerce website and now they are one of the most popular e-commerce platforms. Its current valuation is $37.6 billion. It was declared the second Unicorn of India in 2012-13 after InMobi.
In 2018, Walmart acquired Flipkart for $16 billion, which helped it scale quickly in the market. The major investors in the company today are Walmart, Tencent and Softbank.

Industry: E-commerce
Valuation: $37.6 billion
Investors: Walmart, Tencent and Softbank.
Founders: Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal
Founded in: 2007

5. Nykaa

Founded in 2012 by Falguni Nayar, Nykaa started as a cosmetic-based e-commerce platform.  It offers a wide range of cosmetic and skincare products on its website.
In March 2020,  it raised ₹100 crores (US$13 million) from Steadview Capital. It offers around 200,000 products on the website. Other than the website, it also has opened more than 26 offline stores across India.

Industry: E-commerce
Valuation: $12.86 billion
Investors: Fidelity Management and Research Company, Alia Bhatt and 13 other investors
Founders: Falguni Nayar
Founded in: 2012

The Bottom Line

These are the top 5 Indian Unicorns growing exponentially and helping people with their daily needs. India is a hot spot when it comes to investments in startup companies. The conversion of startups into unicorns showcases the nation’s ability to be a prime business centre in different sectors.
What do you think? Will India become the next Silicon Valley and give the world its next Apple, Microsoft or Uber?

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Akshatraj Gupta

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Akshat is a generalist who loves to learn, travel, meditate, and build things.

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