And the countdown begins… especially if you’ve heard and have been tracking the projections for the number of unicorns that will emerge from the Indian startup ecosystem.
Only four months into 2021, the Indian startup ecosystem has already added six new companies to the coveted $1 billion valuation club. The country is already cheering in its new unicorns — insurtech startup Digit Insurance, SaaS startup InnovAccer, and NBFC Five Star Business Finance, social commerce platform Meesho, B2B commerce company Infra.Market, and fintech startup CRED.
And of these, Meesho and CRED attained their unicorn status in a span of three days.
Heading into 2021, research firms and industry experts had predicted that India will see a significant increase in the number of unicorns. Currently, India has close to 40 unicorns, a NASCOM report states that there will be 50 unicorns before 2021 ends, but the pace at which we are currently going, we may surpass that number soon.
In 2020, even with a pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy, 11 startups from India attained unicorn status while PhonePe reached a $5.5 billion valuation as an independent entity after its spin-off from Flipkart. Already, India’s unicorn club boasts startups like fintech majors Paytm and Zerodha, mobility player Ola, foodtech startups such as Zomato, and Glance, Cars24, Postman, among others.
Nevertheless, these new unicorns have boosted hopes higher for the ecosystem. Let’s have a look at the six unicorns of 2021.
Bengaluru-based startup Digit Insurance is the brainchild of Kamesh Goyal. The platform leverages technology to simplify the process of buying general insurance with services like smartphone-enabled self-inspection and audio claims.
Valued at $1.9 billion, Digit Insurance is the first Indian startup in 2021 to enter the much-coveted and tracked unicorn club. Although the fundraising amount was not disclosed, a few media reports suggest the funding took place in two tranches of $84 million and $18.5 million. A91 Partners, Faering Capital, and TVS Capital Funds participated in this round of funding.
Since its inception in 2016, Digit Insurance has so far raised a total of $244.5 million. It claims to be a profitable venture, having seen profits in all three-quarters of FY21. Also, it grew 31.9 percent between April and December of 2020, earning a premium of $186 million. It claims to have a customer base of 1.5 crores.
A few key milestones achieved by the company in its journey so far are:
- January 2021: Raised $84 million / Series Unknown
- August 2020: Launched an online DIY insurance advisory tool for SMEs
- February 2020: Actor Anushka Sharma and Indian cricketer Virat Kohli join investor consortium
- November 2019: Named Asia’s Best General Insurance Company of the Year
- June 2019: Raised $50 million / Series Unknown
- July 2018: Raised $45 million / Series Unknown
- July 2018: Acquired ITI Reinsurance Ltd. for $72.8 million
- June 2017: Raised $47 million / Series Unknown
Founded in 2014 by Sandeep Gupta, Abhinav Shashank, and Kanav Hasija, this YourStory 2015 Tech30 company is valued at $1.3 billion after its latest funding round led by Tiger Global Management.
Existing investors Steadview Capital, Dragoneer, B Capital Group, Mubadala Capital, and M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Fund) participated in the round, along with new investor OMERS Growth Equity.
Although the amount of funding remained undisclosed, it is estimated to be around $105 million. Prior to this, the startup had raised $70 million as part of its Series C round in February this year.
Since its inception in 2014, the company has raised around $229.1 million.
A few key milestones achieved by Innovaccer in its journey so far are:
- February 2021: Raised $105 million / Series D
- February 2021: Earns NCQA PHM Prevalidation
- October 2020: Launched Risk Adjustment Solution for Improved Coding Accuracy
- February 2020: Raised $70 million/ Series C
- June 2019: Awarded as the “Best Healthcare Big Data Platform” in 2019 MedTech Breakthrough Awards
- February 2019: Launched Its AI-Based Data Activation Platform at HIMSS19
- January 2019: Raised $11 million/ Series B
- May 2018: Raised $25 million/ Series B
- July 2016: Raised $15.6 million/ Series A
- October 2015: Recognised among 30 most disruptive Indian startups in YourStory’s Tech30 list
- May 2015: Raised $2.5 million/ Seed
Five Star Business
Five Star Finance, a lender to small businesses, raised $234 million for a valuation of $1.4 billion. The round was led by existing investors Sequoia Capital India, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, as well as new investors, led by KKR with participation from TVS Capital.
The investment will be made through a combination of primary infusion in the company and secondary shares sold by existing investor Morgan Stanley Private Equity. The company’s other existing — Matrix Partners and TPG Capital — continue to stay invested.
The lender plans to use the capital to expand its lending business to provide much-needed financing solutions to more of India’s small businesses, which comprise a large and growing segment of the country’s economy.
Five Star has its presence in 262 branches spread across eight states of India in the southern and central part of the country. As of December 31, 2020, the company’s AUM stood at Rs 4,030 crore, and its GNPA stood at 1.29 percent.
The social commerce platform Meesho joined the unicorn club earlier this week with its fund-raise of $300 million in a new round, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The company is now valued at $2.1 billion.
The round also saw participation from existing investors Prosus Ventures, Facebook, Shunwei Capital, Venture Highway, and Knollwood Investment. With this funding, the startup plans to build a single digital ecosystem for 100 million small businesses.
The small businesses Meesho is targeting include individual businesses owned and run by women entrepreneurs and homepreneurs, who have become financially independent and successful over the years through Meesho and have carved out their own identities.
The B2B commerce company Infra.Market raised $100 million Series C funding led by Tiger Global. Existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Accel Partners, Sistema Asia Fund, Evolvence India Fund, and Fundamental Capital GmbH participated in this round of funding. The current fundraise takes Infra.Market’s valuation to $1 billion.
Founded by Souvik Sengupta and Aaditya Sharda in 2016, Infra.Market is a procurement marketplace that leverages technology to provide an enhanced procurement experience for all players in the construction ecosystem.
The company is targeting the $140 billion construction materials market with a strong focus on the infrastructure sector.
CRED, the Bengaluru-headquartered fintech startup founded by Kunal Shah, has turned into a unicorn following the closure of its Series D funding at $215 million, with a post-money valuation of $2.2 billion.
CRED had last announced its Series C funding round of $86 million in January 2020, with a valuation of $800 million.
Now, with this latest round of funding, the fintech startup has closed to tripled its valuation. The Series D round was led by a new investor — Falcon Edge Capital — along with existing investor Coatue Management. It also said Insight Partners joins its cap table.
Going forward, an October 2020 report by TiE-Delhi and research firm Zinnov predicted that India will have 100 unicorns by 2025, despite the impact of COVID-19.
In 2020, a key trend showcased by Indian unicorns is the continuous fall in the average age of attaining unicorn status. Going further in 2021, Indian startups are expected to continue to demonstrate this trend.
The potential soonicorns poised to turn unicorn in 2021 include agritech startup CropIn, e-pharmacy startup Pharmeasy, logistics company BlackBuck, auto-tech startup CarDekho, hyperlocal consumer services firm Urban Company, and edtech startup Vedantu, among others.