From the record-breaking year 2021, the year 2022 is continuing right away. Three months into 2022, 13 Indian startups joined the unicorn club. This brings the total number of Indian tech startups who have entered the unicorn club to 99. These 99 Indian unicorns have collectively raised $83 Bn in funding and are worth $332 Bn.
Inc42’s data breakdown shows that Indian startups raised $4.6 billion in funding in January 2022 and $3.7 billion in February. January 2022 saw a 5X YoY increase in funding. March already has five unicorns.
2021 was a record year for unicorns. It saw 42 startups and 2 listed businesses reach the billion-dollar valuation. India’s unicorn tracker has placed 74 startups in its unicorn club. This means that India will soon surpass a century of unicorns.
What is a Unicorn?
The term “unicorn” is used in venture capital to refer to a privately owned startup company with a market value exceeding $1 billion. Venture capitalist Aileen LEE, founder of Cowboy Ventures, was the first to popularize this term. Cowboy Ventures is a seed-stage venture fund located in Palo Alto.
Unicorns can also refer to a recruitment phenomenon in the human resource sector. High expectations may lead HR managers to seek candidates who have higher qualifications than the job requires. These managers may be looking for the unicorn. This disconnects between who they can hire and who they cannot.
Indian Startups that Entered the Unicorn Club in 2022
Fractal, an AI and advanced analytics startup, has raised its latest round of funding to become the first unicorn club member in 2022. Private Equity saw $360Mn in funding from TPG Capital Asia, and secondary shares were purchased from Apax Partners funds.
Fractal raised $685 Mn total in 5 rounds of funding. This new investment comes nearly two years after raising $200 million from Apax Partners in 2019. Fractal also received $100 Mn in 2016 from Khazanah, a Malaysian sovereign fund.
It was established by five members, including IIM Ahmedabad alumni Srikanth Velamakanni, Pranay Aggarwal, Pradeep Suryanarayan, and Ramakrishna Reddy. The startup, which is 21 years old, provides advanced analytics and artificial intelligence solutions to Fortune 500 businesses. Fractal Analytics, a 21-year-old startup, provides advanced analytics solutions and artificial intelligence to Fortune 500 companies. It took Fractal Analytics over 20 years to get into the unicorn club. This is at a time that Indian startups are reaching the billion-dollar valuation in just 6.6 years.
LEAD, a Mumbai-based startup, was the first Indian unicorn startup to join the club in 2022. In January, the company raised $100 million in a round led WestBridge Capital and GSV Ventures. This placed it at a $1.1 billion valuation.
This was the fifth round of funding for the company, with the last coming in April 2021. Over 5 rounds, LEAD School raised $166 million in total funding. In 2021, Indian edtech startups received over $4.7 billion in funding. They were the third-most well-funded sector of Indian startup sectors. Only ecommerce ($10.7Bn) and fintech ($8 Bn) attracted more investment.
Sumeet and Smita Mehta 2012 founded LEAD. It enables schools to integrate technology, curriculum, pedagogy, and technology into an integrated teaching-learning system. It is the sixth-largest edtech company in India, after Vedantu, Unacademy, and Eruditas. LEAD claims that it has more than 5,000 schools in 500 Indian cities and serves more than 2 million students.
Hyderabad-headquartered Darwinbox raised $72 Mn in a funding round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) in January, making it the third Indian unicorn minted in 2022. The round also included existing investors such as Sequoia India and Lightspeed India, Endiya Partners (TCV), 3one4Capital, and JGDEV.
It had raised $15 million in funding in January last year from Salesforce Ventures. It raised an additional $15 Mn from Sequoia Capital and $4 Mn in Series A funding in 2017. It has raised $107 million in total funding over seven rounds.
Darwinbox, a cloud-based HRtech startup, was founded in 2015 by Chaitanya Peddi, Jayant Paleti, and Rohit Chennamaneni. It enables companies to automate their entire employee lifecycle using one HR platform. It provides HR services for companies, including recruitment, onboarding and core transactions (leaves/attendance, directory), payroll, people analytics, and travel.
According to the company, it claims to have 500 clients in India and Southeast Asia. These include Tokopedia and Indorama, Zilingo, and Fave.
In 2020, the global HRtech market was worth $22.89 billion. The market is expected to grow at a 5.8% CAGR from $24.04 billion in 2021 to $35.68 billion in 2028, with $22.89 Bn. Estimates show that India will account for $3.6 billion in this market by 2021.
Indian social commerce is expected to grow at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 55%-60%, to reach $16 billion-$20 billion gross merchandise value (GMV) by 2025. Meesho’s entry into the unicorn club was last year’s largest milestone.
Deal share entered the unicorn club in 2022 at $1.62 billion. In a Series E round of funding, Deal share, a Bengaluru-based startup in social commerce, raised $165 million. Existing investors Tiger Global and Alpha Wave Incubation participated in the round, and new investors Kora Investment and DF International Partners. Twenty Nine Capital Partners was also involved.
DealShare raised $330 million in the most recent round. DealShare’s valuation has tripled since July 2021’s last round. DealShare’s gross revenues have increased by 10X in the past year, with an ARR of $750 Mn for FY22.
DealShare was founded in September 2018 by Vinet Rao and Sourjyendu Madda, Sankar Bora, Rajat Shikhar, and Sankar Bora. It is a social ecommerce platform. DealShare allows first-time internet users to shop online. It targets the middle class. The startup sells groceries and essential household products via social media and messenger platforms like WhatsApp.
It has two methods to lower the price of essential products for mass markets: directly sourcing household products from lesser-known brands and via community sales.
ElasticRun, a Pune-based startup, was the first to join the unicorn club in February. Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank led the Kirana commerce startup to raise $300 million in a new round of funding. The round also included Prosus Ventures (Naspers Ventures), Innoven Capital, and Abu Dhabi’s Chimera Investment.
According to Inc42, ElasticRun was valued at $1.5 billion in the Series E round. This new investment comes nearly a year after raising $75 million in a Series D round under the leadership of Avataar Venture Partners. Proses Ventures and Kalaari Capital were also part of the round. The startup was valued at approximately $400 million. The startup’s value has increased by 3.75X due to the new funding.
ElasticRun was founded in 2016 by Sandeep Deshmukh and Saurabh Nigam. This tech platform serves as an extension arm to FMCG companies’ direct distribution networks. It also allows these businesses to reach small Kirana shops in the hinterland. Banks and financial institutions are also involved in the startup to give access to SME customers in the Kirana network. The platform helps Kirana businesses improve their marketing strategies by using data analytics.
Livspace, a platform for interior and home renovation was named the sixth unicorn of 2012. $180 Mn was raised by KKR & Co in the Series F round. This included funding from Venturi Partners, Jungle Ventures, and Peugeot Investments. Livspace has raised nearly $450 Mn in 10 funding rounds.
This is the second major round for the company in 15 months after it raised $90Mn in Series D in Sept 2020. It was led by Venturi Partners and Kharis Capital, a Swiss-based investment firm. Late last year, Saint-Gobain, a French multinational corporation, also acquired a minority stake in this startup.
Anuj Srivastava & Ramakant Sharma founded the Bengaluru-based startup in 2014. Livspace, a curated marketplace, offers an end-to-end home design experience. Software tools are also available on the startup’s online marketplace that can be used to help homeowners and designers design interiors.
The Pune based startup is now part of the Indian unicorn club. The Series F round, led by private equity firms Blackstone Growth and TPG Growth, raised $300 million. Investcorp, Norwest Venture Partners, and other existing investors participated in the round. Xpressbees received $500 Mn in total funding, putting it close to a $1.2 Bn valuation. India boasts four logistics unicorns, including Rivigo, Delhivery, and BlackBuck.
It has been almost two years since raised $110 million in Series E funding from Investcorp and Norwest Venture Partners. The startup was valued at $400 million in the round. The latest round of funding has increased Xpressbees’ valuation by 3X.
Xpressbees, an ecommerce logistics firm that provides express delivery services was founded in 2015. It was spun off from FirstCry, the ecommerce giant. It’s present in 3,000 cities and serves over 20,000 pin codes. Each day, it delivers more than 1.5 million packages.
Xpressbees currently has 100 hubs in India, with over 10 million sq ft of warehouse space. It also operates at 52 airports throughout the country. Firstcry also manages GlobalBees, a thrasio-styled roll-up company that joined the unicorn club last year.
Uniphore was the eighth Indian startup to join the unicorn club in 2022, having raised $400 million at a valuation of $2.5 billion. The round was led and participated in by NEA, with the participation of existing investors.
Ravi Saraogi founded the conversational automation unicorn in 2008 with Umesh Sachdev. Ravi Saraogi and Umesh Sachdev founded the conversational automation unicorn in 2008. The startup combines conversational AI, workflow automation, and RPA (Robotic Process Automation), creating a single platform that transforms and democratizes customer experiences across all industries.
Uniphore made two acquisitions in 2021. Emotion Research Lab to enhance emotion AI capabilities, and Jacada for improved low-code/no-code capabilities.
The current round brings the total funding for the unicorn to $610 Mn.
Hasura was the ninth Indian startup to join the unicorn club in 2022. In February 2022, Greenoaks Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Vertex Ventures raised $100 million from Hasura, GraphQL developer, in its Series C round.
The Indian startup was founded in 2018 by Tanmai Gopal and Rajoshi Ghosh and provides data access, data flow tools, and services via GraphQL APIs. This allows for data delivery to be accelerated. To date, it has raised nearly $136.5 million in funding. It claims its app has been downloaded over 400 Mn times, and it has received more than 25,000 GitHub stars in the time since its launch in 2018.
CredAvenue, a Chennai-based startup, has been valued at $1 billion. Insight Partners, a New York-based firm, led the Series B financing round that raised $135 million for the fintech startup. Insight Partners, New York-based, led the round. Existing investors like Sequoia Capital and Light rock, Lightspeed Ventures, and TVS Capital were also present at the round.
According to Inc42, CredAvenue’s value reached $1.2 Bn with this funding. The startup secured $90 million in Series A funding, making it the second-largest Indian startup investment. Sequoia Capital led the round, along with Light rock Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, and Kunal Shah’s Cred. Stride Ventures was also involved. CredAvenue’s value soared to $410 million thanks to the funding.
CredAvenue, a platform for connecting enterprises with investors and lenders, was founded by Gaurav Kumar in 2017. The company offers five products that cater to specific needs, including CredLoan, CredCoLend and Plutus, and CredSCF. It claims to have over 2.3K corporate clients and more than 750 lenders.
Amagi, a media-focused SaaS startup, has joined the unicorn club. It raised $95 million in a round led by Accel. The round also included existing investors like Norwest Venture Partners, Avataar Ventures, etc.
Amagi raised $100 million last September from Accel Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and existing investor Premji Invest. The deal also includes the purchase of stakes by Emerald Media (an investment platform backed by KKR and Mayfield Fund), giving the venture funds an exit.
Amagi was founded in 2008 by Baskar Subramanian and Srinivasan K.A. Srividhya Srinivasan. It offers targeted advertising and cloud broadcasting solutions for streaming and broadcast TV platforms. This startup claims it will allow content owners to launch, distribute, and profit from live, linear channels on free-ad supported TV and video services platforms.
The financial arm of B2B commerce marketplace OfBusiness, Oxyzo has been valued at a billion dollars by raising one of the largest Series A rounds. The company raised $200 million from Alpha Wave Venture Partners, Tiger Global Venture Partners, Matrix Partners, Matrix Partners, Creation Investments, and Norwest Venture Partners. This is Oxyzo’s first round of institutional funding.
It was founded in 2016 by Ruchi Kalra and Asish Mohapatra, founders of OfBusiness. The platform provides cash flow and matching working capital financing to purchase new materials for SMEs in manufacturing and contracting. According to the startup, it has $350 Mn assets under its management and is growing at 100% year on year. Oxyzo currently serves 2,500+ Indian SMEs and disburses loans above INR 4,000 Cr annually.
It offers the ability to pay interest over the term of credit lines, insufficient documentation, and interest rates as low as 18% per year. OfBusiness also provides priority for raw materials.
Games24x7 is now the 13th Indian unicorn, having raised $75 million in its latest round of funding from the Malabar India Fund. The existing investor, Tiger Global, a US-based hedge fund, was also a participant. The investment will be made in two tranches. The first tranche includes an investment of $32 Mn, while the second tranche comes from the same group of investors.
According to Inc42 calculations, the startup based in Mumbai saw its valuation rise by 3X from $692 million in June 2013 to $2.1 billion last year. Its latest investment comes nearly a year after raising $18 million from Jonathan Sawyer and Frederick Emmer Pollock.
Games24x7 was founded in 2006 by Bhavin Pandya and Trivikraman Thampy. It houses popular brands like RummyCircle and My11 Circle, an online game. RummyCircle claims that it has more than 30 million registered users. It also adds 50K users daily. Since its inception, the company’s cricket fantasy gaming product My11Circle has been downloaded 6 million times.