India added three ‘unicorns’ per month in 2021 to nearly double the overall number of startups valued at over USD 1 billion to 51 as of end-August, a report said on Thursday. Even as, cumbersome regulations are forcing startups to leave India and settle in other countries where they enjoy better treatment, as per the Hurun India, which prepared the list.
It can be noted that over the last few years, dedicated efforts have been undertaken to hone the startups ecosystem by the government through flagship initiatives like ‘Startup India’. Hurun said the number of gazelles, which are valued over USD 500 million can turn unicorn in two years, was pegged at 32, while there are 54 cheetahs commanding a tag of over USD 200 million, who can achieve the coveted status in four years, as per the Hurun India Future Unicorn list.
The future unicorns are valued at USD 36 billion, it said, adding that the leap to being a unicorn can also happen swiftly, as seen in five ‘cheetahs’ which directly jumped into the unicorn club during the last eight months. Anas Rahman Junaid, managing director and chief researcher at Hurun India, said preparing the list of such companies which get private placements was a difficult task and added that inputs have been taken from venture capital funds.
“India is home to more than 600 million internet users and is expected to have 900 million users by 2025. The adoption of the internet in rural areas will further compliment the rise of technology start-ups. Fintech companies operating in mobile payments, insurance, blockchain, stock trading and digital lending will grow further to capitalize the internet penetration,” he said. At present, India is the third in the list of countries having the most unicorns, trailing the US (396) and China (277), but ahead of UK (32) and Germany (18), it said.
Rahman, however, hinted that the number could have been higher in India because some startups have left the country after achieving a certain scale for better regulations and capital availability. “Some of the best enterprise SaaS (software as a service) companies are born in India but ‘flipped’ to the USA. This is a lost opportunity for India and it is important that these start-ups are incentivised to stay back in the country,” he said.
Among the future Unicorns, e-commerce player Zilingo leads the list, followed by Mobile Premier League and Rebel Foods. At a time when debates rage over the importance of pedigree, the list said IITs and IIMs are the biggest bases to churn out successful entrepreneurs, stating that 17 founders graduated from IIT Delhi, followed by 15 from IIT Bombay and 13 from IIT Kanpur, while IIM-Ahmedabad was the favourite post-graduation school with 13 founders in the list.
Bengaluru is home to 31 startups in the list, followed by Delhi NCR at 18 and Mumbai trails with 13. From an age perspective, 11 co-founders of companies in the list were under 30 years, while 15 were above 50 years, it said. The top investors in the Gazelles and Cheetahs in the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021 are Sequoia, followed by Tiger Global with 37 and 18 investments, respectively.