In 2013, venture capitalist Aileen Lee coined the term “unicorn” to describe any venture-backed privately-held startup companies that are valued at $1 billion or more. Unicorn is a Greek mythical animal with a single horn on its forehead and it symbolises prosperity.
The first Indian startup to enter the unicorn club was a mobile ad-tech firm InMobi, in 2011. By 2019, around 30 Indian startups have entered the elite unicorn club. In 2018 alone, over 10 Indian startups rose to the unicorn club. In the first quarters of 2019, Indian startups Delhivery and Bigbasket joined the club. Founded by Malayalee entrepreneur Hari Menon, Bigbasket is India’s largest online grocery platform with a net worth of 1.2bn dollars.
Byjus, Zomato, Swiggy, Policy Bazaar, Paytm Mall, Freshworks, OYO, Udaan, Delhivery are the Indian firms that have entered unicorn club until now. The online food delivery startup Zomato notched up strong revenue growth by offering more services and products. Zomato has created a loyal customer base and its net worth is valued at 1.1 bn dollars.
Another online food delivery startup Swiggy also entered the unicorn club after raising $210 million dollars from Naspers and DST Global when its value was pegged at 1.3 billion dollars. This made Swiggy the fastest Indian startup to achieve the unicorn status, piggybacking on its strong logistic operations.
The online insurance aggregator Policy Bazaar entered the unicorn club after raising 200 million dollars from SoftBank. Founded in 2008, Policy Bazaar forayed into the healthcare sector in 2018 with 50 million dollar investments. This helped the firm enter the unicorn club.
Education technology startup Byjus is the first startup by a Malayalee to enter the unicorn club. Kannur native Byju Raveendran founded the Bengaluru-based Byjus in 2011. Byjus claims that it has registered a 20% growth every month.
Oyo, India’s largest hotel aggregator, entered the prestigious unicorn club when its value was around 5 billion dollars making it the second highest-valued unicorn in India. OYO marked its entry in countries like China, UAE, UK, Indonesia, Spain, Portugal and Japan in a very short span of 5 years.
Delhivery is India’s first Indian logistic firm to enter the unicorn club. Delhivery is valued close to 2 billion dollars.
As per reports By 2025, over 100 Indian startups will enter the elite unicorn club. Over 30 firms are very close for achieving that feat.