India’s tech startup ecosystem is approximately 15-year-old with the likes of JustDial and Naukri.com among its early lot of internet enterprises. It took around another 15 years for the country to get its first unicorn – MakeMyTrip in 2010. Since then, the ecosystem has churned out 44 such one-horned digital entities that have cumulatively created around $106 billion value so far and over 1.4 million direct and indirect employment annually, according to venture capital fund Orios Venture Partners. Among prominent early-stage VCs, Orios was associated with startups including Ola, Druva, Zostel, Pretty Secrets, PharmEasy, and more.
InMobi, Flipkart, Ola, Paytm, Byju’s, OYO, Swiggy, Zomato, PhonePe, Lenskart, and more had added to the unicorn list over the past decade including the recent ones such as Unacademy, Glance, Nykaa, Zerodha, FirstCry, etc. The ecosystem has already gone through cycles of boom, bust, and funding winter in the last 10 years fueled by valuation bubble, investors’ optimism because of fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) syndrome, failure of multiple emerging startups, and more. Post-2015 correction in how investors look at startup valuations, the focus has been gradually shifting to profitability even as many leading startups continue to burn significant capital annually.
Importantly, the average time taken by startups to hit the $1-billion valuation mark stood at 8 years. However, this is declining. From 8.7 years taken by startups founded during 2007-09 period to become a unicorn, the duration reduced to 2.4 years for startups launched during 2016-17, the report by Orios titled Indian Tech Unicorn noted. While fintech segment saw the maximum number of unicorns (11), retail and software-as-a-service posted six and five unicorns respectively. Data analytics, online classifieds, logistics, travel, food, and education were other segments churning out more than one unicorn.
“Most of these (unicorns) are backed by technology and that is the key differentiating factor between unicorns of the 21st century vs the prior era. We are proud to be associated with 3 unicorns – Ola, Druva, Pharmeasy since their early days and look forward to being part of another 3-5 unicorns over the next few years,” said Rehan Yar Khan, Managing Partner, Orios Venture Partners. Bengaluru had a majority – 41 per cent of these unicorns while 34 per cent were based in Delhi NCR, 14 per cent in Mumbai, and the rest in Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad.