Six Unicorns, Four Days, $1.55 Billion: Historic Boom For India’s Tech Industry

India's tech industry

India minted at least six new startups in just four days with a valuation of $1.55 billion last week, making it historic for India’s tech industry.

Six deals announced last week which spanned through various sectors, including healthcare ( Pharmeasy), social commerce ( Meesho), fintech ( Groww and Cred), and social and content platforms ( Gupshup and ShareChat parent Mohalla Tech).

Tiger Global, an American investment firm headquartered in New York, emerged as the most aggressive investor with investments in four of the six new unicorns. It was the driving force behind the $502 million round in ShareChat and the $83 million round in Groww and was the sole investor in the $100 million round of Gupshup, which raised money after a decade.

MEESHO

Meesho is a social commerce startup that operates an online sales platform for micro, small and medium businesses across India. The Bengaluru-based company announced that it had raised $300 million in a new round of funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 that has taken its valuation to $2.1 billion. The newest unicorn said in a statement, the latest investment round also saw participation from its existing investors- Prosus Ventures, Facebook, Shunwei Capital, Venture Highway and Knollwood Investment.

CRED

Cred is a fintech startup that automates all credit card payments and manages the cards on a single portal. It is officially now the second fastest Indian start-up to emerge as a unicorn by achieving the feat in just 29 months of its launch. Again based out of Bengaluru, the company announced that it had raised $215 million in a Series D funding round taking its valuation to $ 2.2 billion. The Series D round was led by a new investor, Falcon Edge Capital and Insight Partners. It also saw existing investors like DST Global, RTP Global, Tiger Global, Greenoaks Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, and Sofina, the company said in a statement.

Read about the new startups in India’s food and wellness industry.

PHARMEASY

PharmEasy is an online pharmacy company, owned by API Holdings. The company announced that it has raised $350 million in a Series E funding round and is now valued at close to $1.5 billion. The funding round was led by Prosus Ventures and TPG Growth. It also saw some existing investors – Temasek, CDPQ, LGT Lightrock, Eight Roads, and Think Investments.

GROWW

Groww is an online investment platform that allows investors to open an account electronically and transact in mutual funds and stocks online. The Bengaluru-based company announced that it had raised $83 million in a Series D funding round, taking its valuation to over $1 billion. The funding round was led by Tiger Global and saw the company’s existing investors – Sequoia Capital India, Ribbit Capital, YC Continuity and Propel Venture Partners. Groww which was started in 201, claims to have more than 1.5 crore registered users.

GUPSHUP

Gupshup is a messaging services company with primary operations in India, the US and UK. It has been providing SMS, email, Voice, USSD and IP messaging and chatbot development services to leading BFSI, retail, e-commerce companies. The company announced that it had raised $100 million from Tiger Global Management, taking its valuation to $1.4 billion.

SHARECHAT

ShareChat is an Indian social media and social networking service owned by the app developer Mohalla tech which also runs Moj. The company surpassed a $2.1 billion valuation after it raised $502 million in a funding round which was led by Lightspeed Ventures and Tiger Global. The funding also saw investment from Twitter and Snap Inc. in the latest round.

According to market researcher CB Insights. India had a total of seven new unicorns in all of 2020. In 2019, it had six. 2021 has already seen the birth of 10 unicorns – that is what India’s tech industry calls it because it is such a rarity.

Several startups emerging recently show signs of potential in India. Digital payments giant Paytm reached a valuation of $16 billion, making it the most valuable in the country. Online education startup Byju’s is raising money at a $15 billion valuation. Walmart acquired e-commerce giant, Flipkart is planning an IPO in the fourth quarter that could value the firm at more than $35 billion.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of online technologies in India. India’s tech industry trade body, Nasscom reported in January that more than 1,600 new startups were founded last year during the Coronavirus pandemic and the stringent lockdowns taking the total in the country to over 12,500.

According to the report, more than 55 of these are potential unicorns, and are often referred to as “soonicorns.” Executives who got experience at leading startups such as Flipkart and Paytm are breaking out to set up their own companies, just like in Silicon Valley, and entrepreneurs who have had successful exits are turning to their second or third startups.

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