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National Start-Up Day: Will India’s Unicorn Start-Ups sky-rocket in 2022?

This National Start-up Day, here is a list of Indian start-ups entered in Unicorn club in 2021


  • National Start-up Day
  • What is Unicorn Start-up?
  • Timeline of Unicorn Start-ups in India
  • What triggered the Unicorn boom in India?
  • Conclusion

National Start-up Day: On 15 January 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with over 150 start-ups across sectors through video conferencing on Saturday. Each group were asked to prepare a presentation before the PM on the various themes, which is being done to understand how start-ups can contribute to the national needs by driving innovation in the country. The event marks the 6th anniversary of the launch of the Start-up India initiative.

 January 16 from now, is marked as ‘ National Start-up Day’ by PM Modi.

 Further, he said that start-ups are going to be the backbone of new India. When India completes 100 years of independence, start-ups will have an important role. The country’s innovators are making the country proud globally. And how for that we have to understand the universe of unicorns.

No, this read will not be going to give a tour to a fairyland. On the contrary, it is going to introduce you to a milestone achieved last year!

The year 2021 undoubtedly belongs to the Indian start-ups. Syncing with PM Modi’s start-up India initiative, many Indian start-up companies entered the Unicorn club. And the number is no less than 42.

What is Unicorn Start-up?

Unicorn start-up is a term referred to a privately helped start-up company that reaches a valuation of $1 billion. This term was first popularized in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee. She founded a Cowboy Venture, a seed-stage fund focused found in 2012. It is based in Palo Alto, California.

Timeline of Unicorn Start-ups in India

In the year 2011, InMobi, a mobile ad tech firm was India’s first and only start-up which was valued at 1 billion dollars.

The case was similar in 2012 and even in 2013 where Flipkart and Mu Sigma, respectively, secured their place in the Unicorn club.

 The figure jumped to 3, each in 2014 when info edge, Ola cabs, and Snapdeal entered, and in 2015, Quikr, Paytm, and Zomato were also there.

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We got messaging App like Hike and shopping app ShopClues in 2016. The number dipped to one in 2017, where the position was secured by ReNew Power.

However, soon in 2018, we saw 10 start-ups entering the unicorn world, that were OYO, BYJUs, Phonepe, Swiggy, Freshworks, Paytm mall, Urban Clap, Billdesk, Rivigo, and Policy Bazaar.

Seven companies, Icertis applied cloud, Lenskart, BigBasket, Cruva, Delhivery, Ola Mission Electric, Dream 11, entered the club in 2019.

The number soared to 11 in 2020. They were FirstCry, Pine Labs, Unacademy, Nykaa, Razorpay, Zerodha, Postman, Cars24, glance, Zenoti, and Dailyhunt.

However, a remarkable number of 42 was achieved in 2021. This means India added 42-billion-dollar companies in just 12 months. Together all these unicorns have raised more than 12 billion dollars in funding. They are collectively valued at more than 90 billion dollars.

On January 15, 2021, Digit insurance became the first company to enter the club last year. Whereas Pristyn Care entered on December 8, 2021.

Mensa, a brand with fashion and person care label founded by Ananth Narayan made a new record by becoming a unicorn in just 6 months and registering itself as the youngest unicorn.

Meanwhile, in March 2021, Chennai-based NBFC Five-star business finance achieved the status after 37 years. Its chairman & MD is Lakshmipathy Deenadayalan.

Fintech unicorns

Fintech is unarguably the biggest contributor to the unicorn universe.

Cred, Grow, Zeta, Bharatpe, Mobiqwick, Upstox, and slice were some of the fintech editions.

Cred founded by Kunal Shah in 2018, became the youngest Fintech Unicorn raised 3 funding rounds in total with a current valuation of more than 4 billion dollars.

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Ed-tech unicorns

With a valuation of $21 billion, India’s most successful unicorn is ed-tech industry leader BYJU. It is ranked 15th in the world.  Nevertheless now, its 3 rivals have joined the unicorn club as well. That is Eduditus, upGrad and Vedantu.

Crypto unicorns

India’s tech start-ups gained greater investor confidence this year. Despite regulatory uncertainty, India also saw 2 crypto unicorns in the form of CoinDCX and Coinswitchkuber.

B2B commerce Unicorns

The business-to-business commerce space too saw a fundraising frenzy with Inframarket, Moglix, Ofbusiness, and Zetwerk turning unicorns.

We got at least one from these sectors too.

Food tech Unicorns – Rebel foods

Heath tech Unicorns – PharmEasy, Innovaccer, Pristyn care,

Property tech Unicorns – Nobroker

Social commerce Unicorns – Meesho

India saw its first health tech unicorn, Innovaccer, first social commerce unicorn Meesho, first direct to consumer unicorn Licious and first E-Pharmacy Unicorn.

The investor’s unicorn search went beyond just the metros and tier-one cities.

Jaipur-based Car Dekho founded by Amit Jain became India’s first non-metro Unicorn.

The funding activity was led by Sequoia Capital, Tiger global, Softbank group, and Accel.

National Start-Up Day
National Start-Up Day

What triggered the Unicorn boom in India?

India managed to give a handsome number of unicorns amid a pandemic where most businesses collapsed. Experts pointed 3 factors.

  1. Digital payment ecosystem

A thriving digital payment ecosystem penetrated every aspect of life during the pandemic. A total of 44 million digital payments were recorded in 2021. This helped start-ups to expand their user base.

  1. Digital-first business model

Almost every new start-up especially in India is adopting a digital-first approach. It is personalized and technologically advanced.

  1. Larger Smartphone user base

With lockdowns and work from home becoming the new norm, smartphones became even more important. India’s smartphone reached a record 173 million units in 2021. That is a 14 percent rise in just one year. This made more start-ups accessible to Indians.


India’s exceptional record of new unicorns is itself a huge feat. It has overtaken the United Kingdom to become the third in most unicorns added after the United States and China.

Achieving this milestone was once considered difficult but India’s 2021 example shows that the term unicorn no longer holds the same weight as before. It is raining unicorn has clearly been the motto of 2022 too. Therefore, it is also expected that some soonicorns are going to join the club this year with a greater score.

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Ayushi Mittal

In her journey to become a journalist, Ayushi can inculcate your tale through her news writings. You may find her with a mike in protests, rallies, or in museums. So what's your story?
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