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The Unseen Unicorns: Small Starts to Big Businesses

There are many ways a startup can fund itself, a few being: bootstrapping, crowdfunding, incubators/accelerators and Venture Capitalists. The lack of capital is the major setback that entrepreneurs face and why they turn to VC. But very few have the chance to be one of the special few we consider a unicorn.

For those of you who are new to entrepreneurship, “VC (venture capital) is a form of private equity financing provided by venture capital firms or funds to startups, early-stage, and emerging companies that have been deemed to have high growth potential or which have demonstrated high growth.” as defined by Wikipedia.

Simply put, VC are either people or firms that invest – provide monetary funds – to the startup, in exchange for equity. 

What is meant by a Unicorn Company?

In the VC industry, the term unicorn refers to a startup that has reached a valuation of $1 Billion. Some popular unicorns are Airbnb, Uber, SpaceX, Buzzfeed, Quora and Grammarly to name a few. The term was first coined by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures. The term is used to refer to the rarity of such an occurrence.

This is a difficult milestone to reach by a company on its own, many turn to other ways of financing, VC is a very popular choice, to expand the company and increase the revenue and valuation. The company may go through many rounds of financing before they are able to reach a valuation of $1 Billion.

The diversity in India is reflected by its innovations and revolution in the startup scene, and while the number of startups have tremendously grown in the last two years so has the number of Unicorn Companies in the country.

India has reached the status of the ‘3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world’. A title that is not thrown around lightly, there has been a lot of work and sweat that has gone into getting this title by many companies, a few of them have been compiled by us in Top 15 Successful Startup Companies in India.

What is the criteria to be a unicorn?

Innovation: most companies that have reached the unicorn status have caused major changes in their respective industries and revolutionized the way they conduct business. Like Uber, they have changed the way that people commute and how booking takes place.

Technology: most companies are able to achieve efficiency and maximum optimization of business by integrating new tech and IoT services into the product development process or the way the services are given. An example would be blackbuck, they have taken logistics into another league by using IoT and tracking software to keep an eye on their pilots and trucks.  

Being New: the companies in the unicorn list are usually either companies that have been keen on innovations and have been the first to implement a new method or business model to help them reach optimum in their industry.

Type of products: the goal of a company is to manufacture products that can make everyday tasks and life easier. It is imperative to know your product inside-out and potential customer base and to produce a product in line with all the criteria’s and market in such a way as to optimize reaching the wanted demographic.

Cars24

Website: https://www.cars24.com/about-us/ 

The company website has seen 4X the website engagement post-covid and has sold over 2,00,000 units. The company was launched in 2015 by Vikram Chopra, Mehul Agrawal, Gajendra Jangid and Ruchit Agarwal. The first round of funding commenced in 2018, 3 years after the company was founded and was able to raise a sum of $50 million in Series A and Series B. The company saw a tremendous growth in sales within the first month of its inception. 

RazorPay

Website: https://razorpay.com/ 

The company was founded in 2013 by Harsil Mathur and Sashank Kumar and is based in Bangalore. The company provides payment and monetary solutions to businesses and individuals. It participated in the Y combinators cohort in 2015, and raises about $120,000 in funding. Since then, they have steadily grown both in revenue and the funding that they have raised from investors.

Pine Labs

Website: https://www.pinelabs.com/ 

Founded in 1998 by Lokvir Kapoor, Rajul Garg and Tarun Upaday, the company offers financing and financial transactions technology. The company has more than 70,000 retailers across India and has expanded into other parts of Asia. The company changed from petroleum automation solutions to becoming a payment service. 

Dream11

Website: https://www.dream11.com/  

This is the first Indian gaming company to enter the unicorn club. It was founded in 2008 by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth. By 2014 the company had reached 1 million registered followers which increased to 2 million in 2016, by 2018 they had 45 million users. Their investors include Kalaari Capital, Think Investments, Multiple Equities and Tencent among a few. Dream11 raised an undisclosed amount in 2015, in series A of funding from Kalaari Capital.

Mu Sigma

Website: https://www.mu-sigma.com/ 

Mu Sigma offers data analytics using decision science and data science. It was founded by Dhiraj Rajaram in 2004. In 2008 the company raised its first investment of $30 million from FTV Capital. It offers marketing analytics, brand/customer equity analysis, customer satisfaction analysis, marketing measurement, retention modelling, prospecting and optimization, and others.

Zerodha

Website: https://zerodha.com/ 

It is a company that lets individuals invest in stock, mutual funds, broking and bonds. The company was founded in 2010 by Nithin Kamath, who himself is an investor, had been in the game since he was 17 years old. By 2019, the company was the largest stock broker in India. They were titled as a unicorn in 2020. The company has about 12 lakh customers and won the award in the “Bootstrap Champ” category in “Economic Times Startup Awards 2016”. Nitin has gone from eating an engineering degree to successfully running his own billion-dollar company.

Nykaa

Website: https://www.nykaa.com/ 

Nykaa was founded in 2012 by Falguni Nyar. The company is an online retail store for wellness, makeup and fashion products. They have over 3 lakh products from 1,500 brands. It was inducted into the unicorn club when the company raised INR 100 crore from Steadview Capital in march 2020.

Hike

Website: https://hike.in/ 

The application was launched in 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal. It is an Indian freeware and cross-platform messaging application. The program can work offline as well via SMS and has a standard one-time password for authentication. As per CB Insights, the company is valued at 1.4 billion with more than 100 million mersisters users in 2016. It was able to raise $7,000,000 from Bharti SoftBank in 2013, a year after its launch.

CitrusTech

Website: https://www.citiustech.com/aboutus/ 

CitrusTech is a healthcare technology service provider, which has partnered with about 50 healthcare companies across the globe. The company has over 1,400 healthcare professionals and they are present in more than 5,000 locations. They have a plethora of awards, a few of them being – 2019 Innovators Award for the Best Value-Based Care Solution and Best Companies to Work Award for 7 years in a row. The company was founded in 2005 and acquired $111.3 million in funding in 2014 from General Atlantic.

Icertic

Website: https://www.icertis.com/ 

Icertic is a software company that provides management software for businesses. It was founded in 2009 by Samir Badas and Monish Darda and is present in 12 locations with its headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, US. The company started Series A funding in 2015, raising a collective of $6 million from their investors. The company uses AI technology to ease contact management with easy-to-use tools. A few of their customers are Airbus, Microsoft and Roche. They have managed about 5.7 million contracts in over 40 languages across 90 countries.

InMobi

Website: https://www.inmobi.com/ 

The company was launched in 2007 by Naveen Tewari, Mohit Saxena, Amit Gupta and Abhay Singhal under the name mKhoj with SMS based mobile advertising services. It was renamed as InMobi in 2008. The company has raised a total of 4215.6 million in three rounds of funding and is Indian first unicorn startup company.

Some other unicorn startups to know about are given below. They are international companies that have started from the ground up and the way they do business has changed the landscape of entrepreneurship. Some of them started out to solve simple problems or problems that they themselves faced, and built a booming business out of it. 

MailChimp

Website: https://mailchimp.com/ 

Necessity may be the mother of all inventions, however the hate for a tedious task can mean an innovation and a billion-dollar company. This is exactly why Co-Founder Ben Chestnut came up with MailChimp. He integrated services like demographic data, marketing tools and business insight while streamlining the process with automation technology and easy to use built in tools. Since its inception in 2001, it has amassed a revenue of $700 million, as of 2019.

Lynda

Website: https://www.lynda.com/ (https://www.linkedin.com/learning/me)

Teaching is a profession that leaves much to learn. While trying to teach web designing tools, the founder – Lynda Weinman realises that there is not much material that she thought up to par, and went on to make instruction videos to help educated her students better. As the number of her tutorials increased, so did her customer base, she helped developers and designers improve their skills. The company was later acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion and renamed LinkedIn Learning.

SimpliSafe

Website: https://simplisafe.com/ 

A hardware business is hard to self-fund, but not impossible as shown by Chad Laurans and Eleanor Laurans. The company manufactures and sells self-installed security systems since its inception in 2006. The couple in the beginning soldered and assembled the circuit themselves to save money. It was launched in the year 2009 and in one year they had made $1.4 million in revenue.

SparkFun Electronics

Website: https://www.sparkfun.com/ 

This company manufactures and sells microcontroller development boards. All products are sold under the category of open-source hardware. It was founded in 2003, by Nathan Seidle and has become a popular supplier of circuit boards and Arduino related devices. Its main customers are from robotics, IoT experimental groups and people from hackerspace and electronic based events like the AVC (Autonomous Vehicle Challenge), an event held by SparksFun.

ShutterStock

Website: https://www.shutterstock.com/ 

The best job is the one that combines a way to make money and fulfils a passion. ShutterStock was the perfect combination of both for Jon Oringer, who is a professional software developer and an amateur photographer. The company was founded in 2003 and is a provider of stock photography and music as well as editing tools. The company’s library consists of around 200 million royalty free photos and illustrations and around 10 million video clips and music tracks available for licensing.

Wayfair

Website: https://www.wayfair.com/ 

This is an e-commerce website, launched in 2002 and formerly known as CSN Stores. Their projects range from furniture, rugs, appliances, and decor and lighting. The company has more than 14 million products ranging over a wide number of brands. Wayfair is present in the United States, Canada, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Cards Against Humanity

Website: https://cardsagainsthumanity.com/ 

This is a part game, and one which is very popular. It is in a fill-in-the-blank format, with a main black card and a few white answer cards. The objective is to make a sentence that would normally be considered as offensive, politically incorrect or risqué. It was released in 2011 with a start by a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that saw a total funding of $15,000. They were able to reach their original goal of $4,000 in under weeks.

Conclusion

A unicorn is not something of fables and fairy tales anymore. It is now a very real and tangible thing, even if it doesn’t happen to be a mythical creature, it is still just as rare and extraordinary.

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Top 15 Successful Startup Companies in India

India is a country with a population of 135.26 crores and about  55 thousand startups in 2020. It’s not very surprising with the fact that the forecasted GDP is 8.6% in 2021, making it the ‘3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world’ as started by startupindia.gov.in.

This is the first edition of The Indian Startups Top 15 Startups in India. We have compiled all the startups that have made it big, made it new and made it in 2020. Some of them are new, some of them are old, but all of them are noteworthy and here to stay.

This is our countdown of top 15 startups in India.

  1. Meesho

Industry: Commerce and Shopping

Website: https://meesho.com/ 

Founded by IIT Delhi graduates, Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, Meesho has been steadily growing its customer base and has become a website for many entrepreneurs looking to resell their products. It is easy and safe to use, bring an easy solution to stay-at-home or busy people looking to expand into building a business. Meesho is providing a platform for small businesses and individuals to sell their products online, enabling them to grow sales via WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.

  1. ShareChat

Industry: Software/ Social Network

Website: https://sharechat.com/ 

It is a regional networking platform, allowing Indians to use their services in their mother tongue. It has a range of 15 native languages. Developed by Mohalla Tech Pvt. Ltd. and it was founded by Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh and Farid Ahsan in 2015. Since then it has reached over 160 million active users. It is a very popular platform to share and create content, with the app having an open tagging feature, for the users to create their own tags.

  1. Rivigo

Industry: Logistics

Website: https://www.rivigo.com/ 

It is a technology based logistics company, founded by Deepal Garg and Gazal Kalra, that is revolutionizing the way logistic companies work and deliver. They have lowered transmit time and made strides to ease driver fatigue, find the best path to deliver the goods. It has its own fleet of trucks and it remains an undisputed leader in its industry, taking extra steps to create a relay of drivers and clock in certain hours to keep their pilots in good shape and form, while being able to deliver goods as promised.

  1. Blackbuck

Industry: Logistics

Website: https://www.blackbuck.com/ 

It was founded in 2015 by Rajesh Yabaji, Chanakya Hridaya and Ramasubramaniam B. They have scaled up to 1000+ employees in 1000+ locations and 200,000+ trucks. They are using machine-learning algorithms to provide a real time prediction on time of delivery. They have had a hand in policy initiatives for their sector to free up movement of goods and services, partnering with the Indian Government.

  1. Delhivery

Industry: Logistics

Website: https://www.delhivery.com/ 

This is a logistics and a supply chain service company. The company provides logistics such as deliveries, transportation and storage spaces among many. It was founded in 2011 by Sahil Barua, Mohit Tandon, Bhavesh Manglani, Suraj Saharan and Kapil Bharati. It is based in Gurugram and has about 75 warehouses, 2 automated centers, 70 hubs, and 2500 delivery centers, a fleet of 14,000 vehicles and is run by about 40,000 employees.

  1. cure.fit

Industry: Lifestyle and Health

Website: https://www.cure.fit/ 

Founded by Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori in 2016, this company has taken great strides in the healthcare industry, curating a combination of healthy food and working out sessions, both at home and on site. They have expanded into other sectors, mind.fit for mental fitness and health with guided meditation sessions and sleep stories, care.fit is for medical consultations with diagnostic and pharmacy facilities.

  1. Lenskart

Industry: Lifestyle and Health

Website: https://www.lenskart.com/ 

This company is a retail chain that offers a wide range of perspective eyewear. It was founded in 2010 by Peyush Bansal, Amit Chaudhary and Sumeet Kapahi. It is one of the two top optical chains in India, the other being Titan Eye Plus. It has about 500 stores across India, and provides hundreds of glassware designs, including very popular and international brands.

  1. Cred

Industry: Lifestyle and Health

Website: https://www.cred.club/ 

Its headquarter resides in Bengaluru, founded by Kunal Shah in 2018. It is a credit card bill payment app. It comes under the 50 Future Unicorns by CB Insights. In 2018, the company started with a seed investment of $1 million. In 2019, the funding rose to 425 million from Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, with participation from angel investors like Max Levchin, Jitendra Gupta, Koh Boon Hwee among a few.

  1. Swiggy

Industry: Commerce and Shopping

Website: https://www.swiggy.com/ 

Swiggy is one of the highest valued, online food ordering and delivery platforms. It was founded in 2014 by Nandan Reddy, Sriharsha Majety and Rahul Jaimini. The company operates in over 300 cities across India. In 2019, Swiggy expanded into general products and groceries under  the name: Swiggy Stores. In the same year, they also launched a pickup and drop service, Swiggy Go.

  1. Grofers

Industry: Commerce and Shopping

Website: https://grofers.com/ 

Founded by Saurabh Kumar and Albinder Dhindsa in 2013. This is an online grocery delivery service, based out of Gurugram. It operates in 29 cities in India and was one of the few companies to operate during the COVID lockdown, considered as essential workers. Their products range from regular groceries, beauty and wellness products, household care to baby or pet care.

  1. Udaan

Industry: E-commerce

Website: https://udaan.com/ 

Udaan is a B2B (business to business) trade platform. Founded by Amod Malviya, Sujeet Kumar and Vaibhav Gupta, it was launched in 2016. It helps connect retailers to wholesale companies, they sell products ranging from electronics, to fresh produce to household groceries. They make B2B commerce efficient and connect manufacturers, traders and retailers all in one platform.

  1. BYJU’S

Industry: Education

Website: https://byjus.com/

Founded by Byju Raveendran in 2011, it has quickly become the most popular educational company in India. It has been the most valued educational company, at Rs.2,800 crore revenue as claimed by the company itself in May 2020. It was developed by Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd. and has since amassed 1.5 million users.

  1. upGrad

Industry: Education

Website: https://www.upgrad.com/ 

Founded by Rohinton Soli Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli and Ravijot Chung in 2015. upGrad is an educational based company that focuses on higher education and the specialization sector, they have courses and material on subjects such as Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, Digital Technology Management, etc. The company is the official education partner for the Government of India – Startup India Program.

  1. ReNew Power

Industry: Energy

Website: https://renewpower.in/ 

This company is dedicated to renewable energy, it develops, builds and operates renewable energy facilities. It was established in 2011 by Sumant Sinha and has its headquarters in Gurgaon. It is reportedly the largest renewable energy production company in India, it currently operates 110 projects in 8 cities. They have been a pioneer in setting the benchmarks in the renewable energy industry.

  1. OYO

Industry: Travel and Tourism

Website: https://www.oyorooms.com/ 

OYO is a hospitality chain that offers affordable and standardized accommodations. Founded by Ritesh Agarwal in 2013, since then it has expanded internationally to countries like the UAE, China, Malaysia, Brazil, Nepal, Japan, the United States and more. The company started under the name Oravel travels to enable listing and booking of under-budget accommodations, later to be renamed as OYO.

India has seen tremendous growth in the economy and the number of startups in 2019, 7 unicorn startups came to be, raising the total to 24, which has increased faith in the innovation  and revolution of the indian startups scene.

This is Indian Startups with Top 15 Startups in India 2020.