From Postman to Look, these 11 Indian startups entered the $1B+ membership in a pandemic-hit yea

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If anybody would’ve predicted in the beginning of this pandemic-hit yr that 2020 will see a document variety of new unicorns created within the Indian startup ecosystem, it is secure to imagine that we would have rebuffed these claims.

And but, 2020 has proved to be a yr in contrast to some other for the Indian startup ecosystem, heralding the delivery of 11 new Indian unicorns.

InMobi’s subsidiary Look turned the newest addition to this coveted $1 billion+ valuation membership in December, together with DailyHunt’s mother or father firm VerSe Innovation, following investments of over $100 million by present and new traders, together with Google.

Since 2012, when Inmobi turned India’s first unicorn to right now, when the ecosystem has greater than 35 unicorn startups, India’s unicorn panorama has come a good distance. 

The frequency at which Indian startups are coming into this coveted membership of billion-dollar valuation is noteworthy. So is also the soundness and the expansion that these companies have achieved even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As 2020 attracts its curtains, here’s a YourStory deep-dive into the 11 Indian startups that turned unicorns in a pandemic-hit yr and are poised to encourage a brand new era of Indian entrepreneurs.

Pine Labs

In January 2020, Pine Labs turned the primary unicorn of 2020, nearly 22 years after its inception. One of many oldest service provider fee resolution suppliers within the nation, it raised an undisclosed quantity from New York-based monetary companies main Mastercard at a valuation of roughly $1.5 billion. Whereas the transaction particulars weren’t disclosed, sources pegged the funding spherical was pegged at $100-$150 million (Rs 713-1,069 crore).

Based in 1998 by Lokvir Kapoor, Rajul Garg, and Tarun Upaday, Pine Labs was initially launched as card-based funds and loyalty options supplier. Nevertheless, it pivoted its enterprise mannequin to PoS funds in 2012.

The Noida-based startup supplies a service provider platform and makes software program for level of sale (PoS) machines. Pine Labs claims to be processing funds of $30 billion per yr and serves near 140,000 retailers throughout 450,000 community factors. 

Even amid COVID-19, the startup says it has seen nearly a 67 % soar in month-to-month service provider on-boarding, owing to shift in direction of digital. It moved from onboarding 12,000 retailers on a month-to-month foundation to shut to 20,000 presently in the previous couple of months.

The corporate lately introduced that it plans to launch a Pay Later resolution in 5 Southeast Asian markets early in 2021.

By mid-2021, Pine Labs additionally goals to introduce pay as you go vouchers and reward playing cards by means of its subsidiary Qwikcilver — which it acquired final yr — to additional prolong its footprint in these new markets. 



After nearly a decade since its inception, FirstCry achieved unicorn standing at a $1.2 billion valuation in a $400 million funding deal from SoftBank in February 2020. Whereas the primary tranche of $300 million has already been obtained by the corporate, the remaining $100 million is predicted to be launched on the second anniversary of the transaction in January 2021.

It has raised complete funding of $428.four million to this point.

Put up attaining the unicorn standing, the corporate handed a particular decision to purchase again 13,09,860 fairness shares every at a worth of Rs 234.eight per share for an mixture of Rs 30.75 crore, revealed regulatory filings. 

Based in 2010 by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha, Pune-based FirstCry has been an undisputed chief within the omnichannel child and mom care merchandise section.

The startup claims to supply two lakh child and child’s merchandise throughout 6,000 manufacturers and has expanded its consumer base to over 4 million. With a retail footprint of over 400 shops unfold throughout 125 cities, it claims to have interaction with 13 million ‘distinctive mother and father’ each month.

Lately, it reported a 65.eight % soar in its FY20 income to Rs 887.5 crore from Rs 535 crore throughout FY19.

Its web loss additionally decreased a whopping 82.5 % to Rs 162.7 crore from Rs 932.7 crore throughout the stated interval. In 2016, FirstCry acquired retail model BabyOye from Mahindra, and launched the FirstCry Parenting service in 2017. In 2019, the startup forayed into the UAE market. 



Mumbai-based on-line beauty-turned-omnichannel way of life retailer Nykaa was as soon as perceived to be one of many underdogs within the Indian ecommerce trade.

Since its launch in 2012 by Falguni Nayar, the corporate has not left any alternative to embark upon the success path. 

Simply earlier than the pandemic hit India, Nykaa claimed profitability for fiscal FY19 in December 2019. Following the lockdown, the corporate began delivering necessities to over 14,000 pincodes throughout the nation. In Might 2020, it attained unicorn standing after elevating funding of Rs 66.64 crore from its present investor Steadview Capital at a valuation of $1.2 billion.

At the moment, Nykaa competes with on-line marketplaces like Myntra, Purplle, Flipkart, and Amazon. The platform follows an inventory-led mannequin, and has its personal personal label in cosmetics and private care section.

As a part of its choices, it additionally launched NykaaNetwork, an interactive magnificence discussion board the place subscribers might chat with one another. It additionally launched the NykaaDesignStudio for attire in designer and premium manufacturers like Ritu Kumar and Masaba in 2018.

Across the identical time, Nykaa launched NykaaMan, an ecommerce platform for males’s private care merchandise in hair care, skincare, wellness, and sports activities diet, amongst others. It additionally acquired members-only platform for an undisclosed quantity in a transfer to additional progress.



Bengaluru and San Francisco-based SaaS startup Postman turned the quickest SaaS startup to succeed in unicorn standing. In June 2020, the six-year-old startup secured a Collection C funding of $150 million at a valuation of $2 billion. 

The funding was led by US-based enterprise capital fund Perception Companions. Present traders CRV and Nexus Enterprise Companions additionally participated within the spherical.

Based in 2014 by Abhijit Kane, Abhinav Asthana, and Ankit Sobti, Postman supplies a platform that helps software program builders speed up the event course of by means of collaboration with numerous stakeholders. 

It helps coders check run their APIs and subsequently modify them with out having to create separate code for testing them. 

Postman claims for use by over 11 million builders internationally, and greater than 500,000 corporations globally, together with the likes of Microsoft and Twitter.

In response to the startup, 98 % of Fortune 500 corporations use the platform.



As a decade-old bootstrapped startup, proficon, and now a unicorn — Zerodha has emerged as some of the valued on-line inventory buying and selling options within the Indian fintech ecosystem.

In June 2020, the corporate introduced an ESOP buyback plan facilitated at round 5X the e book worth, thereby placing its valuation at $1 billion. 

Later, the Hurun Listing, shared in August 2020, put Zerodha at a valuation of $Three billion. The founders — brothers Nikhil Kamath and Nithin Kamath — consider that if the corporate had been valued as a expertise agency somewhat than a brokerage agency, the valuation might have been a lot larger.

In FY19, Zerodha recorded a web revenue of Rs 350 crore on income of Rs 850 crore. The startup witnessed its complete shopper base improve practically 40X to 2.eight million over the previous 5 years. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it claims to have recorded fast progress, doubling its common month-to-month consumer additions from pre-COVID-19 ranges to round 200,000 customers monthly since March 2020.

Zerodha has 4 registered entities: Zerodha Securities, Zerodha Broking, Zerodha Commodities, and Zerodha Capital. Its tech ecosystem contains merchandise comparable to Kite (buying and selling platform), Console (central dashboard for accounts), Coin (free direct mutual funds app), Varsity (schooling module on inventory market studying), Kite Join API (to construct funding apps), and Sentinel (providing market alerts on cloud).

In April 2019, Zerodha additionally launched an incubator fund Rainmatter to spend money on early-stage startups. To date, the fund has invested in additional than 14 startups. 



In six years because the inception of Unacademy, founders Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini, and Hemesh Singh have actually laid the inspiration for the ‘massification of schooling’, eradicating geographical obstacles, and enabling learners with entry to high quality schooling.

Beginning in 2010 as a YouTube channel, and later in 2015 as a web based platform, Unacademy symbolises the other of a standard academy the place you’ll be able to be taught from the perfect with out having to go anyplace.

In September 2020, Unacademy claimed unicorn standing with SoftBank main a $150 million funding spherical at a $1.45 billion valuation. Present traders of Unacademy together with Normal Atlantic, Sequoia India, Nexus Enterprise Companions, Fb, and Blume Ventures additionally participated within the spherical. Later in November 2020, it raised undisclosed funds from Tiger International Administration and Dragoneer Funding Group at a valuation of $2 billion.

At current, Unacademy has a community of over 18,000 lecturers and subscribers in extra of 350,000. It claims to clock over two billion watch minutes throughout 150,000 stay courses monthly. The platform has greater than 47,000 educators, who impart classes in 14 Indian languages to 40 million learners throughout 5,000 cities and cities.

In the previous couple of months, the startup made a number of acquisitions, together with PrepLadder, Mastree, and CodeChef amongst others, and likewise launched a disruptive storytelling product known as Graphy. 

At TechSparks 2020, Gaurav stated that Uncademy’s “audacious objective” is to construct a Netflix for schooling and do 200X of what it’s doing now. He additionally revealed that the platform’s month-to-month revenues had shot up from Rs 2 crore to Rs 90 crore within the final 18 months.



In 2014, when Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar launched Razorpay, the purpose was to make the digital fee processes less complicated for small companies.

Seven years down the road, not solely is Razorpay’s suite of merchandise a main selection for enterprises in any respect levels, however its customer-first method can be extremely valued within the trade. 

The Bengaluru-based firm achieved unicorn standing in October 2020 after elevating $100 million funding led by GIC and Sequoia, with participation from present traders Ribbit Capital, Tiger International, Y Combinator, and Matrix Companions.

It took Razorpay seven years to attain the unicorn standing. Throughout this era, it has managed to course of transactions price $25 billion, a benchmark that has taken older and bigger rivals within the fee gateway companies enterprise 10-15 years to attain.

In December 2020, it additionally claimed to show money circulate optimistic with 2.6X progress in its revenues, which grew from Rs 193 crore in FY19 to Rs 509 crore throughout FY20.

Razorpay serves many worldwide manufacturers, together with the likes of Fb, Google, and Wikipedia, nationwide enterprises like Jio, Zerodha, and Hotstar, latest upstarts like Khatabook, OkCredit, and Meesho together with a mess of SMEs and freelancers.

As a way to additional assist companies in managing their funds, Razorpay additionally launched a neobanking platform RazoPayX final yr. The founders declare that the platform, inside twelve months of its launch, has served over 10,000 companies.



With the nation’s mass transit system fully shut down throughout the lockdown and rooted worry attributable to security and hygiene points, Indian customers turned in direction of the following most viable choice — used automobiles. The chance was huge and Gurugram-based on-line transaction platforms for pre-owned autos CARS24 definitely made the perfect of it. 

With annual transactions exceeding 2,00,000 items, a 4X improve in web site engagement from pre-COVID ranges, and an entry into the unicorn membership, 2020 couldn’t have been higher for CARS24. Lately, DST International, the funding agency led by Russia-born billionaire Yuri Milner, invested $200 million within the startup.

Present traders Exor Seeds, London-based international funding agency Unbound, and New York-based Moore Strategic Ventures additionally participated within the spherical. The spherical raised the full funding raked in by the corporate to $393.eight million.

Based in 2015 by Gajendra Jangid, Mehul Agrawal, Ruchit Agarwal, and Vikram Chopra, CARS24 claims to have a robust basis in expertise.

With this, the workforce goals to reshape this trade with options comparable to distinctive automobile appraisal expertise, AI-enabled pricing algorithms and a scaled infrastructure. It’s presently operational in 130 cities in India.

It lately forayed into the used two-wheelers class and in lower than six months of operations, the corporate claims to have already transacted over 3,000 two-wheelers. Final yr, CARS24 additionally acquired an NBFC license for its financing enterprise and is now offering fast and straightforward mortgage plans with two-hour disbursals. 



From launching as ManageMySpa in 2010 to gaining unicorn standing in 2020, Zenoti has come a good distance. Over these years, founders Sudheer Koneru, Dheeraj Koneru, Anand Arvind, and Saritha Katikaneni have added quite a few complicated capabilities to help collections primarily based financing, digital medical information, going fully paperless, and in depth package deal administration and managing versatile memberships for its purchasers. 

Based mostly in Hyderabad and Bellevue, Zenoti right now serves as one of many main international enterprise cloud platforms to assist enterprise suppliers within the magnificence, wellness and health trade.

Its touchless and cell options serve all features of client engagement, permitting for straightforward appointment scheduling, self-check-ins, automated funds and extra. It additionally provides 24/7 customer support, free coaching and consulting companies along with the core software program.

The corporate is presently operational in 50 nations providing companies to 12,000 companies. It claims to have achieved a 100 % yr on yr progress in 2020 regardless of the pandemic. Zenoti helps a number of international manufacturers, together with European Wax Heart, Hand & Stone, Therapeutic massage Heights, Rush Hair & Magnificence, Sono Bello, Hair Cuttery, Profile by Sanford, and Toni&Man, amongst others.

In December 2020, Zenoti raised $160 million from international personal fairness investor Introduction Worldwide, by means of Introduction Tech and Sunley Home Capital, an affiliate of Introduction.

Tiger International and Steadview Companions additionally participated within the spherical which raised the valuation for the corporate to $1 billion. Zenoti has to this point raised roughly $251 million throughout six funding rounds.



After nearly a decade, Dailyhunt lastly received its much-awaited unicorn standing after elevating $100 million funding from AlphaWave, Google, and Microsoft. Present traders Sofina Group and Lupa Programs additionally participated on this spherical.

A vernacular content material platform, Dailyhunt provides contemporary and related content material day-after-day in 14 languages. The content material is sourced from a licensed creator ecosystem of over 100,000 content material companions and particular person content material creators.

On the core of its mother or father firm, VerSe Innovation, is the concept that expertise can assist bridge the digital divide. 

With a concentrate on machine studying and deep studying applied sciences, it goals to allow personalised content material to be delivered to the customers primarily based on their consumption preferences. At current, it claims to have greater than 300 million customers

The brand new funding comes at a time when the startup is increasing its portfolio of apps targeted on Bharat by means of its quick video platform Josh, which is offered in 12 Indian languages.



Look, a subsidiary of InMobi, has turn out to be the quickest unicorn by reaching $1-billion valuation in lower than two years of its launch.

Earlier, in 2019, B2B ecommerce platform Udaan reached the unicorn standing inside three years of inception

In response to the founders, Look is reimagining the way forward for digital consumption on smartphones. The platform leverages AI to personalise content material in a number of Indian languages on the lock display of Android smartphones.

It claims to have greater than 115 million each day energetic customers who spend a median of 25 minutes on the platform per day. 

The corporate will use the brand new funding to deepen its AI functionality, develop its expertise workforce, launch companies on the platform, additional strengthen the model, and drive growth in international markets.

Particular Addition: PhonePe

Whereas PhonePe reportedly gained its unicorn standing in 2019, it remained with Flipkart as a subsidiary. Therefore, we will take into account it gaining unicorn standing solely after it turned an impartial entity in 2020.


PhonePe was launched in August 2015, when Sameer Nigam left Flipkart after a four-year-long stint. Quickly, Rahul Chari and Burzin Engineer adopted him. Initially, the founders had been researching new developments in funds — globally and in India. 

They had been even monitoring IMPS for a couple of years. Later, the trio got here up with the concept to tie up with each financial institution and construct a community of digital funds concurrently. 

In 2016, the corporate was acquired by Flipkart, earlier than fintech-defining occasions — UPI, Aadhaar, and demonetisation — hit the ecosystem. On the time, it nearly appeared like a loss for Flipkart.

Nevertheless, 4 years down the road, PhonePe has spun off from Flipkart to function as an impartial entity once more, whereas reaching a valuation of $5.5 billion after elevating $700 million in funding.

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