Top 17 roaring unicorns in India | Exhibit Tech Interviews
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Top 17 roaring unicorns in India

Intro

What is a unicorn startup? The term unicorn refers to privately held companies valued at over $1 billion. India’s startup ecosystem is home to a number of well-known and emerging unicorn startups, out of which Flipkart is the most notable and most successful unicorn startup. The success of Flipkart has been driven by the rapid adoption of online shopping in India and the company’s ability to adapt quickly to the changing market. 

Besides Flipkart, there are about 108* unicorn startups in India, but here, we’re only focusing on the 17 unicorns, which are a mix of already emerged and a few emerging ones, as we’re focusing more on the behind-the-scenes stories. Over the last 10-15 years, India’s unicorn startups have not only made a significant impact in their respective sectors but also have become a symbol of the country’s rapidly growing technology and startup ecosystem.


  • Byju’s

Industry – EdTech

Founded in – 2011

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2018

Tagline – Fall in love with learning

Valuation $22 billion

Founders – Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath

Parent Organization – Think and Learn Private Ltd

The Story – 

Byju Raveendran, a B.Tech graduate from a small town in Kerala, was working in a multinational shipping firm as a service engineer. In 2023, he started helping his friends prepare for the CAT entrance exam, as he had a burning desire to make a difference in the field of learning and teaching. While preparing, out of curiosity, he decided to appear in the exam and scored 100%.

Later, he started conducting free mathematical workshops but realised there had to be a better way to teach and learn. Determined to make a change, Byju and his co-founder wife, Divya Gokulnath, started working on a new learning platform, where he offered interactive video lessons on a wide range of subjects, from mathematics and science to history and geography.

The platform they created was designed to make learning more fun and engaging and to help students easily understand complex concepts. Today we call that platform, Byju’s, and it has over 150 million registered students and is valued at $22 billion. With its strong focus on technology, innovation, and scalability, Byju’s is well-positioned for continued growth in the future.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“Education is the single most powerful tool that can shape the way our youth thinks” – Byju Raveendran


  • CRED

Industry – FinTech

Founded in – 2018

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2021

Tagline Suraksha Aur Bharosa Dono

Valuation $6.4 billion

Founders – Kunal Shah

Parent Organization – Dream plug Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

The Story – 

When you’re determined to make your dreams come true, you work tirelessly to build them, and Kunal Shah is one such hard-working individual. He began his career as a software engineer before venturing into the world of entrepreneurship with PaisaBack and FreeCharge. After the acquisition of FreeCharge, he founded CRED in 2018, as he wanted to offer more privileges and benefits to people having good credit scores.

The company was started with a mission to make credit card payments simple and transparent for consumers as the industry was plagued by hidden charges and confusing terms and conditions. CRED was always focused on building a strong brand, and one of the key factors that contributed to the company’s success was its focus on customer experience, which helped the company earn over 7 million users.

What’s next?

To enable a good life for creditworthy individuals.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

‘If you look at history, nobody has been rewarded for paying back on time. We want to fix that.’ – Kunal Shah


  • Dream11

Industry – Fantasy Sports Platform

Founded in – 2008

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2019

Tagline – Jab Dream bada ho, toh koi akela nahi hota. Dream Big, Dream11!

Valuation $8 billion

Founders – Bhavit Sheth & Harsh Jain

Parent Organization – Sporta Technologies

The Story – 

Every sports fan likes to spend a lot of time discussing their favourite teams and players, but not everyone ends up founding an app for fans to participate in fantasy sports. Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth are two such sport-packed souls who saw an opportunity to create a platform that would allow sports fans to create their own teams and compete against each other for prizes.

Without hesitation, Harsh and Bhavit quit their jobs and started their own company in 2008, Dream11. The company has always ensured that it complies with all laws and regulations related to fantasy sports in the countries it operates, which has helped to build trust with users and regulators. Along with cricket today, the platform allows users to play fantasy hockey, football, kabaddi, basketball, volleyball, etc.

To stay on the success path, Dream11 made strategic partnerships with major sports leagues and teams, such as the Indian Premier League and the Pro Kabaddi League. Currently, the company has a presence in many countries, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, while the founders have inspired countless individuals to pursue their own dreams of entrepreneurship.


  • Swiggy

Industry – Online Food Ordering and Delivery Platform

Founded in – 2014

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2018

Tagline – Swiggy karo, phir jo chahe karo!

Valuation $10.7 billion

Founders – Sriharsha Majety, Nandan Reddy and Rahul Jaimini

Parent Organization – Bundl Technologies

The Story – 

By the time you’ve reached here, you might have ordered something on Swiggy, which speaks volumes about its popularity. The start-up was founded in 2014 by Sriharsha Majety, Nandan Reddy, and Rahul Jaimini, who saw a gap in the market for an efficient and reliable food delivery service in India. On one hot summer day, Sriharsha and Nandan realised the need for better online food delivery options in India as the existing options were slow, unreliable, and the food often arrived cold.

They developed a food delivery app and named it ‘Bundl’ in 2013 but decided to shut it down within a year as they wanted to brainstorm more on the delivery process. While brainstorming, they met Rahul Jaimin and decided to start the Start-up with the name Swiggy. The user-friendly app gained a lot of engagement in a short period, made good returns and significantly changed the food delivery industry. Today, besides India, Swiggy is also operational in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

What’s next?

To elevate the quality of life of urban consumers by providing unparalleled convenience.


  • Fractal Analytics

Industry – AI

Founded in – 2000

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2022

Valuation – $1 billion

Founders – Srikanth Velamakanni, Pranay Agrawal, Nirmal Palaparthi, Pradeep Suryanarayan and Ramakrishna Reddy

The Story – 

Some start-ups take a couple of years to achieve what they’re looking for, while some take decades to achieve the same. Fractal Analytics is an AI company that provides consumer packaged goods, insurance, healthcare, life sciences, retail, and technology services. It was founded in 2000 by five graduates from IIM Ahmedabad in Mumbai when the word start-up was less mainstream than it is today. Due to internal conflict, it took Fractal over 20 years to earn a unicorn tag.

In 2005, the company decided to move the business to the US, as the country was home to a massive number of clients. However, in a couple of years, two of the co-founders took an exit from the company. Things took a turn when along with two co-founders, the company lost one of its key clients. The circumstances attempted to stop Fractal from getting a tag of a unicorn for over a decade, but the company continued to evolve over the years and improved its platform until it became a unicorn in 2022.


  • Tata 1mg

Industry – E-pharmacy Platform

Founded in – 2015

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2022

Tagline – Bringing care to health

Valuation $1.25 billion

Founders Prashant Tandon, Gaurav Agarwal and Vikas Chauhan

Parent Organization – Tata Digital Limited

The Story – 

Where there’s a will, there’s a TATA, but the backstory of Tata 1mg is something you should know and take notes on. The startup was initially launched as Healthkartplus in 2013, the time when people, especially Indians, started trying their hands at online shopping, be it for books, gadgets, etc. The journey of 1mg began as a consumer awareness platform, helping them learn about their medicines while also comparing prices of the various alternatives for the brand that they were prescribed.

Initially, there were just three employees (only the founders), Prashant Tandon, Gaurav Agarwal, and Vikas Chauhan, but today 1mg has over 200 members across multiple locations throughout India. Back then, there were very few trustworthy online pharmacies in India, which helped 1mg become the most trusted name in the industry in a short time. In June 2021, Tata Digital acquired a majority stake in 1mg, and the company got a new name – Tata 1 mg.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“We must learn to survive, and then we will thrive – Prashant Tandon


  • LivSpace

Industry – Home Renovation & Interior Designing

Founded in – 2014

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2022

Tagline – Hassle-free dream home interiors for any budget

Valuation $1.2 billion

Founders – Anuj Srivastava & Ramakant Sharma

The Story – 

You might have seen the TVC of Livspace starring Virat Kohli (in a TURBAN) and Anushka Sharma. The story of Livspace began when the founders set out to design their dream homes and discovered the industry needed to be more integrated. The omnichannel home interior and renovation company was founded by a Google veteran, Anuj Srivastava & his IIT-Kanpur classmate Ramakant Sharma in 2014. Shagufta Anurag, the founder of Space Matrix, was also the company’s co-founder.

The start-up saves you from all the hustle and bustle you have to deal with, from carpenters to plumbers and confusing rates to unreliable schedules. The designers at Livspace create a mock-up for the customer using Livspace’s proprietary software, and once accepted by the client, they hire third-party contractors to get the job done. Livspace earned the title of a unicorn when it successfully raised $180 million in a round led by KKR, taking the value of the firm to over 1$ billion.


  • OYO Rooms

Industry – Hospitality

Founded in – 2013

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2018

Tagline – #AurKyaChahiye

Valuation $9 billion

Founders – Ritesh Agarwal

Parent Organization – Oravel Stays Limited

The Story – 

How often have you stayed at the hotel while on vacation or outing? The chances are at least 10-15 times in your lifetime. Well, the founder of OYO rooms, Ritesh Agarwal, used to travel a lot from the age of 17 and every time he stayed at the hotels, he experienced the scarcity of quality hotels, especially in the budget segment. To help people from having such a horrible experience, he launched Oravel Stays, an online portal for vacation rentals.

The platform collapsed in a short time, but two fortunate things happened. First, the relationships Ritesh had formed with hotel owners helped him a lot and secondly, he got an opportunity of the Thiel Fellowship, a two-year program from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. During his stay fellowship in California, he relaunched Oravel Stays as OYO Hotels & Homes to create India’s largest chain of affordable, standardised hotels.

As soon as he arrived in India, he started reaching out to the hotel owners he had worked with earlier during his days at Oravel Stays. With all the hard work, he managed to acquire rooms in hotels across the country and transformed them into OYO, which boosted the hotel’s occupancy rates from 19% to 90% in the first month only. Today, Oyo rooms are widely distributed all over India, in more than 800 cities, with more than 23,000 hotels and 850,000 rooms.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“Start small, nail it and then make it big – Ritesh Agarwal”


  • Meesho

Industry – Retail and E-commerce

Founded in – 2015

 

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2021

Tagline – Not just a homemaker, a Meesho Entrepreneur

Valuation $4.9 billion

Founders – Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal

Parent Organization – Meesho Inc

The Story – 

Another startup co-founded by IITians. Now a unicorn, Meesho started as a reseller platform allowing users to resell products via their social channels such as WhatsApp, Instagram etc. The founders, Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal started the company with the goal of empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs in India. In the early days, the team focused on building a solid product and acquiring users through word-of-mouth and referral marketing.

Within a few months, they realised that their target market was primarily women in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities looking for flexible and low-cost ways to earn income and decided to tailor their product and marketing strategies to serve this demographic better. In 2017, the startup raised $3.4 million in a seed funding round, which allowed them to expand and invest in team, technology and infrastructure. Today, Meesho has over 15 million registered sellers and reaches over 200 million customers.

What’s next?

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“For growth, focus on your customers. Nothing else matters. – Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal”


  • upGrad

Industry – EdTech

Founded in – 2015

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2021

Tagline – A journey as dynamic as us

Valuation $2.25 billion

Founders – Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli, and Ravijot Chugh

Parent Organization – UpGrad Education Pvt. Ltd

The Story – 

We’ve various e-learning options for students, but what about professionals looking to upgrade their careers? Yes, the same thought was the base of upGrad, an EdTech startup founded in 2015 by Ronnie Screwvala, Phalgun Kompalli, Mayank Kumar, and Ravijot Chugh. The journey of upGrad began with the goal of providing quality education to working professionals and students in India looking to upskill and advance their careers. 

Like the rest of the startups, upGrad faced several challenges, including a need for more awareness and understanding of online education in India but managed to conquer all the crises that came in way. The company started with just a single program, in digital marketing and within a short while but quickly expanded its offerings to include programs in data science, software engineering, and business management.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“Failure never stopped anybody who didn’t want to be stopped – Ronnie Screwvala”


  • Zomato

Industry – Online Food Ordering and Delivery Platform

Founded in – 2008

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2015

Tagline – Every meal matters

Valuation $5.4 Billion

Founders – Deepinder Goyal, Gaurav Gupta, and Pankaj Chaddah

The Story –  

Back in the 2000s, writing a food review was rare, as people only used to follow word of mouth instead of looking for the review on the internet. The founders of Zomato were working at Bain & Co in New Delhi when they came up with the idea of Foodiebay, now known as Zomato. At first, it started as a food blog, providing information about restaurants in the Delhi region and by providing restaurant information, including menus, prices, and user reviews, through its website and mobile app.

In only nine months, FoodieBay became Delhi’s most preferred restaurant directory, and the founders decided to start the services in Mumbai and Kolkata. In 2010, the name Foodiebay was officially changed to ‘Zomato’, and since then, the company has grown to become one of the most popular food delivery apps in India and across the globe. The company also faced major hurdles during their decade-long journey and always bounced back with a better solution to thrive the crises.

Info Edge (India) played a huge role in the formation of Zomato as they were the first to invest about US$ 1 million when the startup did not have enough funds to start the app. By 2013, Zomato expanded its business in foreign countries such as Sri Lanka, UAE, Qatar, South Africa, the UK, the Philippines, New Zealand, Turkey, and Brazil. Since 2014, Zomato has acquired Poland’s Gastronauci, Italy’s Cibando, and  US-based online table reservation platform NexTable.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“When you are still building an organization, don’t be defensive about your culture –  Deepinder Goyal”


  • Ola Electric

Industry – Automotive

Founded in – 2017

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2019

Tagline – Ready or not, a revolution is coming

Valuation $5+ Billion

Founders – Bhavish Aggarwal

Parent Organization – Ola Cabs

The Story –  

EVs are the key to a sustainable future, and Ola Electric wanted to take the lead. The company was founded by the electric vehicle arm of Indian ride-hailing giant Ola with an aim to make electric mobility accessible and affordable for all by deploying a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) and building a network of charging infrastructure across the country.

The journey of Ola Electric began with the launch of a pilot project in Nagpur, Maharashtra, in 2017. Ola Electric, which started making two-wheelers in 2021, will introduce the sportiest car ever manufactured in India with an electric vehicle that has a range of more than 500 km and even accelerates from 0-100 in less than 4 seconds.

Ola Electric also entered into a partnership with leading automakers such as Mahindra and Tata Motors to develop and manufacture electric vehicles in India. Today, Ola Electric has a fleet of thousands of electric vehicles on the road and more than 100 charging stations in multiple cities across India and is valued at over $5 billion.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“Don’t take shortcuts while building your company, keep trying for the best – Bhavish Aggarwal”


  • Vedantu

Industry – EdTech

Founded in – 2011

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2021

Tagline – Live Online Tutoring

Valuation $1 Billion

Founders: Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain, Saurabh Saxena & Anand Prakash

Parent Organization – MTEducare

The Story –  

Bangalore has been a fortress of EdTech platforms, and in the case of Vedantu, it all began with private lessons to a handful of students in their local community. The online tutoring platform was initially founded in 2011 but launched for the public in October 2014. The EdTech platform was founded by four friends from the IITs who were passionate about education and wanted to make a difference in the lives of students – Vamsi Krishna, Pulkit Jain, Saurabh Saxena, and Anand Prakash.

Vedantu provides services to students from grades 4th to 12th for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) & Central Board of Secondary Education. The EdTec platform uses an innovative Whiteboard Audio Video Education (WAVE) program for their 1-1 student-teacher live sessions. The EdTech company provides education to students with both free and paid classes options and aims to provide test preparation courses for the JEE, NTSE, and PSA exams in the future.


  • PharmEasy

Industry Pharmaceutical 

Founded in – 2015

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2021

Tagline – Take it easy, PharmEasy

Valuation $5.6 Billion

Founders: Dharmil Sheth and Dr Dhaval Shah

Parent Organization – API Holdings Private Limited

The Story – 

Back in 2014, when people were experiencing door-to-door delivery services from the brands like Zomato, Flipkart, Swiggy, and Amazon, the founders of PharmEasy thought, why not deliver health care items right at the door in the same way? The pharmaceutical industry in our country is one of the poorly organised industries, but no one was complaining about it until you’re travelling hundreds of kilometres to buy one tablet.

Dharmil Sheth and Dr Dhawal Shah co-founded PharmEasy in 2014 with the goal of making healthcare a lot more accessible in India. The duo created a healthcare delivery platform to simplify and modernise the healthcare setup in India. Thanks to the digitisation of the pharmaceutical industry, we can now order our medicines online from the comfort of our homes, without any hustle and with the most budget-friendly rates.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“Your belief in yourself will drive everything around you. – Dharmil Sheth”


  • Razorpay

Industry – FinTech

Founded in – 2014

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2020

Tagline – #Powering Disruptors

Valuation $7.5 Billion

Founders: Dharmil Sheth and Dr Dhaval Shah

The Story –  

Seeing an Indian company leading the pack is rare, but Razorpay has achieved it in the payment sector. It started as a project to solve the problem of online payments and has since grown into one of the prominent members of the coveted unicorn club. Before co-founding Razorpay, Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar decided to work on a crowdfunding platform, but soon, the duo realised that online payment was a problem for small & medium-sized (SME) businesses, particularly e-commerce platforms.

The founders of Razorpay, Shashank and Harshil, studied Mechanical Engineering at NIT Allahabad and IIT Bombay, respectively. They first met on a train journey, and while conversing, they both got stuck on one question – how to accept payments online. They offered lower fees than their counterparts as they wanted to revolutionise payment options and access to several online payment methods for business entities, including credit & debit cards, net banking, and UPI.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“Throwing things around in the calendar does not help… maintain a to-do list – Harshil Mathur”


  • Groww

Industry – FinTech

Founded in – 2017

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2021

Tagline – There’s just one right way

Valuation $5 Billion

Founders: Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal

Parent Organization – Nextbillion Technology

The Story –  

Spending time with the right people can take you to the right places. Earlier, when it came to investing, people had to do a lot of paperwork and bank visits and stand in long queues, but now we have various options. Today, with startups like Groww, to begin investing and managing your wealth, you need a few things – a bank account, some disposable income, and a smartphone. Groww is one of several startups that have aroused the curiosity of investors.

The startup was founded in 2016 by four former Flipkart workers, Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal. The platform was started to make investing more accessible to young people by simplifying the process, and it uses technology to reach the right audience, reducing its operational expense. Groww offers various services to consumers by providing investment offerings in mutual funds, stocks, IPO, and digital gold.

A quote from the founder that can change your perspective

“Always try to understand the business first and then the price of the stock – Ishan Bansal”

 

  • Urban Company

Industry – Household Services

Founded in – 2014

Entered the Unicorn Club in – 2021

Valuation $2.1 Billion

Founders: Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Raghav Chandra and Varun Khaitan

Parent Organization – UrbanClap Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.

The Story –  

Who empowered professionals from the industries like massage, cleaning and salon? A startup founded by three great minds, Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Raghav Chandra and Varun Khaitan, named Urban Company. Before founding Urban Company, Abhiraj and Varun launched Cinemabox, a service that allowed travellers to stream movies on their phones on planes, trains or buses, which lasted for only 6 months.

Later on, they met Raghav and during one of their intense conversations, they understood the country was lying behind the in-home services market, like finding the right plumber, electrician, or beautician. Right then, they decided to work on the idea and founded Urban Company, formerly UrbanClap, in 2014. Today, it has more than 40,000 service partners across 50+ cities in India, the UAE, Singapore, Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

What’s next?

The company plans to expand and train and upskill 5 lakh service partners, of which 2 lakh will be women partners, by 2030.


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