This was undoubtedly the year of the for India’s startup ecosystem. What was for the better part of a decade a trickle developed into a stampede as 39 startups achieved billion-dollar valuations this year.

Many freshly minted unicorns went on to raise even more rounds and some are already drawing up plans for a public listing. The year also saw the creation of India’s youngest startup unicorn, Mensa Brands, which achieved the feat in just six months. It also saw Gupshup raise funds for the first time in nearly a decade.

India is now home to the third-highest number of unicorns of any country after the United States and China, having overtaken the UK.

ETtech

Here’s a look back at the 39 Indian startup unicorns of 2021.

1.
Digit Insurance

Date: January 15, 2021

  • “ETtech is a sharply-focused lens that brings alive India’s tech businesses & dynamic world of startups”

    Kunal Bahl, Co-Founder & CEO, Snapdeal

  • “I read ETtech for in-depth stories on technology companies”

    Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Oyo

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    Deepinder Goyal, Co-founder & CEO, Zomato


Key investors: A91 Partners, Faering Capital and TVS Capital

Digit Insurance — backed by Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa —
raised Rs 135 crore at a valuation of $1.9 billion in January, making the general insurer the first insurtech startup after PolicyBazaar to enter India’s unicorn club.

In July, Digit Insurance
raised another $200 million—this time from new investors Sequoia Capital India and IIFL Alternate Asset Managers—at a valuation of $3.5 billion. The funding round, one of the largest in India’s insurance sector, catapulted Digit Insurance into the ranks of the highest-valued insurtech ventures in South Asia.

2
.
Innovaccer
Date:
February 24, 2021

Key investors: Omers of Canada, Tiger Global and B Capital

The healthcare-focused, software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup
raised $115 million in a Series D round, which tripled its valuation from its previous fundraising to $1.3 billion.

Innovaccer was the sixth Indian SaaS startup—after Freshworks, Druva, Icertis, Postman and Zenoti—to join the unicorn club. The company
recently raised another $150 million from existing investors led by UAE’s Mubadala Capital at a valuation of $3.2 billion.

Indian unicornsETtech

3. Infra.Market

Date: February 25, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Accel Partners and Nexus Venture Partners

The business-to-business infrastructure firm
raised $100 million in a Series C funding round, which ascribed it a valuation of $1 billion. It
raised a further $125 million at a valuation of $2.5 billion in August.

The company is profitable, a rarity in India’s startup ecosystem. In the year ended March 31, 2021, it
quadrupled its profit after tax to Rs 35.9 crore from Rs 8.9 crore in FY20.

4. Five Star Business

In March, India got its fourth unicorn of 2021 when private lender
Five Star Business Finance closed a $234-million funding round that valued it at around $1.4 billion.

Having first invested in the 35-year-old NBFC in 2016, Morgan Stanley made a full exit. Its stake was bought by new investors KKR and TVS Capital. Existing investors Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners also participated in the round.

5. Meesho
Date:
April 5, 2021

Key investors: SoftBank Vision Fund II, Prosus Ventures and Facebook

The social commerce startup
raised $300 million in a funding round that pegged its valuation at $2.1 billion as it looked to take on ecommerce leaders Amazon India and Flipkart, and new entrants Tata and Reliance.

In September, the company
raised a further $570 million—this time from US-based asset manager Fidelity and Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital—at a valuation of $4.9 billion. The company
was also said to be in talks with Google to raise $50-75 million more.

6. Cred
Date:
April 6, 2021

Key investors: Falcon Edge and Coatue Management

The credit card repayment platform
raised $215 million to close its Series D round at a valuation of $2.2 billion. Since then, the Kunal Shah-led startup has been on an acquisition spree (read
here and
here) to broaden its financial technology play beyond credit cards.

In October, Cred
raised a further $251 million in a Series E funding round co-led by Tiger Global and Falcon Edge at a valuation of $4.01 billion.

7. Pharmeasy
Date:
April 7, 2021

Key investors: Prosus Ventures and TPG Growth

API Holdings, the parent entity of India’s largest online pharmacy,
raised $350 million at a post-money valuation of $1.5 million. Since then, Pharmeasy
has acquired diagnostics chain Thyrocare Technologies—the first Indian startup to acquire a listed firm—and
filed for a Rs 6,250-crore IPO.

8. Groww
Date:
April 7, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Sequoia India and Ribbit Capital

The online investment platform
raised $83 million in a Series D funding round at a post-money valuation of $1 billion.

The fintech startup
in September received approval from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to acquire Indiabulls AMC. This allowed the startup to create and sell its own mutual funds.

In October, Groww
raised a further $251 million in a new round of funding that tripled its valuation in barely six months to $3 billion.

Indian unicornsETtech

9. Mohalla Tech
Date:
April 8, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Lightspeed and Twitter

The parent company of social network Sharechat and short-video platform Moj
raised $502 million at a valuation of $2.1 billion. In December, Mohalla Tech
raised a further $266 million, as part of its Series G round, at a valuation of $3.7 billion.

10. Gupshup
Date:
April 8, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Globespan Capital Partners and Helion Ventures

The conversational messaging platform
raised $100 million at a valuation of $1.4 billion in April. It was Gupshup’s first fundraising in nearly a decade – the company had last raised Rs 50 crore in 2011 at a valuation of Rs 1,000 crore.

In July, Gupshup
raised $240 million from Tiger Global and Fidelity in a secondary deal ahead of a potential initial public offering (IPO) in the US next year.

11. Chargebee
Date:
April 20, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Sapphire Ventures and Steadview Capital

The software-as-a-service startup
raised $125 million in a Series G funding round, which pegged its post-money valuation at $1.4 billion.

The company
was said to be in talks to raise new funds at a valuation of $3-3.5 billion, underscoring the investor interest that Indian SaaS startups are garnering globally.

Still, Chargebee
faces a challenge from its collaborators—payment gateways.

12. Urban Company
Date:
April 27, 2021

Key investors: Prosus, Tiger Global and Steadview Capital

The on-demand home services provider
raised $190 million in a funding round that more than doubled its valuation to $2 billion. The company
bagged top honours in the Covid-led Business Transformation category at The Economic Times Startup Awards 2021.

Urban Company, which closed a $255-million funding round in May,
plans to launch an IPO in the next 18-24 months and has started work internally to prepare for the process.

13. Moglix
Date:
May 17, 2021

Key investors: Falcon Edge and Harvard Management

The B2B ecommerce platform
raised $120 million in a new funding round that pegged its post-money valuation at $1 billion. Moglix was India’s second unicorn in the B2B ecommerce sector after Infra.Market. “We had a mission to enable the creation of a $1 trillion manufacturing economy in India,” Rahul Garg, cofounder and CEO at Moglix, had said at the time of the fundraising.

14. Zeta
Date

: May 24, 2021

Key investors: SoftBank Vision Fund II and Sodexo

The banking technology startup
raised $260 million in a funding round that pegged its valuation at $1.45 billion. Zeta aims to be profitable by the end of 2023, courtesy the contracts it has signed with banks and fintech companies, and is eyeing an IPO in the next 5-7 years.

“Our technology is infinitely scalable so you can put a million transactions in a day and it won’t flinch. There’s no upper cap to the capacity of the system,” cofounder Bhavin Turakhia
said in a July 10 interview.

15. BrowserStack
Date:
June 16, 2021

Key investors: Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital, Insight Partners and Accel

The web and mobile app-testing platform
raised $200 million at a valuation of $4 billion.

That made the San Francisco- and Mumbai-based company the highest valued SaaS startup to emerge from India—surpassing the likes of Freshworks, Postman, Zenoti and Chargebee.

In July,
BrowserStack acquired Percy, a San Francisco Bay Area firm, in a cash-and-stock deal to add visual testing of applications to its product suite.

16. Blackbuck
Date:
July 22, 2021

Key investors: Tribe Capital, IFC Emerging Asia Fund and VEF

The online trucking platform
raised $67 million at a post-money valuation of $1 billion. BlackBuck wants to offer ancillary services—FASTag to fuel—to fleet owners to open up an additional revenue stream, but
that will only happen when fleet owners continue to get loads for their trucks at the best rates.

17. Droom
Date:
July 28, 2021

Key investors: 57 Stars and Seven Train Ventures

The online automobile marketplace received the first tranche of its
$200-million, pre-IPO funding round at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The used-car marketplace is looking to list either on the Nasdaq or Indian stock exchanges in 2022. “The way the Indian market has changed in the past one year, we’re now [wondering whether] we should list domestically or overseas,” its founder Sandeep Aggarwal said.

18. OfBusiness
Date:
July 31, 2021

Key investors: SoftBank, Falcon Edge and Matrix Partners

The B2B ecommerce platform
raised $160 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion.

Such was the investor interest for OfBusiness that the company witnessed three other fundraising events during the course of the year that more than tripled its net worth.

.

19. BharatPe

Date: August 4, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Dragoneer and Steadfast Capital

The online payments platform focused on offline retailers and merchants
raised $370 million at a valuation of $2.85 billion.

The fintech company, along with Centrum Finance,
acquired the beleaguered Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank and set up a small finance bank. Separately, BharatPe
raised Rs 200 crore in debt from IIFL Wealth and Northern Arc in August and picked up
another Rs 100-crore loan from MAS Financial in October.

20. Mindtickle
Date:
August 5, 2021

Key investors: SoftBank, Norwest Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures

The software-as-a-service startup
raised $100 million as part of its Series E funding round at a valuation of $1.2 billion in August. This was SoftBank’s second investment in Mindtickle after it led a $100-million round in the company at a valuation of $500 million.

The company was the eighth Indian SaaS startup—after Freshworks, Druva, Icertis, Postman, Zenoti, Chargebee and BrowserStack—to achieve unicorn status.

21. upGrad
Date:
August 9, 2021

Key investors: Temasek Holdings, World Bank’s IFC and IIFL

The edtech startup joined the club when it
closed a $185-million funding round at a valuation of $1.2 billion in August. “We are not a fan of the tag name unicorn—for us, it is only a means to a much larger goal,” cofounder and chairperson Ronnie Screwvala had said then. upGrad Education
is now eyeing a listing in the next year or two.

22. CoinDCX
Date:
August 10, 2021

Key investors: B Capital, Coinbase Ventures and Polychain Capital

The cryptocurrency exchange raised $90 million in its Series C round led by Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital at a valuation of $1.1 billion. The funding made CoinDCX the first crypto unicorn in India. CoinDCX
plans to pursue an IPO as soon as government regulations allow it, according to cofounder Neeraj Khandelwal.

23. Eruditus
Date:
August 12, 2021

Key investors: Accel US and SoftBank

The edtech startup
raised $650 million in a funding round led by Accel US and SoftBank Vision Fund II in August at a post-investment valuation of $3.2 billion. The deal was one of the largest in India’s edtech space and marked the second bet by SoftBank in this sector after it backed Unacademy last year.

CEO Ashwin Damera is among the very few startup entrepreneurs who continue to hold a significant stake in their unicorn company.

24. Grofers (now Blinkit)
Date:
August 13, 2021

Key investors: Zomato and Tiger Global

In August, the Competition Commission of India (CCI)
approved Zomato’s request to invest in Grofers, more than a month after the fundraising
was first reported by ETtech. That made the online grocery platform a unicorn with a valuation of a little over $1 billion.

Since then, Grofers
has shelved plans to list on the Nasdaq,
launched a 10-minute grocery delivery service, and even
rebranded as Blinkit to underscore
its quick commerce push.

25. Zetwerk Manufacturing
Date:
August 23, 2021

Key investors: Kae Capital, Sequoia Capital India and Accel India

The contract manufacturer raised $150 million in a funding round led by D1 Capital Partners that pegged its post-money valuation at $1.33 billion. That after the company’s revenue
trebled over the year-ago period to Rs 949 crore in the fiscal ended March 31.

Zetwerk also entered new manufacturing categories this year, such as
consumer goods and apparel, and
defence and aerospace. The company is also said to be
in talks to raise a further $250 million at a valuation of $2.5 billion.

26. Mobile Premier League
Date:
September 15, 2021

Key investors: Sequoia Capital India, Beenext and Moore Strategic Ventures

The esports and gaming platform
reportedly raised $150 million in a funding round led by UAE-based Legatum Capital at a valuation of $2.3 billion in September. The Bengaluru-based startup also
entered the US market with a vision to become a ‘super app’—a unified gaming platform with multiple offerings.

In April, it
acquired GamingMonk to enter the esports arena. Online gaming in India has the potential to become bigger than the entertainment industry,
CEO Sai Srinivas had said then.

27. Apna.co
Date:
September 16, 2021

Key investors: Sequoia Capital India, Lightspeed Ventures and Tiger Global

The LinkedIn for blue- and grey-collar workers
raised $100 million in a funding round led by Tiger Global at a valuation of $1.1 billion. At the time, the Bengaluru-headquartered startup was the youngest member of India’s unicorn club. Apna.co has
witnessed a more than fivefold increase in the number of female users on its platform in 2021, a trend the professional networking app expects to continue next year.

28. Vedantu
Date:
September 29, 2021

Key investors: Accel India, Tiger Global and Omidyar Network

The edtech startup
raised $100 million in a new funding round led by Temasek-backed impact investor ABC World Asia, at a post-money valuation of $1 billion.

The Bengaluru-based firm has taken both organic and inorganic routes to expand its business. During the course of the year, it acquired majority stakes in personalised learning platform
Pedagogy and doubt-solving app
Instasolv.

29. Licious
Date:
October 5, 2021

Key investors: Mayfield, 3ONE4 Capital, Sistema Asia Fund

The online meat and seafood vendor
raised $52 million in a Series G round led by IIFL’s Late Stage Tech Fund and Avendus, at a post-money valuation of $1.05 billion. “The fresh meats and seafood sector is still largely underserved, unorganised, and holds a vast opportunity of $40 billion,” cofounder Abhay Hanjura had said then. The Bengaluru-based company wants to grow its offline business, expand its portfolio of ready-to-eat products and enter newer geographies.

30. CoinSwitch Kuber
Date:
October 6, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz and Coinbase Ventures

The cryptocurrency platform
raised $260 million at a post-money valuation of $1.9 billion, in what was then the biggest funding round by any crypto company in India. This is marked the first investment by Silicon Valley-based Andreessen Horowitz in an Indian startup. The company
was valued at just $500 million in April.

CoinSwitch Kuber
aims to bring on board at least 50 million users from India in the next two years, educating them around crypto investments and helping them create wealth.

31. Rebel Foods
Date:
October 7, 2021

Key investors: Sequoia Capital India, Lightbox and Coatue Management

The cloud kitchen
raised $175 million in a Series F round led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) at a post-money valuation of $1.4 billion. Rebel Foods is the first cloud kitchen in India to achieve unicorn status.

The Mumbai-based startup
recently tied up with Foodpanda to expand into Southeast Asia amid
plans to spend $150 million for acquiring and scaling new food brands.

32. Acko
Date:
October 28, 2021

Key investors: Accel India, Elevation Capital and Amazon

The general insurance startup
raised $255 million in a funding round led by General Atlantic and Multiples PE at a valuation of $1.1 billion. Acko and Digit, along with Flipkart cofounder Sachin Bansal’s Navi GI, are seen as new-age brands in the digital-first insurance industry.

33. The Good Glamm Group
Date:
November 9, 2021

Key investors: Amazon, Ascent Capital and Bessemer

The direct-to-consumer startup
raised $150 million in a funding round led by South Africa’s Prosus Ventures and private equity major Warburg Pincus in November at a valuation of $1.2 billion. In 2021, the company, which houses MyGlamm personal-care products, acquired as many as six companies, including
Sirona,
Baby Chakra,
The Moms Co,
Popxo
ScoopWhoop and
MissMalini.

34. Curefit
Date:
November 11, 2021

Key investors: Accel India, Kalaari Capital and Chiratae Ventures

The healthcare startup
raised $145 million in a funding round led by food delivery company Zomato at a valuation of $1.5 billion. Tata Digital had in June in this
invested $75 million in the operator of Cultfit, as part of a deal that saw the company’s cofounder Mukesh Bansal join the Tata Group firm as its president.

35. Mensa Brands
Date:
November 16, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Falcon Edge Capital and Accel India

The consumer brands aggregator
raised $135 million in a new funding round led by Alpha Wave Ventures, at a post-money valuation of a little over $1 billion in November.

The Thrasio-style venture took just six months to achieve the feat, displacing Apna.co as the fastest unicorn in town.

36. NoBroker
Date:
November 23, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, General Atlantic and Elevation Capital

The real-estate platform
raised $210 million in a funding round led by General Atlantic, Tiger Global and Moore Strategic Ventures in late November at a valuation of $1.01 billion. The Bengaluru-based firm is the first proptech startup to enter India’s unicorn club.

37. Slice
Date:
November 28, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Blume Ventures and Das Capital

The new-age credit cards startup
raised $220 million in fresh funding from Tiger Global and Insight Partners at a post-money valuation of over $1 billion. The company, which has partnered with Visa Inc. to issue cards to young professionals, was also in the news for
rolling out a three-day work week.

38. Spinny
Date:
December 7, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Blume Ventures, General Catalyst Partners

In December, the online used cars retailer
raised $283 million in a Series E funding round led by Abu Dhabi-based ADQ, Tige Global and Avenir Growth, at a post-money valuation of $1.8 billion. The Gurugram-based company recently signed on former India cricketer
Sachin Tendulkar and badminton player
PV Sindhu as its brand ambassadors.

39. Pristyn Care
Date:
December 8, 2021

Key investors: Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital India, Hummingbird Ventures

The last India startup to achieve unicorn status this year was Pristyne Care, which
raised about $100 million in a Series E round led by Sequoia Capital US at a post-money valuation of $1.4 billion. The Gurugram-based company, which
has grown its business by five times since January this year, said it aimed to expand to 1,000 surgical centres across more than 50 cities.



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