India is home to 21 unicorns, or startups with over $1 billion in valuation each, and 40 more of such companies have been founded overseas by people of Indian origin, a report said on Tuesday. Amid talk of regulating investments from the northern neighbour, the study found that three Chinese investors have backed 11 of the Indian unicorns.
With the 21 unicorns collectively valued at $73.2 billion, India is the fourth biggest in terms of unicorns, behind the US, China and the UK, as per the Hurun Global Unicorn List. The number of Indian unicorns is just a tenth of China's 227, it said, adding China has only 16 businesses started outside the country by its diaspora as against the 40 in India. The valuation of the unicorns founded globally by Indians is $99.6 billion, led by the fintech Robinhood at $8.5 billion.
"Of the 61 unicorns founded by Indians, a massive two-thirds are based outside of India, predominantly Silicon Valley in the USA, whilst only 21 are based in India," Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said. He added that the founders of these 40 unicorns need to be recognized as much as someone like Google's chief executive Sundar Pichai and Microsoft's Satya Nadella.
The research pegged the overall number of unicorns at 586 across the world in 29 countries and 145 cities. A third of the 21 Indian unicorns, which include Paytm, Oyo Rooms, Byju's Ola Cabs etc, are in the e-commerce sector and Bengaluru is the unicorn capital of India being home to 8 such enterprises, it said.
The youngest Indian unicorn is the 2017-founded Ola Electric, followed by Udaan and Swiggy, it said, adding on average, it takes seven years for a startup to achieve unicorn status in India as against 5.5 years in China and 6.5 years in the US. Even as the ties with China get frosty, the study found out that Chinese investors Alibaba (5), Tencent (3) and DST Global (3) have invested in 11 Indian unicorns. Japanese investor Softbank takes the lead with nine investments while USA's Tiger Global has five such bets.
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have emerged as the lead source of unicorn founders, with 36 of the founders being from these institutes and IIT-Delhi being the most preferred one. From a gender perspective, it is a highly unfavourable ratio, with 104 Indian unicorn founders being male and only five of them being women, it said.