Nurturing the Unicorns and Soonicorns

28 Sep 2022

By creating an enabling policy framework supported by a robust ecosystem for nurturing the budding entrepreneurs and startups, India can further fuel the growth of startups and eventually of unicorns in India.

India has emerged as the 3rd largest ecosystem for startups as well as the 3rd largest unicorn community globally. As of 7 September 2022, India is home to 107 unicorns with a total valuation of USD 340.79 bn.

To be sure, the year 2021 was one of the most buoyant ever in tech startup funding history, with Indian startups raising a record USD 40.3 bn across 2,623 deals on the back of robust investor interest. The rapid acceleration in digitisation and adoption of technology in the wake of the pandemic gave rise to a flurry of new milestones for the startup ecosystem, including several startup-tech IPOs and the birth of a record 43 new unicorns.

Indian unicorns are also exploring the public listing avenues as the next step to realize the growth potential. Some have already offered initial public offerings in the stock markets, while many others are in line to do so.

Today, one out every ten unicorns globally have been born in India. Overall, 2021 experienced an exponential boom when it came to startups entering the unicorn club. This is a testament to the vibrant startup ecosystem presents in India. Till FY2016-17, approximately one unicorn was being added every year. Over the last four years (since FY2017-18), this number has been increasing exponentially, with a whopping 66% year-on-year growth in the number of additional unicorns being added every year.

Till date, 2022 has witnessed the birth of 21 unicorns with a total valuation of USD 26.99 bn (as of 7 September 2022). India is acknowledged as the world’s largest scalable market by investors globally, despite its lower per-capita GDP relative to other major economies. Indeed, India’s digital economy, powered by a growing number of new-age tech startups, is potentially the biggest draw for common good in the decade ahead.

Indian startups are steadily evolving into global entities creating business products, and solutions for the global market. Startups and unicorns are becoming the engine for economic growth and have the potential to address many challenges faced by the society through innovation. By creating an enabling policy framework supported by a robust ecosystem for nurturing the budding entrepreneurs and startups, India can further fuel the growth of startups and eventually of unicorns in India.

CII has been contributing to the startup ecosystem, and it recently COVER STORY 14 | September 2022 Communiqué constituted a Unicorn Forum comprises of founders, co-founders and CEOs of unicorns. The forum aims to nurture unicorns and soonicorns by addressing the challenges faced by them and by transforming the way businesses are conducted.

CII’s Unicorn Forum aims to guide and handhold towards profitability and growth; create awareness on the corporate governance practices; enable learning about the new technology advancements; discuss and recommend the new regulatory framework and promote stability in the existing framework; help in global scalability and create awareness for Environmental, Social and Governance. CII Global Unicorn Series 3.0 focuses on corporate governance, branding, scalability and profitability, among other factors. The focus is to help and support unicorns in going beyond. The global startup ecosystem is witnessing a shift as there is a gradual transitioning from the age of unicorns to the age of decacorns. A decacorn is a company that has attained a valuation of more than USD 10 bn. Globally, 46 companies (as of 27 July, 2022) have achieved the decacorn status. India has four startups, namely, Flipkart, BYJU’s, Nykaa and Swiggy, added in the decacorn cohort.

CII Unicorn Forum focuses on supporting existing unicorns reach the international markets, handhold soonicorns attain unicorn status and aims to promote more decacorns in India.

I recommend active participation of CII Members as mentors in startup India’s MAARG Portal. This is a one stop mentorship platform to facilitate mentorship for startups across diverse sectors, functions, stages, geographies and backgrounds.

This article was contributed by Mr Manoj Kohli, Chairman, CII Unicorn Forum and Country Head, Softbank India. It was first published in CII Communique, September 2022 issue.

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