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A century in style: Fintech firm Open becomes India's 100th unicorn

The countdown for 100 unicorns had begun early in the year itself but the Russian attack on Ukraine had paused the startups' rush to touch the $1-billion valuation

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funding | Startups | Investors

Shivani Shinde  |  Mumbai 

Photo: Unsplash/Markus Winkler
Photo: Unsplash

Twitter made beyond Elon Musk on Monday, making way for the Indian startup world to pop the cork before lunch time. Union minister for industry and commerce Piyush Goyal soon joined the celebration in the spirit of cricket. “India hits century in style. India=Ideas + Innovation + Investment.”

The countdown for 100 unicorns had begun early in the year itself but the Russian attack on Ukraine had paused the startups’ rush to touch the $1-billion valuation. Finally, neobanking fintech Open, founded by Anish Achuthan and close family members including wife Mabel Chacko, entered the club on Monday, making it a ton, according to Inc42’s unicorn tracker. It helped that Achuthan had founded four before this.

It’s been a long journey—more than a decade-- to 100 unicorns for India. Mobile advertising platform InMobi was the first unicorn announced in 2011.

Rajan Anandan, managing director, Sequoia India, recalled the 2011 moment, tying it to the present. “What an incredible milestone! 1st Indian unicorn was in 2011. Here we are –11 years later welcoming the 100th Indian unicorn.”

Niti Aayog, the government think tank which has championed many of the startup flagship projects, was in the social media party too. Calling it a fantastic feat, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, ‘’This reflects the dynamism of young Indian entrepreneurs out to change the world.’’

The numbers tell a story. The total raised by 100 unicorns has been estimated at $90 billion at a combined valuation of $333 billion, according to the tracker. Flipkart and Byju’s have topped the list. Some other industry trackers don’t include Flipkart as a unicorn as it was acquired by listed American retail major Walmart.

The 100th unicorn is coming after a month of no big announcement in terms of fund raise. The year 2021 was on a high, with at least three to four unicorns being added every month taking the list of unicorns to 44, according to Venture Intelligence data. The year saw $42 billion of fund-raise across 1,579 deals.

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According to venture growth investor Iron Pillar, unicorns are now being created faster with more than 50 per cent taking less than five years to reach this position since the first . More than 80 per cent achieved this feat within seven and a half years.

The 100th unicorn—Open--achieved the milestone by raising $50 million in its series D round from along with existing Temasek, Tiger Global and 3one4 Capital.

IIM Bangalore alumnus Mabel Chacko, co-founder and COO of Open, told Business Standard, “This is a big milestone for us, the team is in a super thrilled mood.” On listing plans, she said, “IPO is certainly on the card, but still early.”

The year 2022 began with SaaS players Fractal, which raised $360 million from private equity (PE) player TPG Capital Asia, turning unicorn.

Recently at the mega semiconductor conference, minister of state for electronics, IT and entrepreneurship had Rajeev Chandrasekhar had made a projection: That India will see 1,000 unicorns in the next two to three years.

The next round of countdown to the magical figure may have begun in the universe of entrepreneurs already.

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First Published: Mon, May 02 2022. 16:01 IST
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