While India expanded its base of unicorn start-ups by seven to reach 24 in the first eight months of 2019, there are at least 50 potential ones waiting for their turn in coming years, industry body Nasscom said in its annual report on start-up ecosystem. These includes companies such as GreyOrange, Pine Labs, Practo, BlackBuck, Lendingkart and Grofers.
The list of these potential unicorns which raised cumulative funding over $50 million, stood 15 during the same period last year. In the start-up parlance, unicorn start-ups are those which have achieved a valuation of $1 billion and more.
Releasing the report, the industry body said that unlike in the past when only the so-called ‘unicorns’ would attract large cheques, venture funding is now flowing to early-and mid-stage technology start-ups pointing to a broadening of the start-up ecosystem in the country. Overall, the start-up space in India attracted investments of $4.4 billion, which is marginally higher than $4.2 billion raised last year.
“The data points to a maturing of sorts of the ecosystem where a number of middle-layer companies are achieving scale. We are seeing the ecosystem grow really fast and we feel this is a sustainable ecosystem,” said Nasscom president Debjani Ghosh.
Some of the new unicorns which were added during the last eight months included BigBasket, Druva, Ola Electric, Rivigo and Delhivery. Other than the home-grown unicorns, India is also becoming a destination of choice for global ones such as Cohesity, Canopym and JFrog who are building products out of India by setting of their R&D centres.
Nasscom, for the first time also issued a ‘maturity index’ to place different start-up sectors in their growth cycle. According to this, fintech, health-tech, enterprise and retail were considered matured sectors whereas ed-tech, logistics and mobility, and nascent sectors such as energy, gaming and agri-tech are emerging ones.
In the period under review, more than 1,100 start-ups were incorporated, which took the total number of technology start-ups to 8,900-9,300, cementing the position of India as the third largest startup hub. Nasscom defines a tech start-up as one that offers a technology platform or products, and is less than five years old.
The start-up ecosystem together has created approximately 60,000 direct and about 1.3-1.8 lakh in-direct jobs this year, the report said. The corresponding figure was 40,000 direct and 1.2-1.6 lakh in-direct jobs last year.
In terms of investor-base, there is 20 per cent increase venture capital firms, taking the total number of registered VCs operating in India to over 250. Private equity investor-base also grew 1.5 times to over 60 PEs this year. “There is one-third increase in institutional investors which is a great sign,” said Ravi Gururaj, an entrepreneur and member of Nasscom Product Council.
The report also highlighted that quite a few start-ups are now entering foreign markets. “The ecosystem is also globalising rapidly. Almost 1,900 plus start-ups have either set-up or are setting up operations in global markets. Not only these start-up are just building for India, they are now catering to the global markets,” said Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president, Nasscom.
Highlighting the challenges faced by the sector, the industry body said that while the issue of angel tax has all but resolved, few teething problems continue to persist. “Access to market and access to capital continue to be a problem, and this is where the government needs to play a role,” said Ghosh.