A total of 17 new unicorns have been added so far this year with more than $20 billion raised in funding.
That milestone has been achieved in part due to the record $20 billion in funding that has been raised till July this year, with many of the rounds producing Indian unicorns. Indeed, with the entry of Droom, OfBusiness and logistics tech startup BlackBuck to the Indian unicorn club last month, the total count of Indian tech startups that have a valuation of over $1 billion has soared to 59. At this rate, India will boast of more than 100 unicorns by 2023 – way earlier than the previous estimation of 2025 by analysts and economists.
The first seven months have also seen a series of firsts, as the club welcomed the first healthtech, social commerce and e-pharmacy unicorns. Eight startups — fintech startup CRED, social media startup ShareChat, wealth management company Groww, messaging platform Gupshup, social commerce startup Meesho and e-pharmacy PharmEasy — entered the unicorn club in April 2021. In May, Moglix and Zeta turned unicorns, while June saw the entry of BrowserStack.
From Zomato to insurance marketplace PolicyBazaar, home services firm Urban Company, meat delivery startup FreshToHome, and logistics SaaS platform Shipsy, several Indian startups are actively engaged in the pursuit of the Middle East market. With the Indian startup ecosystem maturing and more Indian startups wanting to expand in the Middle East, investors from Gulf states such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia that have invested in these companies are helping them set up camp.
Eyewear retailer Lenskart, for example, had set aside $50 million after landing a $275 million funds infusion from SoftBank to establish its business in the UAE this year. But the company accelerated its plans last month after US-based fund Falcon Edge, which has a significant presence in the Middle East, participated in Lenskart’s $220 million fund-raising round. PolicyBazaar, which has been present in the UAE since 2018, raised $75 million this March from Falcon Edge to further expand in the region.
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Social commerce startup DealShare is leveraging a $144 million investment from Tiger Global and Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI) – a fund anchored by Abu Dhabi’s ADQ and managed by Falcon Edge – to foray into the UAE and wider Gulf market.
The Middle East has always been a coveted opportunity for Indian startups because of its world-class infrastructure, higher consumption spends, and geographical proximity to India as well as Europe and West Africa. “Expanding in the Middle East makes sense because India is a price-sensitive market and the UAE is not. Aside from the fact that revenue is better in the UAE compared to India, the region also helps in giving startups access to a much larger global territory,” said Anil Joshi, managing partner at Unicorn Ventures.
With Gulf-based investors stepping in to provide local insights, capital, and on-ground support for Indian unicorns and start-ups, the age of collaborative startups has just begun to blossom for Indian entrepreneurs.