India has 100 unicorns with combined valuation of $240 bn: Credit Suisse

India has 100 unicorns with combined valuation of $240 bn: Credit Suisse
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23 Mar, 2021

India currently has 100 unicorns -- private companies valued at over $1 billion -- and 336 listed companies with over $1 billion market capitalisation, according financial services company Credit Suisse. 

In a report titled ‘100 Unicorns: India’s changing corporate landscape’, the company said that the 100 unicorns command a combined valuation of $240 billion. 

The report did not consider firms that were once unicorns but have since slipped in their business or have already seen a down round.  


The unicorn list also leaves out firms that are subsidiaries of listed companies or global firms, as well as those without an understandable business model.  

The names included in the list have either raised a funding round valuing the company in excess of $1 billion, or companies valued at less than $1 billion in the last round that have seen increase in business leading to higher current valuations or have reported an EBITDA in financial year 2019-20 that would give them a unicorn valuation at the average valuation multiples of listed peers. 

It includes companies across ecommerce, financial technology, education technology, food delivery and mobility services, apart from software-as-a-service (SaaS), gaming, logistics, modern trade, biotech, pharmaceuticals as well as fast-growing consumer brands.  


Some of the names in the list, apart from the storied startups, include jewelry companies GRT Jewelers, Joyalukkas, as well as mattress maker Kurlon, packaged food companies Haldiram’s and Parle Products and biotechnology firm Serum Institute of India.  

Some of the salient findings of the report are: 

  • Enabling factors such as availability of risk capital, growing ecosystem, examples of wealth creation by first generation entrepreneurs and pickup in formation of new companies boosted the number of startups. Startups comprised nearly 7% of the new firms formed in calendar year 2020. 
  • 66 of the 100 firms listed as unicorns did not exist till 2005. On the BSE500 list, 180 companies started before 1975. 
  • Financial companies, including conventional non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and disruptive fintech companies, made up a majority of the unicorn list. Finance companies formed 13% of the list in terms of numbers and 17% in terms of valuation commanded – the highest on both parameters. 
  • The rise in the number of financial services and fintech unicorns is attributed to growth in digital payments infrastructure backed by unified payments interface (UPI), point of sale (PoS) terminals and payment gateways. Specialised PoS terminal and payment gateways processed an annualised $140 billion of payment transactions for merchants through cards and UPI. 
  • Retail digital lending grew to $110 billion in market size by 2019 due to emergence of specialised lenders, such as payday lenders, as well as small and medium enterprises (SME), unsecured retail and Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) lenders. Digital lenders were also the worst hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with disbursement volumes recovering gradually. 
  • As per PGA Labs, data research and analytics unit of Praxian Global, the total edtech funding in India increased four-fold to $2.2 billion in 2020 from 2019. The edtech market in India is estimated to reach $4 billion by 2025, according to Blume Ventures. 
  • Of the 44 technology unicorns on the list, 12 are SaaS firms. Availability of trained IT professionals, economical cost of business set up, adoption of digital technologies and increased availability of funding were contributing factors. 
  • Ecommerce penetration in India stood at 6.5% in 2020, offering potential for growth. Covid-19 also provided a boost to the sector as ecommerce sales increased by 28% year-on-year as offline retail sales declined. 
  • Affordability of discretionary goods has increased meaningfully, despite rising income inequality dampening the trend. Consumption of processed food in the top 10% of the population is three times higher than that of the middle rung. 
  • The Indian domestic pharma market has grown 15% CAGR over the past 20 years. India is still mostly a branded generics market with high operating profit margins, generating cash over time. Indian companies are now investing in research and development (R&D), with larger firms earmarking up to $250 million for it annually.