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At least 50 Indian startups have the potential to cross a billion dollars in valuation

A child in a unicorn costume.
Reuters/Carlo Allegri
Time to grow up.
  • Itika Sharma Punit
By Itika Sharma Punit

Co-editor, Quartz India

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

At the moment, India is home to only about half-a-dozen unicorns, or startups valued at over $1 billion.

But the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem has at least 50 “soonicorns”—startups with the potential to become unicorns.

Soonicorns are spread across industries such as e-commerce, financial technology, healthcare technology, logistics, and travel, according to Bengaluru-based data curation platform Tracxn. Besides metros like Bengaluru, Delhi and Chennai, these companies are also based out of smaller cities such as Pune and Jaipur, Tracxn says.

These startups have been identified after scrutinising their current valuation, funding, gross merchandise value, client base, and other such metrics.

The soonicorn club

Here’s what an average soonicorn looks like:

  • Their average age is seven years and one month.
  • They have raised, on an average, $71.6 million in funding.
  • Only around 50% of them have IIT or IIM alumni as founders.
  • More of them are based out of the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) than India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru. Out of the 50 soonicorns on Tracxn’s list, 18 are in NCR, 16 in Bengaluru, and the rest in Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Jaipur, and Kolkata.

E-commerce craze

Despite the prevailing poor investor sentiment for e-commerce, startups in this space top the list of soonicorns, with 10 out of Tracxn’s 50 operating in online retail.

Four of the seven Indian unicorns—Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm, and Shopclues—are into e-commerce. However, unlike these multi-category players, the next batch will be those focused on specific segments such as furniture, jewellery, or apparel.

Here’s the list of e-commerce soonicorns as per Tracxn:

FirstCryBaby products
GreenDustRefurbished goods
IndiaMartB2B retail
Power2SMEB2B retail

Upcoming sectors

Financial technology has the second-highest number of soonicons in India. Noida-based Paytm is currently the only unicorn in this space.

The cumulative value transactions in the Indian fintech industry is estimated to grow at a compounded average rate of 22% from around $33 billion in 2016 to $73 billion by 2020, according to a June 2016 report (pdf) by the Indian IT industry body Nasscom and professional services firm KPMG.

Here’s the list of fintech companies with the potential to become unicorns:

FinTech soonicorns
Pine Labs
FINO PayTech
Policy Bazaar
Financial Software Systems

Other leading industry sectors nurturing soonicorns are:

LogisticsHealthTechB2BTravel & transport
Ecomm ExpressPractoRateGainCleartrip
BlackBuckPorteaCapillary TechZoomCar

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