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Post at: Sep 25 2021

World's 3rd Largest Unicorn Ecosystem: India

Why in News?

  • India has become the third-largest unicorn ecosystem in the world with 51 startups that are valued at $1 billion or above, according to Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021. 
  • The USA is the world's largest unicorn ecosystem with 396 unicorns, followed by China with 277 unicorns. 
  • Hurun Research Institute has released the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021.


  • The objective of the list is to highlight India’s fast growing start-up ecosystem to investors, governments, family offices, aspiring entrepreneurs and the international community.  


Findings of the report

  • India is home to 51 Unicorns, up by 25 in 2021, and 32 Gazelles and 54 Cheetahs.
  • Record breaking Stats: India added circa 3 Unicorns every month over the last year. 

  • India’s future Unicorns are worth US$36bn, equivalent to one third of Delhi’s GDP at current prices.
  • The top investors in the Gazelles and Cheetahs in the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021 are Sequoia, followed by Tiger Global with 37 and 18 investments respectively.
  • Online retail store Zilingo is the most valuable Gazelle and online furniture platform Pepperfry is the most valuable Cheetah.
  • With 18 start-ups on the list, FinTech contributed the most number of companies in the list, followed by E-commerce 17 and SaaS 7. E-commerce, FinTech, Shared Economy and SaaS contribute more than half of the companies featured in the list.
  • In 2020, despite the unprecedented challenges due to Covid-19, the FinTech, E-commerce and Shared Economy sectors raised investment to the tune of US$2.8bn, US$2.5bn and US$1bn respectively.
  • 12 start-ups on the Hurun India Future Unicorn List 2021 are co-founded by women entrepreneurs. Likewise, six women entrepreneurs co-founded Unicorn start-ups in India.

What is a Unicorn?

  • In the venture capital industry, the term unicorn refers to any private startup that reaches the valuation of $1 billion. 
  • The term was first coined by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy ventures when she referred to the 39 startups that had a valuation of over $1 billion as unicorns. 
  • The term initially was used to lay emphasis on the rarity of such startups. The definition of a unicorn startup has remained unchanged since then. 
  • The startups that exceed the valuation of $10 billion are grouped under the term called decacorns (a super unicorn). Dropbox, SpaceX and WeWork are some of the examples of decacorn.


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