Indian Startups: Pioneering Growth with 111 Unicorns, Women-Led Ventures on the Rise

January 25, 2024

Indian startups
  • India has created 111 unicorns, with 20 led by women, showcasing diversity and growth in the startup ecosystem.
  • Bengaluru remains the top destination for startups, contributing significantly to funding and innovation.
  • Job creation and emerging sectors like EV and space tech highlight the ecosystem’s dynamic nature and potential for future growth.
  • Despite recent challenges, the Indian startup landscape is expected to continue its upward trajectory, supported by favorable demographics and a conducive regulatory environment.

The Indian startup ecosystem has continued to flourish, with significant developments in various sectors and a notable increase in the number of unicorns. A unicorn in the startup world is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion. As of now, India has created 111 such unicorns, demonstrating its robust growth and potential in the global startup landscape​​.

Indian Startup Ecosystem: Key Highlights and Trends

  1. Overall Growth and Funding: Despite a challenging environment due to the “funding winter,” Indian startups have shown remarkable resilience. In 2023, they managed to secure $8.4 billion in funds from domestic and global investors. This figure, although lower than the $25 billion in 2022, signifies the enduring appeal of Indian startups to investors​​.
  2. Women-Led Unicorns: A notable aspect of the Indian unicorn landscape is the rise of women-led startups. Out of the 111 unicorns, 20 are led by women. This marks a significant shift, with total funding for women-led startups reaching $1.1 billion in 2023, up from $0.456 billion in 2014​​.
  3. Bengaluru as a Startup Hub: Bengaluru continues to be the epicenter of India’s startup activity, attracting massive funds of $70.4 billion between 2014 and 2023. This city is followed by Delhi-NCR and Mumbai in terms of startup attraction​​.
  4. Job Creation: Indian startups have been instrumental in job creation, with over 1 million jobs generated in the country to date. This surge in employment opportunities is a testament to the impact of the startup ecosystem on the Indian economy​​.
  5. Emerging Sectors: The electronic vehicle (EV) industry and space tech are emerging as significant sectors within the Indian startup ecosystem. The EV sector received $4.8 billion in funding in the past decade, and space tech funding reached $122.2 million in 2023​​.
  6. Factors Driving Growth: The expansion of the Indian startup ecosystem is attributed to several factors, including the rise of a tech-savvy young population, widespread mobile internet access, the growth of the middle class, and a favorable regulatory landscape​​.

Challenges and Future Prospects

Despite the overall positive trajectory, the Indian startup ecosystem faced some challenges in 2023. The number of new unicorns added in 2023 sharply declined, with only three new unicorns compared to 24 in the previous year. This slowdown indicates a more cautious approach by investors and a focus on sustainable growth over rapid expansion​​.

Looking ahead, the Indian startup sector remains poised for growth, with expectations of more unicorns emerging in 2024. The long-term prospects seem favorable, given the confidence of global agencies in India’s economic boom. The International Monetary Fund has projected India to become the third-largest economy in the world by 2027, which could further boost the startup environment​​.

Here’s the complete list of 111 Indian unicorns, each with a brief description:

  1. Flipkart: E-commerce giant offering a wide range of products and services.
  2. Ola Cabs: Popular ride-hailing service operating across India.
  3. OYO Rooms: Budget hotel and accommodation network.
  4. Swiggy: Leading food delivery service connecting restaurants and customers.
  5. Byju’s: Prominent edtech company offering interactive learning programs.
  6. Zomato: Online platform for restaurant discovery and food delivery.
  7. Paytm: Major digital payment system and financial services company.
  8. Udaan: B2B trade platform, simplifying wholesale trade.
  9. Ola Electric: Electric vehicle arm of Ola, focusing on sustainable transportation.
  10. Dream11: Fantasy sports platform for cricket and other sports.
  11. BigBasket: Online grocery delivery service.
  12. Delhivery: Logistics and supply chain services company.
  13. Nykaa: Beauty and wellness e-commerce platform.
  14. PolicyBazaar: Online insurance aggregator and financial product comparison platform.
  15. Lenskart: Online retailer for eyewear products.
  16. CRED: Credit card bill payment platform with rewards.
  17. PharmEasy: Online pharmacy and health care platform.
  18. Razorpay: Payment gateway for online payments and financial solutions.
  19. BharatPe: Merchant payment and lending service provider.
  20. Meesho: Social commerce platform focused on reselling through social networks.
  21. Cars24: Used car buying and selling platform.
  22. Unacademy: Online learning platform for competitive exams preparation.
  23. MobiKwik: Digital wallet and online payment system.
  24. FirstCry: Baby and kids products retailer.
  25. NoBroker: Real estate platform eliminating brokerage fees.
  26. Groww: Investment platform offering direct investment in mutual funds and stocks.
  27. Licious: Gourmet meat and seafood delivery service.
  28. Dailyhunt: Content and news aggregation platform in local languages.
  29. ShareChat: Social networking and regional content platform.
  30. Health and fitness company offering digital and offline experiences.
  31. Zerodha: Largest retail stockbroker offering discount brokerage services.
  32. Innovaccer: Healthcare data activation platform.
  33. MPL (Mobile Premier League): Mobile e-sports and gaming platform.
  34. Acko General Insurance: Digital-first insurance company.
  35. upGrad: Online higher education and upskilling platform.
  36. CoinDCX: Cryptocurrency exchange platform.
  37. Urban Company (formerly UrbanClap): Home services marketplace.
  38. Mamaearth: Toxin-free and natural personal care brand.
  39. Rebel Foods (Faasos): World’s largest internet restaurant company.
  40. Postman: API development and testing platform.
  41. Digit Insurance: General insurance company leveraging technology.
  42. CarDekho: Automotive sales and services platform.
  43. Eruditus: Executive education programs in collaboration with universities.
  44. Five Star Business Finance: Non-banking financial company focusing on small business loans.
  45. Vedantu: Interactive online tutoring platform.
  46. BlackBuck: Online marketplace for logistics and freight transportation.
  47. Darwinbox: Human resources management platform.
  48. OfBusiness: B2B commerce platform specializing in procurement.
  49. Practo: Healthcare platform connecting patients with healthcare providers.
  50. Icertis: Cloud-based contract management software provider.
  51. Skyroot Aerospace: Pioneer in private space exploration and satellite launch services.
  52. Zeta: Offers banking tech solutions and modern credit processing platforms.
  53. Infra.Market: B2B online procurement marketplace for construction materials.
  54. Spinny: Used car buying and selling platform with quality assurance.
  55. Apna: Job and professional networking platform for blue and grey-collar workers.
  56. Moglix: E-commerce platform for industrial tools and equipment.
  57. Bewakoof: Popular online fashion brand with creative and quirky products. ( May not be a Unicorn yet )
  58. Droom: Online marketplace for buying and selling new and used automobiles.
  59. Khatabook: Mobile app for small business cash flow management.
  60. MyGlamm: Beauty and cosmetics brand with a direct-to-consumer approach.
  61. Yellow AI: AI-powered conversational commerce and customer support platform.
  62. CredAvenue: Fintech platform for enterprise debt products.
  63. Dunzo: Hyper-local delivery service for groceries, food, and more.
  64. Livspace: Home interior and renovation platform.
  65. Lendingkart: Financial services platform focusing on SME lending.
  66. ElasticRun: Virtual logistics network offering services to businesses.
  67. BrowserStack: Cloud web and mobile testing platform.
  68. Uniphore: Conversational AI and automation technology company.
  69. Hasura: Instant GraphQL APIs for new and existing applications.
  70. Porter: Logistics company specializing in goods transportation.
  71. Wakefit: Online sleep solutions brand offering mattresses and bedding products.
  72. Stanza Living: Managed accommodation solution for students and young professionals.
  73. CoinSwitch Kuber: Cryptocurrency investment and trading platform.
  74. Ather Energy: Manufacturer of electric scooters.
  75. Smallcase: Investment platform offering easy stock and ETF portfolio management.
  76. DailyObjects: Designer and seller of lifestyle products and gadget accessories.
  77. Quikr: Online classifieds and marketplace for a wide range of products and services.
  78. Ninjacart: Supply chain platform for agricultural produce.
  79. Zoomcar: Self-drive car rental service.
  80. HealthifyMe: Digital health and wellness platform.
  81. Toppr: E-learning platform with customized learning materials.
  82. Shadowfax: Logistics and delivery services provider.
  83. Furlenco: Online furniture rental platform.
  84. Mfine: Online telemedicine and healthcare services platform.
  85. Pepperfry: Online furniture and home decor shopping platform.
  86. Bira 91: Craft beer brand with a diverse product range.
  87. HomeLane: Home interior design and implementation company.
  88. Gradeup (now GradeStack): Exam preparation platform for various competitive exams.
  89. Chumbak: Lifestyle brand known for its fun and quirky products.
  90. WhiteHat Jr: Online platform for teaching coding to kids.
  91. 1mg: Online pharmacy and healthcare services platform.
  92. Boat Lifestyle: Popular electronics lifestyle brand, known for headphones and speakers.
  93. Servify: Device lifecycle management platform offering extended warranty and AMC.
  94. Cashify: Platform for selling used smartphones and electronic devices.
  95. Gupshup: Messaging and customer engagement platform.
  96. Games24x7: Online gaming platform with popular games like RummyCircle.
  97. Ixigo: Travel and hotel booking platform.
  98. Purplle: Online beauty products and cosmetics marketplace.
  99. InCred: Financial services company offering loans and investment products.
  100. Open Financial Technologies: Offers business banking and financial service platforms for SMEs.
  101. PhysicsWallah: Edtech platform focused on competitive exams preparation, especially in science subjects.
  102. Fractal Analytics: Provides artificial intelligence and analytics services to global enterprises.
  103. LEAD School: Offers an integrated system for school management, teaching, and learning solutions.
  104. Rapido: A bike taxi service offering affordable and quick urban transportation.
  105. InCred Finance: A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) offering a range of financial products and services to consumers and businesses.
  106. Zepto: A rapid commerce startup delivering groceries and essentials in minutes.
  107. Molbio Diagnostics: A healthtech company specializing in point-of-care diagnostic solutions for infectious diseases.
  108. Shiprocket: An e-commerce logistics aggregator providing shipping and courier solutions to online retailers.
  109. OneCard: A fintech startup offering a mobile-first, metal credit card focusing on simplicity and smart features.
  110. Krutrim: An AI startup developing a large language model for multiple Indian languages, aiming to build India’s first comprehensive AI computing stack.
  111. Polygon: A Web3 infrastructure platform offering scalable solutions for Ethereum blockchain, including decentralized apps (Dapps).


Each company listed represents a distinct entity with a unique focus area or business model. Here’s a brief categorization and analysis of the sectors they represent:

  1. E-Commerce & Retail: Companies like Flipkart, BigBasket, and Nykaa have revolutionized the way Indians shop, bringing a wide array of products to their doorsteps. The growth in this sector is driven by increasing internet penetration and a shift in consumer behavior favoring online shopping.
  2. Transportation & Logistics: Ola Cabs, Delhivery, and BlackBuck are key players. The ride-hailing, logistics, and supply chain solutions they provide have been critical in modernizing and improving efficiency in these sectors.
  3. EdTech: Byju’s, Unacademy, and Vedantu are leading the way in transforming education in India. Their focus on interactive and accessible learning is particularly relevant in a country with a large and diverse student population.
  4. Food & Beverage: Swiggy and Zomato have changed how food is ordered and delivered in India, while Licious has carved a niche in gourmet meat and seafood delivery.
  5. Fintech & Financial Services: Paytm, Razorpay, and CoinDCX are notable for their innovations in digital payments, online transactions, and cryptocurrency trading. The fintech revolution in India is part of a larger global trend towards digital finance.
  6. Healthcare & Wellness: Companies like PharmEasy and highlight the growing focus on health, fitness, and wellness, accelerated by the pandemic.
  7. Technology & Software: This broad category includes diverse companies like Postman (API development), BrowserStack (web and mobile testing), and Uniphore (Conversational AI).
  8. Real Estate & Home Services: NoBroker and Urban Company are addressing pain points in real estate and home services, making these processes more customer-friendly.
  9. Automobile & Mobility: Ola Electric and Ather Energy represent the push towards electric vehicles, an essential shift considering environmental concerns.
  10. Education & Learning: Platforms like PhysicsWallah and LEAD School are contributing significantly to the education sector, especially in competitive exam preparation.
  11. Miscellaneous: This includes unique startups like Boat Lifestyle (electronics), Krutrim (AI and language models), and Molbio Diagnostics (healthtech).

The diversity of sectors covered by these unicorns indicates a robust and dynamic startup ecosystem in India. It reflects the country’s growing technological capabilities, increased internet penetration, and a massive consumer market ready to adopt new solutions. These companies, with their innovative business models and scalable solutions, are not just transforming the Indian market but also positioning themselves strongly in the global arena.

Overall, the list represents a comprehensive view of the current landscape of successful startups in India, highlighting key trends and sectors poised for growth.

In conclusion, the Indian startup ecosystem, with its growing number of unicorns, especially women-led, represents a dynamic and significant segment of the global startup community. The resilience shown by these startups in the face of economic challenges and their contribution to job creation and emerging sectors like EV and space tech underscore the vibrant nature of this ecosystem. The future looks promising, with expectations of continued growth and innovation.


Strategy Boffins Team