YourStory's Top 50 NewsMakers: Indian startups who ruled the headlines in 2019

Here's a look at YourStory's top 50 startups that dominated the news this year for all the right reasons, and proved that they are here to stay.

YourStory's Top 50 NewsMakers of 2019 lists startups that scaled new heights this year, and are aiming to achieve even greater milestones in the coming year. From raising investments to achieving unicorn status, these startups raised the bar in 2019, even as some of them attracted their fair share of controversy.

The Top 50 NewsMakers of 2019 were selected based on a well-defined methodology that takes into consideration key valuation metrics and leverages the YourStory team’s rich experience and knowhow in the space. As the most prominent startup ecosystem enabler in India, YourStory is rightly equipped with the qualitative data and industry insights to create the most authentic listings of its kind.

To arrive at the rankings for the Top 50 Newsmakers, YourStory leveraged an online tool to compile a list of startups that received the most mentions in the news during the year. The jury, comprising YourStory senior editorial staff, industry experts, and research and data heads, narrowed down the initial compilation to 250 startups, following which the team underwent multiple deliberations to arrive at the list of 50 NewsMakers.

The Top 50 NewsMakers were selected based on the milestones achieved during the year as well as the magnitude and impact of these achievements for not just the startup itself, but for the entire ecosystem. Funding, profitability, M&A activity, product launches, and international expansions were among some of the areas in which these startups set new benchmarks.

After scaling new heights during the year, these 50 startups are poised to lead the Indian startup ecosystem to higher ground in the year ahead.

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Creating an internet ecosystem in India

About the company

Paytm is a payment gateway that provides payment services for customers and merchants. It is owned by One97 Communications, and backed by investors including SoftBank, SAIF Partners, Alibaba Group, and Ant Financial.


The forerunner of the digital payments revolution in India, Paytm in 2019 went for acquisitions and investments to gain market leadership in sectors like hotel booking, entertainment, wealth management and, surprisingly, food delivery.

It also made waves in Japan, finding success with its digital payment product PayPay, a joint venture with SoftBank and Yahoo Japan. The total number of users on the PayPay network stood at 19 million a year after it was launched.

In January, it acquired hotel booking platform Nightstay, launching the domestic hotel booking category on its platform. It made an investment of Rs 31.68 crore in Paytm Entertainment, its online and movie ticketing platform. In October, it participated in a $20 million investment in Paytm First Games, its joint venture with AGTech. Through the year, it also invested more than $9 million in Paytm Money.

But what caught attention was a $6.59 million investment in corporate food catering startup Hungerbox, raising question on whether Paytm was looking at food delivery.

In August, it also won the bid and acquired sponsorship rights for BCCI's international and domestic matches for the 2019-23 home season at a winning bid price of Rs 326.80 crore.

But 2019 wasn’t just about growing existing verticals. Paytm also announced its entry into the education space, to offer test preparation content, academic loans, and more. Keen to be the “internet ecosystem in India”, in November it set aside Rs 500 crore to invest in early-stage startups that can augment and provide value to its ecosystem.

But all wasn’t hunky-dory. Losses for Paytm’s parent, One97 Communications, widened even further to Rs 4,217.20 crore in FY19. This is a 163 percent increase from FY18, when consolidated losses stood at Rs 1,604.34 crore.

Notwithstanding all that, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder, PayTm, has expressed his desire to take the company public. It has the backing of Japan’s SoftBank and US global investment behemoth T Rowe Price. But, raising funds at a valuation of almost $16 billion, will India’s most valuable startup be able to turn towards ‘profitability’ before going public?

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One of the biggest cab aggregators in India, Ola is the second most-valued unicorn

About the company

Ola is India’s largest mobility platform, and one of the world’s largest ride-hailing companies, serving over 250 cities across India, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.


The year 2019 began with a bang for the ride-hailing unicorn. It raised Rs 650 crore from Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, and ended up garnering a total $2 billion funding in January.

It also saw its EV entity, Ola Electric, join the unicorn club this year. While it did face a regulatory challenge with the Karnataka government banning its services, the ride-hailing unicorn bounced back into operations.

In India, Ola claims to have over 125 million users and more than one million driver partners. It serves as many as one billion rides every year through its platform. The next stop for the ride hailing unicorn: an IPO.

According to sources, Ola is in advanced talks to raise about $150-200 million (Rs 1,050-1,400 crore) in funding from tech giant Microsoft.

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Going beyond food delivery

About the company

Swiggy is the leading food delivery startup in India. The foodtech unicron started operations in 2014 in Bengaluru, and acts as a bridge between customers and restaurants.


Swiggy began the year by raising $1 billion in one of the single highest rounds by a foodtech giant. Since then, the foodtech unicorn has steadily focused on expansion and growth.

The startup reached its five-year mark in 2019. It was also the year the unicorn started expanding its services beyond food delivery. While the foodtech giant fought a battle with National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) over discounting, it grew significantly in 2019.

It launched ‘Daily’, its subscription-based homestyle meal service, and also launched Swiggy Go, its pickup and drop service that marked its entry into hyperlocal delivery.

This year, the startup also conducted its first-ever tech conference Gigabytes, where Sriharsha Majety, Co-founder and CEO, said the company aimed to have 100 million customers transacting over 15 times a month in the next 10 to 15 years.

He also said the startup would be investing significantly in access pods. The idea is that Swiggy Access provides kitchen spaces, called pods, to restaurants partners who don’t have a presence in an area.

For example, there is no presence of biryani chain Meghana Foods in Yelahanka, Bengaluru. A Swiggy Access pod will give Meghana Foods the option of setting up a kitchen in the area, and enable delivery of food in the area through Swiggy.

“Our pods would be within 10 minutes of 99 percent of our consumers. And close to 75 percent of our demand will come from supply that doesn’t exist today,” Harsha had said.

The team is looking to expand Swiggy Go to over 300 cities and Swiggy Stores to all the major metros by 2020, ushering in a new era of convenience for consumers across India.

Swiggy has till now completed over half a billion orders. Present in over 500 cities, it has on-boarded around 147,000 restaurants, and has over 2.1 lakh active delivery partners.

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OYO has gone from being a hotel aggregator to a hotel brand in six years

About the company

In its short life, OYO Hotels and Homes has been variously described as a hotel aggregator, an online travel agency (OTA), and even a Ponzi scheme with an unsustainable business model, but never a hotel chain.


The Gurugram-based startup began the year as a unicorn, and continued to hit new highs in the months that followed. It started by hiring former Indigo CEO Aditya Ghosh as India and South Asia CEO, and growing its international operations. Despite a cheating case being lodged against Ritesh Agarwal, OYO continued to march ahead to capture the hospitality industry.

This year, it took its homestay vertical, OYO Homes, to Dubai, expanded its operations in Philippines, and entered the US market. Apart from expanding in China, Southeast Asia, and the US, OYO pumped in 300 million euros into the European market. It also launched hotel operations in Japan in a joint venture with SoftBank.

The startup acquired holiday home network Belvilla in Amsterdam. It also entered the $3 billion coworking market with the acquisition of Gurugram-based co-working space Innov8 for Rs 220 crore. After completing one year of OYO Life, the company looked to expand deeper into student accommodation. It also acquired Copenhagen-based data science company Danamica and expanded into Latin America markets.

The startup worked its way into the cloud-kitchen space as well with a small experiment. It is now set to launch its own coffee chain The French Press.

OYO and its founder Ritesh Agarwal have also been in news this year for buying back stake worth $1.2 billion from one of their largest investors, SoftBank.

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Tasting success and spreading wings

About the company

Starting up at a time when the words startup and foodtech didn’t exist, Zomato has grown into a unicorn valued at $2.3 billion, and has raised $600 million in funding. Yet, over the 10 years of its existence, the company’s focus has been just this - to make food more accessible to the consumer in every way.


The year 2019 was a mixed bag for Zomato. Late last year, a viral video of a delivery executive eating food from an order made waves, after which the foodtech giant immediately took measures to launch tamper-proof packaging.

This year, Zomato also locked horns with the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), over discounting. The startup was trending on Twitter for a while with #UninstallZomato movement, after a resident of Madhya Pradesh made a fuss over a non-Hindu delivery boy being assigned to deliver food.

All that notwithstanding, the Gurugram-based unicorn began the year by raising $40 million led by US-based private investor Glade Brook. The funding was part of Zomato’s larger $1 billion round. It also made headway by experimenting with different modes of delivery. Last year, Zomato acquired drone startup TechEagle, and successfully tested delivery via drones in 2019. It also joined the green movement by beginning deliveries on bicycles.

Zomato also launched an experience centre for delivery partners. The startup also shut down its loyalty programme, PiggyBank, and its Infinity Dining Option (which it had started in July).

In September, Zomato forayed into the world of video streaming. It aims to launch 18 original shows over the next three months; these shows will be available under a new “Videos” tab in the Zomato app.

The startup also announced results for FY19. As per documents filed with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), the company’s revenue for this year soared to Rs 1,397 crore, marking a 188 percent jump from the revenue of Rs 485 crore reported for the previous financial year.

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Cred offers rewards for paying credit card bills on time

About the company

Cred is the second venture of FreeCharge co-founder Kunal Shah. It lets credit card holders pay bills through an app, and gives them benefits via Cred coins and gems. These virtual coins can be redeemed across coffee shops, movie theatres, ecommerce sites, etc.


Owned and operated by Dreamplug Technologies Pvt Ltd, Cred secured Series B funding of $120 million in August this year, led by fintech fund Ribbit Capital, DST Global’s Gemini Investments, as well as existing investor Sequoia Capital (through its fund SCI Investments V).

This was one of the largest funding rounds for a less-than-a-year-old Indian company. With this round of funding, the total valuation of the startup stood at around $450 million.

The funds are being used for international expansion as well as to develop newer products in partnership with banks. Other investors participated in the round include Russian tech fund RTP Global (earlier Ru-Net), Asia based investment management firm HillHouse, Tiger Global, Greenoaks Capital, as well as DF International. US-based General Catalyst and Dragoneer also participated in the funding round.

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India’s first online grocery unicorn

About the company

Bigbasket is India's largest online food and grocery store that delivers products to customers' doorstep.


In May this year, Supermarket Grocery, which operates Bigbasket, received $150 million in funding led by South Korea’s Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, UK’s CDC Group, and existing investor Alibaba. The company’s valuation surpassed $1 billion, making it India’s first online grocery startup to enter the coveted unicorn club.

Despite intensified competition, Bigbasket enjoys the first-mover advantage and has managed to ward off competition from Amazon with its multiple grocery delivery models and stayed ahead of Grofers, which is funded by the likes of Tiger Global and SoftBank.

In 2019, Bigbasket continued to focus on three new businesses: BB Daily, BB Instant, and BB Beauty Store. It upped sales with BB Star, a membership programme for customers.

Bigbasket’s private label business also grew, driven by lower prices and higher margins. About 35 percent of its revenue comes from private labels. On the B2B side, the startup served its private label to more than 1,000 kiranas, corporates, and HoReCa (hotels, restaurants, cafes).

The startup claims to have generated Rs 3,200 crore in revenue in FY19.

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One of the first online B2B marketplace to go public

About the company

IndiaMart is an online B2B marketplace for business products and services, connecting buyers with suppliers. The company focuses on providing a platform to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, as well as individuals.


The 23-year-old company that was set up at the height of the dot com boom and went on to survive the bust, launched its Initial Public Offer (IPO) on June 24, 2019, with a price band of Rs 970-973 to raise over Rs 474 crore. The company offered 48,87,862 equity shares in the issue, which closed on June 26.

The IPO was subscribed 51 percent on the first day of bidding, and 36.16 times on the final day.

The Rs 475-crore IPO received bids for 9,73,85,775 shares against the total issue size of 26,92,824 shares, according to NSE data. The qualified institutional buyers' book was subscribed close to 30.83 times, non-institutional investors 62.12 times, and retail individual investors 13.37 times.

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ShareChat is India’s largest regional social media platform

About the company

ShareChat allows users to discover and share content in Indian languages. It currently offers its services in 15 Indian languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani, and Bhojpuri.


In August 2019, ShareChat raised $100 million in Series D round led by Twitter. Other than Twitter, TrustBridge Partners and existing investors Shunwei Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, SAIF Capital, India Quotient and Morningside Venture Capital participated in the funding round. The company said it will strengthen the technology infrastructure with the latest funding.

The company also achieved the milestone of reaching 60 million monthly active users this August this year, and in September started its monetisation journey and reached out to brands that could advertise on its platform.

ShareChat’s revenue rose manifold to Rs 25.8 crore in FY19 from Rs 1.7 crore in the previous fiscal. As of 2019, the company has grown from 100 employees in December 2018 to over 300 employees. The company is planning to hire about 150-200 people in the next few months to attain a total headcount of around 400-450 people by December next year.

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One of India’s most prominent EV manufacturers

About Company

Ather Energy is an electric vehicle company that manufactures electric scooters. It has established one of the fastest electric vehicle charging infrastructure, Ather Grid, which was built and designed in India.


In May 2019, Ather raised $51 million in Series C funding round led by Sachin Bansal and InnoVen Capital.

Bengaluru-based Ather said it intends to utilise the fresh capital in setting up a new manufacturing facility that can produce one million EVs annually. It said it will also open 6,500 Ather Grid charging points across the country in the next five years.

The startup is now looking to expand beyond Bengaluru, and has opened pre-orders in Chennai this year. By 2023, it will further scale up its presence in 30 cities across the country. Reports project Ather Energy to hit one million in scooter sales of by 2023.

One of India’s largest EV startups, Ather is also building newer products. With over 51 patent applications, 113 trademarks, and 123 design registrations to its name, its current valuation is estimated to be about $400 million.

Its current products, the Ather 340 and Ather 450, are priced at Rs 1.1 lakh and Rs 1.3 lakh, respectively.

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Blazing ahead with new proprietary technology

About the company

Operated by Mara Labs Inc., Locus uses proprietary algorithms and deep learning to optimise supply chains with real-time tracking, insights and analytics, dynamic sales journey plans, efficient warehouse management, and vehicle allocation and utilisation.

ICRA Research has forecast the domestic logistics sector to grow at eight to 10 percent over the medium term with the outlook remaining largely stable.


Locus is one of the four B2B logistics startups to have raised money this year, winning over marquee investors like Tiger Global, which has so far made significant B2C bets in the Indian startup ecosystem.

In May 2019, Locus secured $22 million in Series B round led by Falcon Edge Capital and Tiger Global Management, with participation from existing investors Exfinity Venture Partners and Blume Ventures. This round took the value of Locus to nearly $100 million.

The startup plans to enter several new markets including North America and Europe while strengthening its presence in Southeast Asia.

In August 2019, Locus also launched enhanced features that focus on improving FADR i.e First Attempt Delivery rate for ecommerce and 3PL companies. It has developed proprietary Geocoding engines to help FADR that converts ad hoc addresses to accurate delivery locations and route optimisation solution. Dispatcher that generates daily dynamic delivery plans. At its peak, the platform has processed 1 million orders a day.

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Clawing its way back

About the company

Snapdeal is an ecommerce startup that has grown to become one of the largest online marketplaces in India. Like its rivals Flipkart and, Snapdeal is host to 200 million listings and offers products across 600 categories.

After a disastrous 2017, when it was bogged down by tough competition, Snapdeal made headlines owing to its comeback this year.


In 2019, Snapdeal worked to not only shore up its revenue but also narrow its losses. The company has since seen a bump in its valuation and is again in talks with investors.

Jasper Infotech, which owns and operates Snapdeal, posted a consolidated revenue of Rs 925 crore in FY19, compared to the year-ago period when revenue was at Rs 536 crore. The ecommerce major also posted

consolidated losses of Rs 186 crore, down from a massive loss of Rs 611 crore in the previous financial year.

This year, the company also raised undisclosed funds from Anand Piramal. Media reports said the online marketplace was in initial talks to raise a fresh round of funding. Snapdeal was also said to be in talks to raise about $100 million from new and existing investors, including Japan’s SoftBank. If things pan out, this will be the company’s first major fundraise in the last three years.

The discussions between Snapdeal and various investors peg the company’s valuation between $800 million and $1.2 billion. The company is currently doing net revenue of about $140 million.

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Poised to be India’s first product company to go the IPO route

About the company

Freshworks is a SaaS startup, disrupting traditional CRM, ITSM, Customer Support, and Marketing Automation with its complete customer engagement suite, Freshworks360. In 2018, the company crossed the $100-million mark in annual recurring revenue and entered the coveted unicorn club.


In May 2019, Freshworks acquired Natero, a California-based customer success software for B2B SaaS companies founded by veterans of big data and distributed systems. At the time, the company said that Natero’s technology would help Freshworks put actionable data in the hands of customer success professionals, helping them account expansion and manage more customers with fewer resources.

In November 2019, the startup raised its Series H round of funding, signing definitive agreements for $150 million. The round was led by existing investors Sequoia Capital, CapitalG, and Freshworks’ first investor Accel. The B2B SaaS unicorn will use the funding to further Freshworks’ worldwide expansion as well as accelerate investments in its integrated SaaS platform.

As part of this effort, the startup also announced its Customer-for-Life Cloud, which establishes a common data platform across all of its customer engagement products.

With 35,000 paying SMBs, mid-market and enterprise customers across the globe, Freshworks reaches 220,000 customers. Now, at a valuation of $3.5 billion, it is poised to be the first product company from India that could go the IPO route.

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Taking health and fitness global

About the company

Launched in 2016, is a healthcare startup that leverages technology and data to enable people to live a healthy lifestyle and get access to state-of-the-art healthcare at an affordable cost.

The startup has integrated four verticals holistically. While caters to physical fitness, is for mental wellbeing, for healthy food, and looks at personalised healthcare services, including consultation and diagnostics.


The company continued on its path to success in 2019, crossing the 100-centre mark in Bengaluru and 200-centre mark across India, expanding to Ahmedabad, Punjab, Mysuru, and Kolkata. It also took to Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune, and Mysuru this year., which has grown through its acquisitions of Fitness First, Cult and Tribe Fitness, aims to be accessible to consumers in 50 Indian cities across 800 centres by 2020. But it's also eyeing international expansion. In June, a centre was launched at Palm Strip Mall in Dubai, the first international launch for the company.

The company was in the news again when had to settle a dispute out of court with BYG, a marketplace to discover and book fitness centres, in October 2019. But continued to grow, going on to launch cultsport, a one-stop-shop for sportswear needs.

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The go-to online ticketing platform in India

About the company

BookMyShow is an online ticketing platform, which presents its clients with a slew of options to purchase tickets - from music concerts, stand-up comic acts, plays, and movies to major sporting events.


The startup saw strong growth in 2019. It sold tickets worth Rs 350 crore through the 3,500 sporting events listed on its platform, thereby achieving a three-fold increase in its sports offering.

Besides, BookMyShow also partnered with the American Sports League National Basketball Association (NBA) with a view to promote and market the event in India.

This year, the ticketing platform made a strategic investment in Pune-based payments company AtomX. However, the amount of the deal was undisclosed. It also announced a five-year strategic partnership with Dubai's largest indoor multipurpose arena, Coca-Cola Arena. This collaboration entails ‘preferred ticketing rights’ to all events taking place at the arena between 2019 to 2024, and is seen as an indication of its ambitions for the Middle East market.

The Mumbai-headquartered startup also inked a five-year deal for movie ticket booking with Amazon recently.

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Disrupting the B2B ecommerce space

About the company

Udaan, the startup that doesn't have a CEO, is disrupting offline distribution with its unique B2B model. Started in 2016 by former Flipsters (Flipkart employees), it brings the benefits of online commerce to manufacturers, traders, suppliers, and wholesalers in smaller towns. Udaan is also currently India’s fastest growing unicorn.


This year, Udaan reached many new milestones. It secured funding of $585 million from existing and fresh investors in an environment not really conducive for large pay cheques.

The startup’s growth, since it began operations in 2017, has actually opened newer vistas that gives it a strong foothold for the creation of services such as fintech, warehousing, and logistics among others.

The startup aimed to use the new funds to grow the marketplace, go deeper into existing categories, and invest in core capabilities like its tech marketplace platform, fulfilment and delivery, lending, and payments.

Focused on horizontal B2B ecommerce, Udaan currently has operations across lifestyle, home and kitchen, staples, fruits and vegetables, FMCG, toys, and general merchandise. The platform helps SMEs like small manufacturers, brands, mills, and farmers to sell their products across the country at a low cost.

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Reverie plans to win language equality with ‘a very Indian deal’ with Reliance

About the company

Reverie Technologies is a local language technology service startup, which helps netizens converse, transact, and collaborate in their native language.


This year proved to be a truly defining year for Reverie as it was acquired by the country’s most-valuable publicly traded company, Reliance Industries, for Rs 190 crore. It also received an additional Rs 77 crore in investment.

With this, the startup can access the deep trove of data Reliance has and get funds for expansion. The Indian conglomerate, in turn, will work with Reverie to integrate its services in the group’s different digital consumer platforms.

The startup has set itself a goal for the next three years – to reach 500 million users, become a market leader in Indian language technologies, and be the Indian company that defines and implements Indian language technology standards.

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India’s 'uncalled’ unicorn is fending off stiff competition in digital payments

About the company

PhonePe is a digital wallet company owned by Flipkart, and one of the first payments app built on Unified Payments Interface (UPI).


There is no doubt that fintech startup PhonePe is one of the brightest stars in the Flipkart-Walmart universe. Being the first non-banking app to seize on the opportunity of offering UPI payments back in 2017, PhonePe kicked off its offline strategy this January. It quickly scaled it to five million offline acceptance points by June, showcasing 5X growth in just nine months.

As the tussle to be at the top continued, PhonePe, for the first time (after Google Pay and Paytm’s entry), claimed to be the market leader for total UPI payments in August, registering close to 343 million transactions. It also claimed to have achieved an annual TPV (total payment volume) run rate of $95 billion, marking a 5X growth in the past year.

The startup also entered the financial services and wealth management arena, allowing users to invest in mutual funds through its platform. Now, PhonePe is trying to raise a $1 billion in funding from strategic external investors.

Chinese conglomerate Tencent and South African internet group Naspers (which owns PayU) are also looking to back the company.

But, on the back of tremendous growth and euphoria are widening losses as PhonePe reported Rs 1,907 crore in losses in FY19, compared to Rs 791 crore in FY18. On the other hand, it generated revenue of Rs 245.8 crore in FY19, compared to Rs 49 crore in FY18.

The startup also took to cricket to increase its visibility, becoming the official co-presenting sponsor for the TV broadcast of VIVO IPL 2019 and the official co-presenting sponsor for the TV broadcast of ICC World Cup 2019.

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India’s largest learning platform

About the company

Unacademy connects expert educators with students looking for quality education. The startup claims it has more than 13 million learners on its platform, over 50,000 subscribers for its Unacademy Plus Subscription, and 400 teachers across 20 exam categories, including competitive ones such as UPSC, IIT-JEE, and CAT.


In 2019, the learning platform made headlines when its Co-founder and CEO Gaurav Munjal said over Twitter that the company will be buying back shares from the employees whose stocks are vested. Gaurav said that team members can sell up to 30 percent of their vested stocks.

In June, the Bengaluru-based edtech startup raised $50 million in Series D funding round from Steadview Capital, Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners, and Blume Ventures.

This funding round also saw the participation of Aakrit Vaish (Co-founder and CEO, Haptik) and Sujeet Kumar (Co-founder and CEO, Udaan). Besides, Gaurav Munjal and Roman Saini also invested in this round.

Media reports suggest that Unacademy is now valued at over $200 million – a 2X jump in valuation since its Series C round. The startup said it will use the investment to onboard more educators, fuel growth across multiple exam categories, and build product and team. Earlier in April, Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy was reported to have topped his investment in the startup.

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The first Indian gaming startup to enter the coveted ‘unicorn’ club

About the company

Dream11 is a fantasy sports platform, letting users create their own team of real-life players, score points, and compete with others.


Tencent-backed Dream11 is the poster child of India’s fantasy gaming ecosystem. In April this year, Dream11 joined the unicorn club with a valuation of over $1 billion. The Mumbai-based gaming startup confirmed the news following the completion of a secondary investment by Steadview Capital.

In 2019, BCCI signed up Dream11 as the IPL’s official fantasy sports partner until 2022. Dream11 currently occupies 90 percent of the domestic fantasy sports market, according to a joint report by the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) and KPMG.

Of the overall user base of 51 million, Dream11’s paid players are just about 15 percent.

Since its Series A round of funding, the company has witnessed phenomenal growth with a 100x increase in user base from 0.3 million users to 50 million recently.

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A startup that helps every other startup be a fintech company

About the company

Setu is an application programming interface (API) infrastructure startup, which offers APIs across bill payments, savings, credit, and payments.


In April 2019, the startup raised $3.5 million (approximately Rs 24.5 crore) as a part of a Seed round led by Lightspeed India Partners, with participation from Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund.

At present, it offers open APIs across four categories – bills, savings, credit, and payments. Any developer can access its sandbox to build an application and go through a rigorous developer certification program to go live. This makes it easy for all companies to plug-and-play financial services rather than spend significant effort and time for one-off integrations.

Setu’s current product ‘Collect’ is enabling billers to collect dues, get credit alerts, and push receipts to customers, hence automating the process.

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India’s one-and-only beauty soonicorn

About the company

Nykaa was started as an ecommerce platform for beauty and wellness products, which has now forayed into offline stores.

Currently, everything sold on Nykaa is sourced directly from the brand. It works as a direct seller, and is an inventory-based retailer, not a marketplace. At present, Nykaa sells about three lakh products across 1,500 brands.


This April, Nykaa raised Rs 100 crore ($14 million) from Singapore-based TPG Growth IV SF. After the funding, its valuation is reported to have touched $724 million, making it a strong contender for the revered unicorn club in its next round of funding.

Beyond its online presence, Nykaa has more than 50 offline stores across India. The company claims that more than one lakh customers have shopped via Nykaa to date.

The startup launched its first offline store in Delhi in 2015, and a private label in 2015. Last year, Nykaa launched NykaaNetwork, an interactive beauty forum where subscribers could chat with each other, and the NykaaDesignStudio for apparel in designer and premium brands.

Around the same time, it also launched NykaaMan, an exclusive ecommerce platform for men’s personal care products.

Just a week before its fundraise, it acquired members-only platform for an undisclosed amount in a move.

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BYJU’S is India’s only edtech unicorn

About the company

Officially incorporated in 2011 as Think & Learn Pvt Ltd, which is today better recognised by its brand name BYJU’S – The Learning App, Byju Raveendran’s edtech startup is one of the prestigious brands to have come out of India in the last decade.

The startup is India’s only edtech unicorn, and its founder is the newest member of the country’s coveted billionaire’s club.


In July this year, the startup raised $150 million investment led by the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar - Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) along with participation from Owl Ventures. The fundraise not only strengthened BYJU’S financial backbone but also pushed its valuation to $5.7 billion.

With this, founder Byju Raveendran was reported to be holding a 21 percent stake in the company and a place in the coveted unicorn club.

In June, the company joined forces with US-based media tycoon Disney’s India arm to launch the Disney-BYJU’S Early Learn app for the domestic market. The specially curated app offers personalised learning programmes to children aged between six and eight.

Prior to the fundraise led by the sovereign wealth fund, the company secured Rs 214 crore in funding from its existing investors - New York-headquartered equity firm General Atlantic and Chinese conglomerate Tencent - for global expansion.

It announced to have tripled its revenue to Rs 1,430 crore in FY 18-19, and also turned profitable on a full-year basis. This is besides the BYJU’S app recording a high adoption and close to 85 percent annual renewal from small towns and cities.

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Marching towards profitability and gunning for an IPO by 2022

About the company

MobiKwik, India's issuer-independent digital financial services platform, leverages a sophisticated product and merchant acquisition capabilities. It has a network of over three million direct merchants, 140+ billers, and 107 million-plus users. It records over 1 million transactions/ day.

Founded in 2009 by Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku, MobiKwik is backed by marquee investors including Sequoia Capital, American Express, Tree Line Asia, MediaTek, GMO Payment Gateway, Cisco Investments, Net1, and Bajaj Finance.

MobiKwik has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. The company has clocked a 4x growth in transactions on YoY basis. The brand vision is to enable a billion Indians with one tap access to digital payments, loans, investments and insurance by the year 2022.


Demonetisation didn’t guarantee MobiKwik a top spot, and the firm hasn’t had it easy. The competition has been ruthless, and the last two years have seen global behemoths like Google and Facebook wanting to win a chunk of India’s billion-dollar digital payments market.

In the last year, MobiKwik failed to secure big funding rounds like its competitor, SoftBank-backed Paytm. Moreover, the exit of its entire top brass created a lot of speculation in the market, and served to pull down its brand image.

But this past year, the Gurugram-based payments company has been focussing on building a profitable business, as MobiKwik’s reported revenue grew over 100 percent for FY19 to Rs 184.6 crore. MobiKwik also claimed to witness a 40 percent growth in registered users, 90 percent growth in monthly active users, with $3 billion processed through its payment gateway, and $55 million disbursed across 3.5 lakh loans.

However, the bright spot for MobiKwik in FY19 was its positive contribution margin across all its business segment. Contribution margin is revenue generated minus the loading cost of the customer and the marketing incentives.

Earlier, MobiKwik founder Upasana Taku had said the company turned cash-flow positive in August this year, and will clock revenues of Rs 700 crore (or $100 million) this fiscal (FY 20). The company looks to be fully profitable in FY 21.

With a focus on stabilising financials, MobiKwik is now gunning for an IPO by 2022, and is looking to scale to 250 million users in the next few years. It is also one of the few fintech platforms which has launched a full-fledged financial services strategy offering services including digital credit, insurance, as well as wealth management.

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FirstCry might become the first baby care startup to join the unicorn club

About the company

FirstCry is an ecommerce platform that offers more than two lakh baby and kids products across categories including diapering, toys, clothes, accessories and more.


This year, FirstCry brought on board Japanese internet and telecom giant SoftBank as one of its investors, after SoftBank’s Vision Fund infused fresh funding to the tune of $400 million into the company. If media reports are any indication, the funds are to be used to expand both FristCry’s offline and online presence, as well as to strengthen its technology platform.

The baby and mother care product retailer offers more than two lakh baby and kids products across categories that include diapering, feeding and nursing, skin and healthcare, toys, clothes, footwear, and fashion accessories among others.

In 2016, the startup acquired BabyOye - an ecommerce store providing pregnancy, infant-care, and mother care products and services in India for $54 million. Last year, FirstCry partnered with New York-based lifestyle, kids, and baby brand Masala baby.

Prior to the SoftBank, FirstCry raised funding from multiple investors such as Chiratae Ventures, SAIF Partners, Valiant Capital Partners, and Vertex Ventures. However, it is the Vision Fund investment that is grabbing eyeballs, as the fundraise is believed to have pushed the company’s valuation to $800 million, thus making it a potential entrant to the billion-dollar unicorn club.

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Largest Indian regional language storytelling platform

About the company

A self-publishing regional platform, Pratilipi brings people close to their culture through reading, writing, and publishing stories in more than 12 languages.


This year, Pratilipi saw an investment of $15 million from China-based VC firm Qiming Venture Partners. It expanded its services in four new languages namely English, Urdu, Odia, and Punjabi.

Existing investors Omidyar Network, Contrarian Vriddhi Fund, Shunwei Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, and WEH Ventures. With this funding, the company said it will be focusing primarily on improving the technology infrastructure, including its recommendation and personalisation engine, while expanding the number of writers on the platform over the next 12-18 months.

The startup said it will also be focusing on expanding into newer forms of storytelling and will include audio stories on the platform.

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An uber for trucks

About the company

BlackBuck is an online marketplace for trucking. It is a tech-enabled logistics platform that is bringing the offline operations of trucking online. It is making it easier for millions of truckers to book a load and move at capacity and is enabling shippers to have access to trucks.


BlackBuck closed a $150 million round of equity funding led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Silicon Valley-based Accel in 2019. Other new investors who participated in the round were Wellington, Sequoia Capital, B Capital, and LightStreet. The round also saw participation from existing investors Sands Capital and International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank. This took the total amount of funding raised by the company to over $230 million.

The company said it plans to deploy these funds to penetrate deeper into the market by on-boarding new trucking partners along the existing as well as new transportation corridors. The company also aims to invest heavily in product and data sciences capabilities, and to enable more efficient freight matching processes.

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Transforming people’s retail shopping experience

About the company

Mad Street Den uses AI to automate workflows and is transforming people’s retail shopping experience. It is a Computer Vision-based AI startup that is redefining the future of retail. It currently has presence in 50 countries.


In April 2019,, the end-to-end retail automation platform owned by Mad Street Den, raised $17.7 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Falcon Edge Capital, with participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital India, Global Brain (part of Japan’s KDDI Innovation fund), and others.

The startup plans to utilise the funds to expand across global retail giants. It will grow the team, focus on the product roadmap, and scale its existing customer base across continents. is already being used by top retailers including Tata, Mercadolibre, and Macy's. has generated 600 million product tags and over 1,000 digital models, and also curated three billion outfits for clients globally. It is further credited with increasing conversion rates by a massive 180 percent for retailers.

Besides retail, MAD Stack, the startup’s computer vision platform, is also developing capabilities such as object recognition, emotion recognition, and sentiment analysis, and more that can potentially redefine the customer’s retail shopping experience.

Mad Street Den’s goal is to bring computer vision to every device owned by an average customer, and improve product discovery and purchase experience.

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A conversational AI platform for businesses, Haptik was acquired by Reliance Jio for Rs 700 crore

About the company

Reliance-backed Haptik is an enterprise conversational AI platform. It claims to have processed more than two billion conversations for numerous enterprises and platforms. In the last two years, Haptik also registered a 1,000 percent year-on-year growth, and has worked with popular brands like Samsung, Tata, and Coca-Cola.


Founded in 2013, conversational AI platform Haptik claims to have processed more than two billion conversations for numerous enterprises and platforms. In the last two years, Haptik also registered a 1,000 percent year-on-year growth, and has worked with popular brands like Samsung, Tata, and Coca-Cola.

In April, Haptik entered a strategic partnership with Reliance Industries, where the latter acquired an 87 percent stake in the former at a deal valued at Rs 700 crore.

In July, the startup announced that it had acquired Convrg, a Los Angeles-based startup that recently built the chatbot powering the most engaging Reddit advertisement of all time. At the time, it said that this will help drive Haptik's business in the US, and let the startup offer brands in North America both superior technology and the proven ability to apply it.

In September, Haptik acquired, a Mumbai-based conversational commerce startup. With this acquisition, Haptik wants to further enhance voice and chat commerce solutions for its customers globally, and leverage the platform to power multilingual experiences.

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An outlier, posting strong growth amidst an auto industry slowdown

About the company

CarDekho is an automobile classifieds platform. It helps users get details of used cars, car research, finance, insurance, and other aspects involved in the buying and selling of cars.


Despite the slowdown in auto sales across India this year, CarDekho proved to be an outlier with its New Auto business segment posting a significant growth of 30 percent in H1 FY20. Co-founder and CEO Amit Jain said CarDekho's unique business model of new and used car ecosystem has allowed it to stay relevant and record positive growth amidst the slowdown in the larger automobile industry.

CarDekho also raised Series C funding of $110 million from Sequoia India, Hillhouse, CapitalG (Alphabet growth investment arm), and Axis Bank in 2019. The fresh funds would be used to enhance focus on the used-car segment of the market and build a strong foundation in transaction services, including insurance and financing, the company said.

The Ratan Tata-backed startup raised an investment of Rs 132.95 crore as part of its Series C round led by Cayman Islands-based SC GG India Mobility Holdings LLC, with participation from Hillhouse and Kreatif Media Karya in July this year.

According to RoC filings accessed by YourStory, the new and used cars portal issued 23,497 Series C compulsory convertible preference shares (CCPS) on July 23, at a premium of Rs 56,575 per share.

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An Indian-origin SaaS unicorn that became a global cloud data protection provider

About the company

Druva is a platform developed to protect and manage enterprise data. California and Pune-based Druva patented cloud architecture to deliver all-in-one backup, disaster recovery, archival, and analytics solutions. These can be deployed in a single click and provide 360-degree visibility and control across all environments. Druva claims it has more than 4,000 enterprise customers, including 10 percent of the Fortune 500 such as Flex, Hitachi, Live Nation, Marriott, and Pfizer.


2019 was an exciting year for the startup. In June, Druva raised $130 million, entering the coveted unicorn club. Led by Viking Global Investors, the round also saw participation from new investors Neuberger Berman and Atreides Management, and existing investors Riverwood Capital, Tenaya Capital, and Nexus Venture Partners.

The startup has said that it will be using the investment to fuel growth and global expansion, as well as, drive new product innovations. By March 2020, Druva's headcount is expected to touch 1,000 people and go up to 1,300 by end of 2020-21. This team expansion will also include addition of 100 people to its India team.

The founders are now readying the startup for an IPO on various fronts, including continuing on its growth path and strengthening its product-market fit. While the listing is likely to happen in the US, there are a combination of macro and micro factors that will come into play before Druva goes public.

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Delhivery became 2019’s first Indian unicorn

About the company

Delhivery is a third-party logistics service provider. It offers services such as last-mile delivery, third-party and transit warehousing, reverse logistics, payment collection, vendor-to-warehouse and vendor-to-customer shipping and more.

It currently operates in more than 2,000 cities, offering a full range of supply chain services. It works with over 10,000 direct customers, which includes large and small ecommerce participants, SMEs, and over 350 leading enterprises and brands.


The Gurugram-based logistics startup became India’s first unicorn of 2019 in March. Delhivery announced a fresh round of funding led by SoftBank, Fosun, and Carlyle Group, through which it raised $413 million and took its valuation to over $1.5 billion.

According to the RoC filings, Delhivery issued 1.23 million Compulsory Cumulative Preference Shares (CCPS) of face value of Rs 100 each, at a premium of Rs 20,063 to SoftBank. The Japan-headquartered multinational conglomerate routed the funds through SVF Doorbell (Cayman), one of its investment subsidiaries.

In September this year, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) invested close to $115 million in Delhivery. The investment was made through CPPIB’s Fundamental Equities Asia (FEA) Group, which performs fundamental research and invests in quality corporates for the long term across Asia.

In November 2019, Delhivery posted a revenue of Rs 1,695 crore for the financial year 2019, compared to Rs 1,073 crore in the previous year. The 57.9 percent bump in its revenue, however, comes on the back of a widened loss for FY19.

The startup's loss for FY19 widened to Rs 1,772 crore, from the Rs 692-crore loss it posted in FY18.

The startup has reportedly held early-stage talks with Blue Dart Express Ltd and Gati Ltd to acquire their B2B operations. The logistics startup made headlines earlier this year when it secured $413 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

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Eyes Nasdaq listing in 2020 buoyed by a booming user car market

About the company

Droom is a platform for buying and selling pre-owned vehicles. It claims to be the third-largest ecommerce company in India at present, with over 80 percent market share in online automobile transactions, and the biggest auto-dealer platform in the world.

It has employed more than 5,000 ‘Eco Ninjas’ who are technicians working on the inspection. Droom claims to be present in more than 920 cities across India and has a network of more than 300,000 auto dealers with over 45 million monthly visitors. It has recorded more than 12 million app downloads so far. Droom currently claims to be generating $1.3 billion in annualised GMV.


The Indian automobile industry may have seen a slowdown in 2019 but used car marketplace Droom is showing no signs of a slowdown, thanks to strong demand for pre-owned vehicles.

The startup, which plans to list itself on Nasdaq in 2020, also announced that it acquired Xeraphin Finvest Pvt. Ltd to help it further strengthen its dedicated consumer and dealer credit marketplace.

Droom's credit operations have processed more than 10,000 loans in the last 12 months, with partners including IDFC First Bank, Yes Bank, Tata Capital, Manappuram Finance, Faircent, Hero Fincorp, Cashkumar, and Lendbox.

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It is a tax and investment platform

About the company

ClearTax is a technology company helping people and businesses with tax, compliance, and mutual fund investments.


By rolling out an online GST course, ClearTax had set a target of training 75,000 tax professionals, and more than two lakh businesses through its new e-learning course in partnership with Udemy.

It also acquired Bengaluru-based audio streaming platform Dose FM for an undisclosed amount. The ClearTax GST Software is claimed to be used by six lakh businesses, 60,000 CAs and tax professionals, and over 1,000 large enterprises.

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India’s biggest brokerage firm

About the company

Zerodha is a fintech company that offers retail and institutional broking, distribution, and trading services. The company also develops tools for market data research and analysis.

It is also educating people on finance and stock market through initiatives including varsity, webinars, Trading, QnA, Z-Connect, and partner products such as LearnApp.


The year 2019 began with a blast for discount broking firm Zerodha as it overtook traditional giants like ICICI Securities, HDFC Securities, Kotak Securities, Motilal Oswal, and Sharekhan to become one of the largest brokers in India with the highest number of clients.

In January, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) data revealed then that the almost nine-year-old trading startup has 8.47 lakh clients, a little more than ICICI Securities, which has 8.44 lakh clients.

In a blogpost, Founder-CEO Nithin Kamath said the platform was witnessing two million trades a day in January, making the company the "largest retail brokerage firm in the world, not just India".

The startup claims to contribute over 15 percent of all Indian retail trading volumes with 1.5 million clients and 600,000 DAUs, without having spent heavily on marketing.

Bootstrapped and growing, Zerodha is also investing and incubating early-stage fintech startups. It has invested in 14 fintech startups through its Rainmatter initiative. These investments range from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 7 crore.

In FY19, the startup reported revenue of Rs 850 crore and profit of Rs 350 crore. At present, Zerodha is in talks with US brokerage firms to enable Indian users to invest in US stocks.

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It is an SME-focussed neobanking platform

About the company

Open is Asia’s first neo-banking platform for SMEs and startups. It serves more than 2,50,000 SMEs and processes $7 billion in transactions, annually.

The platform on-boards 35,000 new SMEs and startups every month. It was featured among the top 100 fintech companies globally in 2019.


Open raised Series A funding of $5 million in February 2019 led by Beenext, Speedinvest, and 3one4 Capital. Existing investors Unicorn India Ventures and Angellist Syndicate also participated in this round.

In June it raised another $30 million led by Tiger Global Management and saw participation from Tanglin Venture Partners Advisors. Existing investors 3one4 Capital, Speedinvest, and BetterCapital AngelList Syndicate also participated in the round.

Recently, it also announced a “business card” of startups and SMEs in partnership with Visa.

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An Indian startup, which is UAE’s largest home service provider

About the company

Founded in 2014, UrbanClap is one of India’s largest home service provider. It offers services like beauty and spa at home, cleaning, plumbing, carpentry, appliance repair, painting etc., through its mobile app and website.

Across the country, the startup operates in 14 cities, and has a partner network of over 20,000 hand-picked service professionals.


In April 2019, UrbanClap raised Rs 1.6 crore from Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamoorthy. In June, the startup expanded its footprint in the UAE by launching its on-demand home services in Abu Dhabi. It is now the largest home services provider in the country.

In July, it raised about Rs 1.5 crore from former Flipkart CPO Mekin Maheshwari and Avaana Capital Founder Anjali Bansal.

Continuing its funding spree, the startup raised $75 million in Series E round, led by investment major Tiger Global Management, with participation from existing investors including Steadvidew Capital and Vy Capital.

In line with its global expansion plans, UrbanClap also launched its operations in Australia in November, with home care and personal care services including hair and beauty services.

In a first-in-class initiative that extends insurance cover for partners in a services gig economy, the startup also rolled out insurance at no cost to more than 20,000 partners on its platform.

On the occasion of International Men’s Day, UbranClap launched men’s grooming and haircut.

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One of the prominent online insurance aggregators in India

About the company

PolicyBazaar is an insurance aggregator and a financial technology startup that help users to compare financial services from major insurance companies on the basis of price, quality, and key benefits.

Its insurance comparison portal and mobile application provides information across products such as medical, term life, travel or motor insurance, low prices ULIPS, and other investment products, enabling consumers to compare and analyse financial products.


In November this year, PolicyBazaar raised funding of close to $150 million from Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent Holdings Pvt. Ltd. Post this transaction, the financial services company is valued at a little more than $1.5 billion.

This funding will be used to venture into newer segments in financial services. The startup also started a new brand Zphin to provide technology solutions to financial service businesses.

Early this year, the startup roped in Rahul Agarwal from Lava Mobile and Jayant Chauhan from Zomato as its Chief Technology Officer and Chief Product Officer, respectively. It claims to be the single largest distributor of insurance products with 400,000 policies sold every month – 25 percent of the country’s life cover.

It was in June 2018 that PolicyBazaar raised a mega $238 million round led by SoftBank Vision Fund and existing investor Info Edge, which marked its entry into the ‘unicorn’ club.

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Soonicorn startup Grofers is set to double its revenue this fiscal after shifting focus to an inventory-led model

About the company

Grofers is a hyper-local logistics company, targeting lower middle class and middle-class consumers. The platform enables its customers to shop from their favourite merchants in their neighbourhood and delivers products at their doorstep.


This year, Grofers raised $220 million in Series F round from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and Tiger Global Management, along with participation from South Korean investment firm KTB. After the fundraise, co-founder Albinder Dhindsa claimed the company’s valuation stood at $800 million, opening its prospects to become India’s next unicorn.

According to a report by ReedSeer Consulting, India’s hyperlocal e-grocery market is growing at 106 percent, and Grofers is one of the leaders in the market with an active transacting user base of up to four million.

Currently present in 10 cities, Grofers is planning to continue investing bin South Indian cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru, instead of geographically expanding like its rival BigBasket.

Earlier, in May, it announced it is pursuing profitability by consolidating its presence in the cities where it is present, and is focusing on doubling its sales to Rs 5,000 crore by FY20. Grofers is also gearing up to hit the capital market with an initial public offer (IPO) within the next three years.

In January 2019, Grofers announced it acquired 2.5 lakh new customers, generating Rs 310 crore in sales. The startup further claimed to be the first e-grocer in the country to achieve this feat. According to Albinder, it was mostly a result of Grofers Orange Bag Days sale where it offered 100 percent cash back across segments including staples, beverages, home, and kitchen. It further announced that an average of 14 lakh customers visited the app per day during the eight-day sale.

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Dunzo is the first Indian startup to have bagged direct funding from Google

About the company

Founded in 2015, Dunzo started operations in Bengaluru as a hyperlocal concierge app. It soon achieved a cult status after delivering items such as cow dung and breastmilk, swearing by its services. Dunzo has now – much like Google - become a verb.


In the recent past, Dunzo has been in the eye of the storm for reporting a loss of Rs 169 crore. However, 2019 has been a significant one for the startup.

The team started bike taxi services in Hyderabad, and launched operations in Mumbai this year. It also introduced 'Checkout with Dunzo', a new B2B logistics service for retailers and small business owners.

This year, Dunzo was primarily in news for two things: the funding that it raised in different tranches through the year and opening its B2B vertical.

The hyperlocal delivery startup roped in Deep Kalra, Founder, MakeMyTrip, as one of its investors. In October, the startup raised $45 million in a fresh round from Lightbox Ventures, Google, 3L Capital, and STIC Investment & STIC Ventures. Dunzo said it would deploy the funds to establish itself as the logistics player in India.

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Vedantu enables teachers to provide live classes to students in an interactive manner

About the company

Vedantu is an edtech platform where teachers provide live online tuitions to students, using a technology built in-house. It is said to operate on a marketplace model for teachers, where students can choose to learn from an online tutor of their choice.

At present, the startup is providing services to ICSE and CBSE students from grades 4 to 12 in India and the Middle East.


Vedantu raised $42 million in funding in August this year, led by Tiger Global and WestBridge Capital. The Series C round also saw participation from existing investors including Accel, Omidyar India, and TAL Education as well Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein and CEO, LGT Group, and the founders of Vedantu.

The funds would be utilised to scale operations and expand the company's learner base as well as deepen investment into tech and content capabilities, according to the company.

Earlier in August, the startup secured Rs 9.42 crore in debt and preference funding from Trifecta Capital. In 2015, it had received $5 million from Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management.

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Razorpay is set to support international currencies this year

About the company

Razorpay provides payments solutions that allow businesses to accept, process, and disburse payments. It started by offering a pure payment gateway and then started offering a product suite that manages the entire payments lifecycle for all businesses, from startups to SMEs to large enterprises.

Razorpay currently processes transactions worth $5 billion annually, on-boarding about 5,000 merchants on its platform every single day.


Razorpay claims to have grown its market share from two percent to 12 percent in just a year, and has also gone on to raise a Series C round in 2019.

In June, it raised Series C round of $75 million from Ribbit Capital and Sequoia Capital India. Later, in October, it raised an additional $18 million from undisclosed angel investors.

Prior to that in August it went acquired Gurugram-based Thirdwatch, a startup specialising in Big Data and machine learning algorithms for real-time fraud prevention. The amount of the transaction was undisclosed. Razorpay believes that the Thirdwatch acquisition will help it reduce fraudulent transactions by 30-40 percent by 2020. Thirdwatch will now be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Razorpay, and will be based at the company headquarters in Bengaluru.

In June, Razorpay also rolled out support for international payments, mostly targeted at MSME. By 2021, the startup plans to enable support for cross-border payments for more than 20,000 MSMEs from across India. This feature will help micro and small businesses to accept payments through cards issued by foreign banks, provide them instant payment gateway integration, and in currency conversion.

The startup claims that it is growing its merchant base by 15-20 percent every month, and will touch 350,000 clients by the end of 2019. It also expects a 5X growth in revenue by March 2020.

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Northern Arc Capital is a debt platform for financial inclusion focused institutions

About the company

A regulated NBFC, Northern Arc acts as a bridge between capital market investors and emerging sectors, covering the entire gamut of credit opportunities through its innovative products and structures.

Northern Arc and its subsidiaries have created a platform that connects millions of borrowers to mainstream debt investors. Since inception, Northern Arc has enabled over $10 billion of financing to over 200 partner organisations through 140 reputed domestic and global investors.


This year, the landmark deal for Northern Arc Capital was the Rs 106 crore debt it raised. For the first time Northern Arc and GAWA Capital, Spain’s Impact Investing firm, together raised Rs 106 crore for early-stage NBFCs. What makes it a landmark deal is that this deal took place amidst the liquidity crisis that NBFCs were facing.

This year, the startup also raised $130 million from IIFL Special Opportunities and Standard Chartered Private Equity. (SCPE)

Northern Arc and Tridos, Netherlands’ impact investment fund, this year invested Rs 30 crore in Shiksha Financial Services, an education financing company. The company is currently operational in five states of South India and is serving more than 2,000 schools and over 2.2 million students.

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1,10,000 rides a day, over 10 million in 10 months – the Bounce story

About the company

Bounce started in 2014 – only it was called Wicked Ride at the time and were offering premium bikes on rent. But, eventually, the team moved to commuting. Today, the bike-sharing startup offers its customers a last-mile and cost-effective commute option with its current pricing of Rs 5 per kilometer and Rs 0.5 per minute.

At present, Bounce has over 13,000 yellow dockless scooters available outside every metro station in Bengaluru, and claims to be clocking 1,10,000 rides per day.

It claims to have 11 lakh users and more than 8,000 bikes. In 2019, Bounce completed five million rides within ten months of commencing operations. It raised $72 million from investors.


Bounce became the world's fastest-growing bike-sharing startup in 2019 after the company began clocking 1,10,000 rides per day, and completed five million rides in just ten months since commencing operations.

The startup, which raised $72 million from investors, plans to expand Bounce’s network across Bengaluru and develop a pan-India presence by 2020 with a stronger delivery model through innovations in technology.

In many ways, 2019 was very fruitful for Bounce. For one, it raised several rounds of funding. In January, the startup raised Rs 50 crore led by Sequoia India, Chiratae Ventures, Accel India, and ON Mauritius.

In March, the startup raised $4 million in debt funding from Sachin Bansal, who also invested another Rs 10 crore in debt in July. Innoven Capital also invested $3 million in debt funding in Bounce.

In June, Bounce raised its $72 million in its Series C round, led by Eduardo Saverin's B Capital, Falcon Edge, Accel Growth Fund, Maverick, and Qualcomm. Existing investor Sequoia Capital, IDG, Omidyar, and Accel Partners too invested in this round.

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Third homegrown software products company to enter the elite unicorn club

About the company

Icertis is a software company that provides contract management software to enterprise businesses. The Bellevue, Washington-headquartered company has 12 offices globally, including Pune, India, Singapore, and Sydney, Australia.

Icertis generates around $100 million in revenue, and has around 150 customers, which includes marquee names such as Google, Microsoft, Daimler, Airbus, Johnson & Johnson, Lupin, Infosys, Wipro, and Cognizant. The company has a target to onboard the world’s top 2,000 firms.


Icertis, which provides contract management software to enterprise businesses, became the fifth entrant into the unicorn club in 2019, and the third homegrown software products company to enter the elite league.

This, after the startup raised $115 million in its Series E round from PremjiInvest and Greycroft Partners, taking the company’s valuation to over $1 billion.

Icertis plans to use the fresh round of funding to strengthen its product, expand global footprint, and invest in new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

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Enters unicorn club; launches relay-as-a-service model

About the company

Logistics startup Rivigo was set up in 2014 by former McKinsey consultants Deepak Garg (37) and Gazal (33) with the idea of creating a relay truck model, where no driver would drive for more than four-five hours at a stretch and would return home the same day.

Life for Rivigo drivers - whom the company calls pilots - is quite different. They maintain discipline, wear uniforms, drive for four to five hours one-way, take a 45-minute break, and then drive back a truck for another four hours to eventually come back home on the same day.

The logistics startup at present has more than 100,000 drivers, or pilots, and owns 5,000 hi-tech trucks. It has covered over 4,000 cities, traversing more than a billion kilometres.


Logistics startup Rivigo changed the way trucks ply across India with its relay model. The company, which was anointed a unicorn in 2019, now has 3,000 customers across 20 sectors, and aims to expand its footprint.

The startup, working to make logistics humane, raised $65 million from existing investors Warburg Pincus and SAIF Partners. It has raised a total of $250 million to date, and entered the unicorn club.

In August 2019, after getting patent rights from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for its driver relay model, the Gurugram-based logistics startup launched Relay-as-a-Service (RaaS) to offer its relay trucking model to fleet owners and truck pilots in India.

With RaaS, the startup aims to offer the benefits of relay trucking to millions of fleet owners in India and bring in efficiencies in the logistics industry while directly addressing the biggest challenge: chronic truck driver shortage. Apart from the relay network, technology, and pilots, Rivigo will also make its fuel, maintenance, and cashless payment solutions available to fleet owners in India.

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20 million customers in three years

About the company

Acko General Insurance is an insurtech company that marries technology and insurance to transform something like insurance, which involves long and tedious processes, to something that’s quick and easy.

Founded in November 2016, the digital-first Acko follows an online-led model and hence all operations for the company are offered through the digital platform.

Acko General Insurance was one of the 10 startups in LinkedIn Top Startups List for India 2019.


The year started with Acko Insurance raising $65 million in a Series C round in March from a clutch of investors, including Flipkart Co-founder and former CEO Binny Bansal, Kabir Misra (Managing Partner at RPS Ventures), and Intact Ventures (the corporate venture arm of Canada’s largest property and casualty insurer).

Binny alone is said to have invested $25 million in the startup.

He believes that “technology-led insurance will play a significant role in the growth of India’s underpenetrated insurance sector". And, Acko is expected to command a significant share of the domestic market, which is already worth $10 billion.

The funding round also saw participation from Acko’s existing investors, including Amazon, Accel Partners, SAIF Partners, and TechPro Ventures.

Later in June, the Bengaluru-based insurtech startup acqui-hired online car retailing portal VLer Technology, a startup with an algorithm-based recommendation system for car buyers to ease dealer negotiations. The platform took care of the financing, insurance, and other related paperwork involved in car buying.

VLer is believed to be a perfect fit for Acko, which sells products like motor/bike insurance, mobile insurance, in-trip domestic insurance, and other customised insurance policies to young, digitally-savvy Indians.

Acko claims to have distributed policies to more than 20 million unique customers in less than three years, and has also partnered with 15 leading consumer internet companies such as Ola, Amazon India, redBus, Zomato, and UrbanClap.

It will continue to invest in technologies and data analytics to create highly personalised offerings for India’s new-age policy buyers.

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Disrupting the luxury fashion industry

About the company

A homegrown, India proud diffusion label with a Caribbean heart, House of Masaba blends two varied cultures and thoughts to transform everyday mundane items into unconventional motifs and prints. Established in 2009 by Masaba Gupta, the brand blends Masaba’s cultural identity with her aesthetic to give a whimsical twist to the modern style.

A diffusion line, it caters to women across all age groups and body types with fuss-free and unique silhouettes that are not restricted to any specific size or stereotype. With its anytime anywhere ensembles, House of Masaba is bridging a gap between Haute and Pret Couture.

The label has made its mark in resort wear and destination wedding, the brand’s signature colours, motifs and aesthetics have found their way into collaborations across all product categories. Over the years, the brand has forayed into Menswear, Fashion Jewellery, Swimwear and Beauty.


There are a very few bridge-to-luxury Indian fashion brands today that are as easily recognised as the House of Masaba.

From three stores, the luxury fashion label has grown to 11 stores in the past three years. With a retail footprint in Dubai, the UK, and the US, top brands like Titan, Puma, Fiama Di Wills, Amrapali, Oppo, Chandon, etc have also teamed up with the fashion house.

In 2019, the luxury label brand saw its first fund raise, with Flipkart Co-founder Binny Bansal leading the investment round of $1 million in the 10-year-old fashion brand. The round also saw participation from Purple Style Labs, and Apurva Salarpuria, who has also invested in brands like Epigamia and Bira. Apoora Patni, from the Patni Group, also participated in the round.

With this funding, House of Masaba plans to scale its infrastructure and distribution network, quadruple its production capacity, strengthen the team, and expand its retail footprint across the country.

Speaking of the fund raise Masaba, Creative Director and Founder, House of Masaba, said: “After being in the business of fashion for 10 years, it was the right time to bring on board institutional investors. I believe that the brand has immense scalability, both domestically and internationally. The idea was to partner with entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled businesses in the country."

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Driving into foreign shores

About the company

Launched in 2015, Drivezy is a vehicle sharing marketplace with a fleet of 4,000 cars and 16,000 two-wheelers. It is present across 10 Indian cities including Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Hubli, and Manipal.

Backed by investors like Das Capital, Yamaha Motor Co Ltd, and Axan Partners, the startup recently forayed into international markets.


That Drivezy has been growing at breakneck speed, is clearly evident. With an impending partnership outside the country, new additions to its fleet of cars and bikes, and a franchise initiative in progress, it’s just a matter of time before the startup starts setting newer milestones.

Earlier this year, Drivezy launched its pilot in San Francisco, US, and has a fleet of 100 cars in the city. The plan is to expand the services to 10 more cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle, with a fleet of 1,000 cars.

The expansion is expected to take place over the next 12 months. Once that is accomplished, the startup will also be considering San Diego, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Houston. And this is just the tip of Drivezy’s international expansion plans.

If Co-founder and CEO Ashwarya’s words are any indication, the vehicle-sharing platform has its eyes on the South American market next. To do so, Drivezy is looking at collaborating with a local partner.

Over the next two years, international markets, such as the US, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, are expected to account for about 20 percent of the company's revenue, with India continuing to account for a lion's share of the business.

While it aggressively pursues its international dream, closer to home, Drivezy has inked a strategic partnership with Gurugram-based hospitality chain OYO to park vehicles at its properties.

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Emerges one of the biggest Point of Sale players in the country today

About the company

Founded in 1998, Pine Labs started by engineering a solution for a large scale, card-based payment, and loyalty program in the retail petroleum industry. As its merchants’ needs evolved, Pine Labs pivoted its business model in a renewed journey since 2012. Thereon, it pioneered the smart, cloud-based, unified point-of-sale (POS) platform. Pine Labs has redefined the payments technology and fintech space while contributing to the creation of a global digital economy.

Today, the company works with a maniacal focus on creating a product and services platform that widens access, accelerates commerce and automation for merchants in local markets. With a presence across 3,700 cities and towns across India and Malaysia and other parts of Asia, it is putting its knowledge and expertise in use for serving merchants, both large and small.


Pine Labs, a merchant platform company that provides financing and last-mile retail transaction technology, inched closer to unicorn status this year. In July, the company received a capital infusion of Rs 707 crore through a rights issue to its Singapore-based parent entity, Pine Labs Pte. Ltd.

In addition, Pine Labs announced the acquisition of Bengaluru-based gift card solutions provider Qwikcilver for $110 million, combining the strengths of Qwikcilver’s brand-centric software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology platform and Pine Labs’ merchant-focused platform to augment their market reach.

Pine Labs also collaborated with Google India to enable offline transactions for their digital payments service, Google Pay. With this, Google can have access to over 330,000 point-of-sale terminals in over 3000 towns in India.

Apart from this, the company announced the launch of its Payment Gateway Application Programming Interface (PG APIs) and Application Program Interface (API) of its Android-based in-store payment platform to developers.

Through these initiatives, Pine Labs is looking to enable developers, including those working within merchant organisations, to integrate Pine Labs payment gateway APIs as well as Android APIs with their consumer-facing products or their existing technology infrastructure such as billing and checkout systems. The APIs can accept payments through multiple payment modes, including credit/debit cards, net banking, bank or brand EMI, wallets, and UPI.

Till now, EMI options for debit cards were largely limited to banks and ecommerce websites with a one-to-one tie-up. In order to curb the demand-supply gap for debit and credit cards on their EMIs, Pine Labs has activated equated monthly instalment (EMI) offering via credit and debit cards for 85,000 merchants across 120,000 stores in India. This will allow almost 38 million users to avail EMI facility at PoS terminals. The startup also announced its partnership with Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India, and Federal Bank to enable debit card EMI for their customers.

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