The week that was: how investors identify unicorn startups to the rise of Baazi Games

This week, we also covered the rise of on-demand storage as a business, as well as brought you the success story of PlayShifu, an augmented reality startup.

What makes a unicorn? YourStory asked a bunch of investors and entrepreneurs about their unicorn moment.

Take Unacademy’s growth, from a hobby YouTube channel to a unicorn over five years; this is what VC dreams are made of. The edtech startup, which aims to shatter the longstanding system of physical coaching centres by preparing students for entrance exams, jumped to a valuation of $1.45 billion, up nearly 3X from $510 million in February, after raising funds recently from SoftBank, Nexus, Blume, and Facebook, among others.

Meanwhile, PlayShifu, which uses augmented reality (AR) to provide educational games for kids, has seen phenomenal growth since the lockdown began. Between March and July this year, the startup witnessed a 300 percent surge in demand for its smart toys, and the educational toys category saw a 75 percent growth.

PlayShifu saw a 600 percent increase in demand for its products for the first half of 2020 as compared to 2019. In the last two and a half years, the US and Bengaluru-based startup — with a core product team of 50 people — has created 12 products with unique phygital (physical+digital) interactions. These products are designed for kids aged between 4-12 years and help them build STEM and other foundational skills such as critical thinking, engineering, and geography.

Amidst the pandemic, the business of on-demand storage has taken off, attracting several thousand customers.

Aratrika Barat, an employee with a leading MNC in Bengaluru, stuffed all her essentials in a suitcase and dumped the rest at a PG (paying guest), which has now been converted into a storage facility. “I was paying Rs 15,000 a month for my apartment. Now, I only need to pay Rs 2,000 a month for safekeeping three suitcases. So that’s a lot of savings,” she says. But it is not just residential spaces that are being converted into make-believe warehouses and storage spaces.

Over the last five years, on-demand storage services startups have propped up in these ‘migrant’ cities, mostly to cater to B2B players and off-site IT professionals.

Watch the video here:

Baazi Games Founder Navkiran Singh was introduced to poker during his engineering years at Manipal University. Later, he travelled to Las Vegas and witnessed the extravagant World Series of Poker tournament. It wooed him so much that he set his eyes on starting a poker business someday. After a brief stint at TCS, Navikiran founded Baazi Games in 2014 and went on to launch PokerBaazi — one of India’s earliest online poker platforms.

At the time, India’s data revolution and the subsequent tailwinds in gaming were still a few years away. But Navkiran’s conviction about poker and its ability to draw players made Baazi Games a pioneer in India’s real money gaming (RMG) industry, which is valued at Rs 2,000 crore today, with 30 million gamers.

Navkiran Singh, Founder and CEO, Baazi Games

Khadim Batti and Vara Kumar quit Huawei Telecom in 2011 to build a product that would help SMBs enhance their marketing capabilities. The product SearchEnabler would crawl across interwebs for data points, analyse them, and identify marketing recommendations. While the solution was successful, customers needed instruction and support to leverage the solution. Thus, in 2014, the duo pivoted to an interactive guidance platform for enterprises and renamed the startup to Whatfix.

B2B SaaS startup Whatfix provides in-app overlays and guidance for implemented software. It provides services, including product adoption, user onboarding, employee training, self-service support, and performance support using enterprise web applications.

Edited by Suman Singh


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