In the busiest year for Indian Startups, CII and SoftBank are back with the Global Unicorn Series
Startups across the globe are amid hyper-growth and accelerating the overall economic recovery from the pandemic induced slump. They are netting record funding, disrupting industries, making markets efficient and building tremendous wealth as unicorns.
This year, the Indian startup ecosystem has added nearly 30 new entrants – more than what it created in the entire last decade -- to the coveted $1 billion valuation league, also dubbed as the unicorn club.
But what it takes to find the winning idea, persist, evolve product-market-fit, and scale, is a topsy-turvy journey. While there cannot be any playbook to go by, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has been bringing thought leadership to pave a way for founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, and students, among others, to ensure a big win.
Reflecting the surge in entrepreneurial economy, CII’s Future Business Group (FBG) organised a Global Unicorn Series in partnership with SoftBank India where the unicorn founders from across sectors and geographies shared their successful journeys. The founders and key stakeholders put a spotlight on how they have been learning, unlearning, solving problems, and rethinking the future through disruptive technologies and innovative solutions.
As part of the series’ first edition in 2020, Yashish Dahiya, Co-founder of; Sahil Barua, Co-founder of ; Falguni Nayar, Co-founder, ; Co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal; and Ritesh Agarwal, Founder of ; shared insights on bootstrapping, becoming unicorns, sharing turning points of the company, growth drivers, vision, and how to create a blueprint for becoming a unicorn, and asserting that “if you have to succeed, you have to struggle,” as said by Manoj Kohli, Country Head, Softbank India, who hosted the conversation at the series.
The founders spoke about their childhood, what shaped their mindset to become entrepreneurs, the eureka moment, their struggles, stories, pandemic impact, and the secret recipe of success while speaking to SoftBank’s Kohli.
For instance, the first entrepreneurship lesson for PolicyBazaar’s Yashish Dahiya was his tuition centre from his home. He also shared how he scaled PolicyBazaar to become India’s largest digital insurance marketplace. According to Frost & Sullivan, IPO-bound PolicyBazaar had a 93.4 percent market share based on the number of policies sold in FY20.
Similarly, Delhivery’s Sahil shared his journey on how discipline and patience have helped him to build a logistic tech major, which is also looking to launch an IPO. Ola’s Bhavish too shared his playbook of building Ola, but he advised that an entrepreneur must follow his or her instincts, because “if you are building something new, then there is no playbook,” he said.
The founders overall shed light on the fact that funding, clarity from the beginning, and the green signal may not always be there, but a vision, a problem-solving attitude, and hustle is what paves the way for becoming a unicorn. For example, OYO’s Ritesh shared how he was rejected by most VCs earlier, but what has and always worked for OYO is spending time on the field, interacting with the partner.
Another IPO-bound unicorn, Nykaa too was built with some struggles initially. Speaking with Manoj Kohli, Nykaa’s Falguni Nayar shared that despite being a banker with a cushy job, how she decided to start her own company from a “scrappy” office and bootstrapped the company for initial years, which was full of hustle. Falguni said that she is glad that it happened this way because running a business this way made the team desire a robust business model.
After this series, the CII is now dropping another set of Global Unicorn Series 2021-22, in partnership with SoftBank, which will be kickstarted with two power sessions with Vidit Aatrey, Founder, Meesho; and another with Rahul Garg, Founder, Moglix; this week. In the session, the two renowned unicorn founders will share their insights from identifying a problem to solve, to the right moves, strategies, and going on top to become as big as Indian startups have been growing.
While social commerce platform Meesho is now considered as a category-defining startup, valued at $4.9 billion, the Noida-based B2B commerce unicorn Moglix is backed by the likes of Ratan Tata that has become the largest ecommerce platform of industrial goods in India.