9Unicorns Announces Third Close At $40 Mn

The Mumbai-based fund has already committed investments in about 40 startups within seven months of its first close

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Mumbai-based sector-agnostic fund 9Unicorns announced on Friday the third close of its first accelerator fund at $40 million to fund idea-stage startups in India, thus emerging as the fastest and most aggressive player with more than three dozen deals. The Venture Catalysts (VCats)-backed accelerator's total fund size is $70 million and plans to mark the final close this year.  


Built on Y Combinator lines, the Mumbai-based fund has already committed investments in about 40 startups within seven months of its first close. Of that, 25 per cent of startups have already raised bigger rounds of investments within a range of twofold-fourfold valuation. For example, Janani.ai, a technology-driven fertility care provider that raised its seed round from 9Unicorns in December 2020, was able to bag INR 8 crore from Venture Catalysts, LetsVenture, and Apollo Hospitals within just four months in March this year. Janani solves a significant problem of infertility that plagues 30 million couples in India every year, according to a report by WHO, the platform shared. 

Armed with a strong sourcing team, 9Unicorns plans to write the first external cheque to about 150 early-stage startups in deeptech, B2B SaaS, media, FMCG, fintech, insuretech, healthtech, edutech and travel logistics, among other sectors, over the next year. 

9Unicorns' portfolio includes interactive video shopping platform Toch.ai, revenue-based financing firm Klub, fertility care provider Janani, marketing automation firm ExtraaEdge, audio production automation firm Deepsync, D2C lifestyle footwear brand Monrow, and edutech Qin1. 

"As a fund, we aim to back early-stage companies that have the potential to become billion-dollar companies in the future. We have made our third close much before our set target and are looking to make the final close soon to propel an already thriving startup economy. Our agility and speed at which we raise and deploy our funds differentiate us from others," said Dr. Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, managing director and founder, 9Unicorns.

The third close witnessed massive participation from some leading global and Indian industrialists and businesses who are bullish on the high growth potential of early-stage Indian startups. Some of the key LPs include snack maker Haldiram's, Indian Bank, Ahmedabad-based Chona Family Office, among other prominent ones. 

In addition to the third close, the Mumbai-based accelerator fund has also launched a program to disrupt the traditional VC (venture capital) structure. Termed ‘Catalysts Program,’ the initiative is designed to build an open community of founders, CXOs, and the ecosystem drivers to recognize, fund, and mentor early-stage startups. The program will function along with the 9Unicorns Fund and aim to disrupt the traditional VC structure and build a network of over 1000 catalysts worldwide. 

The idea is to identify and shortlist curated startups to 9Unicorns for investment and co-investment, mentor the existing portfolio startups for 3-5 months, and introducing institutional investors for next-round financing in 9Unicorns deals. 

"9Unicorns strongly believes in collaboration. We value the time, talent, and resources of each supporting the growth of early-stage startups. We care for building more meaningful relationships with individuals who share the same values as us," Dr. Sharma added. 

As an accelerator fund, 9Unicorns invests around $150,000 for 5-7 per cent equity per startup at the idea stage. As of December 2020, it has syndicated over Rs 240Crs with co-investors such as Sequoia Surge, Titan Capital, SOSV, Lightspeed, Matrix Partners, and Nexus Ventures amongst others. The syndication also includes some of the country's leading ‘super angels,’ namely --Ritesh Agarwal (OYO), Pankaj Chaddah (Zomato), Anand Chadrashekharan (Facebook), Ramakant Sharma (LivSpace), Amrish Rau (Citrus Pay), Harsh Shah (Fynd), Manindar Gulati (OYO), Vikalp Sahni (Goibibo) and Sanjiv Bajaj (Bajaj Capital) amongst hundred others.

However, what differentiates it is that 9Unicorns allows the startups to tap into its vast Indian business communities across tie-I, II, III, and IV cities in India, immediately enabling the startup to go pan-India. It directly allows getting early customers, distribution partnerships, and cross-portfolio synergies for startups leveraging the pre-existing network of over 4000+ investors, founders, and executives in the VCats ecosystem.

9Unicorns is backed by several well-known global VCs, LPs from across ten countries, family offices of large organizations such as The OPG Group, The MBG Group, Parakh Foods, Qualcomm International, UB Cotton, along-with top executives from SAP, Linkedin, Quest Global, AB InBev, Fujitsu.