Startups That Turned Unicorns in Less than Two Years

Udaan was the first startup to be referred to as the fastest unicorn in India

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In this month's Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, spoke at length about India's 100 unicorns. Mann Ki Baat is a radio programme in which the PM shares his thoughts on new topics every month. Broadcast on the last Sunday of every month at 11 am on state-run All India Radio and Doordarshan television channel, in this 88th episode, he appreciated India's startup ecosystem for achieving the 100 unicorn milestone.

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"India has scored a century in another area, which is unique," he said while adding that a few days back, our country achieved such a milestone that inspires all of us and gives us renewed confidence in the country's abilities.

He also spoke about how startups are reflecting the spirit of New India. Interestingly, many startups have attained unicorn status in a few months of launching. These startups are also being lauded for becoming the fastest unicorns.

Business-to-business (B2B) startup Udaan was the first startup to be called the fastest unicorn. The B2B startup, which caters to wholesalers, was launched in 2016 by former Flipkart trio Amod Malviya, Vaibhav Gupta, and Sujeet Kumar. It attained unicorn status in 2018, that is, in two years and two months. Since then, the startup was referred to as India's fastest unicorn for a very period.

However, in the last two years, many startups have joined the list. Here is a look at the startups that have broken Udaan's record to become a unicorn in less than two years.

GlobalBees

  • Founded: May 2021
  • Turned unicorn: December 2021

GlobalBees' core team consists of experts in growth, marketing, operations and business, with Nitin Agarwal as the CEO, Daman Soni as CBO and Supam Maheshwari, the founder of FirstCry as Chairman.

"We have created a stellar team. We have the right partners backing us, and the ecosystem has been kind in partnering with us to help us scale up the brands that we are acquiring," said Agarwal in an earlier interview with us.

GlobalBees looks for brands that have been built on unique user insight and have already established product-market fit to an extent. The businesses should have tested the market and implemented their learnings to set the company on a growth path. The startup is already in active discussion and evaluation of over 30 brands.

It also looks at opportunities in brands that can become category creators and can grow in the omnichannel space. It doesn't limit the growth of these brands to just the digital space.

CredAvenue

  • Founded: August 2020
  • Turned unicorn: March 2022

Founded in 2020, CredAvenue became India's fastest fintech startup to join the unicorn club with a Series B fundraising of $ 137 million in February 2022.

Talking about the startup's achievement, Gaurav Kumar, co-founder and CEO, CredAvenue, said that milestones like fundraising and turning a unicorn are only reminders of why he is on this journey. "In the last two years, we have been able to achieve a significant scale. But I think there is a lot more for us to build. Also, fundraise and valuation mean there will be more responsibility on me and my team," he said, explaining what the unicorn tag means to him.

Kumar is a serial entrepreneur who has been in the debt markets now for the last 15 years. Before CredAvenue, he founded Northern Arc Capital, Vivriti Capital, Vivriti Asset Management. This played a small role in terms of setting up CredAvenue in 2020. "The core piece to our mind was largely that the debt markets have not deepened in India. One of the reasons for that is we lack the overall financial services infrastructure for enterprises to access debt markets. This led to the genesis of CredAvenue," he said.

Mensa

  • Founded: May 2021
  • Turned unicorn: November 2021

Mensa partners and invests in digital-first brands across fashion and apparel, home and garden, beauty and personal care and food to help them scale exponentially. Mensa works closely with founding teams to accelerate growth on marketplaces, through the brand's own websites and global platforms by using a combination of initiatives across product, pricing, marketing, distribution, and brand building with a technology platform at the core, said a statement.

Narayanan, founder and CEO of Mensa Brands, said in a statement while announcing the fundraising, "We are grateful for the confidence from our investors and our brand partners. Our deep focus on technology and digital brand building has allowed us to grow three times of our initial plan and we at Mensa Brands are primed to build global breakout brands from India. I am especially proud that more than 50 per cent of our brands are led by women founders and that Mensa supports small- and medium-sized businesses across the country."

Mensa builds global digital-first brands from India by partnering with the right entrepreneurs, investing in the business, and bringing our expertise to bear to scale the brand. The founding team has a combined experience of over 100 years in Indian and global e-commerce.

Paytm Mall

  • Founded: February 2017
  • Turned unicorn: April 2018

In 2017, Paytm Mall, which is the e-commerce business of One97 Communications, the parent company of Paytm, raised $200 million in its first funding from Alibaba. The e-commerce business model was also inspired by Alibaba's T-mall in China.

However, recently, Jack Ma-led Alibaba and Ant Financial sold their stake in the company, bringing the company's total valuation to under $13 million. The company was valued at $3 billion in its last round of funding in 2020.

"Keeping in mind our attention to building an open platform for e-commerce, our @PaytmMall "s business now be built on @ONDC_Official. It will be cost-effective, scalable, and bring even larger impact to small businesses," Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO, Paytm said in a tweet.

According to the Hurun Unicorns list 2022, Paytm Mall was valued at slightly below $1 billion, losing its unicorn valuation status from a reported $3 billion in 2020.

Glance

  • Founded: April 2019
  • Turned unicorn: December 2020

Founded in 2019, Glance is backed by Google. In February 2022, Reliance Jio invested $200 million which was utilized for expansion. The unicorn's lock screen platform is present in more than 400 million devices across markets in Asia.

Glance is an unconsolidated subsidiary of InMobi Group and is funded by Google and Mithril Capital. Headquartered in Singapore, the company offers news, sports, entertainment content and games on many smartphone devices. It also claims that it has more than 163 million users in India and more than 25 million users across Southeast Asia. It has created two digital platforms, Glance and Roposo.