APAC Startups that Joined the Unicorn Club in 2018 While most startups that reached the one-billion mark are from the US, China was a competitive contender attaining the second position

By Komal Nathani

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Unicorn became a buzzword in 2018 when within the first few months the year witnessed more than 20 start-ups crossing $1 billion valuation mark. A recent report by Pitchbook lists the startups that turned unicorns this year, and how they are transforming the industries like e-commerce, gaming, transportation and banking.

While most startups that joined the unicorn club are from the US, China was a competitive contender in the list of unicorns, attaining the second position in the list. The list also celebrated many Asian countries startups from India, Hong Kong and Australia.

Here we take a look at the top five companies in terms of their valuation that entered the unicorn club this year in the APAC region.

  • Meicai, Beijing

Founded in: 2014

Current Valuation: $7.0 billion

Journey so far:

This four-year-old Chinese food-tech startup is founded by Xu Laiwai. It is a fresh produce e-commerce platform, which serves the vegetables to small and medium-sized restaurants in China. It is bridging the gap between farmers and local restaurants in the country. The company has raised investments from Hillhouse Capital, Genesis Capital, and GGV Capital up till now. The company raised $450 million in a funding led by Tiger Global. In October it raised $600 million from Tiger Global Management and Hillhouse Capital. It has now been valued at $7 billion.

  • Canva, Australia

Founded in: 2012

Current Valuation: $1.1 billion

Journey so far:

Canva complements graphic design projects with easy-to-use design software and a comprehensive selection of graphic elements like stock photos and fonts. Melanie Perkins, a former graphic design software tutor, first launched Canva as a Photoshop tool for people. The startup became the only tech unicorn in the country by raising $40 million from the Sequoia Capital, Blackbird Ventures and Felicis Ventures in January this year.

  • Caocao Zhuanche, Hangzhou, China

Founded in: 2015

Current Valuation: $1.6 billion

Journey so far:

Caocao has been fighting its way into China's colossal ride-share market. The company offers taxi-hailing services, car-rental services, and private-car touring options. The Chinese ride-hailing startup became the unicorn this year raising $156 million in a series A round and it touched the valuation of $1.6 billion. The company owns and runs a fleet of electric vehicles, and trains all its drivers before putting them for full-time.

  • Oyo, India

Founded in: 2013

Current Valuation: $5 billion

Journey so far:

The hotel-chain startup Oyo became the unicorn this September by raising $1 billion from its existing investors Softbank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Ventures. Founded by Ritesh Agarwal, the hospitality firm has expanded its operations rapidly overseas. India, China, west Asia, UK, and the UAE are now Oyo's top markets in its global expansion.

  • Klook, Hong Kong

Founded in: 2014

Current Valuation: $1 billion

Journey so far:

The travel booking platform, Klook, became a unicorn in August, raising $200 million in series D. The investment round was led by Sequoia China, Matrix Partners, Goldman Sachs, Boyu Capital, TCV, an Asia-based sovereign wealth fund, OurCrowd, and others. Klook will be using the funds to expand its global presence.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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