India has produced more than 100 unicorns in the past decade of which nearly 70 attained this status just in the last two years. These new age unicorns are still chasing profitability, but the established players have been able to put on a good show. At the same time, around a dozen companies went public in India and abroad. In this report, Entrackr has tried to segregate these unicorns according to their age, segment, revenue, profitability and category for a better picture.
Since the entry of neobanking platform Open as the 100th startup unicorn of India in May last year, the country has seen very few unicorns. And for the last six months, no startup has been able to go past the $1 billion valuation mark. While that might not be a concern considering market conditions have been volatile globally, Indian startups falling well short on the path to profitability should be a cause for worry.
Even as the total number of unicorns is 112, our data tracking platform Fintrackr has gone through the latest regulatory filings of all unicorns to check their financial performance and valuation bringing three surprising names up: EaseMyTrip, MapMyIndia and Nazara Technologies — making this a grand total of 115. These three companies had the rare distinction of hitting $1 billion in market capitalization for some time before slipping up later. We are calling them ‘unicorns by chance.’ Interestingly, all of them were profitable in FY22 and up till the third quarter of FY23.
Coming back to the 100 unicorns in India that have filed their FY22 financials: 31 unicorns attained profitability and 69 are in losses. While this doesn’t seem impressive, it sure is an improvement from the FY21 financials when only 18 of the 100 unicorns had attained profitability. Notably, a bunch of companies including Byju’s, Ola, Ola Electric, Amagi, Pristyn Care, InMobi (Glance), and CoinSwitch Kuber have not filed their FY22 numbers although FY24 is underway.
The full database can be accessed here.
[Top valued unicorns]
Flipkart remained the top startup from India in terms of valuation followed by Byju’s, PhonePe, Swiggy and Oyo. PhonePe, which has raised $650 million in its ongoing funding round, is the latest entrant in the decacorn club with a valuation of $12 billion.
Caveat: We have included only unlisted (privately valued) companies in this list.
It’s worth highlighting that Swiggy’s valuation has been marked down by US-based investor Invesco by over 25% to $8 billion while Byju’s valuation was cut by 50% by its investor, BlackRock. Oyo’s valuation also dipped in the private market as per media reports. Decentralised Ethereum scaling platform Polygon’s native MATIC token has a current market capitalization of about $10 billion — making it part of the high-valued unicorns.
In the top 10 most valued companies, only Dream11 and Razorpay (on a standalone basis) have recorded profits in FY22. We discuss the financials of the rest of the companies in the latter half of the report.
14 companies that turned unicorn before or after their listing on the stock exchange have been kept in a separate list. In FY22, Info Edge reported nearly Rs 9,000 crore in profits, a large part being notional mark to market gains after Zomato’s listing, in July 2021. Its profit further fell to Rs 232 crore for the first three quarters of FY23. Apart from Info Edge, Nykaa and Five Star, none of the listed companies from the list of ‘top 10 revenue generating’ firms reported profits in FY22. Revenue wise, Delhivery, Renew Power and Paytm were in the top three.
[New age unicorns]
Entrackr has also categorised unicorns in two lists: new age and established. While most of the listed and decade old unicorns are in the established category, companies that launched their operations in 2015 and beyond have been selected to be in the list of new age unicorns.
When it comes to revenue, Udaan appears on top. Founded in 2016, the Lightspeed-backed company registered Rs 9,900 crore in revenue in FY22. However, it’s also in second spot in terms of losses. OfBusiness and Infra.Market, who are in the top three revenue generating companies list, also reported profits in the fiscal year. Among new age unicorns, only seven startups including PhysicsWallah, Oxyzo, boAt, Digit and MamaEarth were profitable in FY22. Notably, Games24X7, Fractal, Lenskart, Shiprocket and CoinDCX slipped into losses in FY22 after achieving profitability in the previous fiscal year.
Loss wise, social commerce platform Meesho is on top among new age unicorns followed by Udaan, ShareChat, Unacademy, PharmEasy and PhonePe. Among well funded companies during the 2021-22 period, Cars24, CRED, MPL, and Licious are in deep red as of March 2022.
Pristyn Care, Molbio, and CoinSwitch Kuber — all of whom did not file their FY22 numbers with the MCA, revealed their financial details in the media. Entrackr has collected those data from several media reports while the annual financial statement of Upstox was exclusively sourced from the company.
[Top 10 profit making unicorns]
If we talk about the overall list of unicorns (excluding listed companies), Zoho and Zerodha are market leaders with profits of more than Rs 2,700 crore and Rs 2,000 crore respectively. Mu Sigma was next on the list followed by CitiusTech, and OfBusiness. The top 10 list mainly includes well established companies such as Zoho, Mu Sigma, Citiustech, BillDesk and Browserstack which have been operational for more than a decade.
[Top 10 revenue generating and loss making unicorns]
In terms of revenue, Flipkart has done remarkably well as the Walmart-owned company posted Rs 61,400 crore in revenue against Rs 7,800 crore losses in FY22. Tata Digital-owned BigBasket registered Rs 15,601 crore revenue and Rs 1,853 crore loss for its combined entities (B2B and B2C).
In terms of losses, Flipkart stood at the top whereas Swiggy was second among loss making companies. Edtech company Byju’s, which is yet to file its FY22 numbers, reported a whopping Rs 4,500 crore loss in FY21. Like Byju’s, Ola is yet to file its FY22 numbers and is far from profitability as it incurred nearly Rs 2,600 crore loss in FY21. A couple of companies such as Eruditus and PharmEasy, who are not on the list of top valued and new age unicorns, have also incurred huge losses in FY22.
Very few companies are in the list of unicorns without raising VC money. Besides Zoho and Zerodha, Gameskraft is another company that deserves a mention here. While it’s not officially a unicorn, the gaming company has demonstrated strong financials with Rs 2,112 crore revenue and Rs 937 crore profit. The company has left behind gaming unicorns Dream11 and MPL in terms of profits. While it might be a necessity according to some, it is worth appreciating that all the bootstrapped firms are also very profitable when compared with their funded peers.
Around half a dozen companies are no longer in the club of unicorns as their valuation fell below the $1 billion mark due to several reasons. While Snapdeal, Hike, Shopclues, Paytm Mall and Quikr were already on the list for the past few years, quick commerce platform Blinkit has become the new entrant whose valuation got trimmed to $568 million when Zomato acquired the company. It was a 43% haircut in Blinkit’s valuation as compared to its last round when the company cornered $100 million from Zomato at a valuation of $1 billion. In terms of financial performance, all of them are in deep losses as compared to their revenue. Blinkit is on top with Rs 2,600 crore in revenue and Rs 1440 crore loss in FY22. Snapdeal, which is also eyeing an IPO, maintained a balance with Rs 540 crore in revenue and Rs 510 crore loss during the same period. Paytm Mall has a similar story while ShopClues recorded Rs 60 crore in revenue and Rs 50 crore loss in the fiscal year. ShopClues got acquired by Singapore-based Qoo10 in October 2019.
Industry experts have already been discussing Zombie unicorns, a term coined for a billion dollar valued company that will become irrelevant in future because of their failed economic model. The future is likely to see this list expand amid a funding slow down .
City wise, Bengaluru has produced 41 unicorns followed by Delhi NCR which saw 36 unicorns. Mumbai is third on the list with 20 unicorns. Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad have 7, 6 and 3 unicorns respectively.
E-commerce saw the maximum number of unicorns followed by fintech. Collectively, the two segments have more than 50 such companies on the table. SaaS, edtech and healthtech are in the top five segments.
[What lies ahead]
Recently, brokerage firm JM Financial in a note disclosed that a majority of Sequoia Capital’s portfolio unicorns and soonicorns in India are heavily focusing on profitability, pausing or even canceling new initiatives. Sequoia India’s Managing Director, Rajan Anandan also said that the ongoing funding winter will compel a large number of Indian unicorns to become profitable in the next 18-24 months.
After unicorn, the preferred word now is proficorn, taking revenue and profitability together as new key metrics. FreshToHome, an e-commerce platform for fresh meat, fish and seafood, said the company’s final destination is to go public and, not join the unicorn club. The company probably will take time to come close to profitability but the road to profits is likely to dominate startup pitches and minds this year.