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31st May 2022 (6 Topics)

What is a unicorn, and what does it take to become one?


India has reached a landmark figure of 100 unicorns with a valuation of more than $300 billion.


What is a unicorn startup?

  • Unicorns are privately held, venture-capital backed startups that have reached a value of $1 billion.
  • The valuation of unicorns is not expressly linked to their current financial performance, but largely based on their growth potential as perceived by investors and venture capitalists who have taken part in various funding rounds.
  • American venture capitalist Aileen Lee is credited with coining the term in 2013.
  • It was used to emphasise the rarity of the emergence of such startups.
  • From the time the term was first used, it has become more common for startups to bag the unicorn tag, but the $1 billion valuation still gets industry attention, and is considered an impressive achievement.

India’s unicorn:

  • According to Invest India, the government’s National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency, “The year 2021, 2020, and 2019 saw the birth of the maximum number of Indian unicorns with 44, 11, and 7 unicorns coming each year, respectively.”
  • It adds that between 2015 and 2021, the country’s startup ecosystem has seen a nine-time increase in the number of investors, and a seven-time increase in the total funding of startups.

Do You Know?

  • The world is gradually transitioning from the age of unicorns to the age of decacorns.
  • A decacorn is a company that has attained a valuation of more than USD10 billion.
  • As of May 2022, 47 companies world over have achieved the decacorn status.
  • India has four startups namely, Flipkart, BYJU’s, Nykaa and Swiggy, added in the decacorn cohort.

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