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Here are the Indian startups that may join the unicorn club in 2018

02 January, 2018

The multi-billion-dollar funding rounds in Flipkart, Paytm and Ola in 2017 camouflaged not just the fact that overall venture capital funding for Indian startups drastically declined but also that not a single company joined the list of unicorns–a startup valued over $1 billion.

It was in August 2016 that a company had last entered the country’s small club of unicorns. The company was messaging app Hike, which was valued around $1.4 billion when it raised $175 million funding from Foxconn and Tencent.

As of now, India has 10 unicorns–Flipkart, Paytm, Ola, InMobi, Zomato, MuSigma, Quikr, Shopclues, Hike and Snapdeal. The unicorn club could see fresh additions in 2018 as some tech startups in varied segments such as logistics, hospitality, education, healthcare, grocery and food ordering are knocking on the doors.

Oyo
After the latest $250 million round led by SoftBank Vision Fund in September, Oyo is almost there. The four-year-old budget hotel marketplace, incorporated as Oravel Stays Pvt Ltd, has cumulatively received around $473 million from investors and could well become another SoftBank-backed unicorn from India. Japan’s SoftBank already has five unicorns in its portfolio–Flipkart, Paytm, Ola, MuSigma and Snapdeal.

With solid backing from its lead investor, Oyo has spent heavily on operations, marketing, hiring and customer acquisition. The company made a loss of Rs 497 crore loss on revenue of Rs 33 crore for 2015-16. Oyo has trimmed its losses by a third to Rs 330 crore and its revenues tripled to to Rs 102 crore in financial year 2016-17, according to several media reports citing data platform Tofler.

In July last year, the company had said it achieved a gross booking value run rate of $400 million and 15 million booked room nights annually. For Oyo, 2018 can be an interesting year. It remains to be seen how Oyo keeps up its growth momentum amid a thicket of well-funded tech-driven budget hotel chains such as Fab Hotels and Treebo as well as online travel and hotel booking platforms such as MakeMyTrip.

However, investors seem to be convinced about its growth prospects. From a valuation of $500 million at the time of raising $90 million from SoftBank in August 2016, Oyo’s valuation climbed to around $850 million when it last mobilised funding in September 2017.

BigBasket
Of all the hyperlocal grocery delivery players that have mushroomed over the past few years, BigBasket has stood out and thrived, thanks to its experienced founding team and a sensibly cultivated growth trajectory. The fund crunch over the past two years has killed a good number of me-too startups while many have given in to the pressure of consolidation. But BigBasket has grown steadily to establish an unchallenged supremacy in the market.

Innovative Retail Concepts Pvt. Ltd, which operates the consumer-facing arm of BigBasket, reported a two-fold rise in revenue and kept its losses in check for the financial year 2016-17, filings with the Registrar of Companies show. Net sales jumped to Rs 1,090.49 crore from Rs 527.46 crore, and gross expenses rose to Rs 1,282.36 crore from Rs 630.97 crore. It contained the rise in loss at Rs 191.80 crore compared with Rs 103.41 crore the previous year. The consolidated revenue of BigBasket is likely to be around Rs 1,400 crore for 2016-17, people in the know told VCCircle.

BigBasket may soon announce its next round of funding, which will see a significant investment from Chinese Internet behemoth Alibaba Group. Already, Alibaba has received approval from the Competition Commission of India to invest in BigBasket.

Various media reports have pegged the fundraising amount to be between $200 million and $300 million, translating into a post-money valuation of $850 million. BigBasket has raised around $255 million so far from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Helion Ventures, Ascent Capital, Abraaj Capital, International Finance Corporation and Sands Capital.

BigBasket is the country’s largest online supermarket today. It claims to serve nearly 6 million customers and delivers around 20,000 products from more than 1,000 brands. It has presence in 26 cities across the country. With more investors lining up to back the leader of a fast-growing segment, 2018 is most likely to create the first hyperlocal unicorn of India.

Byju’s
Ed-tech startup Byju’s was valued around $776 million in its most recent funding round when it raised around $35 million from Chinese Internet conglomerate Tencent Holdings. Bangalore-based Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd, which runs Byju’s, is marching towards full-year profitability in 2017-18, the company claims.

According to filings with the Registrar of Companies, the company posted gross revenue of Rs 247 crore for the year through March 2017, more than double from the previous year’s Rs 110 crore. Operating revenue came in at Rs 230 crore, up from Rs 108.9 crore. Net loss widened, albeit at a slower pace, to Rs 61 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 49 crore.

Till date, Byju’s has raised around $200 million in funding. Its backers include Sequoia Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI)–the philanthropic foundation of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan–Times Internet Ltd, Belgium-based Sofina and Lightspeed Ventures, IFC and Aarin Capital.

The ed-tech company is close to entering the unicorn club and clocking a profit, according to founder Byju Raveendran. He says his venture would be a “profitable unicorn.”

Swiggy
Bundl Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs food delivery platform Swiggy, is one of the most significantly funded startups in the food-tech segment and has mopped up about $155.5 million so far. Swiggy and rival Zomato together control about 80% of the Indian online food delivery industry. Swiggy has, within just three years, created a strong brand presence and customer loyalty, besides constantly innovating around business models to build the largest fleet of delivery personnel and become the leader in the food delivery market.

According to various recent media reports, SoftBank is in discussions to invest around $200-250 million in Swiggy. China’s Tencent and Alibaba and Indian e-commerce major Flipkart are also in investment talks with the startup. The proposed investment from SoftBank, if it materialises, would come at a pre-money valuation of $600-650 million.

In its most recent fundraising, Swiggy had secured $80 million in a Series E round led by South African technology conglomerate Naspers in May 2017. Swiggy is also backed by Accel India, SAIF Partners India, Bessemer Venture Partners, Harmony Partners and Norwest Venture Partners.

The company clocked revenue of Rs 133 crore for 2016-17, a six-fold increase from Rs 20 crore the previous year. Its losses widened to Rs 205 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 137 crore the previous year as costs more than doubled. Going by its innovative approach towards food delivery and the increasing interests from global investors, the company is expected to achieve the $1 billion valuation in its upcoming funding rounds.

Practo
Online healthcare platform Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd was valued upwards of $600 million when it raised $55 million in a Series D round led by Tencent in early 2017. Three new investors–Russian VC firm ru-Net, Japan’s Recruit Holdings’ investment arm RSI Fund and US-based Thrive Capital–had then joined the line-up of Practo backers that already included Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Capital G (Google Capital), Altimeter Capital and Sofina. Tencent had also led Practo’s Series C round of $90 million.

The Bangalore-based firm started in 2008 as a doctor finder. Since then it has grown into an almost full-fledged provider of healthcare services, providing easy access to end-users on mobile phones. The firm got into online insurance aggregation segment last year.

It has upped the ante in the enterprise space, too, acquiring five companies in the last nine years. It bought US-based data analytics firm Enlightiks Inc. and its Indian operations for $13.9 million. Hospital information management solutions provider Insta Health ($12 million), hospital appointment scheduling firm Qikwell, web- and app-based fitness management platform FithoWellness and product outsourcing firm Genii were the other acquisitions.
Practo, which has already expanded beyond Indian borders, aims to grow business in regions such as the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia. The company so far raised around $179 million.

For Practo, a strong show in terms of growth and unit economics would mean its deep-pocketed investors pumping in more money, catapulting the company to $1-billion valuation in its tenth year of existence.

Delhivery
China’s Fosun, private equity firm Carlyle and US venture capital investor Tiger Global together put in around $130 million in Delhivery in a Series E round between March and May last year. This round valued the e-commerce logistics company around $575 million, shows VCCEdge, the data research arm of VCCircle.

This valuation was 30% higher than the post-money valuation of $450 million during an internal round just six months prior to this deal. The logistics firm has shown strong growth over the years in terms of its top line. Its revenue grew 44% to Rs 756.32 crore and losses lowered by a fifth to Rs 256 crore in the last financial year. In 2015-16, its revenue had more than doubled to Rs 524.4 crore while losses quadrupled to Rs 318 crore year-on-year.

With $250 million in pocket from investors, Delhivery is one of the most-funded e-commerce logistics companies in India and covers 9,250 pin code areas across 950 cities in the country. For a six-year-old company, which clocked around Rs 52 lakh revenue in the first year, Delhivery’s growth mirrors the rise in the volume of goods being sold online in recent years. If it keeps growing at this rate, its next round could probably take it to the unicorn club.

Rivigo
Online freight aggregator Rivigo could be another unicorn to emerge from SoftBank’s India portfolio as the logistics services provider is reportedly in initial talks with the Japanese investment firm for a fresh round of funding at a valuation of over $1 billion. According to media reports, the startup is likely to raise about $100-400 million from SoftBank.

TrucksFirst Services Pvt. Ltd, which operates Rivigo, owns and operates over 2,000 trucks and has a pan-India network across 150 locations. The Gurgaon-based company has raised over $122 million till date, according to VCCEdge. In November 2016, PE firm Warburg Pincus had invested $75 million for a minority stake in the company as part of a Series C round. Rivigo was valued around $440 million during the funding round.

In December 2015, the company had raised $30 million, including a small debt portion, in Series B funding from existing investor SAIF Partners and others. The online freight aggregator posted a rapid rise in revenue for the year through March 2017, but its losses widened multi-fold because of higher expenses. Revenue for 2016-17 increased 170% to Rs 401.8 crore from Rs 149 crore the year before, filings with the Registrar of Companies showed. Losses shot up to Rs 137 crore from Rs 5 crore.

BlackBuck
The two-year-old online intercity freight matrketplace Blackbuck, incorporated as Zinka Logistics Solutions Pvt. Ltd has been growing at a tremendous pace. It clocked Rs 567 crore revenue in the second year of operation and emerged a dominant player in the segment. It reported Rs 87 crore loss for the financial year ending March 2017 but may have by now already broken even on a quarterly basis going by what its CEO Rajesh Yabaji told VCCircle in March.

Blackbuck has raised around $105 million from Flipkart, Tiger Global, Accel Partners, Yuri Milner’s Apoleto Fund and IFC. It recently completed a share buyback from employees. Blackbuck said its valuation went up 11 times in a year. A similar momentum could make it a surprise entry into India’s unicorn club in 2018.

Freshworks
Freshworks Inc, earlier known as Freshdesk, is well poised to become the first software-as-a-service startup to enter the unicorn club in India. The company was valued at $750 million during its last funding round (Series F) when it raised $55 million led by Sequoia Capital India and existing investor Accel Partners.

The cloud-based customer engagement platform has raised close to $150 million in external funding till date, according to data available with VCCEdge. Its other investors include Capital G (formerly Google Capital) and Tiger Global.

Freshworks has made nine acquisitions till date, which has given it a quicker runway to launch new products. The San Bruno- and Chennai-headquartered company’s products are used by more than 100,000 customers across 145 countries.

According to an article published by tech news website Factor Daily, Freshworks planned to raise its next round of funding at a valuation of over $1 billion. Freshworks also planned to eventually go public on a US stock exchange, the report said, citing founder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham.

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Here are the Indian startups that may join the unicorn club in 2018

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