What Went Right for These 21 Unicorns?

Here is a breakdown of what made these 21 start-ups industry leaders and unicorns.

India’s 21 Unicorns: The Current Scenario For These Start-up Companies

India is currently the third-largest ecosystem of start-up companies globally, only coming in behind the US-based Silicon Valley start-up ecosystem and China. With a valuation of around $ 73 billion and growing, it is projected that this ecosystem will continue to see an exponential growth as time passes. India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu said that he expects another 50 start-ups to join the unicorn club as early as 2022 at this rate.

The rarefied and exclusive unicorn club is at present home to 21 innovative start-up companies that are leading the pack. The Indian start-up sector has so far raised a grand total of $9.3 billion until mid-December of 2020. 

What Did These 21 Unicorns Do Right?

These unicorns took advantage of the rise of Indian IT companies over the past decade, a large talent pool as a result of India’s immense population, increased expendable income of Indian middle class and availability of capital have contributed to the growth of India’s start-up ecosystem.

In recent years the increased use of smartphones, access to the internet, recent reforms to push digital finance as well as the government’s efforts through initiatives like Digital India and Start-up India have also contributed to their expansion efforts.

Who Are the Pack Leaders and How Did They Succeed?


BYJU’S stands out in the market thanks to a combination of their immersive learning app that promotes a contextual and adaptive learning experience as per the need of students and prominent investors that boosted brand confidence.


The company achieved success through a successful word-of-mouth branding strategy combined with a referral programme, which gave Rs 50 for referrals and a free ride for every new customer brought to the Ola Cabs. This affordable, safe and comfort-oriented approach paved the way for investors and the current status it holds as a unicorn.


Centred around the premise that everyone deserves a comfortable and budget-friendly place to stay the company initially only targeted budget travellers. By expanding their domain to a more diverse audience and maintaining a customer-oriented approach is what sets them apart from the crowd.


From providing only DTH recharge and shopping bill transactions, the e-wallet and e-commerce platform expanded its services to provide a multi-faceted platform for anything from payment of metro cards, utilities, official bank transfers and even booking flights/trains/busses and so on. This combined with their official RBI (Reserve Bank of India) tie-up gives security and popularity to the name.


This Indian social platform gained prominence for its unique approach to boosting hyperlocal interactions through engaging initiatives like Hikemoji and HikeLand which offers users the ability to express themselves in a fun and customised manner with an emphasis on their local identities.

To read more about the start-ups of India and the situation they will be facing down the line, read our article ‘Union Budget 2021: Fund Allocation for Small Businesses And Start-ups Allocation For Small Businesses And Start-ups’.

Kiran Kennedy
Kiran Kennedy
Kiran was former staff at Dutch Uncles. He writes on entrepreneurship, business life cycle, small businesses and Indian startups.



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