India just got closer to the unicorn century mark (100 startups valued at over $1 billion each). Bengaluru-based neobank Open has entered the unicorn club after it raised $50 million led by IIFL along with existing investors Temasek, Tiger Global and 3one4 Capital. Last year, the SME-focused neobanking platform raised $100 million led by Temasek with participation from Google and SBI Investment, one of Japan’s leading venture capital firms.
Though media reports said Open became India’s 100th unicorn, data from Venture Intelligence showed that India has 96 unicorns till date, minting 14 new unicorns in the first five months of this calendar year. Some of the media reports have factored in Zoho and Zerodha as unicorns. However, the two tech firms haven’t raised external capital till date.
Minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal tweeted, “India hits a century in style! Bengaluru-based startup becomes country’s 100th Unicorn. India = Ideas + Innovation + Investments,” he said.
Anish Achuthan, co-founder & CEO of Open, said the neobank didn’t raise money for capital, but was looking at a strategic partner to expand its lending portfolio to SMEs.
The funding would be deployed to accelerate Open’s existing product lines.
India’s startup ecosystem has added more firepower, becoming the third-largest hub globally after the US and China. India has more than 61,400 startups. However, regulatory bottlenecks have led to a flight of startups to Dubai, Singapore and the US in areas like crypto and gaming. Sharad Sharma, cofounder of Indian Software Product Industry RoundTable, said its data indicates that 34 of the top 90 unicorns are not domiciled in India.
He said over the years, more and more startups have been focusing on the India market. “At present, 58 of the 90 unicorns are exclusively India-focused. Over the next few years, as the use of India stack becomes more prevalent, the prominence of Bharat market-based startups will grow rapidly. ,” Sharma added.