Though the Indian start-up ecosystem is going through a tough funding environment, there is some good news. India has created the second-highest number of unicorns - 14 - in the first half of 2022. The US tops the list, with 138 start-ups, achieving a valuation of $1 billion in this period, according to the latest Hurun Global Unicorn Index.

China’s zero-Covid policy, a series of lockdowns, and an economic slowdown seem to have affected start-ups in that country. China created just 10 new unicorns in the first half of 2022, despite having the second highest number of unicorns globally.

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India ranks third in the number of unicorns created. “India consolidated its Top 3 spot with 68 unicorns, led by online educator BYJU’S worth $22bn, followed by on-demand delivery start-up Swiggy ($11bn) and fantasy sports platform travel-stay finder Dream11 ($8bn). A further 56 unicorns were started by Indian co-founders outside India, taking the total to 124 unicorns founded by Indians around the world,” the report noted.

Bengaluru accounts for 2.5 per cent of the world’s unicorns. It added six new unicorns this year until June. New York and San Fransisco have the highest number of unicorns. “San Francisco retained the title of ‘World Unicorn Capital’ with 176 unicorns, up 25. New York overtook Beijing to take the second spot with 120 unicorns, up 35. Beijing with 90 unicorns dropped to third, followed by Shanghai with 69. London with 39 unicorns was fifth, followed by Bengaluru and Shenzhen with 33 unicorns each,” the report says.

The top players

BYJU’s, Swiggy, Dream11 and OYO feature in the list of top 100 unicorns worldwide. While BYJU’s holds the 14th rank with a valuation of $22 billion, Swiggy, Dream11 and OYO hold the 45th, 75th and 91st ranks respectively. The list also features InstaCart, a unicorn co-founded by an Indian, Apoorva Mehta, outside India.

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At the same time, 147 unicorns saw their valuations drop between January and June 2022. “81 unicorns from the last year saw their valuation drop below $1bn, of these 36 were from the US and 35 from China, led by Ping An Healthcare Technology, which had a valuation of $9bn last year,” the report says. 

What the future looks like

In June, Hurun Research Institute released its Future Unicorn Index, according to which India will have 122 new unicorns in the next two to four years. It also listed 51 companies that could become unicorns by the end of 2022.