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Only one out of the 27 unicorns emerged this year is woman-led

With a year meant for unicorns, startups ranging from social commerce to infrastructure-led marketplace have entered the billion-dollar value bracket this year. Out of the 27 startups that reached the benchmark this year, however,  only one is women-led. 

OfBusiness, which managed to achieve this feat, offers raw material procurement service and credit to small and medium businesses (SMBs) and was founded by Ruchi Kalra, Vasant Sridhar, Bhuvan Gupta and Nitin Jain over six years ago.

 The company turned unicorn in July, after the $160 million round led by SoftBank Vision Fund II that valued the company at a whopping $1.5 billion. The business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce startup counts Falcon Edge Capital, Alpha Wave Incubation, and Matrix Partners India, among others.

“We can look at it as glass half empty or glass half full. There are now more women entrepreneurs in the start-up space than ever before. When I started off as a tech entrepreneur in 2009, we could be counted on one hand. Now there are founders — Phalguni Nayar of Nykaa and Upasana Taku of Mobikwik who are at the helm of taking their companies public with many lining up. The reason for the delay in women reaching the mark at the same pace as men is because they started slightly later,” Anisha Singh, founding partner at She Capital, told Business Insider India.

Singh has formerly led coupon provider MyDala and content marketing solutions Kinis Software Solutions. She noted that there are several reasons why women got a delayed start in the Indian startup scene. 

One of those reasons is that there were not enough female role models to prove that women were capable of building and scaling a business, which pushed back investors to invest in women-led businesses. The emergence of strong businesses like Bumble or Nykaa has led investors to believe more in women-led startups now, Singh added.

“Just check out the investments coming from venture capitalists to women startups as compared to the male founders…A maximum number of Venture Capitalists are men. The age-old beliefs somehow dictate the funding in the tech industry too. Men invest in men, for business. Women entrepreneurs have to overcome the scenario,” said Rachitta Juneja, Founder, Whide.

Out of the 136 unicorn founders in India, only 5 are female. 

Speaking of startups, the year 2021 has been a record breaking year for Indian startups so far, with the new age companies hitting the public market, cracking the biggest funding deals and more companies being valued at over a billion dollars.

According to a business intelligence firm Tracxn, Indian startups have raised $23 billion in 2021 till September 1. This is significantly higher than $13 billion raised by the ecosystem in 2020. The massive interest of the investors has increased India’s unicorn tally to 56.

 The new estimates show that 150 startups will be valued at over a billion dollars in the next four years, by 2025. Of this, Hurun India report estimates female-led startups like Zilingo, Mamaearth, MobiKwik, Pristyn Care, Ecom Express among 14 others to make it to the list.

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