The Cheetah Revolution: India Roars with 36 High-Growth Startups

Curious about the startup evolution? Explore India's Cheetah surge, global city comparisons, and top investors in Hurun's latest report. How Cheetahs, the future unicorns, are reshaping the startup landscape amid economic challenges? Read on.

Swati Dayal
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In the ever-evolving realm of startup ecosystems, the spotlight is often on Unicorns and Soonicorns. However, there is another category, known as Cheetahs. The Hurun Global Cheetah Index 2023 released sheds light on these dynamic startups not yet listed on public exchanges but poised to attain Unicorn status within the next five years. Globally, there are approximately 747 Cheetahs, and India stands tall as the fourth-largest contributor with an impressive count of 36 Cheetahs.

Hurun Report Chairman Rupert Hoogewerf said India's representation in the Cheetah landscape underscores its emergence as a key player in the global startup arena.

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Global Dominance: China, USA, and the 'Rest of the World'

China and the USA take the lead in the Cheetah race, boasting 291 and 246 Cheetahs, respectively, constituting a staggering 72% of the world's Cheetah population. The United Kingdom secures the third position with 38 Cheetahs, showcasing its prominence in the global startup landscape.

According to Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher at Hurun Report, "No matter whether it's a Cheetah, Gazelle, or Unicorn, you can basically divide the world into three: the United States, China, and the ‘Rest of the World’."

Disruptive Industries and Emerging Trends

The Hurun Global Cheetah Index 2023 highlights that healthcare is at the forefront of disruption by Cheetahs, closely followed by financial services, business management solutions, and retail. Biotech and HealthTech emerge as the leading sectors, boasting 99 and 89 Cheetahs, respectively. Other notable sectors include enterprise services (70), FinTech (62), e-commerce (46), and AI and SaaS, both with 40 Cheetahs each. Surprisingly, 4% of Cheetahs have been founded within the last three years, signifying the rapid pace of innovation in the startup landscape.


Insights into the Cheetah Ecosystem

Hurun Research Institute's Global Cheetah Index delves into the dynamics of these high-growth startups. On average, Cheetahs were established in 2016 and currently hold a valuation of $400 million. Notably, 66% of Cheetahs are engaged in software and services, with enterprise services, FinTech, and HealthTech leading the way. Meanwhile, 34% focus on physical products, with Biotech, HealthTech, smart chips, and robotics taking the lead. Moreover, 67% target business customers, emphasizing the B2B nature of Cheetahs, while 33% cater to consumers.

City Wise Comparison of Cheetahs, Gazelles and Unicorns

In terms of city wise comparison of Cheetahs, Gazelles and Unicorns, Bengaluru ranks 9th with 2.8% of Cheetahs, ranks 7th with 3.2% if Gazelles and 6th with 2.4% of Unicorns.

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Global Cheetahs' Geographical Distribution

The report unveils the geographical distribution of the world's Cheetahs, highlighting their presence in 34 countries and 198 cities.

Rupert Hoogewerf emphasizes the significance of identifying and supporting Cheetahs, stating, "Cheetahs represent the economy of the future." The report encourages investors to focus on these high-growth companies, recognizing their potential to become future Unicorns.

Top Investors Finding Cheetahs Globally

HongShan, which was spun off from Sequoia Global in June, is the world’s most successful investment platform at finding and investing into Cheetahs, investing into 60 of the world’s known Cheetahs, followed by CICCMatrix PartnersSoftBank and Tiger Global Management.

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Looking Ahead: Cheetahs, Innovation, and Investment

In the face of global economic challenges, the report remains optimistic about the future of Cheetahs, emphasizing the potential for innovation akin to the transformative impact of the iPhone in 2007. Hurun Research aims to foster entrepreneurship through its comprehensive startup series, ranging from the Cheetah Index to the Unicorn Index.

Decoding Startup Tiers: Unicorns, Gazelles, and Cheetahs in Global Tech Landscapes

In the dynamic landscape of startups, the distinctions between Unicorns, Gazelles, and Cheetahs are crucial. Unicorns, valued at a minimum of a billion dollars and not yet publicly listed, define the pinnacle. Gazelles, potential future Unicorns within three years, share the spotlight.

Meanwhile, Cheetahs, on the cusp of Unicorn status within five years, represent the rising stars. Notably, the USA, China, India, and the UK lead the global charge in these categories, with cities like San Francisco, Shanghai, Beijing, New York, and London at the forefront. Industries also play a role, with Biotech and HealthTech driving Cheetahs, while FinTech, SaaS, and E-commerce dominate Gazelles and Unicorns. Furthermore, Cheetahs focus on physical products and business clientele over consumer markets.