Two Indian Startups Among Top 10 Global Unicorn Dropouts

Byju’s, India's most glorified edtech firm once, tops unicorn startups list but for valuation drop. India’s unicorn count declines, yet Swiggy and Dream11 shine. Challenges persist, but startups drive global economy. Join for startup insights.

Swati Dayal
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Hurun Report

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Byju’s, one of India’s most celebrated edtech companies globally, has topped the list of unicorn startups. However, this time it is for a different reason. It has emerged at the forefront of the list of the biggest dropouts globally in terms of valuation over the last year, according to a report.

Among the top 10 dropouts in the last year, two Indian startups—Byju’s and Pharmeasy—stand out. Byju’s boasted a valuation of USD 22 billion, while Pharmeasy followed closely behind at USD 5.6 billion.

Hurun Report

The Hurun Global Unicorn Index 2024 indicated that India's unicorn count stood at 67, marking a decrease from previous years.

Byju’s Operational Woes: A Closer Look

Founded in 2008, Byju’s faced a series of operational challenges, prompting significant restructuring efforts and cost-cutting measures in response to mounting losses. The company struggled to meet revenue targets for the previous financial year and grappled with resolving a substantial debt totaling $1.2 billion.

Expert Insights: Byju’s Significance Amidst Setbacks

Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of the Hurun Report, underscored the importance of startups like Byju’s despite their setbacks. Hoogewerf acknowledged the media attention garnered by failing startups, emphasizing their role in driving economic vitality.

"Yes, some will fail and when they do it is normally to media attention, such as India education platform Byju, but on the whole unicorns are seen inherently vital to the new economy," Hoogewerf said.

India's Unicorn Landscape: Shifts and Surprises

Despite the decline in Byju’s valuation, India maintained its status as the world's third-largest hub for unicorns, with a total count of 67. Notably, the report highlights the emergence of Swiggy and Dream11 as India's most valuable unicorns, each boasting a valuation of $8 billion. Following closely is Razorpay, valued at $7.5 billion.

The world's unicorns come from 53 countries, up from 48 last year, spread around 291 cities up from 271 cities last year. USA lead with 702 unicorns followed by China with 340 unicorns.

San Francisco retained the title of Global Unicorn Capital being home to 190 Unicorns alone. Singapore followed with fastest-growing city in the world for unicorns.

Challenges and Opportunities in India's Startup Ecosystem

While India witnessed a decline in its unicorn count, attributed partly to a lack of investments in startups, there were notable additions to the unicorn club, including Krutrim, an artificial intelligence platform. However, the trend of Indian founders establishing companies abroad has further impacted India's unicorn prospects.

Global Unicorn Front: Leading Players

On the global stage, Bytedance, the parent company of TikTok, leads the pack with a staggering valuation of $220 billion, followed by SpaceX at $180 billion and OpenAI at $100 billion. These figures underscore the dynamic nature of the global startup landscape and the competition faced by companies striving for unicorn status.

Navigating Uncertainty in the Startup World

As the startup ecosystem continues to evolve, companies like Byju’s serve as a reminder of the inherent challenges and opportunities in the entrepreneurial journey. While setbacks may occur, the resilience and innovation demonstrated by startups contribute significantly to economic growth and development.

In a landscape marked by volatility and disruption, the trajectory of unicorns offers valuable insights into the evolving dynamics of entrepreneurship and investment on both a domestic and global scale.

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