Source: BloombergQuint

Startup Street: Five Indian Startups Most Likely To Turn Unicorns In 2019

This week on Startup Street, a look at an algorithm that predicts which startup will become a unicorn; Amazon and Apple have had a busy week backing and buying startups. And a logistics startup buys the Indian operations of a Dubai-based company. Here’s what went on:

The Next Unicorns—Predicted By AI

Five Indian startups are most likely to become unicorns this year, according to an proprietary algorithm developed by CB Insights to spot “high-momentum” ventures.

The second list of 50 companies—the first was in 2015—featured most startups from India after the U.S.

Here are the Indian startups that the “Mosaic” algorithm predicts are most likely to turn unicorns:

ClearTax

The Bengaluru-based accounting and finance startup helps individuals and businesses file taxes and also allows users to invest in mutual funds. “Today, we are the largest tax filing platform in India with more than 20 lakh returns filed through ClearTax,” according to its website. The startup also has a cloud platform for filing goods and services tax. The company claims the platform is used by more than 1 lakh businesses and 25,000 chartered accountants.

ClearTax co-founder Archit Gupta (Source: Company Website)
ClearTax co-founder Archit Gupta (Source: Company Website)

ClearTax was the first company that American accelerator Y-Combinator had backed in India. Other major investors include Paypal founder Max Levchin, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Former Whatsapp and Google executive Neeraj Arora, Peter Theil’s Founders Fund, Sequoia and SAIF Partners.

The startup has raised $65 million to date.

CarDekho

The Jaipur-based vehicle-selling platform gives users complete details about vehicles, provides on-road quotations, and connects them to automakers and dealers. It also lists used cars and potential buyers can use it to reach the owners. The company also has tie-ups with financial institutions to provide financing and insurance options.

Source: CarDekho
Source: CarDekho

The startup claims to sell a car every four minutes through its platform and boasts of a monthly traffic of 73 million users.

In January this year, CarDekho raised a series C funding of $110 million, backed by investors such as Axis Bank, Sequoia Capital and Hillhouse Capital Management. It has raised $196 million of funding to date, according to CB Insights.

DailyHunt

The content aggregating startup, with its English and regional language content, has become a staple app for consuming news in India. The app comes pre-loaded in most smartphones like Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Honor. In 2016, even Goldman Sachs had predicted DailyHunt to become one of India’s “billion-dollar babies”.

Dailyhunt Founder Virendra Gupta (R) and President Umang Bedi. (Source: Dailyhunt)
Dailyhunt Founder Virendra Gupta (R) and President Umang Bedi. (Source: Dailyhunt)

As of September 2018, the startup claimed to have nearly 14 crore monthly users, with a growth rate of 25 percent every month. The platform has over 1,500 publishing partner and hosts more than 2.5 lakh articles and videos daily.

It has raised $92 million from investors, including Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Bytedance and Falcon Edge Capital.

Practo Technologies

A stethoscope sits on an examination table in an exam room at a health center. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
A stethoscope sits on an examination table in an exam room at a health center. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

The health-tech startup allows users to book appointments and consulations with medical practioners while doubling up as an online pharmacy and health insurance facilitator.

It claims to schedule over 5 crore appointments a year and operates in 15 countries.

The Mumbai-based startup has raised nearly $180 million from investors like Tencent Holdings, Matrix Partners, CapitalG and Sequoia.

Razorpay

The Bengaluru-based payments gateway provider has developed application programming interfaces that businesses can integrate on their platforms to accept online payments through cards, net banking or UPI. In 2018, the startup said its merchant count is expected to reach 2 lakh by the end of the year.

The startup was incubated by Y-Combinator and had angel investors like Matrix Partners, Justin Kan, Ram Shriram, Kunal Shah and Naveen Tewari. MasterCard, too, made a strategic investment in the company. The startup was voted by LinkedIn as one of India’s most sought after workplaces in 2018.

It has raised $32 million, according to CB Insights.

But Can AI Predict Unicorns?

CB Insights had developed the algorithm in 2015, and shared that list exclusively with the New York Times. This year too, it tied up with the newspaper to co-publish the list.

To date, 48 percent of their predictions have actually gone to become unicorns.

Of them, four companies were acquired for more than a billion dollars—with the largest, Ele.me, being bought by Alibaba. Eight other companies have gone public with valuations more than $1 billion.

“At the risk of sounding immodest, that is pretty good.” CB Insights said. “And if we were a venture firm, this kind of hit rate would make us legendary.”

The Mosaic algorithm predicts a startup’s probability of turning a unicorn by assessing the health of the industry, the financial health of the company and the momentum it has. Based on these it gives a Mosaic score.

In 2015, Mosaic had predicted Oyo and Freshworks to become unicorns. In 2018, both startups did.

Amazon And Apple Go Shopping

Amazon has placed a $700-million bet on electric truckmaker Rivian as it expands its investments in the transportation sector.

Rivian plans to bring an electric truck to market in late 2020 and is also in talks with General Motors Co. about an investment or collaboration. With this, Amazon will be making a second auto investment. The company was among the participants in a $530-million funding round for self-driving startup Aurora Innovation Inc. announced this month.

The Rivian Automotive Inc. R1T electric pickup truck (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)  
The Rivian Automotive Inc. R1T electric pickup truck (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)  

Amazon has also agreed to acquire Eero, that builds WiFi networking tools used to connect home devices.

Also read: Musk-Like or Not, This 36-Year-Old CEO Has Amazon Riding Shotgun

Apple Inc., on the other hand, has acquired U.K.-based DataTiger to boost digital marketing.

A regulatory filing in December shows that Apple now controls Operatedata Ltd., the legal name of DataTiger, according to a Bloomberg report. An Apple spokesman didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s requests for comment and an email sent to DataTiger wasn’t returned.

Apple uses digital marketing for various purposes such as emails to tout new products and push notifications to encourage users to subscribe to services like Apple Music.

The iPhone maker is also said to have bought Pullstring, a startup that enables the designing and publishing of voice apps, Axios reported citing multiple unnamed people.

The acquisition will help Apple improve Siri and compete better with Amazon’s Alexa, which has become the benchmark for voice assistants.

Delhivery Buys Aramex’s India Business

Logistics startup Delhivery has acquired the Indian operations of Dubai’s Aramex, according to multiple media reports.

“The deal is done but we haven’t announced the details,” Delhivery Co-Founder Suraj Saharan told Financial Express. The development was first reported by Economic Times.

The terms of the deals and the value were not disclosed.

The Economic Times report said Aramex India’s Country Manager Hector Crasto informed the employees in an email that Delhivery will take over the domestic operations from March 1, 2019.

Aramex’s operations in India’s logistics sector—which is now dominated by Flipkart’s Ekart and Amazon’s ATS—had impacted its financials in the fourth quarter of 2018 due to down-scaling as part of its restructuring efforts. “Excluding India operations impact, Domestic Express would have grown 8 percent in 2018,” it said in a media statement.

Delhivery has raised a total of $258 million over six funding rounds from major investors like Tiger Global and Carlyle Group. It is also poised to join the growing list of Indian unicorns.