India gets its 100th unicorn startup as neobank Open crosses billion-dollar valuation

Illustration by Ramandeep Kaur

New Delhi: India got its 100th unicorn Monday when neobanking fintech portal, Open, raised fresh capital to push up its value over a billion dollars.

The five-year-old Bengaluru-based neobank raised $50mn in a Series D funding round from IIFL, Singaporean state holding company Temasek, American investment firm Tiger Global and another Indian firm 3one4 Capital. This helped its valuation cross the $1bnmark.

The funding comes just six months after Google, Temasek, Visa, and Japan’s SoftBank invested $100 million in the neobank startup.

This funding signifies the enthusiasm in the Indian startup ecosystem, which is the world’s third-largest according to Economic Survey, 2021-22. India overtake the UK to reach the spot after the US and China, which added 487 and 301 unicorns respectively, according to the survey.

As of January 2022, a record 44 Indian startups achieved unicorn status which took the overall tally of startup unicorns to 83. With a total valuation of $277.77 billion, most of them are in the services sector, contributing over 50% to India’s GDP, according to the economic survey. Unicorns are those companies which have over $1 billion valuation.

After this new strategic investment from Ola’s investor IIFL, Open will now be able to expand its product offerings on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The startup is set to launch three new products in the SME lending space such as a revenue-based financing product for ecommerce businesses ‘Open Flo’, an early settlement credit offering ‘Open Settl’, and working capital lending offering for SMEs ‘Open Capital’.

The startup has said it would disburse $1 bn in lending through these new lines of products in the next 12 months, Inc42 reported.

Open, founded by Anish Achuthan, Mabel Chacko and Ajeesh Achuthan, claims to power over 2.3 million SMEs with over $30 billion in annualized transactions working towards automating business finances for small and medium firms.

Reacting to the announcement of the 100th unicorn of India, Union Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal said“India has hit a century in style!”

Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics & Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that India is one of the world’s fastest growing and most exciting startup ecosystems.

Technology industry body NASSCOM also lauded the announcement and said, “India’s tech startups are championing India Inc focused on innovation, tech impact and job creation.”

PayTM founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said it had looked over ambitious when the idea of ​​100s of unicorns in India was pitched. But today India is a land of opportunities, I added.

Industry bodies and venture capital firms are calling it an inspiring moment for the Indian startup ecosystem.


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