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Hurun Institute’s ASK Private Wealth Hurun India Future Unicorn Index 2023: Witnessed slowdown in the Indian start-up ecosystem

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Unicorn list declines sharply in 2023On 27th June 2023, The Hurun Research Institute released the ASK Private Wealth Hurun India Future Unicorn Index 2023, a ranking of India’s start-up ecosystems worth at least USD 200 million, and the new additions in the unicorn list reveals a significant decline in 2023, indicating a slowdown in the Indian start-up ecosystem. The cut-off date was 31 May 2023.

  • In 2023, India added only three unicorn start-ups having a valuation of over USD 1 billion compared to 24 (turned Unicorns from the list) in 2022 pointed at a distinct slowdown.
  • The important factor contributing to this decline is the drop in the Investor interest, also termed as “Funding Winter”.

Note: This is an index of the most valuable private equity or venture capital (VC)-funded companies in India founded after 2000, ranked according to their latest funding round valuation.

Classifications of the Start-ups:

i. Hurun Research Institute has classified start-ups as Unicorns (start-ups founded after the year 2000 with a valuation of USD 1 billion); Gazelles (start-ups that are most likely to go Unicorn in the next 3 years), and Cheetahs (start-ups that could go Unicorn in the next 5 years).

ii. The evaluation is based on regulatory filings, feedback from other entrepreneurs, and some of the active India-focused VC funds and angel investors.

Index 2023:

i. To feature in the ASK Private Wealth Hurun India Future Unicorn Index 2023, the start-up is required to have a minimum valuation of USD 200 million (Rs.1,650 crore).

ii. In 2023, Hurun Research found 147 (122 in 2022) Indian future Unicorns from 25 cities and they were set up on average in 2015.

iii. The total number of Unicorns in India in 2023 is 83, and there were 51 gazelles, and 96 cheetahs, as against 84 unicorns, 51 gazelles, and 71 cheetahs in the 2022 index.

iv. Future Unicorns were seen disrupting financial services, healthcare, business management solutions and education.

v. India’s future unicorns are currently worth USD 57 billion, with an increase of 16% as compared to 2022, mainly driven by addition of new future unicorns to the list.

Table for Gazelles in the ASK Private Wealth Hurun India Future Unicorn Index 2023:

No.CompanyYear FoundedTotal Funding Received (in USD million)Start-up Sector
1Ather Energy2013342Electric Vehicle (EV)
2Leap Scholar2019153EdTech
3Zepto2021360Quick Commerce

In the 2023 index, the Gazelles listed 51 start-ups; they have collectively secured USD 9.6 billion.

Table for Cheetahs in the ASK Private Wealth Hurun India Future Unicorn Index 2023:

No.CompanyTotal Funding Received (in USD million)Start-up Sector

In the 2023 index, the 96 Cheetahs collectively secured USD 9.3 billion, leading with the E-commerce start-ups with 17 representations, followed by SaaS with 14.


i. A total of 135 future unicorns were founded after the year 2010, of which only 10 of these Gazelles and Cheetahs were founded.

ii. The slow-down in the economy has been tough for certain companies, with almost 20% of 2022’s Gazelles / Cheetahs either dropping off the list or being downgraded.

Table for Top 3 Indian cities in the ASK Private Wealth Hurun India Future Unicorn Index 2023:

Rank (Change)CityNo. of Companies (Change)Main companiesCumulative Valuation (USD in million)
1 (0)Bengaluru (Karnatak)53 (+6)Ather Energy, Leap Scholar20,330
2 (0)Delhi NCR29 (+4)Smartworks, Square Yards11,290
3 (0)Mumbai (Maharashtra)19 (+3)Zepto, InCred, Servify7,970

Bengaluru (Karnataka) continues to be the start-up capital of India by being home to 53 probable unicorns.

Table for Top 3 sectors in the ASK Private Wealth Hurun India Future Unicorn Index 2023:

Rank (Change)Start-up SectorNo. of Companies (Change)Cumulative Valuation (USD in million)No. of GazellesNo. of  Cheetahs
1 (+1)E-Commerce21 (+8)7670417
2 (0)FinTech21 (-7)87501110
3 (0)SaaS20 (+9)6990614

Key Points:

i. Peak XV Partners, which was formerly known as Sequoia, is the biggest investor with stakes in 37 unicorns.

ii. Kaivalya Vohra (22), co-founder of Quick commerce start-up Zepto is the youngest cofounder in the index.

iii. The highest number of future unicorn founders are Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur (West Bengal) graduates with 24 founders, followed by those from IIT Delhi with 23 founders.

iv. The 147 companies featured in the index employ over 1.02 lakh people. A total of 18 companies dropped off the list in 2022, but there were over 40 new additions and the overall funding to the start-ups on the list grew by 6% to USD 18.8 billion.

About Hurun India:
Launched in- 2012
Founder and MD- Anas Rahman Junaid
Headquarters- Mumbai, Maharashtra