India breaks record for number of unicorns produced in a year – even though it’s only October!
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India breaks record for number of unicorns produced in a year – even though it’s only October!

Despite the fact that 2018 is only in its tenth month, India has already broken its own record for how many businesses have achieved a $1 billion-or-more valuation in a year. These businesses, commonly called ‘unicorns’ are a sign that the Indian economy is continuing to go from strength to strength – and they also reveal interesting new insights about the Indian tech sector.

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The majority of India’s ‘old’ unicorns made their mark by adapting western business models for the Indian market. That’s why online retailers Snapdeal and Flipkart look like Amazon, and digital-wallet market leader Paytm looks like Alibaba’s Alipay. But this year’s bumper crop (which targets some of the country’s most pressing needs) is beginning to deviate from ‘what the west did’ and adopt an identity that is expressly Indian.

Byju Raveendran, CEO of Byju’s (an online education company), thinks the pace of change is an important factor, saying: “A young population, increased spending power, and rapidly growing digital infrastructure are helping India-relevant models to scale quickly.” Raveendran should know: Byju’s crossed the $1 billion point in March this year.

The rapidity and extent of India’s pace of change is incredible: there are more than 450 million smartphones in the country today – just five years ago, there were 86 million. And by 2024, India could surpass China as the most populous country on earth.

Unsurprisingly, as India heats up, big players from around the world are looking to get a piece of the actions. Amazon, Alibaba, and others are pumping money into the country looking for the next big thing. In the words of angel investor Ravi Gururaj: “if you don’t bet on India now, you’ll lose.”

Dominion holds a number of companies in its Global Trends Managed Fund that have interests, holdings, and exposure, in the Indian market.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author at the date of publication and not necessarily those of Dominion Fund Management Limited. The content of this article is not intended as investment advice and will not be updated after publication. Images, video, quotations from literature and any such material which may be subject to copyright is reproduced in whole or in part in this article on the basis of Fair use as applied to news reporting and journalistic comment on events.