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Unicorn diaries: How to make a billion

India Today logo India Today 15-10-2021 India Today Magazine

According to Nasscom, India gained 28 new unicorns—start-ups valued at $1 billion or more—in the first nine months of 2021, taking the total to 66. These firms have a combined revenue of over $15 billion, and employ over 330,000 people. At the Conclave, the heads of a few of India's more successful start-ups analysed the country's potential to birth more such firms, and how they could go on to do better on the world stage.

Mayank Kumar | Co-founder and MD, upGrad

"I believe this will be a decade of unicorns. These tech-enabled companies have the potential to reach a scale that is difficult in physical formats. With the [level of] capital coming in, the market opening up and digital infrastructure getting ready, there will be a decade of long-run growth for us"

Abhiraj Bhal | Founder and CEO, Urban Company

"To achieve unicorn status, I think you really have to focus on building a company that creates value for customers, for suppliers. Unicorn status is an outcome—you can't have that as your goal. The focus has to be on building a high- quality company that creates a lot of value for society, and the valuation will follow."

Rahul Garg | Founder and CEO, Moglix

"I want to challenge the notion that there is a lot of money coming into India. If you look at the global economy, money is still peanuts. What we think of as a large company—Rs 100 crore or Rs 1,000 crore—on a US stock exchange, it will probably be [ranked as a] small-cap, or may not even be big enough to get listed."

Sandeep Aggarwal | Founder, DROOM

"Innovation involves creating something that was not previously possible. The internet has made products and services geography- agnostic. For example, today, travel bookings are 80+ per cent online. Twenty-five years ago, if I had told someone that I wouldn't have to go anywhere to book tickets for travel, they would have laughed at me."

"I had been in Silicon Valley for 15 years, and had no plans to come back to India. I came back because I saw, in 2011, an opportunity to start my first venture, ShopClues. It was the first marketplace [of its kind] at the time. I was a Wall Street analyst and I saw this as [a big] opportunity—how often does one have the opportunity to create the Amazon or Alibaba of India?"

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