How Apna became India’s fastest growing unicorn
China was a longtime favorite of unicorn hunters, but after COVID-19 and a series of regulatory crackdowns against domestic companies across various industries, investors are now a little nervous about putting their money into Chinese companies.
What is Apna?
- Founded by Nirmit Parikh, Apna is an app designed to help workers in India find jobs, so it’s basically India’s own LinkedIn for the non-affluent.
- India has a massive population of people (over 1.3 billion) and many of them don’t live in the cities.
- After the country went into lockdown, over 122 million citizens lost their jobs and began to leave the major cities to find more work in the neighboring villages.
- Since then, millions of these migrant workers have downloaded Apna since its launch in February of this year to try and find work, with Parkih saying he understands how important this app can be to migrant workers. “People’s lives are broken,” says Parikh. “We’re helping them put things back together.”
- The platform now has over 150,000 employers and over five million active jobs.
- Parikh isn’t the only person that believes in his app Tiger Global Management LLC, or just Tiger, invested over US$100 million in the company last week, making Apna India’s fastest-growing unicorn.
- Tiger is an American investment firm that mainly focuses on internet, software, consumer and financial technology industries.
- In the first quarter of this year, Tiger made around four deals a week, throwing money at founders before other investors even had a chance to get in.
- Apna reached a valuation of US$1.1 billion after securing a funding round led by Tiger, which invested over US$100 million. Owl Ventures LLC, Insight Partners Inc. and Sequoia Capital India also participated.
- Investors like Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital have been pouring billions of new dollars into the Indian startup ecosystem for a while now.
Why’s India’s startup scene growing so much?
- China was a longtime favorite of unicorn hunters, but after COVID-19 and a series of regulatory crackdowns against domestic companies across various industries, investors are now a little nervous about putting their money into Chinese companies.
- So, these investors have started investing elsewhere, such as in companies in India, which is home to 58 unicorns today.
- “India is the target market for Tiger Global, not possibly China or the U.S.,” said Sreedhar Prasad, an internet business expert and ex-partner at KPMG. “The reason being that there is a population of 500 million in the country who are not being catered to by the investment companies, so the size of the addressable market in India is bigger than any other country.”
- Prasad also believes that Tiger is intentionally investing heavily into India to increase the average valuation of companies in India.
- “Tiger Global is investing in more startups to push them into the unicorn club because it is trying to dictate the valuation of more and more Indian startups which would provide them with a terminal position in India’s unicorn ecosystem,” he explained.
What do investors think of India’s growth?
- International investors seem pretty confident of India’s growth prospects and are getting ready to make new investments in the country, according to a Deloitte survey that surveyed 1,200 multinational business leaders.
- The survey showed that nearly two-thirds of new investors plan to invest in India within the next two years.
- “After the challenges of the past 18 months, the Deloitte survey is a positive validation of the underlying strengths of the Indian economy, in particular its appeal for foreign investors," said Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global chief executive officer.
- With all of these investors looking to continue investing in India, growth for the country seems inevitable.
- As far as Apna is concerned, the company’s CEO is confident that his app can change the lives of workers across India.
- “A digital business card is a confidence booster for many who’ve only seen their super bosses carry business cards,” Parikh says. “We want to give millions of bottom-of-pyramid workers a career path.”
- With India’s economy growing and investors continuing to believe in the country, the country’s future seems largely positive, especially since COVID-19 numbers have dropped significantly since the surge earlier this year.
- But, researchers in India believe that for the country to continue growing, the population needs to be vaccinated in order for the economy to stabilize.
- “Swift vaccinations can allow the economy to exit the pandemic orbit,” wrote a QuantEco Research report. “So far, India has vaccinated 37.3% of its population with a single dose and 11.1% being completely vaccinated … As per our estimate, India can vaccinate close to 100% of its adult population by the end of December.”
You drive the stories at TMS. DM us which headline you want us to explain, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org