‘Only 5 out of 136 unicorn founders are women’

EMA Partners’ study highlights skew

August 13, 2021 11:10 pm | Updated August 14, 2021 03:49 am IST - Bengaluru

Kochi, Kerala, 27/03/2018: Falguni Nayar, Founder&CEO, Nykka.com in Kochi on March 27, 2018. Photo:H.Vibhu.

Kochi, Kerala, 27/03/2018: Falguni Nayar, Founder&CEO, Nykka.com in Kochi on March 27, 2018. Photo:H.Vibhu.

India’s 136-strong unicorn founders club has only five women in it and as of August 4, the country had 56 start-ups that had turned unicorns.

A gender analysis brought out a poorly skewed scenario as 131 of the 136 unicorn founders in the country are males and only five are women: Divya Gokulnath (Byju’s), Falguni Nayar (Nykaa), Ruchi Kalra (OfBusiness), Saritha Katikaneni (Zenoti) and Gazal Kalra (Rivigo), as per EMA Partners, a global executive search and leadership advisory.

The study also found it took seven years, on a median basis, for 56 start-ups to achieve unicorn status. Four of them turned unicorns in 1-2 years of operation, 15 of them in 3-5 years, 19 in 6-8 years, 12 in 9-12 years and the remaining took 13-plus years to get their valuation to $1 billion.

Eleven of these unicorns are single-founder firms, 22 of them have two founders each, 15 of them have three founders, four have four founders and four more have five founders each.

The top investors were Tiger Global, with investments in 19 firms, Sequoia Capital (17) and SoftBank (14) while other investors included Accel, Elevation Capital, Tencent, Matrix Partners, General Atlantic and Lightspeed Ventures, as per the EMA Partners’ study that is yet to be released.

Some 26% of these founders are software engineers, 20% are management consultants and the rest are from finance, marketing, sales, operations and other backgrounds.

These founders were 30 years old, on a median basis, when they launched their respective ventures and 13% of them founded their unicorn soon after their university education, the analysis revealed.

About 98% of unicorn founders are graduates and 77% have an engineering background. However, 2% do not have a degree. For 48% of the founders, the alma matter was an IIT.

Bengaluru leads the wave, housing 43% of these unicorns. Delhi NCR accounted for 29%, Mumbai 14%, Chennai and Pune 5% each and Hyderabad and Thane contributed 2% each, as per the study titled: An analysis of Indian unicorns & their founders.

Interestingly, in the last one week, four more start-ups joined the unicorn bandwagon taking India’s tally to 60.

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