A look at leading women-led startups that have joined the unicorn club

Unicorn Startups Led by Women

Although only 15% of Indian unicorn startups have a woman founder/co-founder, the number of such companies is increasing rapidly. Here are some of the inspirational female entrepreneurs from India.

  1. Ghazal Alagh (Mamaearth)

Mamaearth was founded by Ghazal Alagh and her husband Varun in 2016. It is a direct-to-consumer natural beauty product brand, that has seven retail outlets and an online presence on marketplaces like Amazon, Nykaa and Flipkart. Mamaearth turned into a unicorn business this year, with its parent company Honasa currently valued at $1.15 billion.

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  1. Falguni Nayyar (Nykaa)

This decade-old marketplace for women’s lifestyle and beauty products entered the unicorn club in 2020. Founded by Falguni Nayyar, Nykaa was listed on the stock exchanges in November 2021. Apart from its online presence, Nykaa has over 80 stores across India. Ms Nayyar is an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus who has worked with the Kotak Mahindra group for years, including a stint as the Managing Director of the company. 

  1. Upasana Taku (Mobikwik)

Upasana Taku founded the digital payment platform Mobikwik in 2009, with her husband Bipin Preet Singh. The company, One Mobikwik Systems Limited is planning to raise Rs 1,900 crores through IPO. Mobikwik is currently valued at $1 billion.

  1. Priyanka Gill & Naiyya Saggi (The Good Glamm group)

Gill and Saggi founded the women startup Good Glamm Group last year and soon achieved unicorn status with a valuation of $1.2 billion. Priyanka is the founder/CEO of women’s digital community platform POPxo while Harvard alumnus Naiyya Saggi had earlier founded another female led company, BabyChakra.

  1. Divya Gokulnath (Byju’s)

Divya and Byju Raveendran founded Byju’s in 2011, which has now become India’s largest ed-tech company and is the 13th most valued startup in the world. It has made high-profile acquisitions to continue its growth trajectory, including the acquisition of Aakash Institute. A former teacher, Gokulnath is now a Director at Byju’s.

  1. Rajoshi Ghosh (Hasura)

Rajoshi Ghosh founded Hasura in 2017, originally as a delivery service company specialising in home-cooked food. However, Hasura has since transitioned into a software-as-a-service company. It raised $100 million in February this year, in series C funding. The company has turned unicorn and is valued at $1 billion. Ghosh is an alumnus of the National University of Singapore and Stanford Ignite.  

  1. Gazal Kalra (Rivigo)

Gazal Kalra founded Rivigo along with Deepak Garg in 2014. Rivigo has been a unicorn since 2019 and is presently valued at $1.07 billion. Rivigo provides tech-enabled cargo services specialising in long-haul intercity logistics. 

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  1. Ruchi Deepak (Acko General Insurance)

Ruchi Deepak and co-founder Varun Dua founded Acko General Insurance in 2017 as a digital general insurance service provider. Acko is valued at $1.1 billion and has the backing of heavyweights like Binny Bansal of Flipkart and Amazon, to name a few.

  1. Ankiti Bose (Zilingo)

Bose founded the fashion e-commerce platform Zilingo in 2015, at the age of 23 only! She started Zilingo to tap the potential of independent vendors spread across South Asia, an inspiration that she got after visiting Bangkok’s Chatuchak market. Ankiti Bose is the first woman entrepreneur to start a unicorn not just in India, but the whole of Asia.

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There are many such women in leadership places emerging out of our country. Let us hope that they inspire women to head more Indian startups and bridge the gender gap in the business world.