18% of India’s total unicorns are founded by women, with 20 potential unicorns in the pipeline: Study


With 28,000 active digital start-ups, India has a thriving ecosystem, but tragically, only 18% of them are female founders or co-founders. According to a collaborative research by TiE Delhi-NCR, Zinnov, Google, NetApp, and Indian Angel Network titled “Creating 10X Women Founders in India,” one of the primary aspects that prevent women from establishing startups are the traditional stereotypes and prejudices that are common in India. The study also identifies the primary obstacles that women and women founders encounter in their entrepreneurial journey, and highlights the critical steps that all stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem must take to encourage more women to start up in India.

According to the survey, 20 potential unicorns are in the pipeline, making up around 18% of all unicorns in India. Women have established successful start-ups in a wide range of sectors, including EdTech, Enterprise Tech, BFSI, Health Tech, and Retail.

It’s interesting to note that, according to the report, start-ups formed by men and women perform similarly on several measures. Unicorns launched by women provide employment and income at a similar rate to those started by men. 7 out of 1000 start-ups started by women reach the late stage, comparable to 8 out of 1000 start-ups founded by men, showing that female founders have equal success rates to those of their male counterparts. This similarity also applies to the usage of DeepTech: 8% of start-ups formed by women employ this technology, compared to 11% of start-ups founded by men.

Merely 18% of India’s 28,000 active technological start-ups, according to the research, had female founders or cofounders. The study also claims that women founders have faced an investment loss of USD 3.7 bn in the last 3 years. The study also found that women-founded startups are challenging gender stereotypes and women founders have faced various stereotypical myths in the start-up ecosystem.

According to the survey, 76% of the workforce in India, including women, has an entrepreneurial intent. However, for women, entrepreneurship is a less attractive professional choice due to gender stereotypes. Also, women founders do not raise as much money as their male counterparts do.

As per the report, 19% of the unicorns are women-funded, over USD 30 bn is the total valuation of unicorns built by women founders, over USD 12 bn is the total equity investments raised by women-founded unicorns and potential unicorns, 19 of the unicorns and potential unicorns serving global markets and 8 of sectors with women-founded unicorns and 11 of sectors with women-founded potential unicorns. The report also claims that 84% of the women-founded startups are from non-retail sectors and 95% of the funding raised by women-founded startups went into non-retail sectors. 43% of women founders have built BSB businesses and over 800 number are women founded BSB startups including 1 out of 6 BSB startups in India has a women founder.

Speaking about the need for this study in the ecosystem, Atit Danak, Parter at Zinnov, said, “Women founders have proven their ability to successfully build start-ups, with over USD 30 Bn in total valuation of unicorns and 800+ B2B businesses that they’ve built. However, despite their success, women founders still face challenges and biases in the Indian start-up ecosystem. Addressing these challenges is critical to unlocking the potential of 10X women entrepreneurs and bridging the existing gap. With buy-in and collaboration from the larger ecosystem, equity is possible.”

Srikant Sastri, President, TiE Delhi-NCR, commented, “TiE Delhi-NCR, through its focused initiatives, has been at the forefront of creating a level playing field for women entrepreneurs. By launching this report, we aim to outline actionable steps, identify key focus areas and frameworks that will help create a more inclusive ecosystem that benefits all. We’re grateful to our partners for their support.”

Commenting on the report, Sanjay GuptaCountry Head and Vice PresidentGoogle India stated, “Over the last decade, India’s start-up ecosystem has made steady progress to cement its position as a leading hub of innovation for the world. It has made determined progress, overcome many set notions and proven its credibility by building very successful and large enterprises. As we enter India’s digital decade, it’s also incumbent on this dynamic start-up ecosystem to reflect and review its own impressions and biases when it comes to women-led start-ups in the country. This report shines the light on this fast-growing community of women founders and calls upon the ecosystem to make India an equitable and inclusive land of entrepreneurs and progress.”




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