Unicorn Start-Ups: Know The Indian Women Leading Some Over-$1-Billion Companies

India has about 88 unicorns (a billion-dollar start-up) with a total valuation of USD 296 billion and out of the total, 44 unicorns with a total valuation of USD 94.37 billion were founded in 2021. However, there has not been a commensurate rise in women founders at these companies but it is slowly changing. Here’s the list of woman unicorn founders:

Garima Sawhney, co-founder of Pristyn Care: Sawhney, a doctor from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences who was has worked with Max Super Speciality Hospital and CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram, started Pristyn in 2018. Pristyn Care, backed by investors such as Sequoia and Tiger Global, is a technology platform that utilises additional capacity in hospitals to create multispeciality clinics and surgery centres.

Ruchi Kalra, co-founder of OfBusiness: Kalra co-founded B2B commerce and lending platform OfBusiness along with her husband Asish Mohapatra and others. The husband-wife duo has become the first couple to run unicorns each separately. She is an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and the Indian School of Business. The company plans to go for IPO this year. Kalra has previously worked with management consulting giant McKinsey before co-founding OfBusiness.

Ghazal Alagh, co-founder of Mamaearth: Alagh is a co-founder of Honasa Consumer Private Limited, which is doing business under new-age skincare and bodycare brand Mamaearth, along with her husband Varun. Ghazal was also recently a shark/investor on popular entrepreneurship show Shark Tank India. Ghazal is known for testing each new Mamaearth product on her before it ships to the public, to check for side effects, etc.

Smita Deorah, co-founder and co-CEO of LEAD School: LEAD is a technology platform that schools can use to enhance learning via smart classrooms, certified teachers and an international curriculum. Deorah is a chartered accountant by education and has worked with Procter and Gamble for over eight years. She runs LEAD with her husband Sumeet Mehta.

Rajoshi Ghosh, co-founder of Hasura: Hasura, co-founded by Ghosh, became the 10th start-up to enter India’s unicorn in 2021-22. The company makes web app development faster, cutting down time and expertise required to build GraphQL APIs for data access. She is an alumnus of the National University of Singapore and co-founded 34 Cross, a product development company whose idea sowed the seeds for Hasura.

Ambiga Subramanian, co-founder and CEO of MuSigma: Subramanian, the first woman to head an Indian unicorn, sold her stake back to her now ex-husband and the company’s founder Dhiraj Rajaram. The start-up is backed by investors such as Sequoia, General Atlantic and Mastercard.

Upasana Taku, co-founder of Mobikwik: Taku founded mobile wallet and buy-now-pay-later platform Mobikwik with her husband Bipin Preet Singh. She is an alumnus of Stanford. The company became a unicorn and got the regulatory approval to float an IPO but had to call off its listing plans after filing documents because of Paytm’s spectacular IPO failure. Taku has previously also worked with PayPal and HSBC in the US before returning to India to start up.

Saritha Katikaneni, co-founder of Zenoti: Katikaneni co-founded software platform for spas and salons, Zenoti in 2010. The platform was mainly in the US but later expanded to other countries also. She has served as vice-president of marketing for 9 years in the company.

Falguni Nayar, co-founder of Nykaa: Nayar, a former senior banker at Kotak and an alumnus of IIM-Ahmedabad, started beauty e-commerce platform Nykaa in 2012. She has been the face of female entrepreneurship in India in the past few years. She launched the company’s IPO last year at a valuation of over USD 10 billion. While shares have fallen since, Nayar and her family own 50 per cent of Nykaa and run the company profitably.

Gazal Kalra, co-founder of Rivigo: An alumnus of IIT Delhi, Harvard and Stanford, Kalra co-founded trucking logistics platform Rivigo. The company is funded by Elevation Capital and Warburg Pincus, among others. She has previously worked with McKinsey and was a consultant with the World Bank Group before starting Rivigo.

Divya Gokulnath, co-founder of Byju’s: Gokulnath, who oversees the content functions at Byju’s, is also a co-founder of India’s most-valuable internet company. She was earlier a student of Raveendran as well, when he used to take classes before starting a company.

Radhika Ghai, co-founder of ShopClues: Co-founding online shopping portal ShopClues, Ghai was is the chief business officer. She was also one of the country’s first e-commerce entrepreneurs. ShopClues was one of India’s earliest unicorns, until things unravelled personally and professionally. The couple split up and blamed each other in public with fights over shareholding, control and operations.

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