Comparing the Startup Ecosystem in India and China

Ecosystem, a word that looks fancy and grand to many but holds a lot of significance among those who understand the gravity of it. As we talk about startups, the ecosystem and the network become important, as those define the overall growth. India and China, thus, are no different, as the ecosystem continues to play an important role in the growth stories of both nations. While China has always been the flying horse of the startup world with steadfast innovations, India holds the key to unprecedented growth, led by our young workforce and skill set on the world stage. We looked at various key aspects of this one-on-one tussle. Here’s what we found out:

India Grows Because India Matters…
The Rise of Indian Startups, Firms, and Businesses – Turbo Mode On!
The Chinese Behemoth Ft. TikTok
Right Reforms Bring in the Right Transformations
Future of the Nations’ Startups – What Lies Ahead!

Why India’s Tech Unicorns Are Breaking Records

India Grows Because India Matters…

Despite the much-talked-about funding winter, the Indian Startup Ecosystem seems like a force on steroids, as the nation and its ecosystem continue to churn out unicorns at will. The 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world, after US & China — gone are the days when the world used to sleep upon India’s importance in the startup arena. India is producing unicorns faster than ever, with 60% of the total 108 unicorns being produced in the last 20 months. That’s some progress right there!

The ‘State of Indian Startup Ecosystem Report 2022’ laid emphasis on the fact that India’s ecosystem is blessed with the availability of raw talent, resources, and a young workforce, with an expected 250+ unicorns by 2025, second only to the United States. This is quite impressive as it showcases a whopping 140% increase to the present number over the course of the next three years. This turbo mode for startups has been made possible owing to the emergence of a connected and self-sustaining ecosystem, with government initiatives playing an equally important role.

China has around 174 unicorns, but the growth of startups in China has been tainted by the coronavirus and the authoritative norms of the government. India, on the other hand, is on a growth spree, with three-fifths of the world’s unicorns originating from India in the last 20 months. The unicorns have raised close to $95 billion in capital over the last 20 years, valued at in excess of $341 billion, which automatically gives weightage to India’s love letter to the global startup scene. India is here to stay. India is important. India matters!

The Rise of Indian Startups, Firms, and Businesses – Turbo Mode On!

Growth in the Number of Investment Deals in Startups Across India from 2015 to 2021
Growth in the Number of Investment Deals in Startups Across India from 2015 to 2021

If you weren’t living under a rock all this while, you would know that back in 2008-2009, post the fall of Lehman Brothers and the ‘Great Recession’, the opportunities were ripe, but the growth was tough. Who would’ve imagined that Indian startups would get to unicorn status almost half the time when compared to the 2010 scenario?

As far as the cities are concerned, Bengaluru continues to be among the top 30 cities globally for startups and unicorns, graciously placed at the 22nd spot, whereas Mumbai and Delhi made their entry into the Top 40. This comes across as a huge feat for the Indian Startup scene, however, there is still a long way to go, as the numbers are still pretty considerate when it comes to China. Beijing is still the fifth-largest global startup hub on the planet.

However, things are different when it comes to the turnaround time for a startup to be a unicorn. India is churning out unicorns in the span of less than a year, with Mensa Brands achieving the coveted status in six months. On the other hand, GlobalBees, took eight months to bag the prestigious tag. BYJU’S, the most valuable Indian unicorn startup and also one of the most valuable edtech companies in the world, is leading the wave with a whopping $22 billion valuation, followed by the food delivery company Swiggy ($11 billion) and fantasy sports platform Dream11 ($8 billion).

List of 107 Unicorn Startups in India | Top Unicorns in India

India has already seen 107 unicorn startups. Here’s an exhaustive list of all Indian Unicorn Startup Companies including those that joined the unicorn club in 2022.

The Chinese Behemoth Ft. TikTok

ByteDance, the parent company of Tiktok is the most valuable startup on the planet valued at a jaw-dropping $300 billion! And that is when the actual valuation plummeted by a whopping 100 billion dollars. China’s incredible industrial setup coupled with the technological edge and availability of cheaper manpower has led to China occupying the center stage when it comes to frugal innovation.

Also, with the emergence of new-age startups like Pinduoduo, a group-buying eCommerce platform, and DiDi Global, a cab-hailing solution, the Chinese juggernaut continues to thrive.

Right Reforms Bring in the Right Transformations

Investment Value of Chinese Investors in Indian Startups (2019-2021)
Investment Value of Chinese Investors in Indian Startups (2019-2021)

What’s behind this unprecedented rally of growth in investor funding, quick turnarounds, and sky-rocketing valuations?

The answer is — The Government.

China has been consistently pulled down by zero COVID policies, an extra conservative approach in battling the problems, the continuous onslaught of sanctions upon growing businesses, and an all-powerful ruling party that pretends to know it all and listens to none. The lack of founder-friendly reforms has started backfiring in the recent past, and as a result, one can ascertain a decline in the pace at which startups are being produced in the country.

On the other hand, India continued to produce impeccable results on top of the government’s support and reforms that favor startups and founders, overall. Even the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, applauded India’s undisputed rise in the startup scene.

With concise frameworks and the noble ‘Startup India’ schemes, the sun continues to rise upon Indian startups as they continue to be the icing on the cake when it comes to growth stories from a developing nation. E-commerce, Fintech, and Healthcare continue to prevail in the Indian markets, with 3 out of every 7 unicorns in the country coming from the E-commerce and Fintech industries. The supportive legal framework has helped protect the interests of the consumer and helped India lead the wave of sustainable growth in the startup ecosystem.

Future of the Nations’ Startups – What Lies Ahead!

China’s growth, which was doomed by COVID and other adjoining factors, is expected to be back on track by the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. With the availability of raw materials, technology, infrastructure, and two of the most powerful tech hubs on the planet—Shenzhen and Beijing, the Indian neighbor is expected to catch up with India’s pace of unicorn creation in the coming times.

However, when it comes to India, the growth has been interconnected, largely due to the vision that was planted back in 2018-19 when a number of Indian startups attained public status with their IPOs, including the likes of Paytm, Zomato, and Freshworks, being catalysts for the change. Since then, Indian startups have continued to grow by leaps and bounds, pushing the limits of how businesses work in India. The momentum was carried on to 2021 and then continued on to 2022, with $11.7 billion raised during the first half of the year itself. A total of 14 unicorns were already created by the first half, and the number has gone up to 22 by November 2022.


The Indian story is different, as it is about the realization of founders about their work, reimagining their limits, and thus unlocking greater growth opportunities in the Indian startup scene, one that deserves a lot of praise for the way India has continued to grow despite the pandemic and the funding winter.


How many unicorn startups are there in India?

As of November 2022, there are a total of 108 unicorn startups in India.

Which are the most powerful tech hubs in the world?

Shenzhen and Beijing are known to be the most powerful tech hubs in the world.

Which Indian cities are among the top 40 startup cities in the world?

Bengaluru continues to be among the top 30 cities globally for startups and unicorns, graciously placed at the 22nd spot, whereas Mumbai and Delhi made their entry into the top 40.

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