Startups come in all shapes and sizes. All start off small. Some grow bigger and faster than others.

Yes, we are talking about startup unicorns – startups that have attained the status of over US$1 billion in valuation.

IEV has delved into the world of unicorns in Asia with insights to share.

  • US$57 billion have been invested in startups by Chinese unicorns over the last 5 years (mainly the BAT – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent), while 1 billion has been invested by Indian unicorns (Flipkart, Paytm, Snapdeal).
  • Most investments have been done in online / mobile platforms for commerce, with a high interest in the on-demand food delivery market in China last year.
  • Investments are made to strengthen business models or expand to new markets.
  • The GAFA – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple – are trying to find their place in Asia, with more or less success (see our recap table of recent GAFA’s moves in Asia).

Read our infographics to find out more about startup unicorns in Asia!

Startup Unicorns in Asia: An Overview

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In particular, both Asian giants and Asian unicorns have made their moves to invest in startups in a bid to get the lion’s share of innovative ideas and startups.

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Startup Unicorns in Asia : Growing Markets and Industries

unicorns in asia 3From the infographic, majority of Asia’s unicorns are centered in the e-commerce and software and media industries, followed by the retail industry.

Notably, unicorns often acquire or buy over other startups with either one of two goals : to fortify their existing business model or to venture into a different industry.

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So how is this funding distributed across the various startup markets? 

The largest investment amount was made by Tencent with a total of US$63 million. Quickr and Snapdeal made the largest number of acquisitions among the unicorns.

Startup Unicorns in Asia : Rankings among the Unicorns

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While these investments may open more doors of opportunities for the company, it may clash with competitors. Such is the case when Alibaba decided to sell off its shares in Meituan -Dianping. This is mainly due to competition from Tencent. Alibaba then decided to focus on Koubei, its own food-services platform.

In the same vein, the on-demand food delivery services market in China has received much funding and investment from Asian unicorns.

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Startup Unicorns in Asia : Competition for the Unicorns

Besides Asian unicorns, larger companies beyond the region have also recognized the potentials of the Asian market. They have made plans to venture into the market accordingly.

Note : GAFA stands for Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

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 Infographics by Rachel Tan of Innovation Is Everywhere.