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Earlier this month, Razorpay was touted to become India’s fourth payments unicorn. The company is reportedly reportedly Entrackr Razorpay set to be unicorn with up to $150 Mn round led by GIC Read more in talks with existing investors and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC to raise US$150 million at a valuation over US$1 billion. The fresh funding wouldn’t just make it the latest addition to India’s three-dozen-odd unicorn club, but it would also make it Y Combinator’s first Indian unicorn.

For the much-lauded Silicon Valley startup accelerator, founded by Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston in 2005, this is as much cause for celebration as it is for introspection.

Y Combinator’s touch has been Midas-like for the 2,000 startups 2,000 startups Y Combinator Startup directory Read more it has invested in all over the world. More than 100 of these companies have reached a valuation of US$150 million, with 20 among these going on to become full-fledged unicorns. Some, such as United States-based payments processor Stripe or home-rental platform Airbnb, are valued at tens of billions of dollars.

All told, the combined valuation of Y Combinator’s top companies is well over US$155 billion. India’s contribution to this murderers’ row of startups, however, isn’t much to write home about.

Despite investing in over 50 startups in India, Y Combinator’s list of top companies top companies Y Combinator Top companies Read more includes only three startups from the country—social commerce platform Meesho, fintech company ClearTax, and, of course, Razorpay. Even these three companies are, at best, mid-stage players within the Indian startup ecosystem. They are unlikely to find their names in a list of prominent startups within the country.

The lack of marquee startups in Y Combinator’s India portfolio could possibly be due to the fact that its original model—offering US$20,000 for 7% equity—was simply not enticing enough for Indian startups struggling to make ends meet. Though that amount was increased to US$125,000 later, it was too late. Indian startups had other options—like Sequoia’s Surge Sequoia’s Surge The Ken Decoding Sequoia's Surge Read more programme, which was loosely modelled on Y Combinator—that offered better terms.

That’s not to say Y Combinator hasn’t left an indelible mark on the Indian startup ecosystem. It changed India’s and investors’ perceptions about what a ‘fundable startup founder’ would look like. And it invested in companies from sectors that pretty much flew under the radar then, but grew to be prominent later on.

AUTHOR

Sumanth Raghavendra

Sumanth is a serial entrepreneur with more than eighteen years experience in running startups. He is currently the founder of Deck App Technologies, a Bangalore-based startup attempting to re-imagine productivity software for the Post-PC era. Sumanth’s columns appear regularly in leading publications. He holds MBA degrees from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, USA.

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