15 New Asian Unicorns That Emerged In 2015

Tech investment deals in the Asia-Pacific region are booming at a time when funding rounds are quietening down in the rest of the world. Little surprise, then, that lots of new startup “unicorns” were formed in Asia this year as young firms reached billion-dollar valuations.

This post 15 new startup unicorns that emerged in 2015 appeared first on Tech in Asia.

Using Tech in Asia’s own data on funding rounds, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 web and tech startups that became billion-bollar babies in 2015.

1. DJI > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$75 million
  • Latest stage: series C, US$75 million
  • Valuation: US$10 billion

If you thought Xiaomi was a fast-growing hardware startup, you should check out DJI‘s supercharged flight to the top. The Chinese drone maker ascended to unicorn status when it went from a quiet, undisclosed series A in 2013 to a larger round in May this year that valued it at US$10 billion.

Being able to sustain itself on hardware sales, DJI hasn’t taken as much funding as most young (and usually loss-making) startups.

It may not sell tens of millions of devices like Xiaomi, but it shifted 400,000 units of its pricey, top-end drones last year. DJI accounts for 70 percent of the fledgling consumer drone market, according to data from Frost & Sullivan.

2. Ele.me > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$1.175 billion
  • Latest stage: series F, worth US$630 million
  • Valuation: US$3 billion

Ele.me – which means “Are you hungry?” in Chinese – has filled its belly with nearly US$1.2 billion in cash on its way to the top of China’s food delivery market.

The startup’s blue-and-white electric scooters are a new layer of bustle in China’s cities. Their drivers are hustling amidst the traffic and overtaking e-bikes in rainbow colors from rival foodie startups – yellow for Line0, red for Baidu Takeaway, some other brand in purple, another in green. There are so many that not all will survive China’s O2O goldfish.

Ele.me’s blue uniformed delivery riders. Photo credit: Qdaily

Ele.me will probably be sticking around. It got two major investments this year, both of which featured social media giant Tencent.

The startup now covers 260 Chinese cities, 300,000 restaurants, and a claimed 40 million users who spend a total of about RMB 60 million (US$9.4 million) on an average day. Unusually for a Chinese web business, most of which are transitioning over from the PC era, most of Ele.me’s revenue comes from mobile – 98 percent of it.

3. Paytm > India

  • Total disclosed funding: US$620 million
  • Latest stage: Undisclosed
  • Valuation: US$2 billion

One97, the company behind online payment service Paytm, is one of three new unicorns that metamorphosed in India this year.

After receiving no funding since 2011, the startup suddenly got three rounds this year, starting with US$575 million led by China’s Ant Financial, the affiliate group of Alibaba that oversees its third-party payment service Alipay.

Paytm’s wallet can now be used for Uber in India, as well as for lots of online shopping sites. It claims to have just over 100 million users.

4. Quikr > India

  • Total disclosed funding: US$394 million
  • Latest stage: series TKTK, worth US$
  • Valuation: US$1.5 billion

Across Asia, classifieds sites are not so much about Craigslist-esque “casual encounters” as they are centered on making a quick buck. In nascent ecommerce markets, such sites are often the first online marketplaces.

India already has plenty of well-established ecommerce stores, like Flipkart and Snapdeal, but that’s not stopping Quikr from trying to cover everything – from electronics to local services, pets to matrimonials.

After initially seeing only a trickle of money in the early days since launching in 2008, Quikr this year moved into top gear with a US$150 million investment that transformed this ugly kinda-sorta-ecommerce duckling into a sparkling tech unicorn.

As if India’s ecommerce titans aren’t stiff enough competition, it’s also up against the multinational OLX, which has localized classifieds sites for numerous developing nations.

5. Guahao > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$494 million
  • Latest stage: series D, worth US$ 394 million
  • Valuation: US$1.5 billion

Online healthcare startup Guahao has made it big thanks to China’s awful private hospital system. “We went to the local hospital and wasted hours with red tape, getting a number from desk A to show to desk B, then paying at desk C and bringing the receipt to desk D, etc. By the time we had gotten far enough into the process to see an actual doctor, get a diagnosis, and get her into surgery, I was starting to wonder: how many people die waiting in line for a number?” wrote my colleague recently about a trip to a local hospital with his wife.

Guahao is one of a number of startups trying to fix some of that, as well as offering a large database of information on doctors, specialists, and procedures.

Tencent is among the backers in its latest blockbuster round.

6. Infinidat > Israel

  • Total disclosed funding: US$230 million
  • Latest stage: series B, worth US$150 million
  • Valuation: US$1.2 billion

Infinidat is a secretive startup, which is not entirely unbefitting its business in the world of information security.

It makes secure data storage disks that it mainly sells to enterprise customers. An April funding round worth US$150 million nudged it past the billion-dollar milestone.

7. Fanli > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$20 million
  • Latest stage: series C, undisclosed
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

All the ecommerce related chatter in China seems to center on Alibaba – and sometimes arch-rival JD as well. Along with a bunch of other online retail rivals and waves upon waves of specialist estores, it’s easy to forget that a few startups are doing things very differently.

Fanli is certainly an unusual site in China. It’s a discounts portal that has coupons for third-party ecommerce stores – including Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall. Shoppers get price reductions and the site makes money from referrals.

Fanli’s major investment this year is an undisclosed amount from Rakuten. The Japanese ecommerce giant stated in April that the stake in Fanli is essentially a strategic way to tie the Chinese startup to Rakuten’s duo of US-based discount stores, Ebates and Extrabux.

8. China Rapid Finance > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$56 million
  • Latest stage: series C, worth US$35 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

China Rapid Finance is one of a bazillion peer-to-peer lending companies that have sprung up on the web in China in recent years. Dianrong has more funding and is more well-known. Another, Yirendai, is prepping an IPO in the US.

China’s fintech startups are still flourishing despite web giants Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent rushing in to disrupt the banks in all kinds of ways.

9. IronSource > Israel

  • Total disclosed funding: US$105 million
  • Latest stage: series not disclosed, worth US$20 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

IronSource runs a software download and installation service that’s offered to enterprises and app developers. While it’s used by companies to get legitimate apps or extensions installed on users’ machines, it sometimes entails some really shady practices that leave you bundled with a bunch of apps or toolbars you don’t want.

It’s one of numerous young companies from Israel that have come to be grouped under the Download Valley moniker because they’re all focused on that kind of shitty “software discovery and content platform” model.

10. APUS > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$116 million
  • Latest stage: series B, worth US$100 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

There’s surprisingly big money in free apps – especially if those are utility apps like the ones made by APUS.

Apus Launcher app for Android.

Chinese companies are also seeing these things – apps like battery boosters or antivirus or weather widgets – as a way to expand overseas. Cheetah Mobile and Sungy Mobile are two others doing the exact same thing.

Some would call these apps crap, and they’re not really the things that more tech-savvy people use, but the potential for making money through ads and cross-app promotions is quite staggering.

11. Ai Wu Ji Wu > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$270 million
  • Latest stage: series E, worth US$150 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

A depressing bedsit in Shanghai that covers only 333 square feet (31 square meters) costs nearly RMB 1 million (US$150,000). That’s how heated China’s property sector is. A dearth of other investment options for ordinary people has put huge pressure on the housing market.

That’s been good news for property-related startups in the country, with two of them hitting billion-dollar status this year. The first of those is Ai Wu Ji Wu. It has listings for new, secondhand, and rental homes.

12. Beibei > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$124 million
  • Latest stage: series C, worth US$100 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

Beibei is one of several specialist online stores that focus on kids’ clothes, toys, and accessories for parents in China.

All these stores look to benefit from China changing the one-child policy to allow all couples to have two children.

13. Panshi > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$200 million
  • Latest stage: series B, worth US$200 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

Panshi is an online advertising platform startup.

14. Zomato > India

  • Total disclosed funding: US$223 million
  • Latest stage: series G, worth US$60 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

Zomato is probably India’s best known web export. Its restaurant listings now cover lots of cities in 23 countries – including Yelp’s home soil. Zomato has been gobbling up rival startups as a way of getting a fast start in some new countries, including the acquisition of Urbanspoon to give Zomato instant traction in Australia, Canada, and the US.

The next evolution for the startup – which first launched way back in 2008 – is online food ordering, which it’s now testing in selected cities in its home nation.

15. Tujia > China

  • Total disclosed funding: US$415 million
  • Latest stage: series D, worth US$300 million
  • Valuation: US$1 billion

As China’s property market has boomed, many homeowners have turned to renting out the apartments and villas they’ve bought purely as investments. Some are turning to short-term rentals as they offer greater returns during the course of the year if you can keep pulling in new holidaymakers.

Tujia is winning the battle to be China’s top Airbnb-esque site. In a country where Airbnb itself never really took off, Tujia has built up a large catalog of rooms and properties both in China and overseas. The overseas listings, aimed at China’s outbound tourists, are supplied by investment partner HomeAway (which was recently acquired by Expedia for US$3.9 billion).

Tujia became a startup unicorn over the summer after a US$300 million investment.

Thanks to Albert Matron for pulling all the data.