Despite the fact that Indian startups are stumbling at the stock markets – Paytm, Zomato and Policybazaar are currently trading close to lifetime lows – the country’s unicorn club continues to attract new members.
CommerceIQ has become India’s latest unicorn after raising $115 million (Rs. 850 crore) in a funding round. Softbank Vision Fund 2 led the round, along with Insight Partners, Trinity Ventures, Shasta Ventures, and Madrona Venture Group. CommereIQ is the 12th startup to join the unicorn club this year, valued at over $1 billion. As of 2021, 43 Indian startups had become unicorns.
“Ecommerce is no longer a side business or experiment for large consumer brands,” said Guru Hariharan, CEO of CommerceIQ. E-commerce growth is often faster than brick-and-mortar, but many brands have trouble achieving attractive profit margins and managing the scale and complexity of running a business via retail e-commerce channels powered by AI algorithms and APIs.
Guru Hariharan, who previously worked for Amazon, founded CommerceIQ in 2012. He instead helped other brands sell their products online after leaving the e-commerce giant. CommerceIQ provides brands with software that helps them sell better on e-commerce platforms, mainly Amazon. Through its Ecommerce Channel Optimization solutions, it uses machine learning, analytics, and automations to optimize ecommerce channels across supply chain, marketing, and sales.
The company serves more than 2,200 clients, including Nestle, Colgate, and Whirlpool. Big Basket and Flipkart are among the companies it works with in India. “Our software will perform better than any human,” said Prasun Kumar, VP of engineering and head of India operations. For example, if a competitor runs a flash sale on Amazon, CommerceIQ can help a brand plan its next move, Kumar explained. Without software, this isn’t possible. It’s what has happened to ecommerce. Things change so much, and Amazon has so many controls that you have to tweak things daily,” he added. The company says that brands that use its software experience a 20% growth in their sales and profitability through automation and other techniques.
CommerceIQ has offices in four US locations and in Bangalore, India. The Bangalore office currently has 150 employees, and the company hopes to double this number by the end of the year. It serves clients worldwide including in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
While global tech stocks have fallen, and Indian listed tech companies have suffered losses on the stock market, India – for the moment – continues to produce unicorn startups. In 2021, 43 unicorn startups were founded in India. But with 12 unicorns having already been produced within the first three months of 2022, and the unicorn glut showing now sign of slowing, India looks well on its way to better its unicorn tally this year.