The last few quarters have seen the Indian startup ecosystem go through a fair bit of strife with large-scale layoffs and valuation markdowns, but the same period has also seen the birth of the country’s fastest unicorn.
Ola founder Bhavish Agarwal’s new AI initiative, Krutrim AI, has become India’s fastest unicorn. The startup had been unveiled from stealth just 41 days ago on 15th December, and today announced a $50 million fundraise. The investment came from prominent investors including Ola’s early investor Matrix Partners, and valued Krutrim at $1 billion. Thus far, India’s fastest unicorn had been D2C roll-up company Mensa, which had taken 6 months to reach the $1 billion valuation milestone in November 2021.
“India has to build its own AI, and at Krutrim, we are fully committed towards building the country’s first complete AI computing stack,” said Krutrim founder Bhavish Aggarwal. “We are thrilled to announce the successful closure of our first funding round, which not only validates the potential of कृत्रिम ’s innovative AI solutions but also underscores the confidence investors have in our ability to drive meaningful change out of India for the world. As we embark on this exciting journey, we are proud to contribute to the vision of ‘Viksit Bharat’, where innovation and technological prowess will propel our nation towards reclaiming its status of the ‘Vishwaguru’,” he added.
“Bhavish has consistently brought cutting edge tech innovation to India at scale with Ola and Ola Electric – and now excitingly with Krutrim to power the journey of ‘Viksit Bharat’ digitally,” said Matrix Partners India’s Avinash Bajaj. “We are incredibly privileged to deepen our partnership with Bhavish and Krutrim”,” he added.
Krutrim AI had been launched on 15th December last year. Krutrim had said it would create “India’s first “full-stack AI solution”. Krutrim had also planned to develop Large Language Models (LLMs) of its own that would be similar to ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, but would be more suited for Indian languages.
Aggarwal has now revealed that Krutrim’s two Large Language Models (LLMs), Krutrim base and Krutrim Pro, have been trained on over 2 trillion tokens, and achieve high performance on LLM evaluation benchmarks including MMLU, HellaSwag, BBH, PIQA and ARC. The model is suited to Indian languages, and can discuss issues including poetry, Bollywood movies and Indian recipes. The model will be released in February 2024, and an API will also be made available.
While it remains to be seen how Krutrim’s models perform after their release, a $1 billion valuation for Krutrim is another feather in the cap of founder Bhavish Aggarwal. Krutrim is India’s first AI unicorn, and the third unicorn created by Aggarwal, who has previously created unicorns in Ola Cabs and Ola Electric. While most founders struggle to create one startup valued more than $1 billion, Aggarwal has now created three — with Ola, he’d staved off a fierce challenge from global giant Uber in India’s cab hailing space, and with Ola Electric, he’s created India’s best-selling electric scooter, and is set to go public. While it’s early days for Krutrim AI, given Aggarwal’s track record, a lot of eyes will be from the upstart from India which seeks to make its mark in the rapidly developing AI space.