Indians aren’t only becoming the CEOs of the US’s top tech companies — the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, Adobe and VMWare are currently all Indian — but they’re also founding some of America’s most successful startups.
Out of the 1078 founders of 500 of USA’s unicorn startups, 90 were born in India, a study by Ilya A. Strebulaev, professor of finance at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business has found. This translates to 8.3 percent of US unicorn founders being of Indian origin. This is a remarkable achievement, given how Indians only constitute 1.2 percent of the US population.
Of the 1078 founders of US-based unicorns, 56% were born in the US, while 44% were born outside of the US. India had the highest contribution towards founders that were born outside the US, with 90 founders. Tiny Israel, which has a population less than that of Bangalore, was second with an astonishing 52 founders being born in the country. Canada and UK followed with 42 and 31 founders respectively. Interestingly, China, which has a population larger than that of India’s, only contributed 27 founders. The final five positions were occupied by Germany (18 founders), France (17 founders), Russia (14 founders), Taiwan (12 founders) and Ukraine (12 founders).
Some of the most prominent unicorn startups in the US which were founded by Indians include grocery delivery startup Instamart, which was founded by Apoorva Mehta, AppDynamics founded by Jyoti Bansal, Nutanix founded by Dheeraj Pandey, Ajeet Singh, Mohit Aron, and Zscaler founded by Jay Chaudhry.
India’s dominance in founding tech startups in the US isn’t surprising — until a few years ago, Indians had founded more unicorn startups in the US than In India. In 2018, there were 11 unicorn startups with Indian founders in the US, while only unicorn 9 startups with Indian founders in India.
Things, however, are rapidly changing — India’s own unicorn count has exploded in recent years. India currently boasts of 90 unicorn startups, which is now far more than the unicorn startups founded by Indians in the US. India’s own startup market is maturing, having raised a record amount of money in 2021, and also created a record number of unicorns.
The success of Indian founders in the US might just be an endorsement of Indian family values, which encourage education and learning above all else, and even its much-maligned education system — most of these founders completed their Bachelor’s degrees in India before moving to the US, and still managed to create world-class companies. With India’s own startup ecosystem rapidly maturing with better infrastructure and abundant capital, there are opportunities opening up for Indians to build world-class companies right here in India. And if the the newer generations of Indian founders choose to build on Indian shores, India could end up being home to hundreds of more successful startups in the years to come.