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China’s Top 20 Unicorns / Dragons

12 min read

Evolving in the startup ecosystem, we are usually asked who are top players of this tech industry, best of that, Chinese unicorns valuation list, details about Meituan, and others.

We've done our homework and found it hard to find a decent detailed ranking of top 20 unicorns in China.

Beside this article or that, they all give a fragmented answer to the question. So we've done the job and here you are, a detailed article about top 20 unicorns in China.

Hope it helps! Merry Christmas.

1- Xiaomi (Founded 2010, Valuation: $46 billion, Industry: Electronics Hardware)

The electronics hardware manufacturer is often known as the Apple of China and was the world’s most valuable unicorn in 2014 with a valuation of $46 billion. The company’s main gig is producing electronics hardware, low-budget smartphones, however it has also tried its hand in other technology such as smart TVs, sports cameras, and VR devices. As the low-cost new kid on the block the brand is particularly popular amongst millennials and tech-savvy consumers.

Lately however, Xiaomi has fallen out of its position in the top 5 global brands for smartphones and in Q2 of 2016 it’s sales dropped 38% from Q2 of the previous year. This slump can be seen as a result of Xiaomi’s limited focus on the young tech-savvy consumer demographic. The company also has a limited number of smartphone models and competitors Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei have also released their own low-budget models. Xiaomi’s success was initially derived from it’s social media hype and non-traditional marketing techniques however it has struggled to maintain this brand hype over time.

2- Didi Chuxing (Founded 2012, Valuation: $33.8 million, Industry: On-Demand/ Ride-sharing App)

Known famously as the unicorn that slayed Uber in China, Didi Chuxing is a taxi-hailing and ridesharing app based in China. After buying out Uber’s stake in China, the app now clocks 20 million rides on average each day as of October 2016. The company is also flying high after completing a $7.3 billion round of investing in June of this year.

Didi Chuxing has recently emerged from a bitter 2 year war in China with Uber after it acquired Uber’s China unit this year in a deal worth USD $35 billion. In addition Didi has invested $ 1 billion in Uber’s global company.

Didi has announced plant to take over the rest of the world and has begun partnering with domestic rid-sharing apps Lyft and Grab to compete with Uber on a global-scale, including a recent shared investment of $ 600 million into South-east Asian ride-sharing app Grab and an undisclosed investment in the Indian counterpart Ola.

However there may be tough times ahead for Didi Chuxing in China after the Chinese government proposed strict new laws on the use of interregional migrant drivers in major cities. Rural migrant drivers are required to have a city residency permit in order to driver for car-hailing apps and this could badly hurt Didi which relies heavily on cheap migrant drivers.

3- Lufax (Founded 2011, Valuation: $18.5 billion, Industry: Fintech)

Lufax is the second largest peer-to-peer lender in China and made its name dealing as an online internet finance marketplace platform that matches borrowers with investors. It is also China’s largest internet finance company, a feat it achieved in less than 4 years. Lufax has some heavy weapons in it’s arsenals making use of big data and IT technologies whilst also leveraging the most advanced risk assessment models to provide the best FinTech platform to Chinese investors and borrowers.

Lufax is cruising having raised $18.5 billion in its latest round in January, whilst also eyeing an IPO within the next year. Additionally, the Chinese P2P sector is swelling and could reach 1.5 trillion Yuan by the end of 2018, according to Nomura. Lufax’s trading volume in the first half of 2016 was also at a record 3.2 trillion Yuan (USD$480 billion) compared to 512 million Yuan in the first half of 2015.

New government regulations regarding IPOs have made a domestic IPO difficult for Lufax but the company has been in talks with Hong Kong banks to make an IPO in the southern metropolis. So far, Thomson Reuters predicts that an IPO in Hong Kong could raise $5 billion for lufax.

4- China Internet Plus Holding (Founded 2002, Valuation: $18 billion, Industry: eCommerce/ Marketplace)

Formerly known as the Meituan Group, the company is the world’s largest O2O lifestyle services e-commerce platform and is behind China’s hugely popular Meituan food delivery and group buying website app and the daily deals platform app Dianping. As of June 2016 the company has approximately 600 million users and has accumulated over 20 million points of interest across China.

In January of this year the company completed its Series B financing of USD $3.3 billion, an earth-shattering deal that became the largest private fundraising in China’s internet industry as well as the world’s largest fundraising round in O2O.

5- DJI Innovations (Founded: 2006, Valuation: $10 billion, Industry: Electronic Hardware)

DJI Innovations is the bees knees when it comes to drones as the world’s leading consumer drone producer according to the Economist. In 2015 the start-up accounted for 70% of the drone market.

Over the past year the start-up is opening bricks and mortar stores across China and South Korea in order to make a name for itself as a consumer drone.

However DJI has new competitors on the block from Xiaomi and Wechat (to name a few) who have also released their own consumer drones. Xiaomi’s new drone is set at a dramatically cheaper price than DJI’s equivalent model whilst Tencent has launched a WeChat partnered live stream video drone that is the cheapest out of both competitors making DJI the most expensive out of the 3. Additionally, GoPro has also launched its own consumer video drone.

However, according to most drone industry analysts, DJI is still the most innovative company in the consumer drone industry, and it’s large model range and strong brand name makes it the leader of the pack. For example, the company has introduced a new agricultural drone on November of this year to help diversify its product range beyond consumer goods. The global consumer drone industry itself is set to grow to $37 billion by 2022, of which DJI is expected to take a large sector according to Forbes.

6- Zhong An Insurance (Founded: 2013, Valuation: $ 8 billion, Industry: Fintech)

The first of its kind, Zhong An Insurance is an insurance company, which has disrupted the traditional ways of selling insurance by selling their insurance premiums solely online. The start-up specializes in selling a wide-range of traditional and non-traditional policies. It sells online business and property insurance as well off-beat and quirky insurance policies such as it “high heat” policy which reimburses customers of the temperature reaches 37 degrees.

Since its founding in 2013 the company has sold 5.8 billion insurance policies and $ RMB 8 billion in total assets; not bad for a 3 year-old insurance company. Recently Zhongan it has begun considering an IPO within the next 12-18 months with Hong Kong and the US being its two top picks.


7- Lianjia (Founded: 2001, Valuation: $ 6.2 billion, Industry: e-commerce/ marketplace)

If you take a walk down a street in any big city in China you will probably find a Lianjia store. The startup is a agency service provider for Online-2-Offline real estate. It’s active in 22 of China’s major cities and has used a mixed offline-online approach to the property market to set itself apart from the wide range of online real estate agents in China.

Lianjia, like many other unicorns is eyeing an IPO in China, Hong Kong, or the US and received a $926 million Series B funding round back in April. The real estate company is also swimming in profits after it recorded revenues of RMB 15.5 billion in 2015.

8- (Founded: 2008, Valuation: $4.5 billion, Industry: On-Demand) has taken China by storm and may be the reason that restaurants are more empty these days. The start-up is an on-demand platform that offers customer-to-customer meal ordering services. Users can order a meal from their favourite restaurant and have it delivered to their door within an hour.

As of June 2016 business has been booming after the start-up announced it was delivering more than 5 million orders per day. It is currently based in more than 700 Chinese cities and allegedly has a user base of 70 million. To get this far the start-up has had a great deal of help including a receiving an eye-watering $1.25 billion in fundraising from Alibaba.


9- Royole Corporation (Founded: 2012, Valuation: $3 billion, Industry: Hardware)

This largely unknown company produces the world’s most flexible electronic screen displays for consumer electronics, computing, solar, and automotive goods. From small-size flexible panels for handheld electronics to huge screens with high-resolution panels Royole’s business puts electronic displays front and centre.

In 2014 Royole broke records by creating the world’s thinnest flexible full-color AMOLED screen display with a thickness of 0.01 mm.

Recently the company received $80 million in series Pre-D funding which it hopes to direct into research and development.

10- VANCL (Founded: 2010, Valuation: $3 billion, Industry: eCommerce/ Marketplace)

Once the darling of China’s online apparel and lifestyle market, VANCL has been falling off the radar in recent years. From it’s heydays in 2011, inventory issues have led to a decline in business from 7.7% of China’s online apparel market in 2011 to just 2% in 2015.

Issues with margins and management of its inventory have seen VANCL dwindle in relevance as rivals and VIPShop take the lead.

11- Huimin (Founded: 2012, Valuation: $2 billion, Industry: On-Demand)

A little known brand even within China, Huimin is a convenience store Online-2-Offline start-up which operates 450,000 convenience stores across China. Additionally, the company also has its own logistics infrastructure (equipped with 50 delivery centres) and maintains a supply chain and delivery service for other convenience stores that connects stores with suppliers. Through a specially designed app, convenience store owners can manage their inventories more efficiently and order supplies from Huimin.

Although it has been flying under the radar, Huimin has been having a ball raising $192 million in series B funding this year whilst also cracking $1.5 billion in sales as of August of this year.

12- Meitu (Founded: 2008, Valuation: $ 2 billion, Industry: Social)

A simple app that makes user’s look paler and slimmer, Meitu has gone on to greater things since its humble beginnings in 2008, opening up many other apps over the years. Much like SnapChat is to the rest of the world, Meitu is a photo-editing and sharing app used in Asia that now has a user base of 456 million users with 6 billion photos being sent every month.

Several days ago, Meitu broke the bank with an IPO in Hong Kong that valued the start-up at $4.6 billion. Meitu’s shares will start trading in Hong Kong from the 15th of December. However Meitu has been struggling since 2013 and posted a loss of $320 million for the first 6 months of 2016.

13- Trendy International Group (Founded: 1999, Valuation: $2 billion, Industry: Clothing and Accessories)

The Trendy International Group is a Chinese multi-fashion powerhouse brand selling both men and women’s casual and fashion apparel. It has 4 brands in the Chinese market including Ochirly and Five Plus and owns stores in most major shopping centres in China.

This year the Group was seeking an IPO towards the end of the year however this IPO has since been delayed. Still, the start-up expects to seek a valuation of $ 5 billion with an IPO in either China or Hong Kong.

14- Weiying Technology Co. Ltd (Founded: 2014, Valuation: $2 billion, Industry: eCommerce/ Marketplace)

Weiying took a simple idea and managed to make a unicorn out of it. The start-up began with a simple movie ticket booking platform within WeChat and has since exploded its business to cover a wide range of other services and apps based on buying and selling sport sand entertainment tickets to users.

In April of this year, the company managed to raise $694 million in a post-Series C round of fundraising with backing from web giant Tencent Holdings to boot. Weiying is so cash strapped that is has recently combined with Tencent Holdings to invest $55 million of its own capital (along with $30 million from Tencent) into YG Entertainment, the Korean K-pop company and record label of PSY.

15- Guahao/ We Doctor Group (Founded: 2010, Valuation: $1.5 billion, Industry: Healthcare)

The fastest rising healthcare start-up unicorn in China, is a “ministry of health”-approved platform for medical guidance and health consultation in China. It also happens to be a world-leading mobile medical service platform, the first of its kind. The app connects patients with hospitals and doctors to give users efficient access to healthcare services without having to wait in China’s notorious hospital queues. At present it has 1600 hospitals, 190,000 specialist doctors, and 100 million users on its platforms.

Recently, the startup is looking to takeover the whole of China with a national online platform for diagnosis and treatment and 5 surgeries that will work with China’s best medical companies. The company is also making it rain after receiving $495 million in funding from investors early this year. However companies such as Alibaba and Tencent have begun investing in healthcare rivals such as Wanliyun Medical Information Technology in a bid to kick start the healthtech industry.

16- Koudai Gouwu (Founded: 2010, Valuation: $1.4 billion, Industry: eCommerce/Marketplace)

Although China seems to be swamped by countless online eCommerce marketplaces, Koudai sets itself apart as an intelligent online shopping software which analyses users’ shopping preferences in order to recommend targeted products. The startup sells everything from clothing, electronics, to food.

The company has not been making waves recently, however, ever since it received a $350 million Series C funding back in 2014.

17- Jiuxian (Founded: 2009, Valuation: $1.05, Industry: eCommerce/Marketplace)

With a burgeoning middle-class, China’s wealthy are increasing their interest in alcohol and startups like Jiuxian are capitalising on the Chinese market’s thirst for foreign wine, whilst also providing the Chinese alcoholic staple “baijiu”. Jiuxian is an online eCommerce platform that focuses on importing high-grade wine. The startup sells about 10,000 alcoholic beverages and casts its net over 260 of Chinese cities.

Recently, Jiuxian has begun raising funds to buy a Bordeaux chateau worth 10 million euros.

18- Liepin (Founded: 2008, Valuation: $1 billion, Industry: HR and Workforce Management)

For top-tier professional and high-end career development, Liepin is the leading platform in China connecting employers to headhunters and managers filling top jobs across the nation. Instead of operating like Seek with an online information distribution model, Liepin focuses on paid and offline services to customers.

Liepin has started to expand globally and recently held its first career fair in the US in the hops of finding Chinese talent in the US. Recently Liepin has close a $100 million Series D fundraising Round in June of this year despite a slowdown in the Chinese VC market.

19- Xuanyixia/ Miaopai (Founded: 2013, Valuation $1 billion, Industry: Social)

Miaopai is a Chinese video app similar to Vine. Formerly known as Xuanyixia, the startup runs a video app that not only films short videos but also manages live streaming. The app boasts 70 million daily active users with users viewing 2.5 billion videos on the platform each day.

Last month, the app also raised $500 million in funding recently to shoot the app further above the clouds.

20- APUS Group (Founded: 2014, Valuation: $1 billion, Industry: Mobile Software & Services)

Although fairly low-key, the startup is one of the world’s leading Android app developers with 920 million users across the globe, with much of its user base in India. APUS is known to geeks around the world for its Android-complimenting APUS User System, which is a suite of products for online searches, messenger centres, and browsers.

The company has also received $116 million in two rounds of investments. In 2015 the APUS Group made headlines when it launched a $45 million investment fund for tech startups in India.

In terms of revenue, APUS’s fire is burning hot after it reached $15 million in revenue as of June 2016.

by XNT

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