Asia’s latest unicorn eyes 400% Mena growth in 2022

The HR tech platform, Asia’s fastest-growing firm in human resources technology, has more than tripled its valuation to become a unicorn in a new $72 million funding round



Jayant Paleti, co-founder of Darwinbox, said the latest fundraising round was led by the US-based Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) along with participation from Darwinbox’s existing strategic investors Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Lightspeed Ventures. — Supplied photo
Jayant Paleti, co-founder of Darwinbox, said the latest fundraising round was led by the US-based Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) along with participation from Darwinbox’s existing strategic investors Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Lightspeed Ventures. — Supplied photo
by

Issac John

Published: Tue 25 Jan 2022, 5:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Jan 2022, 6:59 PM

Darwinbox, Asia’s latest start-up unicorn that has set up its regional base in Dubai International Financial Centre, is aiming for 400 per cent growth by the end of 2022 across Mena.

The HR tech platform, Asia’s fastest-growing firm in human resources technology, has more than tripled its valuation to become a unicorn in a new $72 million funding round.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Jayant Paleti, co-founder of Darwinbox, said the latest fundraising round was led by the US-based Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) along with participation from Darwinbox’s existing strategic investors Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Lightspeed Ventures. The six-year-old startup’s valuation now crosses the $1 billion mark – taking it to unicorn status — and brings the total investment raised thus far to over $110 million.

The company has grown 200 per cent since the last fundraise from Salesforce Ventures 12 months ago and has added more than 700,000 users on the platform in that short period. The company, currently serving 1.5 million employees across 650 customers, is also planning to double the workforce to over 1,000 from the present 700 in the next one years while strengthening its technology backbone.

“We launched in the Middle East early last year, and we’ve already established some great momentum. Our goal is to double down on Dubai and the UAE as well as open an office in Saudi Arabia very soon,” said Paleti.

“We are going to double down on R&D spend, hiring for our product engineering and customer success teams. We look forward to expanding our go-to-market muscle in the Middle East and Southeast Asia,” he said.

“We’re very bullish. The feedback we’ve received from the client acknowledges that we’ve built a product for the region that addresses the region’s context, culture, and customs. Our value proposition and product are compelling for clients in the region, which is why we have managed to snag very high-profile brands within a very short timeframe,” he added.

The company’s customers in the region include Lulu Group, Aramex, Swvl, Mobily Infotech, and Alef Education. Driving Darwinbox’s expansion across markets in the Middle East is the region’s advanced digital infrastructure. Countries such as UAE and Saudi Arabia have some of the world’s highest smartphone penetration rates combined with a digital-savvy young and growing population. The pandemic further boosted the region’s digital economy, with most Middle Eastern enterprises adopting remote and hybrid work practices.

Paleti highlighted the two primary product differentiators in the Darwinbox platform driving the company’s growth – localization and user experience. “Before we launch in any country, we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to understand local nuances. It has to be built for the local context,” he said.

“An HR system is one of those rare softwares that touch everybody in the company -- from the CEO and MD to the promoter and the employee on the shop floor. So, having a mobile-first platform is crucial as it essentially puts the entire HR lifecycle at the palm of your hand,” explained Paleti.

Darwinbox currently stands as the youngest and the only Asian-origin player on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for enterprise HCM, giving tough competition to global giants like SAP, Oracle, and Workday.

Last year, the company added more revenue than these competitors in India on the HR cloud, revealed Paleti. “SAP and Oracle are companies that have been around for 30 years or so. Despite that, we’ve been able to emerge in the last five years as one of their biggest competitors in India, and we are quickly catching up in other geographies,” the young entrepreneur said.

— issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com


More news from Start-ups