India has been on venture capitalists' radar for years, but their interest in the world's second-most populous nation has taken off in 2021.

Investors have funneled $23.5 billion into Indian startups so far this year. That's nearly double what the country's VC ecosystem collected over the last two years, according to PitchBook data.

This capital is also helping create new unicorns at an unprecedented pace. Out of 41 India-based companies valued at $1 billion or more, 17 were minted this year—a record for the country.

The newest addition to the unicorn herd is Apna, the 2-year-old developer of a job recruitment platform for blue-collar workers that last week raised a $100 million Series C round led by Tiger Global. In fact, Tiger Global's capital has helped produce nine unicorns in the country this year.

The investment firm's interest in the country goes back over a decade. Since the beginning of 2010, about a quarter of Tiger Global's deals have been in India. The firm first backed India's ecommerce giant Flipkart, which is now valued at $37.6 billion, more than a decade ago.

Other significant investors in Indian startups—such as SoftBank and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek—are also foreign firms.

Rewards are beginning to materialize for some of the investors in the country's startups. 

Zomato, a food delivery company, went public this summer at a valuation of over $12 billion. Digital payment company Paytm and MobiKwik, a fintech startup, have both announced their plans to hit the public markets this year.

Investors' excitement for the country is unlikely to abate soon. The Chinese government's heavy-handed approach to private enterprises may continue to bode well for India's startup ecosystem for some time to come.

Featured image by Kriangkrai Thitimakorn/Getty Images

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