Bhavish Aggarwal
"India has to build its own AI," Bhavish Aggarwal, the founder of Indian ride-hailing startup Ola, said in a statement. Image Credit:

Krutrim, the AI startup founded by serial entrepreneur Bhavish Aggarwal, has gained unicorn status after securing $50 million in funding from investors including Matrix Partners India.

It becomes the first Indian AI startup to gain a billion-dollar valuation, a mere month after debuting a large language model, the firm said in a blog post. Krutrim, which translates to "artificial" in Sanskrit, is also developing data centers and will ultimately aim to create servers and super computers for the AI ecosystem.

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A clutch of Indian startups and academic groups are racing to build large language models in Indian languages, so called Indic LLMs, after the launch of OpenAI's ChatGPT more than a year ago. Countries are hoping to create their own competing AI systems, rather than relying on technology from the US or China.

In Europe, investors are pouring cash into France's Mistral AI, valued at $2 billion after being founded last year. The United Arab Emirates touts its Falcon model, which is backed by an Abu Dhabi government research institute.

India, with 1.4 billion people, is focusing on building smaller, more cost efficient AI systems. Generative AI startup Sarvam, which built its system using available open-source models, launched OpenHathi, its first open-source Hindi LLM last month.

The announcement came days after it had raised $41 million in an investment from Lightspeed Venture Partners, billionaire Vinod Khosla and others.

"India has to build its own AI," Aggarwal, the founder of Indian ride-hailing startup Ola, said in the statement. "We are fully committed towards building the country's first complete AI computing stack."