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Deal Dive: Gradiant is the new breed of unicorn worth getting excited about


Do you remember when it was actually interesting to see how a startup becomes a unicorn?

A company reaching the billion dollar valuation mark used to be a rare occurrence – hence the term “unicorn”. But by 2020 and 2021, it was anything but. Each week was like, “Oh, another crypto unicorn? Awesome. Wow, the fifth neobank this month. Astonishing. Wait, wasn’t that company founded just last year?”

I’m not saying this to downplay the performance of any of those companies, but the investment fever of 2020 and 2021 made that once-scarce milestone almost seem like a late-stage table bet.

But in today’s more difficult financing market, unicorns are rare again. And there’s a newcomer showing us what unicorns could look like in 2023.

This week, Boston-based Gradiant said it had raised a $225 million Series D round led by Centaurus Capital at a valuation of $1 billion. The company builds wastewater management and treatment tools for businesses in a variety of industries, such as the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and mining industries.

Gradiant’s co-founder and CEO, Anurag Bajpayee, told TechCrunch+ that the company has essentially doubled its revenue every year for the past few years. “If you think about the industrial revolution and global industry, we got water from nature. We have an opportunity to turn back the clock on the state of the water on this planet and give water back to nature,” Bajpayee said.

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