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

Remember when it was actually interesting to see a startup becoming a unicorn?

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

I’m not saying this to diminish the accomplishments of any of those companies, but the investing fever of 2020 and 2021 made that once-scarce milestone almost seem like late-stage table stakes.

But in today’s tougher funding market, unicorns are rare again. And there is a new entrant that shows us what unicorns might look like in 2023.

This week, Boston-based Gradiant said it raised a $225 million Series D round led by Centaurus Capital at a $1 billion valuation. The company builds tools to manage and treat wastewater for companies across industries such as food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and mining.

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

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