Do startups dream of unicorns?

Unicorn firms are those that attain a $1 billion valuation without being listed on the stock exchange, and they are every tech startup’s goal. What variables influence the success of these businesses? Which are the world’s most valuable? These and other questions are answered below.

Rick Deckard, the protagonist of the 1982 picture Blade Runner, fantasized about a unicorn racing through the woods. This dream sparked — and continues to sparked — rivers of ink among movie enthusiasts concerning the many interpretations of Deckard’s true nature: human or replicant? Unicorns appear in the fantasies of millions of entrepreneurs all around the world today. Why? The answer is a unicorn startup, a term invented by Aileen Lee in 2013. The founder of Cowboy Ventures coined this phrase to describe technological companies that reach a valuation of $1 billion without being listed on the stock exchange.

Facebook, the prototypical unicorn company in the business world, was founded over a decade before Lee’s concept. In reality, the unicorn notion was outstripped, and the company was dubbed a super-unicorn – a designation reserved for companies valued more than $100 billion. Mark Zuckerberg was only 20 when he co-founded Facebook with Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, and one of the defining qualities of most unicorn firms is its founders’ insulting young. Furthermore, 90 percent of the founders of these businesses have a common academic or professional background.


Unicorn startups, such as Deckard’s, produce rivers of ink. Entrepreneurs question what it takes to succeed on such a vast scale, but laying down a road map for developing unicorn businesses is difficult. Many aspects influence the success or failure of a startup, however in the lack of magical formulae, a set of common pointers can be provided:

Social media are a great ally: They use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread their message. This is how, owing to segmentation, they are able to magnify their message and have an impact on their target demographic for a far lesser expenditure than, say, television.

The customer always at the fore: They have a customer-focused business strategy. In other words, they consider the consumer before (ideation), during (production), and after (delivery) (after-sales). The user experience is crucial. Previously, only the product was important. The buying experience is now just as crucial, if not more so.

Global and rapid expansion: Good businesses start out with a global mindset and a get big fast plan to get big as quickly as possible, as the name says. To achieve both of these goals, you must go all out for internationalization and have a scalable model.

Wide-ranging team: They are multi-discipline and multi-cultural businesses. As a result, they benefit from a diverse range of professional backgrounds, which is one of their strengths when it comes to developing revolutionary ideas. Furthermore, they are emerging businesses that value skill and innovation.

Uncertainty as part of the daily routine: The distinction between success and failure is razor-thin. Because these companies are well aware of this, they learn to accept the good with the bad and create a unique resilience.


Unicorns are extremely rare and difficult to come by. Something similar occurs with these types of businesses. According to CB Insights data from January 2019, there were just 310 in the entire world. The ten most highly appreciated are listed below:

  • Toutiao – Bytedance (China): news platform with customised content.
  • Uber (U.S.): mobile taxi app.
  • Didi Chuxing (China): vehicle hire company.
  • WeWork (U.S.): job sharing company.
  • Airbnb (U.S.): holiday and tourist accommodation platform.
  • SpaceX (U.S.): aerospace transportation company.
  • Palantir Technologies (U.S.): big data analysis specialists.
  • Stripe (U.S.): company that allows individuals and businesses to receive payments via the Internet.
  • JUUL Labs (U.S.): electronic cigarette company.
  • Epic Games (U.S.): video games company. E.g. Fortnite.

The businesses at the top of this list are regarded as decacorn startups since their valuation exceeds $10 billion. The leading three, Toutiao (China), Uber (USA), and Didi Chuxing (China), are worth 75, 72, and 56 billion dollars, respectively. Companies dedicated to 3D printing, big data, biotechnology, cybersecurity, e-commerce, fintech, hardware, software, robots, and other areas can be found. All of these digital startups demonstrate that dreams may come true.

ARTICLE: Iberdrola

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