When something new is introduced to the public, usually avant-garde for the current age, you can be sure that a startup is behind the new trend. Whether it is improving how we move or changing how we use the internet, a startup is making the step forward. 

Startups are different, and some can rise above others. People call these startups unicorn startups. So I was hearing unicorn startups a lot and decided to dig up information about them to share them with you.

Here’s a short overview of unicorn startups: 

What is a Unicorn Startup?

If you have a startup worth $1 billion or more, it is considered a unicorn startup. According to Aileen Lee, the founder of Cowboy ventures who used the term first, she compared these startups with unicorns for their uniqueness and aspirations to be different from their fellow startups. 

Features of a Unicorn Startup

It’s not just about reaching the $1 billion valuations for a startup to be considered a unicorn. You will also need to show the following: 

  • Offer innovation unlike others

Innovation is compulsory for all startups; however, it is embraced and completely revolutionized in unicorn startups.

For example, Tiktok changed the way people use social media by letting them do parodies, comedy, or cinematic shots then broadcast them globally. 

  • Your products are the first in the industry

Unicorns also present new and unique products to the industry to the extent that their products become public necessities.

For example, Grab and Uber introduced a new way of commuting without the usual public transport system. They have also changed delivery services and transaction processes by the introduction of various apps.

  • Focus mostly on tech

Unicorn startups also focus primarily on products and services that can be improved through technology. A majority of them use mobile applications that have everything a user would need in one click. 

  • Always for the customer

Unicorns also aim to make accessibility easier, whether online or in real life. They look at potential trends in how people consume information or do certain activities. Whether it is shopping for the latest trends or listening to music, unicorn startups follow the consumers’ trends. 

  • Only private companies lead unicorns

Unlike other companies, unicorn startups – or other startups in general – are established by private companies or firms—their valuation increases when a big player in the industry invests in their platform. 

Can Existing Companies Be Unicorn Startups? 

No, startups are the only ones that can qualify to be a unicorn if they achieve the proper valuation. Their statuses change if they earn a $10 billion valuation from large investors, making them decacorns. In Canada, unicorn startups are known as narwhal startups. 

List of Unicorn Startups

  • ByteDance
    This Chinese startup, established in 2012, is behind the iconic social networking sites Tiktok and Douyin. 
  • Clubhouse
    Created by developers Alpha Exploration Co in 2020, this newly released invitation-only audio-chat app became very popular for its simplicity and ability to give people more ways to network. 
  • Grab
    Established in 2012 in Singapore; this “decacorn” offers a wide range of services. The transportation app is its most popular and signature product. 
  • Reddit
    This American business, launched in 2005, enables users to share information in small communities or “subreddits” about almost any topic imaginable.

Startups reshaped the world we live in today with what they offer to consumers. Some have raised the bar and have caught the interest of larger players, increasing their value immensely. They usher in a new trend for people to enjoy. Do not hesitate to work on that startup idea because, well, who knows, it could be the next big unicorn that will change the industry forever.  

Interested to find out more, here is my recent write up on Clubhouse:
What is Clubhouse? Why Everyone is Raving About It?

And if you want to join on one of the unicorn startups, here’s how to do it right:
Top Job Sites to Hunt Down Your Dream Job
Can’t Find Your Dream Job? My 5 Solutions For You
Best Ways to Prep for your Dream Job Interview

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LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/kallytay

16 replies on “What is a Unicorn Startup?

  1. Have heard of the term unicorn start-ups and I really hate to sound like a Debbie downer but a lot of these “unicorns” to be overhyped in order to attract venture capitalists. And to make sure that a market exists for boutique traders and TV pundits when an IPO is eventually offered. Clubhouse is supposed to be the super elite invitation only app but teenagers in Asia are all over it. And it is still in beta which means they don’t know how to make money from voice tracking as yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Nicole. Love your perspective on this. Never saw that angle of attracting VCs. There isn’t much regulation when it comes to Clubhouse but there are a lot of good content on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah this reminds me of the startup days and dreams of establishing a unicorn. It is rahter very exciting and the key takeaways for me is the focus on innovation and offering solutions which no one else does which gives an edge to try and create a successful startup

    Liked by 1 person

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