Is Becoming a Unicorn Startup Just a Myth?

Amiee Bolger

Sorry to break this to you all, but unicorns are a myth. The magical horses with horns in the middle of their foreheads are not real… no matter how much we want them to be. Unicorn startups, however, are real. They may not be the horn-wielding, mystical horses, but they’ll do.

What are unicorn startups?

Simply, a unicorn in the business world indicates a privately owned startup company that has a valuation of £1 billion. The term ‘unicorn’ was chosen to represent these companies because of their statistical rarity; this year alone there are only 554 unicorns worldwide. The statistical probability of a startup becoming a unicorn may be slim, but it isn’t non-existent, and there are characteristics each unicorn startup has in common with each other…

How to be more unicorn-like

Unique problem-solving abilities

There’s no doubting that, as a founder, you’ve created a startup wholly unique and innovative to solve existing problems in your industry market. You’re setting out to change the way people do things and your product or service is that change. In other words, you’re disruptive.

Being a disruptive startup is a good thing, we promise. In this case, it refers to innovation within an industry that radically affects the way it operates. Disruptions force startups to come up with new solutions to existing problems in their industry that are different and more creative than the conventional solutions that may already be on offer.

This’ll mean only good things for your startup if you’re the solution to your target audiences’ problems – and it’ll make you all the more attractive to investors and getting you closer to unicorn status.

Focused on the consumers

Similar to the focus on disruption and wanting to solve problems, most unicorn startups have the main goal of wanting to simplify and make their consumers day-to-day lives easier with their product or service. The stats speak for themselves: over 62% of all unicorn companies are business-to-customer (B2C).

Really homing in on what your target customer base is looking for to simplify their lives and then being able to offer them a product that will do this is important. So, like we always say, you’ve got to do your research.

Technologically savvy

There is so much developing technology out there that is often feels overwhelming. Everyday, there are new advancements and new ways of doing things that it’s hard to keep up. There’s an app and website for everything, so sometimes getting yourself in the mix is hard. However, this doesn’t mean you should take yourself out of the mix – not at all. Actually, it’s the opposite.

Consumers expect a website or app for everything, which means there is a space for you. Furthermore, just as there’s an app and website for everything a consumer is looking for, there’s tech out there to help you as a startup. There’s cloud computing, CRM systems, and even AI to help with marketing. Implementing these allows your startup to be more efficient… which brings us to our next point.

Efficient, efficient, efficient

Streamlining all your processes frees up your time to focus on other important aspects of scaling your startup to become a unicorn. Efficiency looks different for every company, so what works for you may not for your competitor. You can look at utilising technology to help make your lives simpler or figuring out cost-effective ways to produce your product without sacrificing quality. There are many things to consider that are unique to each startup.

Examples of unicorns

It’s hard to believe that Uber was ever a small startup, just beginning their multi-million-dollar journey, but that’s the truth. When they began, they had only three cars which they tested with a simple interface after the founders struggled to find a taxi one night in Paris. They collected user feedback after each ride and used that to continuously improve their service, creating the app as we know it today.

Airbnb took the guesswork out of finding cheap and reliable housing when you’re going on holiday – whether that be abroad or a staycation. Before checking the plethora of hotel websites, that are usually quite expensive, people are now optioning to search on Airbnb for those incredible home-away-from-home finds. Their app and website are easy to use and solves the main problem for anyone travelling: where will we sleep?

In conclusion…

It may take a while for a startup to become a unicorn, but it isn’t impossible.