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Business Lessons from the Unicorns


Over the last ten years, we have witnessed the meteoric rise of quite a few venture capital-backed companies. Not surprisingly, the bulk of these superstars, or unicorns, the term most folks are now using to describe them, are in the tech sector. The list of unicorns is actually quite small when considering the number of companies that exist in the U.S. alone.

However, it can be simultaneously viewed as quite a large list when considering all that they have managed to achieve (particularly fundraising and valuation-wise of course). And, what is perhaps even more impressive, is how so many of these companies managed to rocket to success in a very short period of time.

Interestingly, there are quite a few similarities among the unicorns. Budding entrepreneurs who take note of these characteristics just may be able to replicate some of their successes. Here are some useful lessons from the unicorns:

Focus on Consumers

Many of the companies that have achieved unicorn status provide a product or service that is geared toward individual consumers. Granted, there are a handful of enterprise-focused companies that have done quite well, but far more startups on the unicorn list are focused on fulfilling consumer demands.

In general, these companies tend to offer convenient services that enhance the lives of individuals. Many of these unicorns have developed what seems to be an almost cult-like following because of their ingenuity.

Deliver Online Services and Solutions

For the most part, the services and solutions that enhance the lives of consumers, whether personal or professional, are delivered in an electronic format. These may be online platforms, cloud-based services, or mobile phone applications. Consumers are demanding services that simplify some facet of their life via the Internet, and they place a very high value on the companies that do this for them.

Obviously, many of the unicorns are the companies that have met and even exceeded consumer demand and expectations.

Craft a Solid Leadership Team

The startup founders may be the most important piece of the puzzle. An analysis of the founding teams of many of the unicorns show that the teams consistently comprise individuals that are highly educated, technologically-inclined, and have years of experience in the field. In addition, many of these teams have worked together in some capacity for a period of time prior to the founding of the startup.

It appears that the success of the unicorns is due, in large part, to the vision and cohesion of a small group of highly talented, dedicated, and like-minded individuals.

Recruit from Abroad

In many cases, a unicorn’s founding team and the employees it hires include tech-savvy individuals from abroad. There are a lot of other countries, especially China and India, that are turning out generations of highly-skilled workers with a strong background in one or more of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Clearly, recruiting a diverse team with an array of skills, knowledge, and experience bodes well for a company’s growth, and often helps to attract investment.

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