Unicorn startups: what can we learn from them?

Telling you to follow the example of a unicorn sounds crazy, right? After all, where will you find one? Aren’t they all in the enchanted kingdom?

What’s more, the idea, in fact, is to understand what makes the unicorn so successful and look for ways to become one. It is not fiction. It is not magic. It’s not a fairy tale. Let’s talk about unicorn startups and what makes them an example to be followed.

What are unicorn startups?

If you follow content related to startup, technology or innovation with some frequency, you have probably come across the term startup unicorn.

Unicorn startups are companies valued at $ 1 billion (one billion dollars) before going public on stock exchanges. In other words, it is considered a unicorn, that startup that collects this huge amount before selling its shares and finally becomes an IPO – Inital Public Offering (in translation, Initial Public Offering).

But why unicorn?

The term came up in 2013, said by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures. She compared startups that reached the $ 1 billion mark with unicorns, as both are extremely rare to be found.

As much as unicorns do not exist, the allusion was maintained precisely because it is something rare and magical. Since large startups start from an initially dubious idea, the meaning of the comparison is even clearer.

The world’s top unicorn startups

According to reports by CBInsigths, today in the world, there are more than 400 unicorn startups. Some of them:

  • Toutiao (Bytedance) – Chinese company valued at US $ 140 billion.
  • DidiChuxing – Chinese company valued at US $ 56 billion.
  • Stripe – American Fintech valued at US $ 36 billion.
  • Airbnb – American company valued at US $ 18 billion.
  • Epic Games – American company valued at US $ 17.3 billion.

Featured Brazilian companies

Naturally, because it has a very strong entrepreneurial streak, Brazil also has some companies on the list of unicorn startups:

  • Nubank
  • Movile
  • 99
  • Quinto Andar
  • Loggi

What do unicorn startups do that works so well?

Some practices of startups are essential for them to enter the select category of unicorn. Not only that, these practices have shaped new businesses and encouraged many others to rethink their attitudes in the market.


Perhaps the main feature, not only of unicorn startups, but for the survival of any company. To innovate is to practice the revolution in the market and guarantee a differential for a product.


It is not a rule, but most unicorns invest heavily in technology. After all, technology and automated processes have become constant in new business models.

User Experience

The customer is the center of attention of unicorn startups. It is through their needs that products are developed, always thinking about functionality and accessibility.

Growth culture

The organizational culture of a unicorn startup is generally focused on innovation and constant growth.

What’s the secret to becoming a unicorn?

There is no secret, magic formula or cake recipe that can turn a startup into a unicorn.

However, there are some common practices that can be noticed among startups that certainly help in the beginning of the journey. They are valuable tips for any business.

Have a purpose

Knowing where the company wants to go is the first step. Setting goals and principles is the beginning of the journey.

Focus on results

Directing the strategy to results significantly increases the chance of success. But you need to stay focused.

Steady growth

The thinking of a startup must be always focused on innovation. It is necessary to be convinced of what is being done, to have a business model based on scalability and expansion and not to lose the motivation to create something unique.

Think about the customer

If a product does not satisfy the need of people it will not be recognized and will not have a long useful life. Valuing who consumes and who produces is fundamental at this stage of the process.

Finally, unicorn startups are the result of excellent work done by companies focused on growth, experience and people. It does not necessarily have to be an objective, but it is certainly a result obtained through dedication and innovation. It is a rare recognition, like a unicorn.

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