Unicorns are rare beasts in the business world; private startup companies with a valuation of $1 billion or higher. Those including the likes of Uber, Airbnb, WeWork, and Deliveroo.
It’s a term that was first coined by Cowboy Ventures partner Aileen Lee in a 2013 TechCrunch article, and more and more of these fabled ‘unicorn companies’ are popping up and at present, there are over 240 in existence.
But $1bn is a lot of money, so you’d think it takes quite a while to reach this elite status.
However, quite often, this isn’t the case. Some of the most well-known unicorns, such as Uber and Airbnb reached their $1bn valuation in just six and four years respectively.
So how long does it take the average unicorn to hit that mark? New research from Compare the Market has sought to answer that question and found that the average unicorn makes it in just seven years.
What’s more staggering though is that 8% of unicorns actually made the jump in less than a year!
Looking deeper into the data, Compare the Market also looked at how this has changed over time, discovering that we’re seeing the birth of more unicorns every year, with 2017 holding the current record, with 65 companies making the jump.
But as of June 18th, Compare the Market had identified 32 as having achieved unicorn status this year, so it’s very likely that this number could be topped in 2018.
And in terms of when these companies were actually incorporated, two-thirds (66%) were started within the last ten years and almost all of them (94%) since the turn of the millennium.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of unicorns are based in the two business superpowers, the USA (114) and China (70).
Other than this, the world’s unicorns are spread fairly evenly around the globe, although it’s notable that there are just two from South America and three from Africa.
Something else which won’t surprise you, especially when you consider how recent the unicorns were formed, is that the majority of them are from the tech industry.
But looking deeper than this, it’s mobile and real estate businesses which made the jump to $1bn the quickest (two and three years), closely followed by biotech, cybersecurity, fitness, social and travel (all five years).
It’s impressive to see just how quickly some of these start-ups have reached such a successful level, going from obscurity to some of the most well-known businesses in the world in the space of mere years.
It shows that in today’s business climate, when the right circumstances align, success can happen very quickly, which should hopefully encourage many budding young entrepreneurs with big ideas.
Of course, there is another side to this, with many arguing that lots of these companies are part of a ‘venture-capital bubble’ that could be set to implode.
Click here to check out Compare the Market’s full research, including a complete list of all the unicorn companies, their valuations and how long it took them to reach $1bn (as of 18/06/18).