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How Startups Can Improve Their Odds of Becoming a Unicorn

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In 2017, we showed that 57 startups were able to achieve unicorn status – a rare designation that is reserved only for privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more.

While this number may seem high, unicorns are still quite the rarity.

In the U.S. alone, there are currently 19,550 venture-backed startups vying for those same massive valuations. At the same time, it’s been estimated that each new startup only has a 0.00006% chance of becoming a billion dollar company.

How to Improve Those Odds

No one ever said that joining the ranks of unicorns would be easy, but there is some good news for aspiring founders.

Today’s infographic, which comes to us from FounderKit, looks at traits of existing unicorns – and analyzing this wealth of data might help entrepreneurs in shaping their own companies for future success.

How to Improve Your Chances of Becoming a Unicorn

Put together with information from Fortune and Crunchbase, this infographic gives us some clues as to how game-changing unicorns have been built in the past.

While it’s certainly not a prescription for future success, it does provide a blueprint for what’s needed to improve your chances of beating the odds.

Playing the Red Team

If you’re an entrepreneur with billion dollar dreams, take a close look at the categories that best resemble your startup.

For example, if your model depends on leasing hardware to the energy sector as a major revenue source, you should note that the odds are mostly against you. For starters, only 7% of unicorns are hardware companies, and energy doesn’t register high as a major business sector that has seen many unicorns. Further, companies that rent or lease their physical or intellectual assets make up just 1% of recent unicorn companies, which makes this particular model look pretty disadvantageous.

It doesn’t mean that this idea is not feasible – maybe it’s an underappreciated sector, or the idea is completely groundbreaking. However, given the information above, it’s most likely that this will be a tough go, so it’s worth making adjustments accordingly.

Playing the Green Team

Based on the above information, what combination of startup traits could provide the most common recipe for unicorn status?

Let’s create a hypothetical new startup:

  • It should be consumer focused, since the majority of companies are B2C (62%)
  • It should provide software, since 87% of all unicorns focus there
  • This startup should be retail/e-commerce marketplace focused, a category home to a whopping 25% of recent unicorns
  • It should have a model based on commission or brokerage fees (33% of recent unicorns)

It’s not hard to see similarities with the above traits and recent unicorns like Shopify or Airbnb, which both serve as solid precedents for success.

Of course, it’s far from a guarantee of future unicorn status, but it does mean that you likely have better than a 0.00006% chance.

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Entrepreneurship

10 Proven Ways to Build Trust With Employees

Trust is the glue of modern organizations to ensure collaboration and healthy conflict. Here are proven ways to build trust with employees.

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Making progress towards ambitious and complex organizational objectives can be a tricky endeavor for even the most accomplished of teams.

But if there was ever a surefire recipe to make this undertaking more difficult, it’d be embarking on these kinds of goals with a team that doesn’t actually trust each other.

Not only does trust enable individuals to work outside of their silos and collaborate with other people on the team, but trust is also associated with improved communication, job satisfaction, and higher performance levels within organizations.

The Trust Imperative

Today’s infographic comes to us from The Business Backer, and it highlights 10 proven ways to build trust with employees in teams and organizations.

10 Proven Ways to Build Trust With Employees

Many of the complex challenges that dot the modern business landscape cannot be solved by a myriad of solo efforts.

Teams are necessary, and working together cannot take place only at a superficial level. To tackle the big problems, teams must have deep-rooted commitments to each other, creating potential for collaboration, healthy conflict, and differences of opinion.

Managers need to trust employees and vice versa, but different types of teams need to trust each other across other business functions as well.

10 Ways to Build Trust

It’s not possible to build trust with employees overnight, but there are some easy ways to kickstart the process.

  1. Show them the big picture
    Ensuring employees have a view of the big picture creates a space for communication and openness.
  2. Set clear expectations
    A lack of clarity of what to expect can lead to confusion, which erodes trust.
  3. Listen actively
    Asking open-ended questions like “How’s the project going?” builds trust and respect.
  4. Delegate low-risk projects
    A cycle of trust can be created, moving up to bigger and more important projects.
  5. Schedule weekly catch-up meetings
    Regular meetings create a trusting environment for people to give and receive feedback.
  6. Be honest
    Even when it is uncomfortable, being honest helps build trust and creates healthy conflict.
  7. Commit to your word
    Trust depends on integrity, and seemingly erratic behavior undermines this.
  8. Recognize excellent work
    This has the biggest effect on trust right after a goal has been met.
  9. Share a bit about yourself
    Oxytocin is released in the brain when we socialize and build trust.
  10. Let employees work on projects they enjoy
    This allows employees to focus on what they care about most, fostering trust.

Consequences of Inaction

It doesn’t matter how smart or experienced your team is.

Without the element of trust, they will not be able to work together in an effective fashion. For this reason, undertaking a mission to enable and build trust with employees is crucial for the success of any modern organization.

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Chart of the Week

Tech Founders Predict the Next Wave of Startup Growth

Which U.S. startups are best poised for growth and spin-off success? This chart shares insights from over 500 tech founders about the state of startups.

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Tech Founders Predict the Next Wave of Startup Growth

Today’s tech founders have unique insights into the evolving arena of innovation and are keenly aware of why some companies succeed more than others. Many have worked with multiple startups and have gone on to invest in successful tech unicorns.

This week’s chart comes from First Round’s State of Startups 2018 survey, in which 529 founders shared their predictions on the tech startups best poised for growth and spin-off success.

Tech Startup Valuations

Stripe, the payments startup darling, has already grown from $1.8 billion in valuation in 2013 to over $22 billion today. According to the tech founders surveyed, 19% see Stripe continuing on this path in the years to come.

Q: Which U.S.-based tech startup’s value will increase the most in the next 10 years?

RankStartup% of respondents
#1Stripe19.0%
#2SpaceX12.7%
#3Coinbase12.1%
#4Slack11.3%
#5Airbnb9.8%
#6Palantir6.8%
#7WeWork6.3%
#8Uber5.3%
#9Lyft4.7%
#10Pinterest1.6%
Other10.3%

It’s worth noting that this list includes some startups that have already IPO’d since the survey was released in December 2018.

In fact, in the first half of 2019, we’ve already seen Pinterest, Lyft, Uber, and Slack hit the market. Slack’s public offering was the most notable, as they chose to go the direct listing route. The share price still jumped 48.5% less than 24 hours after they went public.

The Next PayPal Mafia?

The PayPal Mafia is a legendary group of billionaire investor-entrepreneurs that have had far-reaching influence in the tech world since they parted ways with PayPal.

Not only did members of this group go on to start many major unicorns, including YouTube, SpaceX, LinkedIn, and Palantir, but some members have invested in over 100 startups each. This “giving back” has had a monumental impact on the Silicon Valley ecosystem, planting the seeds that would emerge as many of today’s star companies.

Q: Which U.S.-based company is most likely to spin out the next generation of notable founders over the next five years?

RankStartup% of respondents
#1Uber22.5%
#2Slack15.7%
#3Stripe15.2%
#4Airbnb13.9%
#5Coinbase10.6%
#6Palantir9.1%
#7SpaceX4.2%
#8Lyft1.8%
#9WeWork1.8%
#10Amazon1.1%
Other4.2%

Current tech founders predict that the companies listed in this survey will be perfect launching points for many of the world’s future tech founders.

Of all U.S.-based tech startups, Uber is predicted to be a top contender for producing the next generation of startup talent by 2023.

Other Survey Findings

Interestingly, over 60% of founders believe that the world is in a technology bubble, with evenly split reviews on whether it’s either nowhere close or very close to popping.

While 57% of founders believe the U.S. will continue to dominate the tech world, 39% predict China’s growth will become the world’s hub for tech innovation by 2028.

Only time will tell, as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to heat up, and the global recruitment of tech talent becomes increasingly competitive.

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