Project Planning

Major Milestones for Unicorn Startups

Share this image on your site

Have you ever wondered how a startup becomes a unicorn? We were wondering the same thing.

We looked at six tech unicorn startups in North America and saw a few common trends among the companies we researched. Here are the key takeaways:

Unicorn Startups Have Experienced Founders

No surprise here, it takes a lot of experience to build a billion dollar business. The majority of the founders we looked at had worked for startups before, had launched other businesses (both successful and failed), and had often done both.

For example, the founders of Quora had both worked at Facebook prior to starting Quora.

Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack had created two games (both failed), and launched and sold the photo site Flickr before creating Slack.

The founders of Pinterest first created a shopping app called Tote that failed before they went on to create Pinterest. In addition, one of the founders had worked at Google and another had worked for a venture capital firm.

These founders were successful because they leveraged their relevant experience and didn’t let failure deter them from trying again.

[bctt tweet=”From #startup to unicorn, see how companies like @SlackHQ, @trello and @Pinterest went from idea to major player.” username=”toggl plan”]

Unicorn Startups Are Born From Necessity

Most of the startups we looked at were created because their founders saw something missing from the market and wanted to create a solution.

For example, employees at Tiny Speck originally created Slack to make it easier to communicate between their American and Canadian offices. Similarly, employees at Live Current Media started working on Stripe as a side project because they saw a need for an easy-to-use payment system.

Trello also began as a side project at Fog Creek Software, where team members wanted to solve high-level planning issues.

Fun fact: our company Teamweek started the same way. The CEO of the time-tracking software Toggl couldn’t find the perfect planning software to coordinate big projects, so he created Teamweek. The Toggl team used Teamweek internally before spinning it off into a new company.

Unicorn Startups Grow Fast

Really fast. Most of the startups we looked at went from idea to launch in a year or less, sometimes as quickly as three or four months.

After launch, the companies continued to grow quickly, acquiring users, funding, and employees at an exponential rate.

How do unicorn startups afford to grow so fast? They all raised funding from outside investors, ranging from $10 million to more than $100 million.

Key Takeaways

Ready to launch your own startup and reach unicorn status? You’ll need a rock-solid idea, preferably something that solves a problem you or your company is currently facing. Make sure your idea is useful to a large audience and not just a tiny niche.

Move quickly from idea to launch so you can stay ahead of the competition. Raise capital from outside investors to keep up your growth trajectory. And if your company fails, start again.

Sources

www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303448404577409212961081738

www.statista.com/statistics/463353/pinterest-global-mau/

www.crunchbase.com/organization/pinterest/funding_rounds/funding_rounds_list#section-funding-rounds

www.reuters.com/article/net-us-funding-pinterest/start-up-pinterest-wins-new-funding-2-5-billion-valuation-idUSBRE91K01R20130221

www.businessinsider.com/inside-pinterest-an-overnight-success-four-years-in-the-making-2012-4?page=2&r=US&IR=T

www.techcrunch.com/2012/02/07/pinterest-monthly-uniques/

www.crunchbase.com/organization/quora#section-overview

www.quora.com/What-is-the-history-of-Quora-How-was-it-started

www.quora.com/How-many-staff-does-Quora-employ

www.fastcompany.com/3041905/slacks-founder-on-how-they-became-a-1-billion-company-in-two-years

techvibes.com/2014/02/12/tiny-speck-pushes-slack-out-of-beta-2014-02-12

techvibes.com/2015/09/25/a-brief-history-of-slack-2015-09-25

techcrunch.com/2014/04/25/stewart-butterfields-collaboration-app-slack-raises-42-75m/

www.crunchbase.com/organization/slack/funding_rounds/funding_rounds_listhttps://slack.com/about

uk.businessinsider.com/slack-ceo-worried-about-growing-culture-2016-2

slackhq.com/diversity-at-slack-d44aba51d4b6

slackhq.com/we-love-it-when-the-numbers-turn-over-70a61a69b2ffhttp://time.com/4090762/slack/

github.com/about/milestones

news.microsoft.com/2018/06/04/microsoft-to-acquire-github-for-7-5-billion/

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GitHub

zachholman.com/posts/scaling-github-employees/

github.com/about/facts

www.inc.com/magazine/201303/will-bourne/2-reasons-to-keep-an-eye-on-github.html

trello.com/about

blog.trello.com/trello-atlassian

beta.techcrunch.com/2017/01/09/atlassian-acquires-trello/?_ga=2.118061961.1639150670.1529392063-2139255400.1529392063

techcrunch.com/2017/02/21/how-atlassian-bought-trello/?guccounter=1

blog.impraise.com/360-feedback/the-trello-story-how-atlassians-latest-acquisition-achieves-their-success-performance-review

techcrunch.com/2012/07/09/payments-startup-stripe-swipes-20m-from-general-catalyst-sequoia-thiel-and-more/

techcrunch.com/2013/03/11/payments-company-stripe-acquires-team-task-management-and-collaboration-app-kickoff/

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinterest

www.getcontrol.co/blog/history-stripe/

July 13, 2018

Related Posts

Project Planning

15 Time Management Tips the Experts Swear By

Do you ever wonder how other people get so much done? You’re not alone! Most of us are constantly looking for time management tips to improve our productivity and help us get more done without feeling more overwhelmed. These 15 time management tips may sound simple, but don’t underestimate the impact they can have on

Project Planning

10 Most Effective Conflict Resolution Tips for the Workplace

Workplaces run on one thing: caffeine—wait, no, I mean drama; for this reason, you must have proper conflict resolution in the workplace.

Project Planning

Best Online Work Planning Tools For Entrepreneurs

At first sight, an entrepreneur’s work is dream-like. You get to be your own boss, you make your own schedule and you cash in on the profit. You get to do what you want to do when it comes to work as well. There’s one small detail: it isn’t always so. An entrepreneur’s work is