Entrepreneurship: The Phenomenon of the Startup Unicorn

The growing number of software companies and technology-based startups across a wide range of industries is reflective of the changing dynamic of today's entrepreneurship culture as well as the insatiable drive toward innovation. This entrepreneurship culture has, in many ways, been driven by the emergence of successful technology-based startups like Facebook and other social network platforms and software companies. So much so that you will scarcely be able to have a discussion about entrepreneurship and not mention the technology startup world. In many ways, these hugely successful technology companies have become the prototype and catalyst needed to fan the flames of entrepreneurship and business innovation. This is particularly true in places like Silicon Valley – a popularly known hub for software startup development and success.

The craze surrounding the rise of the “startup unicorn” has been largely fueled by the growing number of software and technology companies that have been successful enough to value in excess of $1 billion and do so within 10 years of operation. In cases of companies like Facebook, which is considered a super startup unicorn, successes have resulted in the company valuing over $100 billion. The successes of startup unicorns and super startup unicorns are by no means the standard by which the average company can measure its successes. After all, they are called unicorns for a reason. Still, being anomalies has not stopped startup unicorns from becoming a sort of model to emulate.

Perhaps by taking a closer look at these massively successful startup unicorns, everyone can learn something important. The merit in taking a closer look at startup unicorns as important case studies and business models is perhaps seen most clearly in the number of startup unicorns there are in the United States alone per annum. The number of startup unicorns in 2011, for example, was five. By the end of 2015, the number had risen to 47. As at June 2016, there were 169. This rise in startup unicorns have been facilitated by companies remaining as private companies for longer periods of time – opting not to trade publicly.

The nature of modern technology and, in particular, Internet technology, is such that entrepreneurship ventures and business ownership have become more accessible in recent years than ever before. Companies hoping to be the next big thing are launched in more bedrooms, dorm rooms and home offices than ever before. There is also a rise in services-oriented versus product-oriented businesses. Even in cases where companies may not be technology or software-based, Internet technological services like e-commerce, for example, has formed an important part of how companies operate today. So much so that both software companies and technology-reliant businesses are, in many ways, the new lemonade stand.

We take a closer look at the phenomenon of the startup unicorn, and what the growth and development of the same may mean for the entrepreneurship landscape and business innovation dynamic.

To learn more about the future of entrepreneurship and startup methodology, check out this infographic created by Ohio University's Online MBA program.

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