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20 Facts About the World's Billion-Dollar Startups…

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How do you build a company that brings in more than a billion dollars?

There are many factors that can contribute to the creation of a “unicorn.” A hardworking team, supportive investors and mentors, identifying an untapped corner of the market and a keen understanding of what your customer base wants can contribute to future success at this high level.

Sage, a company that makes cloud accounting software for small businesses, released a study exploring the commonalities between the founders that get to this major business milestone.

Read on for some of the research’s most intriguing findings.

Related: Want to Join the ‘Unicorn Club’? Here’s What 3 Companies Did to Get There.

1. Ninety-four percent of the unicorn founders are men. Six percent are women.

2. Stanford, Harvard and University of California are the top three alma maters of unicorn founders.

3. California is home to the most unicorn companies. New York has the second highest and the third jumps overseas to Beijing.

4. In Europe, London is the city with the most billion-dollar companies. Berlin is number two and Stockholm three.

5. Sixty-seven percent of the companies were launched by co-founders.

6. Thirty-seven percent were started by only one founder.

7. Sixty percent of the founders who reached the billion-dollar mark are first time founders. Twenty-three percent of founders are on their second attempts.

8. The people who have launched companies before receive higher valuations on their companies than first timers, an average of $5.88 billion compared to $4.29 billion.

9. The top three industries with the most unicorns are consumer internet, software and ecommerce.

10. The industries with the top valuations are slightly different. Consumer internet is still at the top. Those companies have a combined value of nearly $319 billion. But financial services is at number two with a combined value of more than $132 billion. Ecommerce is number three. Those unicorns have a combined value of nearly $125 billion.

Related: 4 Ways to Scale and Capture Your ‘Unicorn’ Horn

11. Twenty-nine companies holding their 10-year anniversaries this year are unicorns. 2007 is the year that yielded the most billion-dollar companies.

12. Thirty-five of the companies on the list were four years old when they achieved unicorn status.

13. In 2014, 58 companies became unicorns. In 2015, that shot up to 86, but in 2016, the number dropped to 41.

14. However, in 2016, Sage found that companies achieved unicorn status faster than any other year.

15. In 2016, China and the United States were neck and neck for the number of companies gaining unicorn status.

16. The top 10 most valued companies are evenly split between China and the United States.

17. The United States has 144 unicorns in total. China has 47 and India has 10.

18. One-hundred-fifty companies, the majority of the list, are valued between $1 billion and $2 billion. Sixteen businesses have a valuation of more than $10 billion.

19. Uber is the unicorn with the highest valuation, at $62,500,000,000.

20. There is only one company in the top 10 that was launched in the 1990s: Alibaba, at number five, started in 1999.


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