Startup lexicon can be confusing, with so many acronyms and buzzwords. But there is one word everyone should know: unicorns.
It’s the crowning title for magical companies that are valued at more than $1 billion dollars.
While unicorns are rare, Victoria has 20 that have created more than $100 billion of value between them.
You are probably very familiar with some of Victoria’s own including SEEK, CarSales and realestate.com.au. And you’re also probably hearing more about our more recent unicorns including Zeller, Linktree and A Cloud Guru.
What’s magical about unicorns?
It is not just their impressive growth from a small startup to a major company in typically less than 10 years that excites us at LaunchVic. It is also the catalysing effect they have on growing the startup ecosystem and broader economy.
When startups successfully scale, they are incredible job creators that help talented people experience working at a high growth business.
The magic really happens when exits such as IPOs occur, accelerating the local ecosystem to the next level. That’s because many startup operators go on to found new startups or help other emerging startups to scale, catalysing the growth of the startup ecosystem.
What is more the founders, as well as leaders who have access to employee share schemes, realise wealth, which they typically reinvest in the ecosystem by becoming angel investors or establishing venture capital funds of their own.
But we know reaching unicorn status is far from easy, as the margin between success and failure can be slim for startups and scaleups.
Sometimes, it’s about getting the right help from the right people, to steer the business in the right direction at the right time.
Ironing out the day-to-day
The unicorn effect on our ecosystem was one of the primary reasons why LaunchVic developed its 30X30 program. The program aims to actively support 30 scaling Victorian startups to become unicorns by 2030, specifically by getting their back office in order.
In Australia very few startup executives have the experience of growing a company from a startup to a scaleup to a unicorn.
First-hand accounts from existing unicorn leaders – including our own LaunchVic Chair Leigh Jasper, who founded Aconex – shows that supporting HR, operations and finance executives on the scaling journey will ultimately support company growth.
It not only develops their functions but exposes leaders to common scaleup challenges and bottlenecks. Most importantly, it frees up founders to focus on ongoing growth.
There is very limited formal support for scaleups, so LaunchVic has implemented the program with some of the best existing and former unicorn executives from Australia and overseas.
The program includes an executive coaching and mentoring program, sponsored education, and access to LaunchVic’s extensive domestic and international networks at no cost.
We have some of Australia’s best startups going through the program right now, including Carbar, July and Bare, and we have two more programs to roll out by 2024.
Adopting a unicorn mindset
The UK’s Tech Nation can vouch for the success of these types of programs. Their Future Fifty program has served 30% of the UK’s 105 unicorns since launching in 2013, raising more than $36bn in venture capital investment.
Great Aussie scaleups are growing rapidly and reshaping our economy. They’ve already created thousands of jobs and we know there’s more economic growth to come from their success.
We’re learning from the best and adopting a unicorn mindset, to help give promising scaleups every opportunity for growth.
- Dr Kate Cornick is CEO of LaunchVic.
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