In the business and investment world, a “unicorn” is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion. Unicorns are typically young companies with rapid growth and significant valuation based on their innovative business models, technology, or products that disrupt traditional markets. The status of a unicorn is a significant milestone, indicating a startup’s potential for substantial impact and profitability in its industry.

A unicorn startup is a company that’s been in business for under ten years, isn’t publicly listed, haven’t been acquired by a third party, and become valued at 1 billion dollars or more worldwide.

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In Simpler Terms

Think of your local farmers’ market, where hundreds of small vendors sell their goods. Now, imagine one of those vendors starts selling a homemade hot sauce that suddenly becomes a nationwide sensation, leading to a multimillion-dollar business. That vendor is the farmers’ market’s unicorn, transforming from a small stall to a household name seemingly overnight.

The term “unicorn” was once used to denote the near-impossibility of a startup reaching a $1 billion valuation without being listed on the stock market. Today, while still rare and highly esteemed, the number of unicorns has significantly increased, reflecting the explosive potential of innovation in the digital age. Examples of unicorns include high-profile tech companies like Uber, Airbnb, and SpaceX before they went public.