What Makes a Startup Unicorn Successful? Hint: You Need More Than Passion.

In the early 2000s, people were still trying to figure out this thing called the Internet. What did e-commerce mean for a business? What did people see in online dating? How was Google going to fix the spam link problems? Those issues are long gone as more and more people have become entrepreneurs simply by starting their own businesses online. Do these new entrepreneurs have what it takes to create a tech startup unicorn? What exactly does that mean? In truth, many people are jumping into the tech game without realizing that passion does not equal knowledge, and knowledge does not equal success.

Unpacking Your Startup Idea
Anyone who watches the show Silicon Valley on HBO knows that creating a valuable and useful startup is all about investors. Where a startup begins and ends is not the same. One major example is Facebook. Once started as a website akin to the old “hot or not” trendy sites for college students, it is arguably the most well-known and pervasive social media platform used around the world.

This is why it is essential to unpack your startup technology early and understand what is simply great about your idea. Whether you are a developer with a software product, business graduate with a cool invention or single parent just getting started, every startup entrepreneur should think critically about each component of their startup starting with the product and go-to-market strategy. One way to do this is through a SWOT analysis. Here are some questions you might ask:

  • What is my main product?
  • What does my company value?
  • What do my customers love about the product?
  • What do customers love about my brand?
  • What channels will serve the product best to my customer?

You may also want to get more specific depending on the product. For example, who buys this software product and for what purpose? What problem does this product solve, and how much is it worth to my users to solve that problem?

Consumer-Facing or Business-Facing
In the past you may have heard B2B or B2C as common keywords that distinguished whether a company appealed to businesses or everyone else. The key terms now are consumer-facing or business-facing.

Simply put, consumer-facing startups are based on how products or services are seen by a customer. This is key in determining a customer’s experience with your company and also the best way to design and deliver a satisfying user experience that includes multiple touch points. Some of these touch points include:

  • Business processes
  • Budgets
  • Marketing
  • Order processing
  • Purchasing
  • Production
  • Customer service
  • Employee training

Business-facing is based on how can serve and provide software to other companies and clients. This is still referred to as business-to-business or B2B.

While you do not necessarily have to pick between these two, it helps to understand what the majority of your audience demographic will be so you can understand branding, content strategy, channel selection and audiences so that your startup gains visibility.

Defining the answers to these questions can lead to bigger investments from business partners or bring in more users who will support your startup technology company’s growth in the early years.