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The Complete List of Unicorn Startups in the UK 2021

Unicorns are magical creatures. They are a metaphoric symbol of all things magical, so we earthlings are amazed even with its thought. Well, the same goes for unicorn startups! 

The startup world is a lively one, with lots of advancements, new challenges and a strong flow of ideas one could also consider the world of startups are magical too.

We would like to clarify the unicorn startup definition before we get to our unicorn startups in the UK list. What actually is this unicorn startup phrase we have been hearing a lot of with big celebrations and praises? Defining a unicorn startup is easy but becoming one is usually a painful process. Aileen Lee, the founder of Cowboy Ventures used the term “unicorn” for startups that got $1B or more valuation in her post on TechCrunch called the “Welcome to the Unicorn Club: Learning From Million Dollar Startups”

The idea is simple, a unicorn has one horn that is the equivalent of a startup having a $1B value —that is around £708K— in public and private markets! Here we have the unicorn startup list in the UK — may it be an inspiration to new billion-dollar ideas.

How Do You Start a Unicorn Startup?

Well, we all have great ideas, but they’re not easy to implement or make money from them most of the time. Unicorn companies and startups may seem magical, but they’re all built on a lot of hard work. Having a company that reaches enormous sizes and takes place in billion-dollar segments to put its name on the list of unicorn startups is hard work even while reading this sentence! But let’s put aside the whining and see what we can do to have our next best idea to be the next unicorn startup in the UK! So, here are some qualities you should have to gain momentum with your startup.

  • Be a pioneer! Whatever industry you’re in, whatever industry you’re serving, bring your unique spark to your work. Do an innovative workflow using new methods.
  • Think of the long run. Don’t base your startup on one innovation or product. You should plan ahead and always share what the future looks like for your customers, investors, and yourself!
  • Stay in line with what’s new. Always refresh your systems and definitely take place within the digital world. Make sure to use mass media, facilitate communication and the latest technological improvements and trends. 

Always easier said than done. Unicorns are rare creatures even in fairy tales and myths. Also, they appear in certain circumstances, and not everybody can go near them, let alone see them. You can probably see the parallel here. Without further ado, here’s our unicorn startup list in the UK. May it be an inspiration to new billion-dollar ideas!

Benevolent AI

Benevolent is a perfect example of using the latest technology to save human lives. They use AI and machine learning to predict and pinpoint what is causing diseases and finding how to better the condition with medicine that is uniquely a perfect fit for each individual. The best part is that they not only use machines for this process. They also have valuable scientists that hypothesise and validate new ways to treat diseases and personalise drugs for the patient. The future is in AI, and with Benevolent, our health is in safe hands within the AI world!

Oxford Nanopore Technologies

An amazing technology unicorn startup that was founded in 2005 and just 10 years later got its billion-dollar valuation. With their new generation sensing technology that uses nanopores embedded into high-tech electronics, the Oxford Nanopore Technologies enables anyone to perform precise molecular analyses. They offer sequencing technology to combine scalability from portable to ultra-high-throughput formats with real-time data delivery and the ability to elucidate rich biological data through the analysis of short to ultra-long fragments of native DNA or RNA.

Brewdog

brewdog unicorn startup uk

Founded by Martin and James in 2007 when they were fed up with the industrially brewed lagers and ales that dominated the UK beer market, the two founders set foot on a journey that would become a unicorn startup. Brewdog became a unicorn startup in 2013, 6 years after being founded. They never lost their startup spirit and always reinvented themselves. During the global pandemic, they announced that they had become the world’s first carbon-negative brewery! After 13 years, they now have 2000 employees globally, 4 states of the art breweries in Ellon, Columbus, Berlin, Brisbane, and 100 bars.

Oaknorth

Talking about technology? Oaknorth is the industry’s first machine learning-powered, data-driven technology that gives commercial lenders a forward-looking, 360-degree view of their borrowers. From Relationship Managers to Portfolio and Risk Managers, all people in the finance sector is now able to engage with their clients, make better credit decisions, anticipate challenges and propose solutions. Built over five years by an engineering and credit science team of over 250 people, OakNorth Bank is in the top 1% of UK banks that are developed in terms of RORE and efficiency.

Improbable

Improbable unicorn startup uk

Improbable is the next generation of gaming and has so much to offer to the virtual world. This unicorn was founded in 2012 by Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, both Cambridge University computer science graduates who loved games and wanted to create a bigger gaming world where multi-players were in much better circumstances in the technological world.  

Though they are a London based startup, they have offices all around the world and have 800+ people with amazing credits within the gaming world. They became a unicorn after receiving over $600m in funding from some of the most reputable investors in the world, including the SoftBank Vision Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Horizons Ventures, and NetEase.

Darktrace

darktrace unicorn startups

Darktrace was founded in 2013 by mathematicians and cyber experts with government intelligence backgrounds and is the first company to apply AI to the challenge of cybersecurity. This Cambridge based startup is a world leader in self-learning AI, having created the first, at-scale deployment of artificial intelligence for the enterprise with over 4,700 customers worldwide. Using its self-learning AI to detect and neutralize cyber threats across diverse digital estates, including the cloud networks, IoT, and industrial control systems.

Graphcore

graphcore unicorn startups

Graphcore is a perfect AI-based solution that enables developers to run current machine learning models faster in large-scale computations. More importantly, it lets AI researchers undertake entirely new types of work that are not possible using other technologies, to drive the next great breakthroughs in general machine intelligence. This unicorn startup has created a new processor, the Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), specifically designed for artificial intelligence with a special architecture that makes it a billion-dollar worth company!

Ovo

Ovo is a collection of companies that provides services within the utilities, energy, gas and electricity, technology, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and battery storage sectors. Their mission is to drive progress towards net zero carbon living with the vision to power human progress with clean affordable energy for everyone. They were founded in 2008 and have been giving great service to the people and the earth ever since.

Gousto

gousto unicorn startups

We are all too busy to spare time for cooking —let alone the cleaning up after! Gousto is the perfect solution for today’s busy world that will satisfy our dining needs with home cooking. With this unicorn startup, you can choose recipes you’d like to cook and get all the measured ingredients delivered to your house. With their $32.3M funding, this London-based startup is rated 5 out of 5 by The Sunday Telegraph and “Best Buy” by Independent. 

Gymshark

Gymshark is a community and apparel selling platform. Their community consists of athletes, artists, and visionaries that stretch all the way across the globe. They are one of the fastest-growing and most recognisable fitness apparel and accessories brands, supported by over 5 million highly engaged social media followers and customers in hundreds of countries. With $267.1M private equity, they are a unicorn startup that is for the ambitious and active.

What makes an idea great in every industry starts with spotting the missing link, and if put your heart and soul into that idea —and with a bit of luck, of course— there’s a chance for rare success. Don’t forget that these companies are called “unicorns” for a reason.

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