The Beauhurst Unicorn Tracker

Key data on Britain’s $1b businesses, updated as and when new businesses join the herd.

Introduction

A unicorn startup is a private company which manages to reach a valuation of $1b (currently about £732m) or more. First coined by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures, the term “unicorn” refers to the rarity of startups which achieve this status. Indeed, of the 40,000+ high-growth startups and scaleups we’ve tracked here at Beauhurst, just 30 have reached a billion dollar valuation.

But the number of unicorns is steadily increasing. There are thought to be over 500 unicorn companies globally, and vocabulary is expanding to accommodate increasingly large valuations: companies valued at over $10b (like SpaceX in the United States) are known as decacorns, while those valued at over $100b (such as China’s Bytedance) are known as hectocorns.

Despite the outbreak of covid-19, and the decline in investment activity that came with it, a total of seven tech companies joined the UK’s unicorn club in 2020. There are now 23 active billion dollar startups in the UK, and an additional six have exited the private market, either through an initial public offering (IPO) or an acquisition. One startup company, e-commerce platform provider Powa Technologies, achieved unicorn status before it fell into administration in 2016.

These billion dollar startups span a range of sectors, from fintech and artificial intelligence, to cybersecurity and healthcare. Each has grown with varying levels of venture capital, vastly different business models, and are led by co-founders from a myriad of backgrounds.

This tracker covers a range of metrics, from the number of funding rounds raised prior to unicorn status, to how long it takes a company to reach a billion dollar valuation. We hope you find it useful, and make sure to check back to see how figures change over time! You can see the full list of UK unicorns companies at the end of this page. 

The data on UK unicorns

23

private unicorns worth over $1b

6

exited unicorns worth over $1b

1

dead unicorn (excluded from stats)

4.3

average number of rounds before unicorn status

£117m

average amount raised before unicorn status

83%

of unicorns are based in London

7 years

average age of company at unicorn status

Map of UK unicorn companies

How long does it take to reach unicorn status?

The methods of growth unicorn businesses have used to scale

Unicorn founder demographics

People who have founded more than one unicorn
1
Number of female unicorn founders
1
Average age of founder at incorporation
34
Average age of founder at unicorn status
40
Youngest founder at incorporation date
19
Oldest founder at incorporation date
56
Youngest founder at unicorn status
25
Oldest founder at unicorn status
61

The complete list of UK unicorn companies

List of unicorn companies

Exited UK unicorn companies

List of exited unicorn companies

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