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So, You Want to be a Unicorn?


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We all hear about the Billion Dollar Unicorn Club, but what does it take to be part of it?

Entrepreneurs start their business with dreams for the future, but many don't think beyond vague goals and ambitions.

Determining your purpose, values, and position is a good start, but can only get you part of the way.

Hear straight from the "Unicorn Whisperer" how you can tame the Unicorn and stop chasing it.

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So, You Want to be a Unicorn?

  1. 1. Heather Wilde, Unicorn Whisperer ROCeteer So, You Want to Be a Unicorn? @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  2. 2. It all started with a boat… @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  3. 3. "When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices." @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  4. 4. And then the world turned upside down… @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  5. 5. FAIL FAST Then move on to the next thing.
  6. 6. WHO AM I? Live in Las Vegas, United States of America Early Employee at the world’s 16th Unicorn Company (Evernote) “Unicorn Whisperer” 2015 Stevie Award Winner, Mentor/Coach of the Year and Female Executive of the Year Advisor and Mentor to hundreds of companies worldwide @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  7. 7. A “unicorn” refers to any tech startup company that reaches a $1 billion dollar market value as determined by private or public investment. The term was originally coined by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures. @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  8. 8. 8 MARKS OF A UNICORN Has a simple idea Solves an existing, mass market problem Has an obvious, communicable, quantifiable value Has a clear market differentiation Is based around an online platform or service Has a great user experience Has founders with a clear vision Comes at the right place, right time @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  9. 9. @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  10. 10. 92  $1B+  Companies   United  States  &  Canada   1  $1B+  Company   South-­‐America   1  $1B+  Company   Australia   15  $1B+  Companies   United  Kingdom  &  Europe   2  $1B+  Companies   Middle  East   32  $1B+  Companies   Asia   @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  11. 11. In 90% of Unicorn companies: The founder/CEOs have technical degrees. 2+ co-founders went to school or previously worked together. The founders had prior tech startup experience. The founders were in their 30s (or older) when they started it. The founders or CEOs are male. @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  12. 12. A culture is a collection of shared, underlying beliefs about what is important and appropriate that becomes the accepted “norm” or “best practice”. A “startup culture” is a workplace environment that values creative problem solving, open communication and a flat hierarchy. @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  13. 13. Marc Andreessen: “Do you know the best thing about startups?” Ben Horowitz: “What?” Marc Andreessen: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.”     -­‐The Hard Thing About Hard Things @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  14. 14. Typical day at a Unicorn Arrive sometime between 10 and 11. Catch up on Work - 1.5 hours Eat lunch (at the office) - 1 hour Work until 6PM - 4.5 hours Eat Dinner (at the office) - 1 hour Take break (at the office) - 1 hour Work until between 10pm to 1am (depending on requirements). - 2-5 hours Total daily time Worked: 8-11 hours Total daily time in Office: 11-14 hours – 6 or 7 days a week!!! @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  15. 15. Evernote offered every full-time worker house cleaning and a $1000 a year vacation stipend (to ensure employees actually take some of their unlimited vacation days). Google offers nap pods, dry cleaning and other services such as having fresh fish to be delivered to the office for employees to take home. Apple and Facebook each offer $20,000 to their female employees toward egg harvesting and freezing. @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  16. 16. Work life balance is not something that startup founders often get. The risk of burning out (or worse) is high.  @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  17. 17. S Many of the top cited reasons for startup failures are emotionally or psychologically grounded. For example, being worn out, the effects of pride or unrealistic expectations. cc: Jeff Kubina - @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  18. 18. Would you rather chase a unicorn, or ride it? @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  19. 19. S “Failure really does pave the way to success. I started coding when I was 12. A lot of things I did didn't pay off but it all went into my toolbelt. It takes a massive number of attempts to be successful.” - Nathan Blecharczyk, AirBNB Founder cc: Fly For Fun - @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  20. 20. Focus on building a meaningful company - not the next unicorn. @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  21. 21. S Got Questions? cc: Stéfan - @heathriel     @ROCeteer_inc   #DevoxxMA  
  22. 22. S madsweetworld.comcc: heanster - Thanks! #DevoxxMA @heathriel @roceteer_inc