The startup landscape is brutal. The failure rate of startups is over 90% and, in case you think longevity will save you – it won’t: 50% fail in their 5th year and 70% in their tenth. This isn’t to depress you, but it does make it clear why the standout unicorn startups are that much more impressive. There are a lot of things that have to come together to reach unicorn status – and it’s not just about having a great idea or an aligned founding team or the right investors in place. It’s a combination of a lot of those things and sometimes it’s just luck, being in the right place at the right time. As an angel investor, I’m able to provide more than just capital investments to the startups I invest in – they get my time, my relentless focus, and drive, and they get to learn from my (many) mistakes. The startup tech world has the highest startup business failure rate at 63%. Yet, I can’t resist the pull to find and fund the next generation of tech startups, always in pursuit of the tech unicorns that I know exist and are destined to succeed. I know they’re out there because I’ve found them and invested in them. Here are some of the tech unicorns that we’re proud to call MacDonald Ventures investments.
MacDonald Ventures Tech Unicorns: The Next Generation of Tech Startup Revolutionaries
While whimsical in name, the definition of a tech unicorn is anything but: the term is reserved for privately-owned tech startups with a valuation exceeding $1 billion. In her article “Welcome to the Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion-Dollar Startups,” Aileen Lee estimates that only .07% of venture-backed consumer and enterprise startups are unicorns. The top four business models among unicorns are E-commerce, Audience, SaaS, and Enterprise. You’ll see this holds on our roster of unicorns, by and large representing startups with revolutionary solutions to outdated, paper-based, legacy problems.
With the growing focus on space and technology, it’s probably shocking to find out that we’re still using massive, double-decker bus-sized satellites that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and launch. Astranis’s mission is to improve access to internet connectivity while making smaller and more powerful satellites at a fraction of the cost, building them 5x faster than their competitors in just 12-18 months. Their first effort is to triple the satellite internet capacity of Alaska, which has the highest rate of lack of access to the internet of any U.S. state (39%) with thousands of citizens living without access.
UX matters. It matters even more in mobile, and the best in mobile use Branch. Branch is the industry-leading mobile measurement and deep linking platform, trusted by the most top-ranking apps to increase efficiency and revenue. Their seamless solution fixes broken experiences and solves cross-channel measurement with unparalleled accuracy, breadth, and scalability. It’s also the only solution designed to engage users – so it’s not just about passively measuring, it’s about driving conversion.
Like it or not, the pandemic changed everything and one of those things is the reality that flexible workspaces are here for the foreseeable future. Using flexible workspaces and having the ability to measure occupancy and space utilization requires space analytics we can trust. Density offers anonymous measuring of how people use space, allowing organizations to right-size their portfolios and build better workspace experiences in a single platform.
No one foresaw the housing market that the pandemic would usher in and – when faced with selling or buying a home, having the right agent is critical to a positive outcome. Homelight is a technology platform that hundreds of thousands of homeowners have trusted to partner with the top agents in their area, secure financing, and ensure a seamless experience with an on-time, easy close. Every real estate transaction should be simple, certain, and satisfying at all. Much of the real estate and mortgage experience is bogged down in a legacy, paper-based process that is inefficient and not optimal for the client or agent, which is one of the reasons this solution was so attractive to me as an investor.
As an introvert, social media and “meeting up” are just not my thing. As an investor, however, I see the power in this platform that harnesses the power of technology to help users engage in real-life socialization and build community. IRL (which stands for “in real life”) is an app that makes it easy and fun to send and receive invites to hang out with friends in real life through group messaging, shared calendars, and community suggestions. Despite spending 5 hours on our phones each day, teens are feeling depressed and isolated, and IRL seeks to help users spend time with their friends in the real world, boosting their overall happiness. Excited to see where this one goes.
Sending and receiving payments, still in 2022, can be an enormous pain. Thanks to the most advanced blockchain technology, Ripple empowers financial institutions to expand into new markets around the world and eliminate pre-funding thanks to the power of XRP through RippleNet’s On-Demand Liquidity service. This seemingly simple solution provides the user with a seamless experience that makes our financial system more inclusive and gives people and SMEs better access to financial services.
Another outstanding startup in the real estate industry, Side partners with high-performing agents, teams, and indie brokers to transform them into market-leading boutique brands and businesses. Side develops and fully implements top-performing agents’ business plans, allowing them to focus on the aspects of their business where they excel. One feature that drew me to invest in this platform is that they are led by experienced industry professionals and they are constantly developing technology designed to improve agent productivity, legal compliance, marketing programs, and customer experience.
We’re Finding & Funding The Future of Tech
There’s nothing like creating a successful business – except maybe investing in one that you know can become a unicorn and watching them succeed. The reason I’m driven to find these phenomenal founders is that I believe tech can change our world for the better – eliminating legacy problems and creating a more inclusive and accessible future. Think your startup is the next tech unicorn? I want to hear about it. Not there yet? Don’t give up. There’s room for you in the Unicorn Club.
Enjoy the ride.