Startups in Upcoming Unicorns’ List of 2021

  1. Acorns

A father and son combo fintech, Jeff Cruttendan ran the investment arm of popular trading platform E-trade. Together with his son Walter Cruttendan, he started Acorns in 2012 with a simple idea.

The idea was to round up people’s spare change from debit or credit card purchases and automatically invest them via the application. Investments are automatically made into one to five portfolios, each carrying different levels of risk. Like Robinhood, it is heavily focused on the millennial market, appealing to the younger generation of new investors with easy UI and UX and minimal effort.

As someone who has tried out Acorns (called Raiz in Australia), it’s as simple as it sounds. You pick a portfolio and then link your accounts and let the app do the rest.

As of early 2020, Acorns has had 6.8 million users, up from 4.6 million in 2019. Since 2012, Acorns has had 12 rounds of funding, according to Crunchbase, and has raised over 207 million dollars.

With their last round raised early in 2019 at an 806 million dollar valuation, it won’t be long until Acorns hit the coveted unicorn status either through their own growth or another round raised.

  1. Capsule

In my opinion, startups that solve a pain point directly at the founder’s heart have a huge advantage over others. You become the customer of your own product and understand the pain others might have as well.

This is the exact case for Eric Kinariala, who spent an hour waiting in a line at a pharmacy for meds before realizing they had already sold out. He started Capsule five years ago with a focus on rebuilding the complex interaction around doctors and pharmacies and building medicine.

The app allows patients to help schedule a delivery within a two-hour window where information is given around the drug as well as an opportunity to speak to a pharmacist via a secure chat. It allows prescribing easier for doctors, especially to help specify alternate drugs if the patient’s insurance doesn’t cover the original selection.

With COVID-19, Capsule went from a nice to have service to something that became essential with all the outbreaks.

“[Capsule] went from something that was a convenience to essential,” — Kinariala said

Today they service more than 60 000 customers in New York (where the problem first originated) and have raised more than $270 million to date. With a revenue of 100 million dollars last year, it will most likely be able to hit the billion-dollar valuation mark by next year.

  1. Carousell

You most likely have not heard of this startup but operating out from Singapore, Carousell started in 2012 between three friends selling used goods to others.

Established as a marketplace application to help others buy or sell secondhand goods, Carousell operates predominately in the south-east Asia and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) regions and Canada.

Having raised 262.8 million dollars over the last 6 years, Carousell is currently valued just above 900 million dollars since its last round a few months ago in September 2020.

“I think for us this transaction, this round of funding that we closed doesn’t really change our strategic focus as a company,” he said, adding Carousell’s aim is to stay focused on cementing its leadership in Southeast Asia’s online classifieds space.

As seen with Amazon, e-commerce has seen an uplift in sales and focus across the industry. This has meant Carousell is in a prime position to capitalize on a $300 billion internet economy. The focus for 2021 onwards is making selling even easier and adding services into their product line, including plumbing, house cleaning, and more.

  1. Algolia

You visit a website, and you’re looking for something quick.

You notice a search bar on top of the website, and you enter your query, and it delivers your result in real-time.

This is what Algolia does.

For companies like Medium (yes Medium search uses Algolia!), where user experience must be seamless, it helps simplify the search engine capabilities for websites and applications. By providing a set of tools that help make and integrate a full search experience on your sites and applications, it helps deliver a true digital experience.

Since its inception in 2012, it has raised 185.3 million dollars with revenues of 40 million dollars in 2018. If we follow a similar trend with its current YoY growth of 100%, Algolia will have hit at least 100 million dollars of revenue by 2020 and more in 2021.

Even with the raise, Algolia has not disclosed its valuation but looking at revenues and the possibility of another raise in 2021, Algolia is set to reach a billion dollars by next year with relative ease. This is because it’s a SaaS company and one that’s helping empower digital experience.

Both of these segments are lucrative for growth, and my prediction is Algolia will be one of the fastest-growing within this list in the next few years.

  1. Andela

I am a huge fan of companies looking to help develop new talent, not just across North America or other English speaking nations but within developing countries.

Andela works to solve the tech-worker shortage in the US by identifying and training software developers in Africa. It especially focuses on countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.

Digging a bit deeper into its business model, this startup’s client base compromises of around 200 companies worldwide that pay for these developers that Andela personally selects and trains for the project.

Having raised over 181 million dollars over a period of six years has catapulted this company’s valuation to 700 million dollars since 2019. With another possible round (based on timelines) looking to be raised in 2021, it will most likely also join the unicorn club in due time.


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