From Unicorn to Zebra: Which Business Zoo Do You Belong to?

From Unicorn to Zebra: Which Business Zoo Do You Belong to?

Most of us know what a unicorn is. It is a fictional creature first popularised in Western literature. More than just a fictional creature, the term unicorn now has been widely associated with the startup environment. Besides unicorns, there are 10 other animals that are related to startup. What are they? Read on…

The Unicorn 

A unicorn is a privately-held startup company valued at over $1 billion. The term was coined in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, choosing the mythical animal to represent the statistical rarity of such successful ventures. As per 2019, CB Insights reported there are approximately 300 more global unicorn startup companies valued at more than $1 billion to the primary markets in which they operate. From time to time, unicorns are known to leave nothing to other animals in the startup kingdom, making it the most powerful and profitable startup among all, said Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé, Managing Director at WU Executive Academy, Vienna. 

See also: Where Can You Find a Business Idea?

The Zebra 

Below the unicorn, there are zebra businesses where the value is closely related to unicorns in the business fauna. However, different from unicorn businesses that are interested in generating profits, zebra startups are more concerned about sustainable values such as social compatibility. Thus, the best example of this classification is social entrepreneurs. 

The White Elephant

White elephants are another rare creature which sometimes is visible from far away. Just like its name, white elephant startups symbolise huge projects without a deeper economic meaning. The real example is a construction project that happens only for a major event such as sports events. As we know, stadiums or theatre are hardly used and might decay from time-to-time. And without proper care, the project might soon vanish. This is what while elephant businesses are. 

The Bulls and Bears 

In California, bulls and bears were once let loose on each other during fights. The bull could win by throwing the bear up with its horns. Meanwhile, the bear remained victorious when it was able to beat from top to bottom with its enormous paws. Accordingly, these two animals represent rising stocks and falling prices. 

The Black Swan

Similar to white elephant, a black swan is a particularly rare species which has been known as a symbol for unexpected events for more than 2000 years, when such animals were considered completely unthinkable. But they do exist. 

About some years ago, stock market expert and philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb described the black swan as representing a prediction of an almost impossible event. Therefore, today black swan is related to unpredictable events with dramatic consequences. 

The Cash Cow 

Cash Cow provides for constant income at manageable costs. This could exist in large corporations as the Ford Transit and Pickup Trucks, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Coca-Cola, and the iPod and iPhone lines. However, added Kleinhanns-Rollé, cash cows can sometimes refer to other, less profitable areas being neglected for a long period of time. 

The Gorilla 

Gorillas are strong and impressive in the wild. Same as in business, gorilla refers to the dominant companies in an industry which, nonetheless, are not monopolists. As a result of the business dominance in the market, gorilla business can risk a lot and no one dares to attack them. 

The Lame Duck 

There is a term “There is a lame duck sitting there!” which derived from the actual description of lame duck startup, a startup that could no longer compensate for their losses. In politics, lame duck refers to politicians who are incapable of taking action due to certain losses over the powerful one. 

The Shark

In the aquarium of a business zoo, sharks would make their rounds and are on the lookout for prey. That means shark startups are those of hungry, aggressive competitors who never miss an opportunity to strike quickly. 

The Vultures and Locusts 

Vultures and locusts are both a symbol for investors such as certain hedge funds, which take over weakened companies only to take over short-term profit, and they are not interested in long-term development. 

Read also: From the Most to the Least Startup-Friendly Countries  in Asia