The best sectors for unicorn start-ups

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Unicorn start-ups are businesses which are independently owned and valued at over $1 billion. Known as ‘unicorns’ for their rarity, there are currently only 750 such businesses in the world according to cbinsights.com.

Interested in finding out more about these businesses, Money.co.uk set out to find out which countries, and sectors, produce the start-ups that reach a $1 billion valuation fastest by analysing every unicorn company’s start date and the date of its $1 billion valuation.

Sectors overview: 

Sector

Total number of unicorn companies

Average years taken to reach $1B

#1

Auto & transportation

31

4 years, 5 months

#2

Artificial intelligence

62

5 years, 6 months

#3

Hardware

27

5 years, 7 months

=#4

Mobile & telecommunications

35

6 years, 4 months

=#4

E-commerce & direct-to-consumer

82

6 years, 4 months

=#6

Supply chain, logistics & delivery

42

6 years, 11 months

=#6

Cybersecurity

30

6 years, 11 months

#8

Data management & analytics

27

7 years, 0 months

#9

Fintech

131

7 years, 1 month

#10

Travel

13

7 years, 4 months

#11

Edtech

26

8 years, 4 months

#12

Internet software & services

117

8 years, 5 months

#13

Health

56

8 years, 10 months

#14

Consumer & retail

21

10 years, 4 months

Unicorn businesses reached their $1 billion valuation fastest in the auto & transportation sector. On average, it took these businesses 4 years and 5 months to reach $1 billion.

Second fastest is artificial intelligence, which took an average of 5 years and 6 months, closely followed by hardware taking 5 years and 7 months.

The slowest sector for unicorn companies to reach $1 billion is consumer & retail, which took an average of a whopping 10 years and 4 months.

The sector with the most unicorn businesses is fintech (131 businesses), followed by internet software & services (117), and e-commerce & direct-to-consumer (82).

Countries overview: 

Country

Total number of unicorn companies

Average years taken to reach $1B

#1

China

155

5 years, 10 months

#2

Hong Kong

5

6 years, 1 month

#3

Japan

6

6 years, 3 months

=#4

USA

378

6 years, 11 months

=#4

Singapore

6

6 years, 11 months

=#4

Australia

6

6 years, 11 months

#7

Israel

17

7 years, 3 months

#8

France

16

8 years, 3 months

#9

UK

31

8 years, 7 months

#10

India

34

8 years, 9 months

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