The first unicorn is the hardest
By Adrian Garcia-Aranyos
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About the author of this op-ed:
Endeavor is a leading global community of high-impact entrepreneurs. Cumulatively, Endeavor entrepreneurs have created more than 4M jobs, raised $60B in equity funding, and generated more than $50B in revenue.
Prior to that Adrian held several executive roles at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co; The Economist Newspaper Group; and CM Capital Markets.
A different breed
Over the past two decades, Endeavor has supported founders from over 30+ countries. We’ve seen the rise and flourishing of new startup ecosystems around the globe. As I’ll explain later through our “Multiplier Effect” theory, an ecosystem’s takeoff often starts with a couple of brave souls.
An ecosystem’s first unicorn, such as Rappi in Colombia, or first major exit, such as Paystack in Nigeria, is often if not always the hardest. By definition, an ecosystem has a terribly hard time attracting local and international investors if it has no exit to show for. And, logically, a newborn ecosystem has no exits to show for.
This is akin to a cold start problem. One that requires truly exceptional entrepreneurs to resist the siren call of launching their company in a more developed ecosystem. I’ve found this type of founder, the ecosystem’s first generation, to be truly inhabited by their company’s mission. When funding and support are absent, conviction and grit take their place. These founders aren’t in it for the money: the odds of success are simply too low.