5 U.K unicorn start-ups – where business dreams meet reality

What is a unicorn start-up?

A unicorn start-up is a start-up which manages to reach a valuation of $1 billion (£760m) or more. Just like the majestic creatures we know so well from fairy tales, unicorn start-ups are extremely rare. However, they are becoming more common, particularly in the heart of London.

Unicorn start-up characteristics

On average, around four unicorn start-ups are born each year. There are some characteristics that many of these companies share:

They disrupted their industries

Most unicorn start-ups have disrupted the industry they belong to. Uber changed the way people book taxis and Snapchat disrupted the social networking world at an unbelievable rate. Now, it’s hard to imagine life without them.

Constant improvement

Unicorns maintain their positioning by constantly innovating and improving the service they offer.

Consumer focused

62% of unicorns are B2C and their business models are focused on making their services more easily accessible to their consumers. Can you imagine what we would have done if Spotify hadn’t jumped in?

Private companies

Most unicorns are privately held companies which receive their valuation when a bigger company acquires it or invests in it.

5 U.K unicorn start-ups


Deliveroo was founded in 2012 and achieved $1 billion valuation in 2017.


Founded in 2013, it took just two years for this global AI leader to receive their $1 billion valuation.


Improbable is a technology company focusing on large-scale simulations in the cloud. They were founded in 2012 and got their $1 billion valuation last year.


At just 24 years old, two friends started brewing their own beer and sold it at markets. 11 years later, they received their $1 billion valuation.

The Hut Group

If you’re into your health and fitness, you’ll know about The Hut Group. Founded in 2008, they are now a global leader in health, fitness, beauty and lifestyle and home to some of the world’s most popular brands, including MyProtein. They received their $1 billion valuation in 2016.

If you’d like to learn more about some of the unicorns to come out of the U.K, check out Beauhurst’s latest report. Fancy yourself as the next great unicorn founder? Head to swoopfunding.com and let us get things in motion.

Don’t waste time – there are plenty of funding and saving solutions to help your business grow

Get started for FREE

We work with world class partners to help us support businesses with finance