The list of ‘unicorn’ startup companies is a truly exclusive club, referring to those privately held startups which are worth $1 billion or more, but it’s even rarer to see one of these rare companies that was founded by a woman.
We’ve researched almost 400 unicorn companies to find out just how many women have joined this traditionally male-dominated club in recent years and who are the women that are paving the way for aspiring female entrepreneurs to follow in their footsteps.
Of the 388 unicorn companies that we studied, just 42 (10.8%) had at least one female founder, including the graphic design tool Canva and the neighborhood social network Nextdoor.
However, the majority of these were founded alongside men, and just 1.8% of unicorns we analyzed were fully female-founded, including Glossier and Rent the Runway.
On the whole, the ‘Unicorn Club’ is still heavily male-dominated, with just 50 of the 874 unicorn founders being female.
Notable success stories include Kendra Scott, who started her own fashion line, and Anne Wojcicki, who helped found the pioneering personal genomics company 23andMe.
Just by making it into the ‘Unicorn Club’, a startup has clearly enjoyed great success, but how do things compare when we look at the market valuation of the female-founded unicorns?
The average market value of a unicorn company stands a $3.26 billion, but for those with at least one female owner, this drops to $2.36 billion.
The figure drops even further when it comes to those that are fully female-founded, with an average market value of $1.39 billion.
The female-founded company with the highest current valuation is Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing and food delivery service similar to Uber, which was co-founded by Tan Hooi Ling and is worth $14.3 billion.\
The vast majority of female-founded unicorns can be found in the USA and China, with just 10 located in other countries, including Australia-based Canva and 23andMe and the Bolt taxi-hailing app, which is based in Estonia.
List of unicorn companies taken from CB Insights. Some of the companies on this list were excluded either due to lack of reliable data or due to being founded as a division of an existing company, rather than by an individual.