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2022 February Meeting

The Unicorn Companies

By: Olivia Xiao and Catalina Zuo

Unicorn companies. While they are not exactly magical, they all share a characteristic that makes them extraordinary: a valuation of over $1 billion. Despite the challenges of starting a company, unicorn companies have made it to the top by becoming the most successful businesses worldwide. There is a lot towards becoming a successful entrepreneur, so on February 27, 2022, Draco Enterprises Founder and President Bruno Cheron shared what he knew about unicorns, as well as some key ideas in starting a business.

Entrepreneurship means different things to different people, so Mr. Cheron started off with his definition of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is from the French word, “entreprendre”, which means to undertake. Other translations of entrepreneurship include taking risks for high rewards, doing something new, and changing the world. He goes on to share some statistics regarding unicorn companies, which provides insight in starting a successful company. For example, 96 % of unicorn founders have a Bachelor's degree or more, refuting the common misconception that many business founders are dropouts. Mr. Cheron also presents other useful data, like how most founders were in their 30s when they started their business, and that it typically takes many years to become successful.

After examining the unicorn companies, Mr. Cheron went through the stages of growth in a startup: Idea → Prototype → Product-Market Fit → Scaling. The idea stage usually consists of a few friends coming up with something and starting a self-funded business. The idea then takes form in a prototype, and this involves hiring the first employees, finding customers, and fundraising. The product-market fit stage is when the “dog eats the dog food”. This is when the company grows quickly and there is a leadership team in place. The last stage, scaling, is when the company expands, creates processes, and comes up with new products/services.

The last topic in Mr. Cheron’s presentation was the role of entrepreneurship in large organizations. Although large organizations have already evolved from the startup stage, they still need to innovate to extend their leadership and adapt to the changing market. Mr. Cheron also talks about the differences between large companies and startups, and why each acts differently. Some advantages of large companies are access to more resources, a dependable innovation process, and customers. However, these advantages also bring new challenges. Large companies need quarterly results, so they need to think about short term goals. They also have limitations due to their existing customer base, so the companies cannot take as much risk. To foster innovation, large companies can take steps such as creating incubators, nurturing startups, or acquiring startups. Mr. Cheron concludes with some takeaways: pursue your dreams but be willing to pay the price, establish credibility, and build a great team as a whole for those who aspire to be entrepreneurs.

After the keynote speech, Derek introduced the YES startup program. For the next few months, YES members are to work together and develop their own startup proposals. YES members got to work with brainstorming ideas. Happy entrepreneuring!

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