Do you want to be a unicorn or a zebra?

A unicorn refers to any tech startup company that reaches a $1 billion dollar market value as determined by private or public investment.

Zebra companies are characterized by doing real business, not aiming to disrupt current markets, achieving profitability and demonstrating it for a while, and helping to solve a societal problem.

Unicorn’s purpose is exponential growth. It majorly focuses on quantity and is competitive which creates the monopoly. On the other hand, Zebra’s purpose is sustainable prosperity. It majorly focuses on quantity and collaboration.

Hunting for unicorns?

In the startup world, disruption and innovation are highly sought after. Enormous amounts of energy and venture capital are spent to try to find that “unicorn” business which will make its investors wealthy and famous. The “unicorn” model of business focuses on wild success and “magical thinking.” The problem isn’t just in the question of sustainability. The culture of the startup leader can lead to a business culture that is damaging. The “unicorn” mindset fosters competition and innovation, but if you peel back the layers, you’ll often find a toxic world underneath.

Why zebras?

Zebras are real. These companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other. They are also mutualistic by banding together in groups, they protect and preserve one another. Their individual input results in a stronger collective output. Zebra companies are built with peerless stamina and capital efficiency.
Instead of putting innovation and profits before all else, zebra companies prioritize creating sustainable businesses that treat their employees and customers well and make the world a better place. They don’t squeeze every last cent out of their market, they’re tilling their profits back into their communities and business. And they’re seeing success.

Since every company is different, it makes sense that there are many ways to define and measure success. When you’re establishing goals and making those first few hires, make sure you can explain how you’re defining success and build your team around this shared vision. Every entrepreneur needs to measure their own success metrics. Whether it is purpose and profit or only profit.