Ukrainian Startup Boom: Unicorn Rankings (2021)

This month of October 2021 we are presenting our new rankings of Ukrainian Unicorn startups. As we reviewed fast-growing Ukrainian startups, we divided them into four groups: Active Unicorns, Future Unicorns, Former Unicorns, and Foreign Unicorns with Ukrainian roots. Our primary evaluation criteria included the birthplace of founders, the location of R&D, the latest valuation of the startup, and the startup lifecycle stage.

But first, let’s look at the landscape of Startup Unicorns. Just eight years ago, venture capitalist Eileen Lee coined the term "unicorn" to describe any privately-held startup business worth $1 billion or more. She chose this mythical creature to illustrate the statistical rarity of such successful companies. Since then, the landscape of startup valuations has changed dramatically. Startup creation is booming, and capital is flowing into privately-held companies at an unprecedented rate. In addition to the name Unicorn, there are two other monikers describing more advanced valuation levels. Decacorns are worth more than $10 billion and Hectocorns are worth more than $100 billion.

Recently, valuations of startups have been increasing and Unicorns are becoming more common. In total, investors financed 837 Unicorns worldwide, at a total valuation of more than $2.7 trillion.

Ranking Unicorns Ucluster

The Unicorn Tracker, created by CB Insights, breaks down the Unicorn landscape by sectors, valuations, and countries. Check out the complete list of Unicorn companies in existence today. 

ByteDance is the largest Unicorn globally, with a valuation of $140 billion. The company owns Toutiao, a popular Chinese content platform, and the TikTok video-sharing platform. The next-largest Unicorn is Stripe, a fintech company based in the United States. Third place goes to the most expensive SpaceTech Unicorn in the US, SpaceX, with a valuation of $74 billion.

Healthcare, financial services, privacy and security, insurance services, transportation, logistics, and technology and communications have been good sectors to become a Unicorn in 2021. Almost half of the world's Unicorns come from the United States, but China also has a very large ratio of 33.5%, with 11% going to Europe.

A few years ago, there were no Unicorns in Ukraine. Today, our ranking includes five active Unicorns and eight future Unicorns. The startups in our ranking are seldom 100% operated in Ukraine. As a rule, these startups have an HQ in Silicon Valley or Europe, and their main R&D center in Ukraine. All startups in the ranking have at least one Ukrainian founder, although their co-founders and company management can be quite international.

Factors for classifying startups into our four Unicorn categories:

  • Company Valuation: The startup must have a valuation of more than $1 billion to fall into one of our categories of Active, Past, or Foreign Unicorns. If the valuation is less than $1 billion, but more than $100 million, the startup is classified as a Future Unicorn.
  • Company Type: We only consider product startups for our ranking; outsourcing companies are not included.
  • Connection with Ukraine: We are looking for startups with at least one Ukrainian founder, and a higher than 50% ratio of engineers located in Ukraine. If both criteria are met, this startup is a Ukrainian Unicorn, if either of them is not met, we consider such a startup a Foreign Unicorn with Ukrainian roots. Foreign Unicorns also include startups with a large R&D center in Ukraine.
  • Subsidiary Status: If another company acquired the startup and at the time of acquisition the startup was a Unicorn, we consider such startups Past Unicorns.

Startups that are included in our rankings

Active Unicorns: GitLab, Grammarly, Genesis, People.ai, Firefly Aerospace.

Future Unicorns: Monobank, Preply, Restream, Reface, Rozetka, Letyshops, Rocket, Ajax Systems.

Former Unicorns: Ring, Looksery.

Foreign Unicorns with Ukrainian roots: Affirm, Sila Nanotechnologies, BitFury, Revolut, PandaDoc.

Read more about Ukrainian Unicorns

Successful Ukrainian Startups: GitLab — a Modern DevOps Toolkit for Developers

People.ai: How to find an investor at Burning Man and raise sales by 40%

How Top Ukrainian Startups Found Success: Ring — a Smart Home and Security System

Ajax Systems: a Professional Wireless Security System

How Top Ukrainian Startups Found Success: The Case of Preply — a Platform For Finding Tutors

Successful Ukrainian startups: The case of Grammarly — an online grammar checker