Some Surefire Startup Unicorn Attributes
One of the main reasons why companies like Uber and Airbnb are doing so well, in my opinion, is that not only do they provide a fantastic experience to their customers (well, most of the time) they have several attributes that speak to what I feel are base traits in humanity.
Way 1: Figure out a way in which people can help each other for money
Helpfulness. Since the dawn of time, humans have existed in packs – we started in villages and grew them into cities, but most of the time, not only do we enjoy each other’s company, we generally like helping each other. When you look at how the internet has enabled what I call “crowdhelping” – telling people things that you’ve figured out for no reason other than it would help others, then you can easily see how that can extend into the peer-to-peer economy. Of course, getting a little cash out of the deal is pretty sweet too.
Way 2: Let your “helping humans” work on their own schedule
Freedom. It’s at the core of what humans want. They want the ability to do what they want when they want and with who they want. It’s been proven that the more freedom and autonomy people have in their jobs, the happier they feel. Uber and Airbnb give their “helping humans” the freedom to work whenever they like and not work whenever they like.
Way 3: Take the stuff that people don’t want to do themselves off their plate.
Laziness. If there is one thing that you can be sure of, people are generally lazy. If there is a way for them not to have to do something, they will find that way. Typically, this is done by delegating the task to someone else, even if they have to pay them for it. Big brothers delegating too little brothers, bosses to employees, people to cab drivers, or to other people through something like TaskRabbit. Tim Ferris started a whole “anyone can outsource” revolution with the 4 Hour Work Week; now, anyone can outsource anything they don’t want to or have the time to do.
Way 4: Figure out a way of using stuff that is mostly just sitting around
Wastefulness. I don’t know about you, but I hate seeing things go to waste. We’ve had a drought here in California for 4 years now, and I don’t run the water a second more than I have to. I don’t buy things I don’t need to use and expect to eventually not even need to own many things anymore. You probably sometimes look around your house and say, “how much of this stuff do I really use?” In general, I think people hate seeing waste, seeing things that they paid for not being used.
Way 5: Challenge the status quo. If someone hates you, you may be doing something right.
Finally, we are usually all about “the little guy” – we love the underdog, the David beating Goliath story. We love seeing big, inflexible institutions that have been screwing us forever – because they have set up the rules so that they can – being taken down by the little guy. Namely us.
Sure, there are plenty of other things out there that are more tactical (don’t need employees, be the middleman, etc.), but those IMHO are simply implementations of the points above.
The reason these companies are doing so well is that they touch upon our core humanity. Instead of fighting the way humans are, they go with it.
So go with it – maybe your idea will be the next unicorn.
— image yosuke muroya