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Top 10 unicorn startups to watch out for in 2022

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Top 10 unicorn startups to watch out for in 2022. Source: depositphotos.com

There are over 1000 private companies with valuations exceeding 1 billion USD. The unicorn club is getting a new member or two every day.

1. Scandit (Switzerland)

Founded: 2009

Became a unicorn: 9 February 2022

Zürich-based smart data capture firm Scandit has seen ARR numbers more than double since May 2020. During the pandemic, Scandit has served as a valuable asset to a number of national health organisations such as the NHS in the UK, and catered to the top five global courier companies as well as eight of the top ten U.S. grocers. Its customer list includes household names such as American Eagle Outfitters, Carrefour, FedEx, Levi Strauss & Co., Yamato Transport, and Sephora. The company’s proprietary computer vision technology enables mobile devices to capture data from barcodes, text, IDs, and objects. With Scandit, any smart device, like smartphones, drones, digital eyewear, and robots, can scan up to 3x faster than dedicated scanners. The solution both automates a number of processes, and generates actionable insights and analytics that bolster customer engagement and increase worker productivity.

Scandit’s latest $150 million Series D round was led by the global private equity house Warburg Pincus, with existing investors  Atomico, Forestay Capital, G2VP, GV, Kreos, NGP Capital, Schneider Electric, Sony Innovation Fund by IGV, and Swisscom Ventures to join.

2. Happy Money (USA)

Founded: 2009

Became a unicorn: 8 February 2022

Happy Money is a leading American platform for unsecured lending in partnership with credit unions. Its team of financial services professionals, research and clinical psychologists, data scientists, and other experts is focused on the intersection between a person’s psychology and financial solutions, aiming to understand how people make financial decisions and empowers them to pay off credit card debt. The rapidly-growing fintech company is backed by Anthemis Group and CMFG Ventures. Its latest capital raise of $50 million follows a strong Q4 in a record-breaking year, an average 42% YoY growth in originations from 2018 to 2021, and technology veteran Jeff Winner’s appointment as permanent CEO and Board member.

3. GoCardless (UK)

Founded: 2011

Became a unicorn: 8 February 2022

GoCardless uses technology to simplify the previously complicated Direct Debit system, providing easy online setup, customer and payments management, a simple fee structure and integrations into major accounting and billing software packages. The fintech has worked with banking authorities to create a simple API that makes it easy and cheap for small businesses to receive debit payments, without the need to pay credit card fees or have a merchant account. Throughout ten years of operations, the startup has established partnerships with 150 billing and subscription software companies, including Salesforce, Xero, Sage, Zuora, and QuickBooks. Its client base includes TripAdvisor, DocuSign, Klarna, and Epson. This account-to-account payments platform has raised $312M in a Series G in 2022. The investment is led by Permira. New investor BlackRock Private Equity Partners also joined the round. GoCardless accelerated its previous investments in open banking product development and launched Instant Bank Pay, a new way to collect one-off bank-to-bank payments using open banking. The startup partnered with Klarna and PayPal and increased its employee number by 85%. GoCardless now plans for both product and geographical expansion as it targets becoming the world’s leading network for direct bank payments.

4. ElasticRun (India)

Founded: 2016

Became a unicorn: 7 February 2022

ElasticRun helps kirana (Indian neighbourhood stores) to source goods and working capital from large FMCG brands. Its platform provides analytics, aggregation, and offers delivery services to small towns. Its delivery network is built using idle transportation and logistics capacities from a large number of dispersed entrepreneurs. Thus, big e-commerce businesses can reach customers in far-flung areas through the network of rural kirana stores. The startup’s proprietary technology enables a “no capex” and “variable cost” crowdsourced logistics network. Some of the offerings by ElasticRun are primary distribution, secondary distribution and last mile connectivity. The firm has recently raised $300 million in a new funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund II. Goldman Sachs has joined as a new investor.

5. Dune Analytics (Norway)

Founded: 2018

Became a unicorn: 2 February 2022

Dune Analytics is a Web3 Ethereum-centric crypto data analytics platform. It’s a community-driven open platform where anyone can easily create analyses of Ethereum smart contract data and share their dashboards and data charts using SQL queries for free. The data can be filtered into convenient charts, graphs, and comparative metrics. The goal is to foster collaboration and transparency around crypto data by allowing the whole industry to build together as opposed to in a siloed way. In February, the company raised $69.4 million in a Series B led by Coatue. Multicoin Capital and Dragonfly Capital participated in the fundraise as well. The startup will leverage the funds to create an infrastructure that distributes financial rewards for user-generated content, attracting and incentivising engagement within the community. Currently, Dune Analytics offers data queries for five blockchains including Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Xdai, Polygon, and Optimism. The company said it plans to “incorporate all Layer-1 and Layer-2 smart contract platforms.” Creating the ‘in-demand’ API is also next on its to-do list, which will allow “boundaryless research, building, tinkering, trading, and beyond.”

6. Productboard (Czech Republic, USA)

Founded: 2014

Became a unicorn: 2 February 2022

Productboard is the leading customer-centric product management platform that allows its corporate customers to understand what users need, prioritise what to build next, and smoothly launch customer-oriented product roadmaps. The startup is backed by leading investors like Tiger Global Management, Dragoneer Investment Group, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners. Microsoft, Disney+, Zendesk, UiPath, Avast, and Zoom – are all on Productboard’s client list. Suitable for both startups and large enterprises, this cloud-based product management and roadmap solution features idea collaboration, resource management, prioritisation, road mapping, feedback collection, milestone tracking, monitoring of requirements and workflows. Moreover, it provides white-label solutions to set up product portals, which help share, review and launch ideas among colleagues and customers.

7. Betterfly (Chile)

Founded: 2018

Became a unicorn: 1 February 2022

Chilean insurtech Betterfly provides life insurance with a “prevention, protection, and purpose” approach, combining wellbeing, insurance, and social purpose. The startup encourages customers to adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as sleep, exercise, and meditation, and then offers rewards in the form of life insurance coverage or charitable donations. The platform also offers general practice consultations, gym memberships, mental health support, meditation, wellbeing education and access to investment options, including mutual funds and pensions. Its latest $125M Series C funding round was led by Glade Brook Capital. Greycroft, Mundi Ventures, and Lightrock joined existing investors QED Investors and DST Global Partners. The company now plans for international expansion, as well as the release of new products, including insurance, lifestyle and financial services. It also plans to establish new partnerships with insurance carriers and financial services companies.

8. Wayflyer (Ireland)

Founded: 2015

Became a unicorn: 31 January 2022

Wayflyer is a revenue-based financing platform for e-commerce brands. The cash advance platform uses big data analytics and offers customised repayments plans based on a merchant’s revenue activity. The company aims to help e-commerce merchants “unlock growth” by giving them access to working capital (from $10,000 up to $20 million) so they can improve cash flow and drive sales. The advantage is that companies make repayments as a percentage of their sales. So if they have a slow month, they will pay back less. In 2022, DST Global and QED Investors co-led the all-equity Series B $150 million round. Prosus, Madrone Capital Partners and J.P. Morgan, all new backers, also participated alongside previous investors Left Lane Capital and Guillaume Pousaz (the founder of Checkout.com).

9. Phantom (USA)

Founded: 2021

Became a unicorn: 31 January 2022

Phantom is a closed-source crypto wallet that works across multiple cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms. Its main target, however, is the fast-growing Solana blockchain. Phantom aims to reimagine the crypto wallet with an easy-to-use interface, guided onboarding process, as well as experiences like the capability to see NFTs directly in the extension. The startup has raised a $9 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), with Variant Fund, Jump Capital, DeFi Alliance, Solana Foundation and Garry Tan also participating. After securing $109 million in Series B funding headed by Paradigm, this non-custodial wallet got the unicorn status. From 40,000 active users, the startup company now has 2.1 million and about 100,000 users onboarding every week. Phantom announced it would make its wallet available on mobile devices. Its iOS version has already launched.

10. Esusu (USA)

Founded: 2018

Became a unicorn: 27 January 2022

Esusu is a fintech startup that targets immigrant and minority groups and provides rent reporting and data solutions for credit score building. It partners with property owners and housing providers and works with 35% of the largest landlords on the National Multifamily Housing Council (NHMC) list to get the data needed “to bridge the racial wealth gap” via rental payments. Esusu captures on-time rental payment data of renters who opt in to its platform and reports to the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian – to strengthen their credit scores. Meanwhile, property owners get help in mitigation against initiating evictions. The recent $130 million Series B fundraising round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 brought it unicorn status. Jones Feliciano Family Office, Lauder Zinterhofer Family Office, Schusterman Foundation, SoftBank Opportunity Fund, Related Companies and Wilshire Lane Capital also participated in the fundraise. The company makes money through subscription fees on its savings platform and by charging landlords to use its rent reporting service. Since its inception in 2018, the company’s revenue has grown 600% year on year.

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