August 19, 2019

he Next Wave of ‘Unicorn’ Start-Ups

he Next Wave of ‘Unicorn’ Start-Ups

Other fast-growing start-ups that fit this description include Farmers Business Network, which was founded in 2014 by Charles Baron, a former Google program manager, and Amol Deshpande, a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. The company charges farmers $700 a year to share and analyze data about their farms, buy supplies and sell crops. Mr. Baron said the start-up counts 7,700 farms as customers and has raised nearly $200 million in funding.

A company like Farmers Business Network wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago, before the proliferation of cloud computing and the “digitization” of farming processes, Mr. Baron added. Now, farms produce a lot of data, which Farmers Business Network is helping them to process and use to make decisions.

“Agriculture is going through a digital revolution,” he said.

In 2013, when Shan-Lyn Ma’s friends began getting married, she noticed that most digital tools for wedding planning were outdated, poorly designed or cost money.

So Ms. Ma, who previously worked at a site that held flash sales for designer merchandise, Gilt Groupe, started Zola, which offers a streamlined place to create free wedding registries.

Zola now sells 70,000 gift items in its registry. It has also developed tools like online guest lists and R.S.V.P. tracking, all designed to lure more couples to its registry product. The site has been a hit with millennials, allowing the company to raise $140 million in funding and reach a valuation of $600 million.

Zola is one of three companies on the list of potential next unicorns that have been fueled by millennials’ spending. Glossier, a beauty products company in New York, and Faire, an online marketplace for local boutiques and vendors to buy and sell wholesale items, have also grown by largely catering to a youthful audience.

Max Rhodes, who founded Faire in 2017, said millennial women are driving a resurgence of local boutiques. These shoppers “don’t want to drive out to the strip mall and buy the most stuff that’s made as cheaply as possible,” he said. “They want unique products that have a story behind them.”

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