According to the Zebra Company Growth Playbook, as defined by Founders First Capital Partners, Zebra companies generate annual revenues between $5 million and $50 million, require growth capital of $100,000 to $1 million, and have 5 or more revenue streams to serve a customer within a specific national target niche. Zebra companies may not be pure tech companies, but they are tech-enabled companies.
The Unicorn companies do inspire following generations, but their remarkable businesses can also stifle innovation. This occurs because people begin to look for life-changing solutions that a large, global population of people can utilize. While it is inspiring to see that young people have high aspirations to become Unicorn companies, it actually stops them from looking at the issues on a smaller scale. Entrepreneurs sometimes tend to neglect the basic needs and problems that impact certain niche target markets.
This is where Zebra companies come in. Unicorn companies may satisfy a much larger market, but Zebra companies may provide more options for founders in underserved markets outside of the top venture capital markets in New York and Silicon Valley. Also, underrepresented Zebra company founders may have better access to capital. Sometimes their execution may be slower than Unicorn companies, but Zebra companies can provide more opportunities for more entrepreneurs.
Since most entrepreneurs strive to become Unicorn companies, they usually ignore the goldmine that is right in front of them if they sharpened their focus to help specific target markets. Zebra companies rise by observing the trends in the market and adapting to the demands of consumers. Unicorn companies attempt to disrupt the general market by introducing something new and innovative like Uber. The thing is, startups that try to become Unicorn companies usually die off quickly, with only a small number actually making it.
Unicorns may be revolutionary to society in general, but Zebra companies can outweigh them and have a larger impact on local communities. Zebra companies can improve their local communities by creating premium wage jobs while also utilizing resources within their local market. Zebra companies provide freedom to both the founders and their employees since they do not have to succumb to the struggle of working under a large conglomerate that treats you like a number.
Employees of Zebra companies usually are happier and feel more fulfilled since they get to utilize their talents in a helpful manner. They feel like they matter to the company, which increases job satisfaction. The benefits of working under a Zebra company include smaller, more intimate working environments with diverse groups of people that work together towards a common goal. Founders of these companies also tend to be people who pursued their passions.
Most of the Zebra companies are run by CEOs who are experts in their fields, and they usually have a bigger purpose than just themselves. These founders are able to monetize their passions because they better understand the markets that they are serving. Anyone can turn their hobby or passion in fitness, health, motor vehicles, music, education, etc. into a successful Zebra company. You do not necessarily need a full business background to excel. All you need to do is become an expert in your field and address the problems that the people in that industry are facing. If you are able to provide and fulfil the needs of your client base, you can quickly succeed.