Startups – 32 Interesting Statistics and Facts

A startup company refers to any company or project that is started by an entrepreneur to effectively develop an idea or a product into a scalable business model. Almost every company starts in this way. These startups are the backbone of any economy. By their very nature, startups begin as a very small-scale operation, often funded by the founder personally. Once they move out of the initial stages, startups look for further investments from venture capitalists, which allows them to grow into a proper company.

These startups range from companies that grow to become multi-billion dollar ventures to companies that fizzle out within a short time period. Startups can feature new technologies, or wacky ideas that people think can survive in the cut-throat competitive market of the modern world. Here let’s explore some of the most fascinating facts and information about startups.

Some general statistics about Startups

Let’s first take a look into some basic stats and facts about the startup ecosystem and how it affects the global market in general.

1. There are two startups created per second in the world: Compared to the fact that four babies are born every second in the world, entrepreneurs have a choice to make right now. However, it should also be noted that roughly the same number of startups also die in the same time period.

(Source: Worldwide Business Startups, Moya K. Mason)

2. You’re 3x as likely to create a startup at the age of 60 than at 30: According to a 2018 study, the more experience you garner, the more the chances of you creating a successful startup are. This leads to the fact that nearly 75% of all successful startups are created by people above the age of 55.

(Sources: KellogInsight)

3. It’s only a matter of days to get your business started: If you’re apprehensive about the time sink in starting a new business, you do not need to worry. If you’re in New Zealand, it only takes one single day to register and start your own company. This number is not much higher in the rest of the world, with Singapore taking an average of three days, Saudi Arabia with five days and the UK having an average delay of about 13 days.

(Source: Dynadot)

4. Startups account for around 93% of all patents filed: Startups are heavily reliant on bringing a new product or service to their industry and as a result, file massive numbers of patents, far outshining their established counterparts.

(Source: Business Insider)

5. Startups and small businesses pay almost 50% of all payroll: Even though startups tend to have smaller teams and limited funds, the sheer amount of people employed in the startup ecosystem is huge. Hence they have nearly half the world’s workforce on their payroll.

(Source: Business Insider)

6. United Kingdom is the best country to start a business: TheUK topped the Forbes 2018 list of best countries to start a new business. This might come as a surprise due to the ongoing Brexit situation, but UK remains a very strong economy. It has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world and has very low unemployment rates. Apart from this, the UK government offers massive tax benefits to new businesses and has one of the lowest corporate tax rates among the G20 countries.

(Source: Forbes)

7. The male to female ratio in entrepreneurship is 10: 6.9: Given how much the global trends regarding women have changed in the last century, it should come as no surprise that more women are joining the startup ecosystems with their own ventures. The ratio of men to women entrepreneurs is rising steadily and is 10:6.9 in 2019, up 12% from 2015.

(Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor)

8. The fastest-growing startup market is that of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: In 2008, only 1 out of the top 10 companies in the world were tech-based. Today the number is seven out of ten. Following this trend is the startup ecosystem. There is always scope to improve the efficiency of a particular algorithm or method, and entrepreneurs are hard at work finding them.

(Source: Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019)

9. Slack was the fastest startup to reach $1 billion valuation, taking only 15 months: The messaging and chat application Slack was the fastest product in the world to be valued at $1 billion within just 15 months of its initial release. It was created as an internal tool for the company itself when it was working on developing a game, but its value as an independent product was soon realized and it was released to massive success in August 2013.

(Source: Fortune)

10. WhatsApp was the largest startup acquisition in history at $19 billion: WhatsApp began with 2 people who were rejected for a job at Facebook, who decided to create their own Instant Messaging service. WhatsApp quickly grew into the most popular messaging service in the world, with over 1 billion users reported recently. Facebook acquired them in 2014, marking the biggest acquisition for a venture based company in history, a feat that is still to be topped today.

(Source: IT World Canada)

11. Startup to monitor other startups: Since large sums of money are often sunk into startups, people often look to defraud and exploit venture capitalists. To avoid this, a whole new industry revolving around checking new startup for fraud has emerged. Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) firms promise investors a safety blanket. They undertake a thorough investigation of a startup before the investor meetings to ensure that everything is above board and as it should be.

(Source: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners)

A look at the people behind the Startups

A company can only be as good as the people working to make it a success. Apart from the founders, startups need a strong team of dedicated members if they hope to make it big in the market. Here we take a look at some figures and facts about the teams behind startups.

12. It takes an average of 6 months to hire someone for a new startup: Since most startups operate with limited personnel, the risks associated with a bad hire are very high. This means that the processes associated with the hire of a new member need to be excruciatingly thorough. Startups are often advised to plan at least 6-8 months in advance for hiring.

(Source: Forbes)

13. Managing the human elements of a startup takes up 40% of a founder’s time: Being a startup founder is not always about looking for ways to improve your product or services. In the early stages of the business, as much as 40% of an owner’s time is spent with tasks that do not generate and income or improvements. These tasks include hiring, HR work, payroll management, etc.

(Source: Entrepreneur)

14. It is better to have a partner: Steve Jobs and Wozniak, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Larry Page and Sergei Brin, have one thing in common. They had an amazing partner to have their backs when they started their business out. It turns out that having someone to share the load with has a tangible effect on the performance of a startup. It brings about a 30% increase in investments, a 3x increase in user growth, and reduces the potential of premature over scaling by 19%.

(Source: Small Business Trends)

15. A lot of startups fail due to bad teams: As many as 23% of startups reported having the wrong team as the primary cause of their failure. This usually happens around the time when startups grow to have around 11-50 employees. This is because this is the stage when the startup is moving on from being a close-knit group of people trusting each other to a more hierarchal company structure, leading to more chances of mismanagement and miscommunication.

(Source: Entrepreneur)

It’s about the money!

While startups often begin with a very limited pool of money, often the founder’s own savings, they can grow to become multi-billion dollar enterprises in the blink of an eye. These types of startups are termed as ‘Unicorns.’ These are privately held companies valued over $1 billion, while a valuation of over $10 billion earns them the name ‘Decacorn’ and a valuation over $100 billion earns the name ‘Hectocorn.’ It is every entrepreneur’s dream to enter the prestigious ranks of the Unicorns. Currently, there are around 280 Unicorns in the world. 

Let’s take a deeper look into some other financial factoids about the startup companies of the world.

16. The most successful startup in the world is valued at $150 billion: Ant Financial, the company that owns and operates Alipay, was officially founded in 2014 as a venture focused on providing all-encompassing financial services to its customers. Due to Alipay already being a household name across China, Ant Financial grew stupendously fast and currently operates nine subsidiaries. These subsidiaries offer all sorts of services, from loans to investments to cloud-based accounting.

(Source: Reuters)

17. Globally startups are valued at nearly $3 trillion in 2019: Upon hearing the word startup, people often picture the image of a small office with limited resources working on the next big idea. However, globally speaking, all startups combined have more value than the GDP of the UK and France taken together. This is a 20% increase from 2017 and is expected to increase to $4 trillion by as soon as 2021.

(Source: Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019)

18. Bytedance, worth $75 billion, is the highest valued startup of 2019: Bytedance is a news and content platform headquartered in Beijing. It is the publisher of the mobile app ‘Tik-Tok’ which recently crossed 1 billion users. Venture capital firms placed its value at $75 billion, siting the far reaching use of ‘Tik-Tok’ as one of the primary reasons for doing so.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

19. Female founders only generate 2.2% of all venture capital: In the USA, in 2018, all female founders combined were only able to generate $2.88 billion in venture capital in their startup. This is a significant amount less than their male counterparts who generated more than $103 billion, 79% of the total. The rest of the $130 billion went to founding teams consisting of both male and female members.

(Source: Fortune)

20. Incurring massive debts, even up to $3.5 billion, is very usual: While the purpose of a business is to make a profit at the end of the day, startups often have to undertake massive debts and loans to get there. Uber and Airbnb are currently some of the highest values unicorns, but both undertook massive debts in 2016. Uber reportedly took a $3.5 billion investment from just one investor, and Airbnb had to resort to financing options from JP Morgan and CitiGroup to stay afloat and grow.

(Source: Pitchbook)

21. Just the kick you needed: A lot of people are turning to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to fund their startups. As of December 2019, more than $4.6 billion has been raised on Kickstarter for more than 170,000 projects.

(Source: Kickstarter)

The Weird Side of Startups

Almost everyone in the world has an idea that they think can change the landscape of the world entirely. These ideas more often not tend to be on the ridiculous side, and so they never see the light of day. However, some people just lean into their crazy ideas and create an entire company around it! Let’s take a look at some of the weirdest startups the world has seen.

Maybe after learning about these, you can get inspired to monetize your own weird idea!

22. Just buy something, anything: After hearing the fact that “every second thousands of people buy something on the internet,” the founders of The Something Store thought, “Why not sell actually sell ‘Something’?”. While most people would have laughed this idea off, the founders just ran with it and created an E-Commerce store. In this store, customers could go and pay 10$ for ‘Something.’ They didn’t know what they were going to get until they got it! All the founders said is that the item would be worth at least $10 and would be completely legal. Unfortunately, this store is now closed.

(Source: HoustonPress)

23. Just a bag full of crap: Who doesn’t like being surprised? Also, who doesn’t like receiving a bag of junk? These are the questions that must have gone through the minds of the good folk at Woot when they decided to start selling their ‘Bags of Crap.’ How it works is that on holidays, the Woot warehouses compile all the unsold things that they have and need to get rid of and stuff 3 of these items in a battered old paper bag. These then sell for 1$ each. They can contain amazing things such as flat-screen TVs or absolute crap like fart pens.

(Source: RustyBrick)

24. Oh no! I am out of snow! Where can I get some, do you know?: Everyone loves snow! Making snowmen and having snowball fights is something that can bring joy to anyone’s heart. However, what would you do if you want to do those things, but you don’t have snow? Well, you order snow online, obviously. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? It didn’t sound that way to the founders of Ship Snow Yo, who claim they have shipped almost 7000 kgs of snow across the USA.

(Source: Ship Snow Yo)

25. I am Rich, I Deserve it: Are you very rich but are frustrated that you can’t show it off to your peers? Fear not, I am Rich has your back. It was an IOS app that was released in August 2008 and cost $999.99. All this app did was play a voice message that was “I am rich, I deserve it, I am good, I am successful.” If that sounds ludicrous, then wait for the clincher. Eight people actually bought the app! Unfortunately, the app was taken down in just one day. 8000$ for an app that must have taken the founder around 10 minutes to create isn’t a bad deal though.

(Source: Gizmodo)

26. Just actual real garbage: This is real. This is a real thing that exists. You can purchase literal garbage, that the founders of NYC Garbage say is “HAND-PICKED from the fertile streets of NY, NY.” The idea started in 2001 as a challenge posed to the founder by his friend. Upon refusing to believe Justin’s theory that viral marketing and appealing packaging can sell anything, his friend challenged him to sell garbage. An E-commerce store was born, and the rest, as they say, is history. The website claims to have sold more than 1400 garbage boxes across the world.

(Source: NYC Garbage)

27. Lick your cat, like a cat: All cat lovers out there know that cats lick each other to show affection and that cats see humans as just big cats. Knowing this, wouldn’t you want to lick your cat to show affection to it? Now with LICKI Brush, you can! It is a small silicone brush that you can hold in your mouth to ‘lick’ your cat. The brush was featured on multiple media outlets, including Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Jimmy Kimmel Show. The startup has branched into selling other toys for cats as well, but LICKI Brush remains their most famous product.

(Source: PDXPetDesign)

It’s all a scam

We have looked at the massive amount of money that flows into the startup ecosystem and some of the weird ideas that make it big in the world. Keeping this in mind, we would be remiss to not talk about the huge scams that some startups have peddled in the name of being the next big thing.

28. Bleeding investors dry: Blood tests are some of the most important tools used in the medical field in today’s world. They give doctors a host of information about their patients. So, when Theranos claimed that their proprietary blood tests could perform the same function, but only require a thousandth of the blood standard texts takes, the medical world was taken by a storm. Over a few years, the startup raised nearly $1.1 billion in funds from various sources. However, as soon as the machines began to be produced, their false claims were realized. Both the founders were arrested in 2018 and are facing up to 20 years in jail.

(Source: Business Insider)

29. The Dishonest Company: Founded in 2011 by actress Jessica Alba, The Honest Company offered its customers natural, healthy alternatives to household items such as toiletries and cleaners. They managed to raise a funding of $490 million before they came under scrutiny in 2017. It came to light that they had been using synthetic chemicals, most of them toxic, in a lot of their products. A class-action lawsuit for false marketing was filed against them. They chose to settle the case for $7.3 million and agreeing to change all their labels and modify their marketing.

(Source: CNN Business)

30. The Unhealthy Outcome: Outcome health, founded in 2006, promised a way to monetize a doctor’s waiting room. They provided more than 40,000 doctors with TVs and Tablets free of charge to display educational content. They then gave out advertisement spaces to pharmaceutical companies onto these screens to monetize them. They raised nearly $500 million through various investments. However, an investigation by Goldman Sachs revealed that Outcome had inflated the number of screens that they claimed investors would be able to access. Following a series of lawsuits, the founders stepped down, and the cases were settled out of court.

(Source: Chicago Business)

31. Caught buying their own merchandise: Hampton Creek was started following the rise of veganism and promised to sell vegan alternatives to classical food ingredients. Their most famous product was an eggless alternative to mayonnaise, called Just Mayo. Following a huge boom in sales of Just Mayo, Hampton Creek approached investors and managed to garner nearly $900 million in valuation and $240 million in equity. The inflated sales numbers came to light when five former employees came forward to Bloomberg, prompting an investigation. The founder was charged with fraud, and the company had to rebrand itself into ‘Just.’

(Source: Bloomberg)

32. No time to spend on licensing, just give me $540 million: Zenefits was a company that was founded in 2013 to provide affordable healthcare insurance in mind. To set about that goal they hired a huge number of brokers and had them undergo training to become licensed by the state of California to sell insurance. However, as many as 80% of the them falsified their records of time spent training and obtained certification with under 10 of the required 52 hours of training. The state of California sued them in 2015, leading to a multi-million dollar fine and the resignation of the company’s founder.

(Source: Business Insider)

Data Sources & References

  1. Worldwide Business Startups, Moya K. Mason
  2. KellogInsight
  3. Dynadot
  4. Business Insider
  5. Business Insider
  6. Forbes
  7. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
  8. Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019
  9. Fortune
  10. IT World Canada
  11. Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
  12. Forbes
  13. Entrepreneur
  14. Small Business Trends
  15. Entrepreneur
  16. Reuters
  17. Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019
  18. Wall Street Journal
  19. Fortune
  20. Pitchbook
  21. Kickstarter
  22. HoustonPress
  23. RustyBrick
  24. Ship Snow Yo
  25. Gizmodo
  26. NYC Garbage
  27. PDXPetDesign
  28. Business Insider
  29. CNN Business
  30. Chicago Business
  31. Bloomberg
  32. Business Insider

Found something interesting missing in this list? We’d love to hear your feedback and include any suggestion you may have! Feel free to leave your comments.