This is an analysis of the Maven dataset related to unicorns and start ups around the world. The brief was to explore what makes a unicorn, look at the industries, and see how they perform around the world.
For this, I looked at durations and timelines, then created several metrics to examine the best performing industries on average, then looked to highlight the key hubs or cities around the world where unicorns tended to gather.
Step 1 – Looking at the type of data
I did not wish to look directly at the data initially in case it skewed or biased my view on the questions I might be able to ask. This is where a data dictionary comes in very handy. It helps give an overview and context for the subject without giving too much away about the content.
From an initial review, I divided the types of data up into several categories which could help me form a list of questions
- Dates – These can help form time and trend related questions
- Money – These can form queries on average values, return on investment and growth
- Geography – These can help make comparisons at several hierarchical levels
- Companies – These can assist in analysis at both high and detailed levels from both and company and investor viewpoint
Now this initial breakdown was complete, I could move on to developing a list of questions I could potentially “ask” the data and form the crux of my analysis.
Step 2 – Ask the Questions Already!
OK, so here are a shortlist of questions I made, along with some “subquestions”. I explored and used some of them in my final design, but left them all listed here in case they help fire the imagination of anyone else in their journey.
Questions Related to Date/Time
- Are unicorns a recent phenomena, and is there any trend over the past number of years in the number of unicorns being created? How is this trending with the overall economy?
- How long does a company typically take to become a unicorn? Is this impacted by the type of industry or country? Is there any apparent trend over time?
- Are there certain industries which have become more prevalent in recent years as opposed to say 10 or 20 years ago?
Questions Related to Companies, Money, Funding and Growth
- Which industries make up the majority of unicorns and have the highest average valuations?
- Which industry or country is seeing the most funding from venture capitalists, and are there any particular industries providing high capital investment return rates?
- Which industry or company has experienced the highest or lowest value annual growth rate since joining the unicorn club?
- Are investors typically attracted to particular industries, or do they “spread their bets”?
Questions Related to Location
- Where in the world (cities, countries or continents) are the highest prevalence for unicorns? Has this changed over time?
- Is there any connection between these locations and the type of industry?
- Where in the world has the highest value unicorns or those that provide the highest investment return rates?
- How do unicorns measure up against % GDP of GDP per capita in particular countries? (might need some additional data for this one!)
- Are unicorns confined to historic world powers, or are emerging markets and countries taking a lead?
Step 3 – Start your analysis
It would maybe not be wise to attempt to answer all these questions, but maybe focus on a selection that you think will tell a story to “illustrate the current landscape of unicorn companies around the globe“.
I will leave you here with at least an alternative technique to approaching these challenges, and hopefully also a little inspiration or some ideas to start or evaluate your own approach.
The above report is my final result of answering at least one or two questions from each section.