The secrets of the 29 French Unicorn Startups

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Welcome to the wonderful world of French Unicorn Startups, dear reader! Let me tell you the story of these rare and extraordinary creatures, present in the realm of business: unicorns! 🦄

What is a Unicorn Startup?

A unicorn is quite simply a startup worth more than a billion dollars.

The term was popularized in 2013 by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures, and since then these magical creatures have been the stuff of dreams for entrepreneurs around the world. However, they are very rare, and there are only a few hundred of them on the planet. 🌎

France, the country of many treasures, currently has 29 unicorns, making it the second country in Europe with the highest number of these marvels, just after the United Kingdom. These unicorn startups contribute to our country’s dynamic and innovative ecosystem.

So, if you’re looking for the ultimate entrepreneurial adventure, follow the path of French unicorns. In this fairy tale world of business, anything is possible! Who knows, maybe one day you too will create your own unicorn and become part of this legendary community of billionaire start-ups!

Saddle up, the adventure awaits! 🚀🦄


Who are the 29 current French Unicorn Startups?

Imagine these French unicorns, young companies taking off at breakneck speed towards success! What do they have in common? 🧐 They’ve all come up with innovative products or services that have captured the hearts of consumers.

But don’t think they’ve done it alone. These unicorns have attracted major investors, benefactors who believe in their enchanting potential! Thanks to this financial support, our French unicorns have been able to grow faster and conquer the global market. 🌎

There are currently 29 unicorns in France:

Name Business Domain Revenue Year Founded
Veepee Marketplace 1.8 billion euros in 2021 2001
OVHcloud Data 788 million euros in 2022 1999
ManoMano Marketplace 100 million euros in 2022 2012
Doctolib Healthcare 200 million euros for the year 2020 2013
Contentsquare Martech The last known revenue of the company is 9 million euros, achieved in 2017 2012
Mirakl Retail $135 million in 2022 2011
Vestiaire collective Marketplace €500,000 in revenue in 2021 2009
Back Market Marketplace Revenue of €10,015,527 in 2021 2014
IAD Real Estate €520 million in 2022 2000
Meero Marketplace €100 million in 2022 2016
Voodoo Video Games €600 million in 2022 2013
Deezer Music €451.2 million in 2022 2007
Sorare Entertainment Over €500 million in 2022 2018
BlaBlaCar Transport €197 million in 2022 2006
PayFit Fintech Over €650 million in revenue in 2022 2015
Exotec Robotics €200 million in revenue in 2022 2015
Lydia Fintech Lydia does not officially disclose its revenue. 2013
Qonto Fintech €4.2 million in 2022. 2016
Spendesk Fintech €16 million in revenue in 2021. 2016
Younited FinTech FinTech €125 million in revenue in 2021. 2017
Alan Assurtech Revenue of €285 million in 2022. 2016
Ankorstore Retail €250 million in 2022. 2021
Dental Monitoring Healthcare €9 million achieved in the year 2021. 2015
EcoVadis CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) €97 million in 2022. 2009
Ivalua IT €4.4 billion in 2022. 2009
Ledger Cryptocurrency €177 million in 2022. 2014
Shift Technology Assurtech €555 million in 2022. 2014
Swile Employee Experience €138 million in revenue in 2022. 2016
NW Groupe Cleantech No known revenue since the funding round in 2022.

Here’s a zoom in on the most popular of them. 👀


OVHcloud: The unicorn of the Web and digital service

Concept: Since 1999, OVHcloud has been a French web hosting company. Their comprehensive range of services encompasses web hosting, cloud computing, data storage and networking. Operating in over 16 countries, OVHcloud is the destination of choice for over 1.5 million customers thirsting for innovation. 🌧️

ovh licorne française

  • Founded in 1999.
  • More than 2,500 employees.
  • Provider of web hosting, cloud computing, data storage and networking.


Veepee: The world of online private sales

Concept: Since 2001, Veepee has been delighting fashionistas and style lovers with its French online private sales platform. With exclusive sales of fashion, beauty, home and lifestyle products, 💅 Veepee captures the hearts of millions of members across more than 14 countries.

veepee licorne française

  • Founded in 2001.
  • More than 7,500 employees.
  • Online private sales platform with a wide range of products.


ManoMano: The online DIY workshop

Concept: Founded in 2013, ManoMano transforms the DIY experience ⚒️, gardening and decorating into a digital adventure. With over 30,000 merchants and a presence in more than 13 countries, ManoMano offers a magical platform for finding quality products.

manomano licorne française

  • Founded in 2013.
  • More than 2,800 employees.
  • Online sales platform for DIY, gardening and home decoration.


Content Square: The art of user experience

Concept: Since 2012, Content Square has made improving the user experience a work of art. 🏅 Their software platform enables companies to collect data on how users interact with their websites and mobile applications. This valuable information is then transformed into opportunities for improvement.

  • Founded in 2012.
  • More than 1,000 employees.
  • Software platform to enhance the customer experience.


Alan: The French unicorn of digital health insurance

Concept: Alan has revolutionised the world of health insurance by offering 100% digital insurance. Gone are the days of endless paperwork, their platform allows users to take out health insurance in just a few clicks, easily manage their reimbursements and contact their assistance if they need it. 🤝

  • Founded in 2016 by Jean-Charles Samuelian and Nicolas Vanbremeersch.
  • Over 1 million users and more than 700 employees.
  • Digital health insurance, simple and 30% cheaper than traditional insurance.
  • Partnerships with the best hospitals and clinics in France.


Ankorstore: The Unicorn that brings together independent retailers and manufacturers

Concept: Ankorstore is a magical platform that brings together independent retailers and manufacturers. 🤝 Their aim is to support local shops by giving them access to quality products at competitive prices.

  • Founded in 2019 by Pierre-Louis Lacoste, Nicolas Cohen and Mathieu Lallement.
  • More than 100,000 independent retailers and over 10,000 manufacturers.
  • Platform for finding quality manufacturers at competitive prices.
  • A forum for asking questions, getting advice and creating a real community.


Back Market: Refurbished products revolutionizing electronics

Concept: Back Market is the French unicorn specializing in the sale of refurbished electronic products. Their mission? To make refurbished cool by offering a wide selection of refurbished high-tech products. 💯

  • Founded in 2014 by Thibaud Hug de Larauze, Alexandre Ricard and Vianney Vaute.
  • More than 10 million customers and over 1,000 employees.
  • Wide selection of refurbished products: smartphones, computers, household appliances, etc.
  • Guaranteed quality and a simple, secure shopping experience.


BlaBlaCar : The Unicorn of car sharing

Concept: BlaBlaCar has revolutionized long-distance car-sharing. 🚗 Their concept is simple: allow drivers to share their car with passengers who have the same journey.

  • Founded in 2006 by Frédéric Mazzella.
  • Over 100 million users and more than 1,000 employees.
  • Simple, economical and eco-friendly transport solution by sharing journeys.
  • Creation of a community of travelers to meet up and discover new places.


Lydia: The Unicorn of mobile payment

Concept: Lydia is the mobile payment application 📲 that simplifies users’ financial lives. With their intuitive app, users can send and receive money, pay bills and shop online.

  • Founded in 2013 by Fabrice Payen and Alexandre Prot.
  • More than 500 employees.
  • Mobile app to send and receive money, pay bills and shop online.
  • Advanced security with data encryption and fraud protection.


Doctolib: The benchmark for online medical appointments

Concept: Doctolib 🩺 has revolutionized medical appointment booking by offering a free online platform for patients.

  • Founded in 2013 by Stanislas Niox-Château, Mickael Buchin and Emeric Lebreton.
  • More than 2,500 employees.
  • Platform for making appointments with doctors, consulting medical records and receiving reminders.
  • Present in over 20 countries, with plans to expand into new countries.


Deezer: The French unicorn of music streaming

Concept: Deezer is the music streaming platform for passionate music lovers. 🎵

  • Founded in 2007 by Daniel Marhely, Jonathan Benassaya and Guillaume Legras.
  • More than 700 employees.
  • Catalog of over 90 million tracks available for streaming on computer, smartphone, tablet or audio player.
  • Music discovery with personalized recommendations, radio stations and playlists.


Spendesk: The key to corporate expense management

Concept: Spendesk is the online platform that enables businesses to manage their expenses in a centralized and simplified way. Their comprehensive solution offers businesses an efficient way to track their expenses, saving time and money. 💰

  • Founded in 2015.
  • More than 1,000 employees.
  • Platform for managing business expenses.


Younited: The Unicorn of consumer loans

Concept: Younited is the online platform that allows consumers to take out consumer loans quickly and easily 🏃‍♀️. Their intuitive solution allows individuals to compare loan offers and choose the one that suits them best.

  • Founded in 2014.
  • More than 750 employees.
  • Platform for taking out consumer loans.


Exotec: The Unicorn of logistics robotics

Concept : Exotec is a company specializing in the development of robotics solutions for logistics 🤖. Their autonomous robots enable companies to transport goods around warehouses efficiently, increasing productivity and reducing costs.

exotec licorne française

  • Founded in 2015.
  • More than 700 employees.
  • Robotics solutions for logistics.


Voodoo: The Unicorn of addictive video games

Concept: Voodoo is the video game development studio 🎮 that has captured the hearts of gamers the world over. Their simple and addictive games have been downloaded over a billion times, making Voodoo a major player in the video game industry.

voodoo licorne

  • Founded in 2013.
  • More than 1,200 employees.
  • Video game development studio.


EcoVadis: The Unicorn of corporate sustainability assessment

Concept: EcoVadis is one of France’s greenest unicorns. 🌴 It assesses the sustainability of companies via an online platform. Their environmental, social and ethical assessments are used by companies, investors and governments to make informed decisions.

ecovadis licorne

  • Founded in 2007
  • More than 1,000 employees.
  • Platform for assessing the sustainability of companies.


FAQ and conclusion: French Unicorn Startups

The journey to becoming unicorn startups is an exhilarating one, but it requires perseverance, innovation and a brilliant team. May your start-up become the next French unicorn to light up the tech sky! 🌟🚀


How do you become a French startup unicorn?

🚀✨ Get ready to dive into the crucial details to turn your idea into a thriving reality. 🦄

Step 1: Cultivate the Technological Idea

🟢 It all starts with a brilliant idea. Analyze the market to identify a relevant opportunity. Use tools like market analysis, feasibility studies and surveys to validate the need.

Step 2: Form a solid technical base

🟢 Transform the idea into a solid technological concept. Define your value proposition, your functionalities, your technical architecture and, above all, work on your product market fit!

Step 3: Build a Technical Team of Excellence

🟢 Build a team that excels in different technical skills. Identify key roles such as developers, engineers, data scientists and security experts. Take the example of Qonto, whose technical team has created a secure online banking platform.

Step 4: Prototype and Iterate

🟢 Create a working prototype or MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to test your concept. Get feedback from users to adjust your features and user experience, for that, here are some sample feedback questionnaires.

Step 5: Create the perfect sales pitch

🟢 Once your product is perfected and your team is ready, it’s time to find investors. To do that, you’ll need to put together a solid sales pitch to get people to trust you. You can call this a “sales pitch” or “elevator pitch”, and we’ll explain the methods to follow in a dedicated article. 👈

Step 6: Attracting technical investors

🟢 To ensure growth, secure strategic investment. Prepare a solid business case and demonstrate the profitability of your model if you hope to raise the funds you need. 💲

Stage 7: Deployment and Technical Expansion

launch your product with a scalable architecture. Use agile methods such as the V model to improve the product based on user feedback. The Younited story shows how well-managed expansion can lead to an international presence.

Step 8: Continue to innovate technically and focus on marketing

🟢 Innovation is continuous if you want your business to continue to be one of the top French unicorns. Keep abreast of the latest technologies and emerging trends to stay ahead of the game, and develop your business reputation as much as possible to become a benchmark brand.


Unicorn Startups: Do start-ups need to raise funds?

Raising funds is like propelling your start-up into a new dimension. Imagine having the financial resources to turn your ideas into revolutionary products, attract the best talent, and conquer the market at full speed. 🚀💰

Here’s how it works and why it’s great:

The Concept in Brief:

Basically, fundraising involves soliciting investors – your startup’s “Business Angels“. 😇 They believe in your vision and are prepared to invest their money to help you grow. In exchange, they get a share in your company. The more money you need, the bigger the share they get.

The decision to raise funds depends largely on the specific situation and objectives of each start-up. There is no universal answer, as each company is unique, but if you want to be counted among the French unicorns, you may need to.

However, here are some considerations to take into account when deciding whether or not to fundraise: 👇


Factors to consider:

Stage of Development: Early-stage start-ups often seek funding to develop their product and establish their market presence. More mature companies may seek funding to accelerate growth or expand into new markets. 📊

Need for Capital: If your business requires significant financial resources to grow quickly, raising capital may be an option to consider.

Growth objectives: If you are aiming for rapid expansion, raising funds can help you seize market opportunities quickly. 🏹

Investor expertise: As well as money, investors often bring valuable expertise and a network that can accelerate your company’s growth.

Risks and trade-offs: It’s important to weigh up the benefits of raising capital against trade-offs such as loss of control and financial pressure.

And there you have it, you know all about French unicorn startups! 🦄



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