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Billions of reasons to listen to these Unicorn startup founders

Bob Brown | May 11, 2015
The number of billion dollar private startups has risen from 10 in 2012 to 15 in 2013 to 38 in 2014 — and there are 15 already in 2015.

McKelvey credits having a team that boasts a mixed skillset he and his partner have very different personalities. But he also said that in hiring new employees, he doesn't want them just to fit in like new spokes on a bicycle wheel, say as being the designated "mature guy." "I still want an entrepreneurial culture to exist forever," he said.

McKelvey said he knew his company was going to be a capital intensive one, so its strategy was to raise as much money as it could at the lightest value since it knew it would be coming back for more before long to finance new build-outs. Ashutosh says his strategy was to "raise as much as you need and no more," not wanting to fritter it away or forfeit too much of the company to investors.

As to whether the current unicorns are going to go "poof" like the bubbles before them, McKelvey says we're at least not in a bubble culturally. By that he meant that entrepreneurial spirit has become much more widespread even at the elementary school level where he comes in to speak sometimes — than when the earlier tech startup bubbles blew up and a relatively thin layer of business people were affected.

Actifio CEO Ashutosh says that he started the company at exactly the time one prominent venture capital firm was telling people to avoid startups and go work for IBM or HP. "Bubble or no bubble, I don't care. I focus on customers and doing the right thing."


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