Startups, Unicorns, and Silicon Valley – Lecture by Anna Panasiuk

Anna Panasiuk, a Senior Business English teacher, held a webinar for Daxxers on a trendy topic “Startups, Unicorns, and Silicon Valley.” Together, they explored some basic terms and learned new English words and expressions along the way. Find the key takeaways from the online lecture below.


Let’s start our journey to the exciting land of startups and ventures with the list of basic concepts. Please look through the definitions below so that we could be sure we’re on the same page. Here they are!

STARTUP — a business venture that has an innovative idea at its core and aims to solve a real problem or fulfill a gap in the particular market.

SILICON VALLEY — a major center for high-tech manufacturing and numerous web-based corporations. It’s located in Northern California along the west shore of the San Francisco Bay that stretches from San Jose to San Francisco. The name originates from a silicon chip which is an integral part of any computerized product.

CAPITALISM— an economic system based on private ownership in which the major goal is to obtain profit.

VENTURE — (v) to undertake a risky journey or action.

VENTURE CAPITAL — a type of financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential.

LEAN APPROACH— creating more value for customers with fewer resources.

UNICORN STARTUP — a private company with a valuation of over $1 billion.

Let’s dig deeper into startups…

In a nutshell, startups are disrupting the way things are traditionally done. Startup founder(s) should be inventive and courageous enough to look at things from a different angle, suggest and test new ideas, look out for a valid business model, and search for funding to make it happen. It’s quite a risky thing to do as we’re talking about the path of constant search and endless failures and successes.

“A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed,says Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker.

The Lean Startup Methodology is explained in detail by Eric Ries. It’s a scientific approach to creating and managing startups to get the desired product to customers’ hands faster and with fewer resources spent.

Purpose, purpose, and people are three components to keep in mind when considering a lean startup. Check out the slide below to learn more about each of them.

Startups - Lean Approach

The lean methodology could be applicable not only to startups but to all those ventures having no revenue (by far). It allows testing the hypothesis while looking for a scalable business model.

Let’s talk unicorns!

It would be no exaggeration to say that each startup has a blue dream to become a unicorn one day. It’s a very rare thing to happen. Yet lots of entrepreneurs give it a try anyway striving to build the next big thing and scale it massively.

The term ‘Unicorn’ was coined by Aileen Lee, a venture capitalist. In her article written in 2013, she described the relative rarity of such companies. According to her estimations, only 0.07% of software startups from the 2000s would reach valuations above $1 billion.

Unicorn startups - definition

Google and Facebook could those vivid examples of tech unicorn companies, which both surpassed $100 billion in value before their IPOs (initial public offerings). However, there are more of them existing today.

If you want to pump up your knowledge on startups, check out the list of the bestsellers we’ve carefully handpicked for you.

Must-reads on startups and entrepreneurship

  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
  • The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank, Bob Dorf
  • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • Good to Great by Jim C. Collins
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  • Rules For Revolutionaries. The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services by Guy Kawasaki, Michele Moreno

If you’re ignited by the entrepreneurial spirit that keeps you awake at night and dream to build the next big thing, get ready for a grueling yet exciting ride!


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