What makes the billion dollar startups so unique? The answer is distribution. They either create a whole new market, like Uber and Airbnb did with the sharing economy, or they massively disrupt existing markets, such as healthcare and finance. Here are five companies that made it into the “billion dollar club” and my analysis of what set them apart.
The financial market has been going though many changes thanks to the growth of the digital economy and availability of app-based mobile devices. Mobile payments are one obvious area in which the financial industry is evolving. Square is a clear leader in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia, while companies, such as Ezetap in India, are cornering the market in developing nations.
Another emerging sector turning traditional banking on its head is online financing. San Francisco-based SoFi (which stands for Social Finance) is set to disrupt the banking sector through its unique approach to lending and wealth management. What launched in 2011 as a financial services company to refinance student loans has expanded to mortgages, mortgage refinancing, personal loans and wealth management. The company touts its proprietary technology, customer service and products, while marketing itself as a “non-bank.” Instead of going to a local bank branch to obtain a loan, SoFi allows members to apply online or over a mobile device—making it particularly appealing to Millennials.
What Sets SoFi Apart? There are other companies that offer online financing and wealth management, but SoFi’s management team and their ability to partner with major financial institutions give them strength and credibility. Japan-based SoftBank Group was so impressed with SoFi that they provided $1 billion in funding to help the company charge lower rates on student, personal and home loans, as well as help fund plans to expand into wealth management and deposits.
I recently went to my doctor for a yearly physical. As part of the process, I underwent several blood tests and had a heart stress test. What if, in addition to these tests, my doctor could also analyze my DNA to better understand my genetic mix and its relationship with my health? He might be able to predict and help prevent certain hereditary diseases. That is the potential behind 23andMe.