Growing startups that dethroned unicorns

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Before the pandemic, growing startups were like large cruise ships at sea, moving at a certain speed without pressure. With the health contingency, the landscape changed abruptly, forcing them to change pace to adapt to the moving waters of the new global scenario. 

These companies and startups had to adopt a new quality in their business models: resilience.This is the ability to overcome adverse times. One of the main qualities of growing startups. 

The Dr. Sergio Madero, research professor at the Business School of Tecnológico de Monterrey, in an interview explains that companies with this type of characteristics are positioned over the rest due they have the necessary tools to face different scenarios. 

An example of resilience are the startups in Latin America. These startups have a business model based on technology and innovation that allows them to adapt to the diverse challenges of the region.

These resolution and evolution skills are precisely the attributes that private equity funds look for in startups. During 2022, Latin American emerging companies captured a total private equity investment of $8 billion,of which Brazil and Mexico account for 75% according to data from Endeavor and Glisco Partners

During 2023, private equity funds remain cautious when it comes to investing, and investors will also focus their attention on those business models that are structured, innovative, scalable and adaptable.

Venture capital in search of resilient startups in Latin America

Venture capital is one of the main investment alternatives for growing startups in Latin America. This vehicle provides the necessary capital to emerging companies so that they can establish themselves and compete in the market. 

Resilient companies have become one of the main targets for investors because they have characteristics that make them solid organizations with great opportunities to achieve long-term success. 

Qualities that make a company resilient

For the Tec. de Monterrey academic, sustainable models application in different processes of the company is a quality that companies must apply to be able to surf the crisis

He also list 4 qualities that make a company resilient::

  1. Reinventing itself: The transformation of its business model in the face of the situation. 
  2. Strengthening aspects such as change management and the transformation of the organization towards flexible environments. 
  3. Duality between technological approaches without neglecting the talent of human capital. 
  4. Integral leaders. Generate an environment with their organizations that combines their industry expertise with the value of their team. 

Private equity investors are looking for companies that, in addition to having an innovative business model and great growth opportunities, are capable of withstanding and overcoming different scenarios, from a pandemic to an economic crisis. 

In recent years, more private equity funds seek for a more sustainable vision. According to figures from the Natixis IM survey, 6 out of 10 investors will increase their capital allocation of this type of projects. 

The trend to stimulate companies with a sustainable vision results in more growing companies and startups consolidating in the industry. Particularly with a developing ecosystem and with the talent that characterizes the region. 

Magdalena Coronel, investment director of BID Lab during her participation in Forbes Forum: 30 Promises of Business 2023, explained that the Latin America region has the potential to continue growing. Thus, the stimulation of new sustainable companies and startups with innovative proposals to create new niches will lead this market.

Zebras, growing startups. An example of resilience?

In the consolidation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in recent years, unicorn companies were the most sought after by investors and were the goal of entrepreneurs. Currently, the focus is on startups with scalable and sustainable business models, as well as the socio.environmental solutions they offer. 

With this new preference among investors, zebras are emerging as the new favorite industryThe positive impact of these, as well as their resilience, are the main reasons why they can dethrone unicorns.  

Characteristics of zebra companies

While both types of companies generate a positive impact on the ecosystem, zebras are associated with a balance between profitability and solving social and environmental problems. 

According to Zebras United these are the characteristics of this type of emerging companies: 

  • They have a social purpose.
  • They are innovative in their proposal.
  • Provide disruptive solutions.
  • Value proposition.
  • Collective well-being.
  • Sustained growth.

Precisely these qualities of reinvention in terms of sustainability, social responsibility and good corporate practices, are an incentive for investors to seek to boost the growth of this type of resilient companies and with ease of adaptability to changes in their environment.

Zebra companies will be a trend in the coming years thanks to their ecological, welfare and management awareness inside and outside of them. Their interest in bringing social subjects to the table and generating awareness among their collaborators will be relevant points to position themselves above the rest of the startups, said Dr. Madero.

“I believe that large herds of zebras will emerge, led with ecological awareness and focused on evolving inside and outside the organization. Leaders of these companies are committed to meeting today’s business and social challenges”. 

Not only are zebras an example of resilience, there are other companies such as camels, beetles and gazelleThese companies have different qualities and are positioned as investment alternatives due to their capacity for adaptability in diverse environments. 

Startups examples of resilience:


Camels are animals that adapt to the harshness of the desert. From this analogy, camel startups are born, as these emerging companies seek to develop in a sustainable and strategic way. In addition to setting goals that will lead them to setting goals that will lead them to success in the long term. These qualities allow startups to cross the desert safely and stay in the market despite any adverse scenario.


Beetle startups are resilient in crisis. Their growth is usually slow but steady, as their business models are solid and adaptable. This type of company promises to be profitable in the long term and is usually formed by small teams of a maximum of ten people.

Due to their qualities, they are not usually startups considered within investor’s portfolios; however, they are an alternative to diversify and be considered in the face of global uncertainty.


The name refers to the fast growth of these types of startups, even during crises. These are very young companies (from 2 to 5 life years), and are considered great job creators. 

Their focus is on innovation, research and development, as well as creating social impact. Agility is one of their main characteristics, as it is what allows them to grow exponentially in a short period of time.

At WORTEV CAPITAL we focus on promoting resilient and innovative Mexican companies from their early stages of life. In addition to the capital injection, we integrate our business accelerator that supports the operation of key areas of the venture. 

In this way, we generate an ecosystem that promotes key sectors for the country's growth. With the creation and development of more ventures, it stimulated the investment, as well as, Mexico’s economic growth.

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Growing startups, known as zebras, are positioned among investors thanks to their resilience.

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