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What was started by alumni and is worth $55B?

Twelve recent alum-founded companies have reached unicorn status (two are even “decacorns”). Who are the legends that are bringing the magic? Read on to find out.
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Most of us know that McKinsey alumni are enthusiastic entrepreneurs, with about 20% going on to found their own companies after leaving the Firm. A number of familiar companies – including Viking River Cruises, Ashoka, Innocent Drinks, and Match.com, to name a few – were founded or co-founded by alums.

What you may not know is that at least twelve startups founded by alumni in the past decade have become ‘unicorns’ – privately held startups, usually tech-based, valued at $1B or more. To put that in broader context, 3.5% of the world’s current unicorns were founded by McKinsey alumni.

Read on to find out about these companies and their founders!

[Note: Although three of the companies listed below have recently graduated from unicorn status – one through acquisition, and two through IPO launches – we’ve included them to acknowledge their achievements.]

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Careem 
Co-founders: Mudassir Sheikha (DBB, DBI 08-12) and Magnus Olsson (STO, STH, DBI, ADH 06-12)
Headquarters: Dubai
Value: Sold to Uber for $3.1B

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Mudassir Sheikha (left) and Magnus Olson
 Careem is a car-booking service operating in 14 countries in the Middle East. At the end of March, Uber announced that it would be acquiring the company, with Careem operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary, still led by its founders. (Read our 2018 interview with Mudassir Sheikha, and watch our 2019 interview with Magnus Olsson.)



CommonBond
Co-founder: David Klein (North American Knowledge 03-06)
Headquarters: New York City
Value: Undisclosed, but reported at $4B

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Student loans are a big issue in the U.S., with students (and former students) currently owing $1.5 trillion. David Klein co-founded online lender CommonBond in 2012 to offer loan refinancing as well as private student loans with low rates and great customer service.



Compass
Co-founder: Robert Reffkin (NYO 00-02)
Headquarters: New York City
Value: $4.4B

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Robert Reffkin co-founded real estate technology company Compass just 5 years ago, but it’s already operating in 20 major U.S. cities – and he’s eyeing an international expansion. In 2018 alone, Compass opened 70 new offices and hired more than 600 people. (Read our January interview with Robert.)



DoorDash
Co-founder: Tony Xu (CHI 07-09)
Headquarters: San Francisco
Value: $7.1B

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Don’t feel like cooking? DoorDash can help. Founded in 2013, the app pairs drivers and local restaurants to deliver meals to users wherever they are. (Co-founder Tony Xu started out doing deliveries himself.) The company is now the U.S.'s leading on-demand food delivery service in consumer spending market share.

 

Go-Jek
Co-founder: Nadiem Makarim (JAK 06-11)
Headquarters: Jakarta
Value: $10B

Nadiem Makarim
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Indonesia’s first “decacorn” – a startup with a valuation of $10B or more – Go-Jek began its life in 2010 as a motorbike taxi company. It’s since grown exponentially in size (it boasts a fleet of two million drivers) as well as in scope. Go-Jek is now a “super-app,” offering two dozen user services such as online payments, restaurant, and grocery delivery. Users can even use the app to order a massage.



Grab
Co-founder: Hooi Ling Tan (KLA, SFO 06-13)
Headquarters: Singapore
Value: Undisclosed, but reported at $14B

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Based in Singapore and operating in eight countries in Southeast Asia, Hooi Ling Tan’s Grab was initially just a ride-hailing app. Over the past 7 years, it has added a number of services, including food delivery, payments, assistance with planning travel routes on public transportation, and even specially-trained drivers to take your pet to the vet. Like Go-Jek, Grab has gone beyond unicorn; it was Southeast Asia's first “decacorn”, reaching that status in November 2018.



InMobi
Co-founder: Naveen Tewari (MUM, SVO 00-03, 05-05)
Headquarters: Bangalore
Value: $2B

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According to VCCircle, InMobi, a global mobile advertising platform, was the first Indian startup to be valued at $1B. In 2018, Fast Company ranked it #3 in its Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in India list, chosen from a pool of more than 1,000 global companies.



Jumia
Co-founders: Jeremy Hodara (PAR, MUM, NJE 06-12) and Sacha Poignonnec (PAR, NJE 07-12)
Headquarters: Ikeja, Nigeria
Value: Undisclosed, but reported at $1B

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Sacha Poignonnec (left) and Jeremy Hodara
Internet platform Jumia was founded in 2012 and was named Africa’s first unicorn just four years later. It’s the largest e-commerce business in Africa, with operations in 14 countries. It operates a network of services that include food delivery, secure payments, travel booking, classified ads, and more. The company launched an IPO on the NYSE in April.



Nauto
Co-founders: Stefan Heck (STA, SVO, FIR 96-13), Nauto's current CEO, and Frederick Soo (STA 11-14), current Head of Product Development at Mythic, Inc.
Headquarters: Palo Alto
Value: $1B

Stefan Heck and Frederick Soo
Stefan Heck and Frederick Soo
Nauto, founded in 2015, is an AI technology company that develops software to improve the safety of self-driving cars. Major automakers are taking note: Nauto has received investments from GM, BMW, and Toyota.



Oscar Health Insurance
Co-founder: Mario Schlosser (FRA 02-07)
Headquarters: New York City
Value: $3.2B

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Mario Schlosser launched Oscar Health, a tech-based, consumer-focused health insurer, in 2012 with classmates from Harvard Business School. Oscar currently offers individual and group plans in six U.S. states. Mario says his goal is to “humanize and simplify the healthcare experience.



Zilingo
Co-founder: Ankiti Bose (MUM 10-12)
Headquarters: Singapore
Value: Undisclosed, but reported at $1B

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The Singapore-based e-commerce platform doesn’t discuss its valuation, but a TechCrunch article quoted a source as saying Zilingo is “a rounding error away” from $1B. The site gives visibility to small Southeast Asian fashion vendors that lack their own online presence. In addition to retail, Zilingo has also recently focused on B2B opportunities in the supply chain – an addition that has helped the company realize four-fold growth in the past year.



Zocdoc
Co-founders: Oliver Kharraz-Tavakol (MUN, NYO, DM Northeast 01-07), Zocdoc’s current CEO, and Cyrus Massoumi (DM Northeast 04-07), current founder and Managing Partner of Humbition
Headquarters: New York City
Value: $2B

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Zocdoc is the leading digital healthcare marketplace in the U.S., helping millions of patients each month find nearby, in-network doctors, see their real-time availability, and instantly book appointments online. Healthcare is in Oliver Kharraz’s DNA: he is the most recent M.D. in a 300-year family history of doctors.

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One to watch . . .

ThirdLove
Co-founder: Heidi Zak (FIR, BOS 02-05)
Headquarters: San Francisco
Value: Reported at $750m

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“The best bra is one you never think about,” says Heidi Zak, founder of online company ThirdLove, which offers bras (as well as underwear, loungewear, and nightwear) in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. And while it may not be a unicorn yet, keep your eyes on it. The company, founded in 2012, was named to Forbes' 2018 'Next Billion-Dollar Startups' list.

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Ed. note: We’d also like to acknowledge Fieldglass, one of Chicago’s first tech unicorns, which was founded by Jai Shekhawat (CHI 95-99) and sold to SAP in 2014, and Lazada, co-founded by Max Bittner (MUN 06-12), which sold to Alibaba in 2018 for $3B.

Did we miss any? Let us know!

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Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Funding Circle was founded by an McKinsey alumnus. We regret the error.

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